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POF is not really very good for class hierarchies - as you have discovered. It is possible to use it but requires some care to do it manually. You might want to check out some of the work that Aleks Seovic did on fixing this on the Oracle Coherence You Tube channel here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7egLQwsvuNg
In Coherence 3.7 you can use annotations for por serialization, Coherence introduced two annotation: Portable and PortableProperty, that could make it for you easy to add por serialization without writing read/write external methods. Also it can automatically set the indexes so you avoid messing witht hem.
Thanks a lot,
But the POF annotations will not help with the original question - which was about serializing complex class hierarchies. The annotations are good (albeit with some limitations) but really they just save you writing code, they don't fix the limitations or difficulties of supporting class hierarchies.