Using the Timer Service

Applications that model business work flows often rely on timed notifications. The timer service of the enterprise bean container enables you to schedule timed notifications for all types of enterprise beans except for stateful session beans. You can schedule a timed notification to occur at a specific time, after a duration of time, or at timed intervals. For example, you could set timers to go off at 10:30 AM on May 23, in 30 days, or every 12 hours.

When a timer expires (goes off), the container calls the method annotated @Timeout in the bean's implementation class. The @Timeout method contains the business logic that handles the timed event.

The Timeout Method

Methods annotated @Timeout in the enterprise bean class must return void and take a javax.ejb.Timer object as the only parameter. They may not throw application exceptions.

public void timeout(Timer timer) {
  System.out.println("TimerBean: timeout occurred");

Creating Timers

To create a timer, the bean invokes one of the createTimer methods of the TimerService interface. (For details on the method signatures, see the TimerService API documentation.) When the bean invokes createTimer, the timer service begins to count down the timer duration.

The bean described in The timersession Example creates a timer as follows:

Timer timer = timerService.createTimer(intervalDuration,
    "Created new timer"); 

In the timersession example, createTimer is invoked in a business method, which is called by a client.

Timers are persistent. If the server is shut down (or even crashes), timers are saved and will become active again when the server is restarted. If a timer expires while the server is down, the container will call the @Timeout method when the server is restarted.

The Date and long parameters of the createTimer methods represent time with the resolution of milliseconds. However, because the timer service is not intended for real-time applications, a callback to the @Timeout method might not occur with millisecond precision. The timer service is for business applications, which typically measure time in hours, days, or longer durations.

Canceling and Saving Timers

Timers can be canceled by the following events:

If a method is invoked on a canceled timer, the container throws the javax.ejb.NoSuchObjectLocalException.

To save a Timer object for future reference, invoke its getHandle method and store the TimerHandle object in a database. (A TimerHandle object is serializable.) To reinstantiate the Timer object, retrieve the handle from the database and invoke getTimer on the handle. A TimerHandle object cannot be passed as an argument of a method defined in a remote or web service interface. In other words, remote clients and web service clients cannot access a bean's TimerHandle object. Local clients, however, do not have this restriction.

Getting Timer Information

In addition to defining the cancel and getHandle methods, the Timer interface defines methods for obtaining information about timers:

public long getTimeRemaining();
public java.util.Date getNextTimeout();
public getInfo(); 

The getInfo method returns the object that was the last parameter of the createTimer invocation. For example, in the createTimer code snippet of the preceding section, this information parameter is a String object with the value created timer.

To retrieve all of a bean's active timers, call the getTimers method of the TimerService interface. The getTimers method returns a collection of Timer objects.

Transactions and Timers

An enterprise bean usually creates a timer within a transaction. If this transaction is rolled back, the timer creation is also rolled back. Similarly, if a bean cancels a timer within a transaction that gets rolled back, the timer cancellation is rolled back. In this case, the timer's duration is reset as if the cancellation had never occurred.

In beans that use container-managed transactions, the @Timeout method usually has the Required transaction attribute to preserve transaction integrity. With this attribute, the EJB container begins the new transaction before calling the @Timeout method. If the transaction is rolled back, the container will call the @Timeout method at least one more time.

The timersession Example

The source code for this example is in the <INSTALL>/javaeetutorial5/examples/ejb/timersession/timersession-ejb/src/java directory.

TimerSessionBean is a stateless session bean that shows how to set a timer. In the source code listing of TimerSessionBean that follows, note the createTimer and @Timeout methods. Because it's a business method, createTimer is defined in the bean's remote business interface (TimerSession) and can be invoked by the client. In this example, the client invokes createTimer with an interval duration of 30,000 milliseconds. The createTimer method creates a new timer by invoking the createTimer method of TimerService. TimerService which is injected by the container when the bean is created. Now that the timer is set, the EJB container will invoke the timeout method of TimerSessionBean when the timer expires--in about 30 seconds. Here's the source code for the TimerSessionBean class:

package com.sun.tutorial.javaee.ejb;

import java.util.logging.Logger;
import javax.annotation.Resource;
import javax.ejb.Stateless;
import javax.ejb.Timeout;
import javax.ejb.Timer;
import javax.ejb.TimerService;

public class TimerSessionBean implements TimerSession {
  TimerService timerService;

private static final Logger logger = Logger

  public void createTimer(long intervalDuration) {
    Timer timer = timerService.createTimer(intervalDuration,
        "Created new timer");

  public void timeout(Timer timer) {"Timeout occurred");

Building and Packaging timersession

In a terminal window, go to the <INSTALL>/javaeetutorial5/examples/ejb/timersession/ directory. To build TimerSessionBean, type the following command:

ant build 

This runs the default task, which compiles the source files and packages the application into an EAR file located at <INSTALL>/examples/ejb/timersession/dist/timersession.ear.

Deploying timersession

Now that the Java EE application contains the enterprise bean package and deploy the TimerSessionBean using ant:

ant deploy 

Running the Application Client

To run the application client, perform the following steps.

  1. In a terminal window, go to the <INSTALL>/javaeetutorial5/
  2. Type the following command:
  3. ant run

    This task first retrieves the client JAR, timersessionClient.jar to the dist directory, and then runs the client. This is the equivalent of running:

    appclient -client TimerSessionAppClient.jar

  4. In the terminal window, the client displays these lines:
  5. Creating a timer with an interval duration of 30000 ms.

The output from the timer is sent to the server.log file located in the <JAVA_EE_HOME>/domains/domain1/server/logs/ directory.

View the output in the Admin Console:

  1. Open the Admin Console by opening a web browser window to
  2. http://localhost:4848/asadmin/admingui

  3. Click Application Server in the navigation pane.
  4. Click View Log Files.
  5. At the top of the page, you'll see this line in the Message column:
  6. Timeout occurred

Alternatively, you can look at the log file directly. After about 30 seconds, open server.log in a text editor and you will see the following lines:

TimerSessionBean: timeout occured