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Installation

npm install --save pure-orm

What is PureORM?

PureORM is a lightweight ORM for mapping the relational result rows of a database driver query to properly structured (nested) pure instances of your business object classes.

It's purpose - and guiding principle - is to allow you to write regular native SQL (not niche library-specific ORM wrapper APIs) and receive back properly structured/nested pure business objects (not database-connected stateful objects).

PureORM is the top layer for interfacing with your database. You bring your own database driver (eg node-postgres/pg-promise, mysql, node-sqlite3, node-mssql, node-oracledb, etc), and PureORM works on top of it to perform the Object-Relational Mapping (ORM).

PureORM contrasts with tradtional ORMs in two ways:

  1. PureORM is purely the "orm" (object-relational mapping) - it has the small scope of "owning" the mapping of database driver relational result rows to properly structured business objects. This contrasts against "ORM"s as typically exist - where they have grown to intertwine a huge query builder API with the ORM layer, where mapped objects are database-connected and serve as the query builder.
  2. PureORM yields pure (not database-connected) business objects. Queries are written in SQL (not niche library-specific ORM wrapper APIs), and the results are pure businesses objects.

Thus PureORM contrasts against traditional ORMs which use query builders (rather than raw SQL) to return database-connected (rather than pure) objects.

The name pureORM reflects both of these points - that it is pure ORM (there is no query builder dimension) as well as the purity of the mapped objects.

Philosophy

  • Write native, unobstructed SQL in a "data access object" layer which returns pure "business objects" to be used in the app's business logic.
  • Have database-connected "data access objects" which allow the unobstructed writing of normal SQL.
  • Have the "data access objects" returning the pure business objects.

Concepts

A Business Object (BO) is a pure javascript object corresponding to a table.

  • They represent a row of the table data, but as pure javascript objects.
  • They are not connected to the database.
  • They are the subject of the app's business logic.
  • They will be full of userland business logic methods.
  • Their purity allows them to be easy to test/use.
  • These are also referred to as "models".

A Business Object Collection (BO Collection) is a group of pure javascript objects.

  • If your query returns records for multiple business objects, a BO Collection will be created and returned.
  • You can create a BO Collection class for your business objects (in cases where it is useful to have business methods on the collection entity, not just each model entity).

A Data Access Object (DAO) is a database-aware abstraction layer where native SQL is written.

  • This is not an "expresion language" or "query builder". There are not hundreds of methods mapping the complexity, expressiveness, and nuance of SQL to class objects.
  • Rather, is a data access layer in which native SQL is written, and which returns business objects (properly nested and structured).
  • By convention, they may also accept business objects as inputs (to get, create, or update records) - but this is just a convention (necessary input data can be passed as separate arguments, or however).

Quick Example

Using PureORM allows you to write code like this:

class PersonDAO extends BaseDAO {
  get({ id }) {
    const query = `
      SELECT
        ${Person.getSQLSelectClause()},
        ${Job.getSQLSelectClause()},
        ${Employer.getSQLSelectClause()}
      FROM person
      JOIN job on person.id = job.person_id
      JOIN employer on job.employer_id = employer.id
      WHERE id = $(id)
    `;
    return this.one(query, { id });
  }
}

And use it like this:

const person = personDAO.get(55);
console.log(person);
Person {
  id: 55,
  name: 'John Doe',
  jobs: JobsCollection {
    models: [
      Job {
        id: 277,
        personId: 55,
        employerId: 17,
        startDate: '2020-01-01',
        endDate: '2020-12-31',
        employer: Employer {
          id: 17,
          name: 'Good Corp',
        }
      },
      Job {
        id: 278,
        personId: 55,
        employerId: 26,
        startDate: '2021-01-01',
        endDate: '2021-12-31',
        employer: Employer {
          id: 26,
          name: 'Better Corp',
        }
      }
    ]
  }
}

This is a quick showcase. To see how to wire up this code, see the full Practical Example below.

