Use Java8 Time Instead Of Jaxb Gregorian

Please stop using XmlGregorianCalendar as the default type to model xs:date or xs:dateTime in a JAXB class. If you’re on Java 8 or later then you should be using the new java.time classes like LocalDate, LocalDateTime, and ZonedDateTime. If you’re on an earlier version of Java and are unable or unwilling to upgrade then you can map the xs:date and xs:datetime types to joda-time classes.

Why you shouldn’t use XmlGregorianCalendar

This type lacks the semantics of what the underlying data type really is. The biggest distinction is whether the value is an xs:date or an xs:dateTime. A second distinction is whether the value is a local date/time versus one tied to a specific timezone offset.

The @XmlSchemaType attribute conveys whether the underlying schema type is an xs:date or xs:dateTime but this isn’t enforced in the generated code and in fact some popular frameworks like Jackson simply ignore the @XmlSchemaType annotation and marshal the value as a full ISO 8601 date and time which isn’t great when you want a simple yyyy-mm-dd value.

Consider something like a person’s birthday. This is probably best modeled as a LocalDate. We don’t need a specific timezone offset nor do we need a specific time. If someone asks your birthday, you’re unlikely to provide a time, it’s just the date.

It’s also possible that our data model could have a xs:dateTime that’s not tied to a specific timezone. Maybe it’s a restaurant chain’s offer that has drink or food specials on a specifc date from 4pm - 6pm. The fields for this object wouldn’t need to include a timezone. We only want the local date and time.

Finally, in some cases we want the full date, time, and timezone. This could be an XmlGregorianCalendar but given that the new Java 8 types are immuatable then it makes sense to use these immutable types as opposed to the default Xml types.


Here’s an example with the jaxws-maven-plugin.


Bindings file

The jaxb-bindings file is in the bindings directory which in this example is src/jaxb as configured in the plugin above

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes"?>
        xmlns:jaxb="" xmlns:xs=""

        <xjc:javaType adapter="com.massfords.LocalDateAdapter"
                      name="java.time.LocalDate" xmlType="xs:date"/>


JAXB Adapter

The xml adapter is a trivial amount of code. You can follow this pattern for LocalDateTime and ZonedDateTime since both have good parse and toString methods.

package com.massfords;

import javax.xml.bind.annotation.adapters.XmlAdapter;
import java.time.LocalDate;

public class LocalDateAdapter extends XmlAdapter<String,LocalDate> {
    public LocalDate unmarshal(String v) throws Exception {
        return LocalDate.parse(v);

    public String marshal(LocalDate v) throws Exception {
        if (v != null) {
            return v.toString();
        } else {
            return null;

What about other types?

You can follow the above templates and add a mapping and adapter for xs:dateTime to map them to a LocalDateTime. This is simply a copy/paste/replace LocalDateTime for LocalDate. However, if your application has actual xs:dateTime which refer to a specific instant in time that requires a timezone then my suggestion is to explicitly model this as its own extension of xs:dateTime which will allow you to add a mapping targeted at just these occurrences. The value of having an explicit type is that you’ll always know when an xs:dateTime refers to a dateTime with a timezone offset as opposed to a timezone free xs:dateTime.

 Date: December 28, 2016

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