To Delete or to Soft Delete, That is the Question! - DZone Java

To Delete or to Soft Delete, That is the Question! - DZone Java

Soft delete is a widely used pattern in business applications. We will talk about its pros and cons and common challenges faced during implementation.

Implementing soft delete is easy! You just add the “Is_Deleted” or “Delete_Date” column to your tables (or attributes to your Document) and replace all delete statement invocations in your application code to updates. And yes, you need to modify all retrieve statements to take into account this new attribute. Or is it better to create a view? Or a materialized view? In this case, we may need to implement “instead of” triggers or stored procedures API to deal with views. And by deleting an entity you may want to delete some attributes it refers to. In this case, to be able to restore it is also required to store the deletion context. And… this is where a developer’s life gets complicated. Challenges of Soft Deletion In fact, implementing a “proper” soft delete is not an easy task. Sometimes developers choose NOT to implement soft delete just because it takes a lot of effort. You might think about other options like table mirroring with the special “trash can” table that contains deleted records from the “original” table. Application Support. Make sure ALL queries mentioning soft-deleted entities are double-checked, otherwise it can lead to unexpected data leaks and critical performance issues. In the ideal world, a developer should not be aware of soft delete existence. So, if possible, try to introduce your data access API and prevent developers from using other facilities to access a database (like direct JDBC connection). You might even want to override standard APIs like JPA’s Entity Manager to support soft delete properly.

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