Things to note:

  • Our DAO returns a single Person business object which is properly structured from the relational row records!
  • Our query is executed with a one method. The DAO methods for one, oneOrNone, many, any ensure their count against the number of generated top level business objects - not the number of relational row records the sql expression returns!
  • Rather than manually specifying our columns in the sql select expression, we use the business object's getSQLSelectClause. This is purely a convenience method which namespaces each column with the table name prefix to ensure column names don't collide (for example, the person, job, and employer ids would collide if not namespaced, as would person and employer names). You are welcome to do this by hand instead of using the convenience methods (as were used above), if you don't mind the tedium:
    class PersonDAO extends BaseDAO {
      get({ id }) {
        // Example showing you can manually specific the select expression fields
        // instead of using a business object's `getSQLSelectClause` convenience
        // method. Note: you must namespace the field with table name and hashtag.
        const query = `
          SELECT
            person.id as "person#id",
            person.name as "person#name",
            job.id as "job#id",
            job.person_id: "job#person_id",
            job.employer_id: "job#employer_id",
            job.start_date: "job#start_date",
            job.end_date: "job#end_date",
            employer.id as "employer#id",
            employer.name as "employer#name"
          FROM person
          JOIN job on person.id = job.person_id
          JOIN employer on job.employer_id = employer.id
          WHERE id = $(id)
        `;
        return this.one(query, { id });
      }
    }

Usage

Ways of Using PureORM

PureORM can work with no integration with your database driver. This is the strictest usage of PureORM. Going this route, the only export you use from PureORM is the factory to create your base bo constructor (createBaseBO) and optionally a base bo collection constructor (BaseBoCollection).

PureORM also can wrap your database driver to make the API slightly less redundant. In this case you'll use the export which is a factory to create a base dao constructor (createBaseDAO). When you use this PureORM in this way, your DAO also inherits a handful of convenience methods for basic CRUD operations.

Overview of the API (full API details further down):

  • createBaseBO is a factory to create a base bo constructor. This factory method accepts a single argument: getBusinessObjects which is a function that returns an array of all your business object classes. You extend this class for all your business objects, and for each of these you must provide static table and sqlColumnsData fields. There are a number of other methods you can override from base to accomodate more advanced usage (including a BoCollection field to reference a custom class you want used for the collection).
  • BaseBoCollection can be used as the base class for any bo collection classes you make. Sometimes it can be useful to have business methods on the collection entity (not just each model entity) and so you can create such a class by extending BaseBoCollection and providing a BoCollection field on the business object model class.

If you would like PureORM to wrap your database driver, you'll also use:

  • createBaseBO is a factory to create a base dao constructor. This factory method accepts two arguments: db which is your database driver, and optionally logError which logs any database errors. You extend this class for all your dao objects, and for each of these you must provide a Bo field in the class which references the busines object this class is used for.

Practical Example

Lets take a practical example to see all this in action. Lets fill in the backend for a tiny web page renderer.

Lets say we have a database with three tables: person, job, and employer. We have a profile.html template set up so that if I hard code data like below, it renders our page.

// ./controllers/pages/person.js
const renderProfile = (req, res) => {
  const person = {
    id: 55,
    name: 'John Doe',
    jobs: {
      models: [
        {
          id: 277,
          personId: 55,
          employerId: 17,
          startDate: '2020-01-01',
          endDate: '2020-12-31',
          employer: {
            id: 17,
            name: 'Good Corp',
          }
        },
        {
          id: 278,
          personId: 55,
          employerId: 26,
          startDate: '2021-01-01',
          endDate: '2021-12-31',
          employer: {
            id: 26,
            name: 'Better Corp',
          }
        }
      ]
    }
  };
  res.render('profile.html', person);
};

Based on the tables, I know exactly how to query for this:

SELECT *
FROM person
JOIN job on person.id = job.person_id
JOIN employer on job.employer_id = employer.id
WHERE id = 55;

I already know how to SQL, and don't want to spend the time mapping what I already know how to do onto a huge, niche, library-specific API.

However, using this query with a database driver would give me a bunch of flat result records, not one object that is properly structed/nested like I want in my code, and with collided fields (id from all three tables, name from person and employer, etc).

So, lets install PureOrm and the database driver and get started!

Step 1: Installing PureORM and the Database Driver

For our example, we'll assume postgres database so we'll use the incredible pg-promise database driver.

npm install --save pure-orm
npm install --save pg-promise

Step 2: Writing the Controller Code

Lets remove our hardcoded example, and write our contoller code using functions we want to exist and will create.

