When using a datasotre inside a camel route, there is always the chalenge of specifying how the camel message will stored to the datastore. In document based stores things are more easy as the message body can be directly mapped to a document. In relational databases an ORM solution can be used to map properties to columns etc. In column based stores things are more challenging as there is no standard way to perform that kind of mapping.
HBase adds two additional challenges:
HBase groups columns into families, so just mapping a property to a column using a name convention is just not enough.
HBase doesn't have the notion of type, which means that it stores everything as byte and doesn't know if the byte represents a String, a Number, a serialized Java object or just binary data.
To overcome these challenges, camel-hbase makes use of the message headers to specify the mapping of the message to HBase columns. It also provides the ability to use some camel-hbase provided classes that model HBase data and can be easily convert to and from xml/json etc.
Finally it provides the ability to the user to implement and use his own mapping strategy.
Regardless of the mapping strategy camel-hbase will convert a message into an org.apache.camel.component.hbase.model.HBaseData object and use that object for its internal operations.