Object-relational mapping

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Object-relational mapping (ORM, O/RM, and O/R mapping) in computer software is a programming technique for converting data between incompatible type systems in object-oriented programming languages. This creates, in effect, a "virtual object database" that can be used from within the programming language. There are both free and commercial packages available that perform object-relational mapping, although some programmers opt to create their own ORM tools.

Contents

Overview

Data management tasks in object-oriented (OO) programming are typically implemented by manipulating objects that are almost always non-scalar values. For example, consider an address book entry that represents a single person along with zero or more phone numbers and zero or more addresses. This could be modeled in an object-oriented implementation by a "person object" with "slots" to hold the data that comprise the entry: the person's name, a list of phone numbers, and a list of addresses. The list of phone numbers would itself contain "phone number objects" and so on. The address book entry is treated as a single value by the programming language (it can be referenced by a single variable, for instance). Various methods can be associated with the object, such as a method to return the preferred phone number, the home address, and so on.

However, many popular database products such as structured query language database management systems (SQL DBMS) can only store and manipulate scalar values such as integers and strings organized within normalized tables. The programmer must either convert the object values into groups of simpler values for storage in the database (and convert them back upon retrieval), or only use simple scalar values within the program. Object-relational mapping is used to implement the first approach.

The heart of the problem is translating those objects to forms that can be stored in the database for easy retrieval, while preserving the properties of the objects and their relationships; these objects are then said to be persistent.

Comparison with traditional data access techniques

Compared to traditional techniques of exchange between an object-oriented language and a relational database, ORM often reduces the amount of code that needs to be written.[1]

Disadvantages of O/R mapping tools are in areas where proprietary, or database-specific techniques have been highly optimized. Most O/R mapping tools do not perform well during bulk deletions of data or joins[dubious ] (even simple ones). Stored procedures may have better performance, but are not portable.

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