// ./controllers/pages/person.js
+const personDAO = require('./dao/person');
const renderProfile = (req, res) => {
- const person = {
-   id: 55,
-   name: 'John Doe',
-   jobs: {
-     models: [
-       {
-         id: 277,
-         personId: 55,
-         employerId: 17,
-         startDate: '2020-01-01',
-         endDate: '2020-12-31',
-         employer: {
-           id: 17,
-           name: 'Good Corp',
-         }
-       },
-       {
-         id: 278,
-         personId: 55,
-         employerId: 26,
-         startDate: '2021-01-01',
-         endDate: '2021-12-31',
-         employer: {
-           id: 26,
-           name: 'Better Corp',
-         }
-       }
-     ]
-   }
- };
+ const personId = req.params.id;
+ const person = personDAO.get({personId});
  res.render('profile.html', person);

This looks nice, now let's create the dao and bo necessary.

Step 3: Creating the Business Objects

Let's create a /bo directory and the classes we want.

// ./bo/person.js
const Base = require('./base');

class Person extends Base {
  static tableName = 'person';
  static sqlColumnsData = ['id', 'name'];
  // any other business methods...
}
module.exports = Person;
// ./bo/job.js
const Base = require('./base');
const Person = require('./person');
const Employer = require('./employer');

class Job extends Base {
  static tableName = 'job';
  static sqlColumnsData = [
    'id',
    { column: 'person_id', references: Person },
    { column: 'employer_id', references: Employer },
    'start_date',
    'end_date'
  ];
  // any other business methods...
}
module.exports = Job;
// ./bo/employer.js
const Base = require('./base');

class Employer extends Base {
  static tableName = 'employer';
  static sqlColumnsData = ['id', 'name'];
  // any other business methods...
}
module.exports = Employer;

We've not got our three business object classes. To review, each business object class has:

  • A static tableName property to denote which table results this class is for.
  • A static sqlColumnsData property to enumerate the table columns.

The last business object we have to make is the Base one all of our above model classes extend. In order for any business model to properly structure/nest any other business object, each business object needs to know about every other business object. We do this by providing a getBusinessObjects method to our createBaseBO factory. (There is of course a circular dependency between the base class needing all classes that will end up being created which extend it, and using a function allows us to get around this circular dependency.)

// ./bo/base.js
const { createBaseBO } = require('pure-orm');

const BaseBO = createBaseBO({
  getBusinessObjects: () => [
    require('./person'), // eslint-disable-line
    require('./job'), // eslint-disable-line
    require('./employer') // eslint-disable-line
  ]
});
module.exports = BaseBO;

Step 4: Creating the DAO Object

At this point, the path diverges for if you want to PureORM in the strictest/narrowest way, or in the more integrated way.

Either way lets create a ./dao directory and a person.js file.

If you want to use it in the narrowest way:

We'll import the database driver (db) and use it directly, and then call our ORM method on the results.

// ./dao/person.js
const { db } = require('../factories/db');
const Person = require('../business-objects/person');
class PersonDAO {
  async get({ id }) {
    const query = `
      SELECT
        ${Person.getSQLSelectClause()},
        ${Job.getSQLSelectClause()},
        ${Employer.getSQLSelectClause()}
      FROM person
      JOIN job on person.id = job.person_id
      JOIN employer on job.employer_id = employer.id
      WHERE id = $(id)
    `;
    const rawResultRows = await db.many(query, { id });
    return Person.createOneFromDatabase(rawResultRows);
  }
}
module.exports = new PersonDAO();

Notice we are using the one method createOneFromDatabase which is what we want since we are creating one person, even though we use many for the database driver. From the database driver's perspective there are many relational result row; however, from our perspective, these compose one properly structured person. The create from database methods (createOneFromDatabase, createOneOrNoneFromDatabase, createManyFromDatabase, createFromDatabase for any) ensure their count against the number of generated top level business objects - not the number of rows the sql expression returns!

If you are opting for this strict/narrow usage of PureORM, you're done! The DAO get method returns the relational result rows properly structured as we needed them to be. (Step 6 just shows us creating the database driver since we import a database driver - but it has nothing specific to PureORM).

