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Best way to setup / configure Tomcat 7 web app with Hibernate 3 / JPA

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I am using JDK 1.6, Maven 2.2.1, Tomcat 7, Eclipse Juno (Enterprise Edition), Hibernate 3 /JPA, and MySQL 5.

Am relatively new to Hibernate / JPA. What I am seeking to do is have my tomcat 7
connect to the database as soon as my webapp is loaded by tomcat 7's classloader (during server startup).

hibernate.cfg.xml (Located in myapp/src/main/resources):


I created this class do use my HibernateUtil during server startup:

Registerd it with my web.xml:

So, far everything seem to look like its works... However, on the Internet after googling it,
I saw that people are using EntityManagerFactory... What's the difference between the two?

What's the standard way to setup a Tomcat based web app using Hibernate / JPA against a MySQL database?

What I am seeking to do is being able to save my POJOs (after setting them) and then issuing something like

without having to constantly open and close connections to my database.

Thanks for all your help...


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