Top 10 Must Have Features in O/R Mapping Tools

By: Iqbal Khan

O/R mapping tools are becoming more popular each day and people are realizing the productivity gain they provide to developers. Yet, many people don't know enough about O/R mapping to consider using these tools and many others are weary of using any code generators (including O/R mapping tools).

In this article, I will try to educate you about the various important features that a good O/R mapping tool would provide you and how it can be beneficial to you. I am not discussing any particular O/R mapping tool but rather all tools in general.

What is O/R mapping?
If you're developing an object oriented application that requires a relational database, you'll need to develop persistence objects that are modeled against your database design and know how to interact with different tables in the database. You can either develop these objects by hand or use an O/R mapping tool to map and generate them quickly. Hopefully, after reading this article, you'll be convinced that developing by-hand is a bad idea in most situations.

An O/R mapping tool connects to your database and reads its schema, then lets you map persistence objects to database tables and views, specify single-row transactional operations, queries, and stored procedure calls as methods to these objects. And, it also lets you define one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-one, and many-to-many relationships between objects based on relationships in the database. It then generates fully working persistence objects code for you. On the next page is a simple example of some persistence objects. Please note that in this persistence design pattern as explained in Domain Objects Persistence Pattern for .NET, the persistence objects are broken up into "Domain Objects" and "Factory Objects". You can read more about this design pattern if you wish.

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