If you want to use PureORM in the more integrated way:

// ./dao/person.js
const BaseDAO = require('../dao/base');
const Person = require('../business-objects/person');
class PersonDAO extends BaseDAO {
  Bo = Person;
  get({ id }) {
    const query = `
      SELECT
        ${Person.getSQLSelectClause()},
        ${Job.getSQLSelectClause()},
        ${Employer.getSQLSelectClause()}
      FROM person
      JOIN job on person.id = job.person_id
      JOIN employer on job.employer_id = employer.id
      WHERE id = $(id)
    `;
    return this.one(query, { id });
  }
}
module.exports = new PersonDAO();

Notice that we're using this.one, which is what we want. The DAO methods for one, oneOrNone, many, any ensure their count against the number of generated top level business objects - not the number of rows the sql expression returns!

Step 5: Creating the BaseDAO

Our PersonDAO extends BaseDAO, so lets create that by passing our database driver and optioanlly an error logger.

// ./dao/base.js
const { db } = require('../factories/db');
const constructor = createBaseDAO({ db, logError: console.log.bind(console) });

Step 6: Creating Database Driver Instance

The last step is creating the datebase driver. Let's create a factories directory, and add this there.

// ./factories/db.js
const pgPromise = require('pg-promise');
const pgp = pgPromise();
module.exports = pgp({
  host: process.env.DB_HOSTNAME,
  port: process.env.DB_PORT,
  database: process.env.DB_NAME,
  user: DB_USERNAME,
  password: DB_PASSWORD
});

That's it! Our example controller code now works! The DAO get method returns a properly structured business object as we desire.

FAQ

Can you show a more complex business object and collection?

// ./bo/library.js
const Libraries = require('./libraries');
class Library extends Base {
  get BoCollection() {
    return Libraries;
  }
  static get tableName() {
    return 'library_v2';
  }
  static get displayName() {
    // If we didn't provide this static field, in javascript an object
    // referencing a library bo would use `libraryV2` as the property name.
    return 'library';
  }
  static get sqlColumnsData() {
    return [
      'id',
      'name',
      { column: 'is_ala_member', property: 'isALAMember' },
      { column: 'address', references: Address }
    ];
  }
}
// ./bo/libraries.js
class Library extends Base {
  static get Bo() {
    return require('./person'); // eslint-disable-line
  }
  static get displayName() {
    // If we didn't provide this static field, in javascript an object
    // referencing this collection would use `librarys` as the property name.
    return 'libraries';
  }
  aCollectionMethod() {}
  anotherCollectionMethod() {}
}

If I use PureORM do I have to re-invent all the super basic CRUD methods?

If you're using PureORM in the strict usage, then yes - it's scope is limited to a business object's mapping relational result rows to pure objects. If you are using PureORM in the more integrated usage extending the BaseDAO class, then you receive a handful of convenience methods for basic CRUD operations. At any point, you could override these convenience methods.

Whare are the tradeoffs that PureORM makes in using SQL instead of a query builder API?

Traditional/stateful ORMs offer a dialetic-generic, chainable object api for expressing underlying SQL - thus solving for database "lock-in" as well the inability of string queries compose easily. PureORM takes the approach that the tradeoff of developers having to learn the huge surface area of of a query builder, and having to map the complexity and nuance of SQL to it, are simply not worth the cost, and so is premised on not using a query building library. PureORM sees writing straight SQL heaviliy as a feature, not a defect needing solved, and not eclipsed by the composibility of a query builder.

Will I then have dozens of similar DAO methods, since strings aren't as composable as stateful ORM builder builder APIs?

There is still a lot of composibility possible with functions returning strings (someone create an Issue if you want to see examples used in the Kujo codebase), but in general yes, there is more repitition. Most of this remaining repitition is not something I think is a defect (though those obsessed with DRY would disagree). The only "defect" of this repitition is that there may be more than one similiar method (for example a "get" that does certain joins vs others), and differentiating the large query in a function name can be lengthy/annoying. In these cases where composing functions doesn't bring the number of similar functions methods to only one, rather than distilling these large queries into the function name (eg, getPersonWithJobsAndEmployers), I usually just opt for a small arbitrary hash at the end of the short name (eg, getXTW instead of getPersonWithJobsAndEmployers, getRJF instead of getPersonWithFriendsLocatedNearANewFriendRequest, etc).

