Is there something like PostConstruct for JAXB-annnotated classes?

I need to perform certain operations on a class after it was unmarshalled (after it is constructed by JAXB, rather then by myself).

Is there such a functionality in JAXB?

If not, how could I achieve it?


You can use the 'class defined' event callbacks. Read more here For example put this method in you JAXB object:

    //This method is called after all the properties (except IDREF) are unmarshalled for this object, 
    //but before this object is set to the parent object.
    void afterUnmarshal( Unmarshaller u, Object parent )
        System.out.println( "After unmarshal: " + this.state );

Though the the demanded functionality seems not to be present in JAXB, I managed to achieve something which goes into the right direction:

  • I'm using JSR-305's @PostConstruct annotation (it's just a nacked annotation, no functionality is provided by the JSR)
  • I add an unmasrshaller-listener to the unmarshaller, which gets invoked by JAXB every time an object was unmarshalled.
  • I inspect this object using Java reflection and search for the @PostConstruct annotation on a method
  • I execute the method

Tested. Works.

Here is the code. Sorry, I'm using some external reflection API to get all methods, but I think the idea is understandable:


JAXBContext context = // create the context with desired classes

Unmarshaller unmarshaller = context.createUnmarshaller();

unmarshaller.setListener(new Unmarshaller.Listener() {

  public void afterUnmarshal(Object object, Object arg1) {
    System.out.println("unmarshalling finished on: " + object);

    Class<?> type = object.getClass();
    Method postConstructMethod = null;

    for (Method m : ReflectionUtils.getAllMethods(type)) {
      if (m.getAnnotation(PostConstruct.class) != null) {
        if (postConstructMethod != null) {
          throw new IllegalStateException(
              "@PostConstruct used multiple times");

        postConstructMethod = m;

    if (postConstructMethod != null) {
      System.out.println("invoking post construct: "
          + postConstructMethod.getName() + "()");

      if (!Modifier.isFinal(postConstructMethod.getModifiers())) {
        throw new IllegalArgumentException("post construct method ["
            + postConstructMethod.getName() + "] must be final");

      try {
        postConstructMethod.setAccessible(true); // thanks to skaffman
      } catch (IllegalAccessException ex) {
        throw new RuntimeException(ex);
      } catch (InvocationTargetException ex) {
        throw new RuntimeException(ex);


EDIT Added a check for @PostConstruct-annotated method, to ensure it is final. Do you think it's a useful restriction?


Here is how the concept might be used.

public abstract class AbstractKeywordWithProps
    extends KeywordCommand {

  protected final List<Element> allElements = new LinkedList<Element>();

  public AbstractKeywordWithProps() {

  public final void postConstruct() {
    // now, that "allElements" were successfully initialized,
    // do something very important with them ;)


// further classes can be derived from this one. postConstruct still works!

Filed a feature request

It's not a 100% solution, but you can always register a XmlAdapter using @XmlJavaTypeAdapter annotation for this type.

The downside would be that you have to serialize the class yourself (?). I am not aware of any simple way of accessing and calling the default serialization mechanism. But with custom [XmlAdapter] you can control how is the type serialized and what happens before/after it.

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