Bean utilities allow setting and reading bean properties. Several features make BeanUtil distinct from other similar libraries:

  • the fastest bean manipulation utility
  • works with both attributes and properties
  • nested properties can be arrays, lists and maps
  • missing inner properties may be created
  • may work silently (no exception is thrown)
  • offers few populate methods
  • has strong type conversion library

Working with bean properties

In BeanUtil world, bean property is a class field with its optional setter and getter (aka accessors) methods. When accessing properties, BeanUtil first tries to use accessors methods. If they don't exist, BeanUtil fail-backs to using the field of the same visibility. Therefore, existence of accessors methods is not required and depends on usage, what often may be handy. BeanUtil is used internally inside the Jodd library, so this behavior applies everywhere.

Simple bean:

    public class Foo {
        private String readwrite;   // with getter and setter
        private String readonly;    // with getter


    Foo foo = new Foo();
    BeanUtil.setProperty(foo, "readwrite", "data");
    BeanUtil.getProperty(foo, "readwrite");
    BeanUtil.setDeclaredProperty(foo, "readonly", "data");

Lines #2 and #3 show common and expected BeanUtil usage: setting value of read-write property through it's accessors methods. Setting readonly property in above example is only possible with setDeclaredProperty() method. It first tries to use setReadonly() method, but since such doesn't exist, field is used directly.

Nested properties

BeanUtil supports nested properties. Besides other bean, nested property may be also a list, a map or an array element:

    BeanUtil.getProperty(cbean, "list[0].map[foo].foo");
    BeanUtil.setProperty(cbean, "arr[4].map[].foo", "test");

When accessing nested properties, BeanUtil goes one property at time and expects that all nested properties (except the very last one) exist i.e. to be not-null. Above example is executed as shown by this following pseudo-code:


Forced setting of nested properties

Setting of nested properties fails if one of the (middle) elements on the path is null. To overcome this behavior, properties may be set in forced mode:

    BeanUtil.setPropertyForced(x, "", value);
    BeanUtil.setPropertyForced(x, "yy[2].foo", "xxx");

If the object x in above example has uninitialized property y, BeanUtil first creates a new instance of y's type, that will be set to property y. Then, foo property of newly created object y will be set. In the second example, yy is an array. If it is uninitialized, BeanUtil will create a new array of length 3. Then, it will create a new instance of yy's type that will be stored as third element of the array. Finally, the foo property is set.

In forced mode, BeanUtil tries to instantiate uninitialized properties needed for setting the final property. Instantiation depends of the type: if it is a simple bean, no-args constructor will be invoked. If it is a list, new ArrayList will be created. Similar applies for arrays and map types. Additionally, BeanUtil will check the length of existing initialized arrays and lists and if the current size is not enough, list or array will be expanded by adding null elements up to the new size.

Generics support

When creating a new element of an list, BeanUtil will consider existing generics information in order to create element of correct type.

Silent work (no exceptions)

Property setting may fail from various reasons, causing an unchecked exception (BeanUtilException) to be thrown. Sometimes this is not desired behavior. For such usages, BeanUtil offers silent version of methods that will not throw an exception at all. If setting is not successful, simple nothing will happened.


BeanUtil offers few methods for populating properties and beans from Map/List bean representation. This is handy when some JSON string should be deserialized into the bean.


In some (rare) occasions BeanUtil has to work on arrays, Lists or Maps directly instead with beans. In such cases it is needed to somehow reference this object, in order to use its elements. For such situations, BeanUtil introduce special self-reference property name: "*this". It simply points to current reference.

For example, lets say that it is needed to reference some element from context map (or array, or list) using BeanUtil and to set value of one of it's properties: context[foo].boo. Since context is the target bean used as an argument of BeanUtil, it is needed be able to somehow access it in the property name. This is possible with self-reference:

    BeanUtil.setProperty(ctx, "*this[foo].boo", value);

With self-reference you may also set Map keys that have a dot in its name:

    Properties properties = new Properties();
    BeanUtil.setProperty(property, "*this[ldap.auth.enabled]", "true");

Although it's purpose is to be used on very start of nested property name, self-reference may be used anywhere in between. So the following two property names are identical:

    BeanUtil.getProperty(fb4, "data[0].bbean.abean.fooProp");
    BeanUtil.getProperty(fb4, "**this[0].*this.bbean.abean.fooProp");

You can change the self-reference keyword (*this) by setting static variable: BeanUtilBean.THIS_REF.

From recent versions of BeanUtil, self-reference is implicitly used for the first simple bean, so you can omit the keyword:

    Properties properties = new Properties();
    BeanUtil.setProperty(property, "[ldap.auth.enabled]", "true");

Testing of property existence

BeanUtil also offers convenient way to test if some property exists:

    BeanUtil.hasProperty(fb, "fooInteger")

Type conversion

When setting properties, BeanUtil converts type of provided value to match the destination. For this purpose it uses Jodds type converter utility.

Getting properties always returns an Object. If you need to cast it to some type, you can use TypeConverterManager#convertType. The following snippet (from Liferay portal) shows the usage:

    public boolean getBoolean(Object bean, String param, boolean defaultValue) {
        Boolean booleanValue = null;
        if (bean != null) {
            Object value = BeanUtil.getProperty(bean, param);
            beanValue = TypeConverterManager.convertType(value, Boolean.class);
        } catch (Exception ex) {
            // log error
        if (booleanValue == null) {
            return defaultValue;
        } else {
            return booleanValue.booleanValue();


BeanUtil is just a static delegate class to default BeanUtilBean instance. Therefore, it is possible to change behavior of BeanUtil as well as to change the default type conversion rules.


There is more: BeanCopy class offers copying functionality. It copies properties from source to destination bean.


BeanTemplateParser is based on StringTemplateParser. a string template with JSP-alike markers that indicates where provided context values will be injected. Usage is quite simple:

    // prepare template
    String template = "Hello ${}. Today is ${dayName}.";

    // prepare context
    Foo foo = new Foo();
    foo.getUser().setName("John Doe");
    // parse
    BeanTemplateParser btp = new BeanTemplateParser();
    String result = btp.parse(template, foo);
    // result == "Hello John Doe. Today is Saturday."

Performance test

BeanUtil seems almost 20% faster compared to Commons BeanUtils v1.8. However, the performance is not the only reason why BeanUtil is a good choice, as seen above.

BeanUtil performance test