Does PureORM abstract away the database driver?

No, the whole premise of PureORM is to offer a library to aid the use of writing SQL. There are two ways to use PureORM. One abstracts over the database driver for convenience, but the datebase driver is always available to you (at this.db) if you wish to use it directly with no PureORM mappings. The other way of using PureORM doesn't abstract over the database driver at all (using PureORM to map the results is "opt-in") and the database driver is thus always used directly.

Can I use aggregate functions while still using the PureORM mapping?

Yes, if you'd like to get the mapping while also passing through some select expressions, use the special meta prefix. For example:

getBloggerPayout({id, startDate, endDate}) {
  const query = `
    SELECT
      ${Person.getSQLSelectClause()},
      COALESCE(SUM(article.blogger_payout), 0) as meta_amount
    FROM
      person
    LEFT JOIN article
      ON article.author_id = person.id
      AND (article.created_date BETWEEN $(startDate) AND $(endDate))
    WHERE
      person.id = $(id)
    GROUP BY person.id, person.slug, person.email,
      person.first_name, person.last_name, person.last_paid_date,
      person.pay_frequency
    ORDER BY meta_amount DESC NULLS LAST;
  `;
  return this.one(query, { id, startDate, endDate });
}

Comparisons

Low Level Abstractions

  • Database Drivers (eg node-postgres, mysql, node-sqlite3, node-mssql, node-oracledb) - These are powerful low level libraries that handle connecting to a database, executing raw SQL, and returning raw rows. All the higher level abstractions are built on these. PureORM like "stateful ORMs" are built on these.

Stateful ORMs (comprised of two portions)

  • Query Builders (eg knex) - These (built on database drivers) offer a dialetic-generic, chainable object api for expressing underlying SQL - thus solving for database "lock-in" as well the inability to compose SQL queriers as strings. PureORM takes the approach that the tradeoff of developers having to learn the huge surface area of dialetic-generic api, and having to map the complexity and nuance of SQL to it, are simply not worth the cost, and so does not use a query building library. With PureORM you just write SQL. The tradeoff on PureORM side that is indeed being tied to a sql dialect and in the inability to compose sql expressions (strings don't compose nicely). Yet all this considered, PureORM sees writing straight SQL heaviliy as a feature, not a defect needing solved, and not eclipsed by the composibility of a query builder.

  • Stateful, Database Aware Objects (eg sequelize, waterline, bookshelf, typeorm) - These stateful, database-aware object libraries are the full embrace of "Stateful ORMs". Contrary to this these is PureORM which yields pure, un-attached, structured objects.

PureORM

  • PureORM is more than just the preference against the query builder portion of Stateful ORMs
  • PureORM is the preference against stateful, db-connected objects: PureORM resolves result rows to pure business objects. This purity in business objects fosters a clean layer of the business layer from the data access layer, as well as ensuring the very best in performance (eg, the N+1 problem can't exist with pure objects).

API

Classes

BaseBo

An abstract class which is the base class your BO classes to extend.

Abstract Methods to be implemented

  • static get tableName(): string - Returns the string table name which the business object associates with from the database.
  • static get sqlColumnsData(): Array<string|ColumnData> - Returns an array of the database column data. The type is either:
    • ColumnData {column, property?, references?, primaryKey?}
      • column: string - The sql column name
      • propery: string - The javascript property name for this column (defaults to camelCase of column)
      • references: Bo - The relationship to another Bo (defaults to null)
      • primaryKey: boolean - Is this column (part of) the primary key (defaults to false)
    • string - If a string, it is applied as the column value, with all others defaulted.
    • (Note: if there is no primary key, id is defaulted)

Optional

  • get BoCollection(): BoCollection - Returns the business object collection class constructor.
  • static get displayName(): string - Returns the string display name of the business object (defaults to camelcase of tableName)

Public Methods

  • createOneFromDatabase(relationalResultRows) - Returns the properly structured Bo object (asserts one).
  • createOneOrNoneFromDatabase(relationalResultRows) - Returns the properly structured Bo object if results (asserts one or none).
  • createManyFromDatabase(relationalResultRows) - Returns the properly structured Bo objects (asserts many).
  • createFromDatabase(relationalResultRows) - Returns any properly structured Bo objects (no assertion on count).

(Note these create from database methods ensure their count against the number of generated top level business objects - not the number of relational rows used!)

BaseBoCollection

An abstract class which is the base class your Bo Collection classes extend.

Abstract Methods to be implemented

  • static get Bo(): BO - Returns the individual (singular) business object class constructor.

Optional

  • get displayName(): BO - Returns the string display name of the business object collection (defaults to bo displayName with an "s")

Public Methods

  • filter(predicate)
  • and some advanced methods

BaseDAO

The base class your DAO classes extend.

Abstract Methods to be implemented

  • get Bo(): BO - Returns the business object class constructor.

Public Methods

  • constructor({ db }})

Abstractions over pg-promise's query methods:

  • one(query: string, params: object) - executes a query and returns a Bo, or throws.
  • oneOrNone(query: string, params: object) - executes a query and returns a Bo or undefined, or throws.
  • many(query: string, params: object) - executes a query and returns a BoCollection with at least one model, or throws.
  • any(query: string, params: object) - executes a query and returns a BoCollection.
  • none(query: string, params: object) - executes a query and returns null.

(Note these create from database methods ensure their count against the number of generated top level business objects are created - not the number of relational rows returned from the database driver! Thus, for example, one understands that there may be multiple result rows (which a database driver's one query method would throw at) but which correctly nest into one BO.)

Built-in "basic" / generic functions which your extending DAO class instance gets for free

  • getMatching(bo: BaseBO)
  • getOneOrNoneMatching(bo: BaseBO)
  • getAnyMatching(bo: BaseBO)
  • getAllMatching(bo: BaseBO)
  • create(bo: BaseBO)
  • update(bo: BaseBO)
  • delete(bo: BaseBO)
  • deleteMatching(bo: BaseBO)

These are just provided because they are so common and straight-forward. However, the point of this library specifically contrasts against having a large surface area of pre-built functions to learn. The idea is to add a DAO class, and add your own custom functions with your own SQL.

Methods

createBaseBO({ getBusinessObjects }): BaseBo

Parameters

  • getBusinessObjects: () => Array<BusinessObject> - A function which returns an array of all the business objects. In order for a business model to properly structure/nest data which could include any other business object, each business object needs to know about every other business object. We accomplish this by accepting this function which returns an array of all the business objects. (There is of course a circular dependency with the base class needing all classes that will end up extending it, but using this function handles this gracefully).

Return Value

  • The BaseBo class to extend for your business objects.

createBaseDAO({ db, logError }): BaseDAO

Parameters

  • logError: function
  • db: (database driver)

Return Value

  • The BaseDAO class to extend for your dao classes.

Current Status

Current Limitations (PRs welcome!)

  • pg-promise/node-postgres is the only database driver supported out-of-the-box for the integrated DAO usage path. There is not technical reason for this, other than that the project I'm using has a postgres database and so I only had pg-promise in mind. We could support more database drivers out of the box.
  • the dao you are writing your sql in must always be in the "select" and must be the one you want as your root(s) return objects
    • the query can start from some other table, and join a bunch of times to get there, though
  • there must be a clear path in the "select" to your leaf joined-to-entities (eg, (Good): Article, ArticleTag, Tag, TagModerator, Moderator; not (Bad): Article, Moderator).
  • the result of the select must always be a non-circular tree (eg, (Bad): Article, Person, Group, GroupArticle, Article)

Current Todos (PRs welcome!):

  • Performance. While the API has been somewhat thought through and iterated on to this point, the implementation details have been secondary, knowing that they can be perfected in time. Probably about time now.
  • Add more tests
  • Known Bug: if a table references the same table twice, the first one is found as the nodePointingToIt and so ends up throwing.
    • ideally the fix to this will change the behavior of when a table points to another table by another name (author_id -> person)

Is it production ready?

It is in production at www.kujo.com - powering the marketing pages and blog, as well as the customer, affiliate, and admin platforms (behind login). When considering for your case, note the Current Limitations and TODOs sections above.