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Basic Mapping

This chapter explains the basic mapping of objects and properties. Mapping of hierarchy associations and arbitrary references will be covered in the next chapter.

Mapping Drivers

Doctrine provides several different ways for specifying object-document mapping metadata:

  • Docblock Annotations
  • XML
  • YAML

This manual usually mentions docblock annotations in all the examples that are spread throughout all chapters, however for many examples alternative YAML and XML examples are given as well. There are dedicated reference chapters for XML and YAML mapping, respectively that explain them in more detail. There is also an Annotation reference chapter.


If you're wondering which mapping driver gives the best performance, the answer is: They all give exactly the same performance. Once the metadata of a class has been read from the source (annotations, xml or yaml) it is stored in an instance of the Doctrine\ODM\PHPCR\Mapping\ClassMetadata class and these instances are stored in the metadata cache. Therefore at the end of the day all drivers perform equally well. If you're not using a metadata cache (not recommended!) then the XML driver might have a slight edge in performance due to the powerful native XML support in PHP.

Introduction to Docblock Annotations

You've probably used docblock annotations in some form already, most likely to provide documentation metadata for a tool like PHPDocumentor (@author, @link, ...). Docblock annotations are a tool to embed metadata inside the documentation section which can then be processed by some tool. Doctrine generalizes the concept of docblock annotations so that they can be used for any kind of metadata and so that it is easy to define new docblock annotations. In order to allow more involved annotation values and to reduce the chances of clashes with other docblock annotations, the Doctrine docblock annotations feature an alternative syntax that is heavily inspired by the Annotation syntax introduced in Java 5.

The implementation of these enhanced docblock annotations is located in the Doctrine\Common\Annotations namespace and therefore part of the Common package. Doctrine docblock annotations support namespaces and nested annotations among other things. The Doctrine PHPCR-ODM defines its own set of docblock annotations for supplying object-document mapping metadata.


If you're not comfortable with the concept of docblock annotations, don't worry, as mentioned earlier Doctrine provides XML and YAML alternatives and you could easily implement your own favourite mechanism for defining PHPCR-ODM metadata.

Persistent classes

In order to mark a class for object-document persistence it needs to be designated as an document. This can be done through the @Document marker annotation.

There is a couple of options you can specify for the document mapping. Some of them are explained here, the rest in the chapters on :ref:`References <association-mapping_referenceable>`, :doc:`Multilanguage <multilang>` and :doc:`Versioning <versioning>`.

Specify a node type

The nodeType attribute allows to specify a PHPCR node type to use for this document, instead of the default permissive nt:unstructured.

Specify a repository class

The repositoryClass attribute allows to specify a custom repository instead of the default repository implementation.

Doctrine Mapping Types

A Doctrine Mapping Type defines the mapping between a PHP type and a PHPCR property type. PHPCR defines a finite set of allowed types for properties.

For example, the Doctrine Mapping Type string defines the mapping from a PHP string to a PHPCR\\PropertyType::STRING. Here is a quick overview of the built-in mapping types:

See PHPCR\PropertyType for details about the types.

  • String: Arbitrary length strings
  • Binary: Binary stream using PHP streams
  • Long: Integer number (alias Int for convenience), limited by PHP_MAX_INT
  • Decimal: Arbitrary length number value (PHP string type for use with bcmath)
  • Double: Floating point number (alias Float for convenience)
  • Date: DateTime object
  • Boolean: Boolean value
  • Name: A valid PHPCR name
  • Path: A valid PHPCR path
  • Uri: A valid URI, for example a URL

Each document can have a unique identifier for referencing it. While the uuid is also exposed as a read-only string property, the proper mapping for it is mapping it as UUID. See :ref:`References <association-mapping_referenceable>` for more information.


DateTime types are compared by reference, not by value. Doctrine updates this values if the reference changes and therefore behaves as if these objects are immutable value objects.


All Date types assume that you are exclusively using the default timezone set by date_default_timezone_set() or by the php.ini configuration date.timezone. Working with different timezones will cause troubles and unexpected behavior.

If you need specific timezone handling you have to handle this in your domain, converting all the values back and forth from UTC. There is also a cookbook entry in the ORM documentation on working with datetimes that gives hints for implementing multi timezone applications.

Property Mapping

After a class has been marked as a document it can specify mappings for its instance fields. Properties are only simple fields that hold scalar values like strings, numbers, etc, or arrays thereof. Although references are also stored as properties in PHPCR, they have their own mappings - see the chapter "Association Mapping".

To mark a property for relational persistence the @Field docblock annotation is used. This annotation requires at least 1 attribute to be set, the type. The type attribute specifies the Doctrine Mapping Type to use for the field. If the type is not specified, PHPCR-ODM will try to let the PHPCR implementation determine a suitable type.


In that example we mapped the field count to the property count using the mapping type long and the field name is mapped to the property name with the mapping type string. As you can see, by default the column names are assumed to be the same as the field names.

Mapping to a differently named PHPCR property

To specify a different name for the column, you can use the property attribute of the Column annotation as follows:

Mapping multivalue properties

PHPCR handles multivalue (array) data natively. The PHPCR-ODM exposes this feature through the multivalue attribute of properties and adds support for hashmaps (storing the keys as well). Unless specified as true, properties are considered single value.

This mapping expects the field $names to contain an array of strings. When reading from the database, a multivalue property is expected and the field will be set to the array of strings.

The multivalue mapping will lose the keys of the array. To store hashmaps with keys, use the assoc attribute. This attribute implies multivalue so you don't need to repeat multivalue=true. The following configuration will result in the PHPCR property namesKeys for the names array and listArraykeys for the list keys.


These are all attributes of the Property annotation. The ORM knows quite a few validation attributes because they are used to generate the database schema. As PHPCR-ODM does not (yet) generate PHPCR node type definitions, there is no need for validation.

If you need to validate your documents, take a look at validator components like the Symfony2 validator.

Again a short list for the overview:

  • type: (optional, autodetected if not specified) The mapping type to use for the property.
  • name: (optional, defaults to field name) The name of the property in the repository.
  • multivalue: (optional, defaults to false) If this is set to true, the property is an array of the specified type.
  • assoc: (optional, defaults to false) If set to a string, the value is considered multivalue and the keys are stored in the PHPCR property given for the assoc property. If the value of assoc is empty, the name for the key field is the normal field name with Keys appended.


Every document has an identifier. The id in PHPCR-ODM is the PHPCR path.


The id being the path, it is not totally immutable. When the document is moved either explicitly with DocumentManager::move() or by assignment of a different @Name or @ParentDocument, the id will change. This was discussed thoroughly and is considered the best solution.

If you need to reference a document reliably even when moving, look at the @ReferenceOne and the @Uuid annotations explained in the :doc:`next chapter <association-mapping>`.

While you can manually assign the id, this is not recommended. When manually assigning, you need to ensure that the parent document resulting from the assigned path exists. The recommended way is to use the @Parentdocument and @Nodename annotations to place the document in the tree. When using that strategy, you need not have a property with the @Id annotation - though you can if you want to have access to the path for something.

Identifier Generation Strategies

Every document needs a unique id. PHPCR-ODM provides a couple of id strategies. You can specify one of them explicitly on the id mapping, or let the PHPCR-ODM pick a fitting one. The order is:

  • Explicitly specified strategy on the id mapping, for example @Id(strategy="repository");
  • If the document has a @ParentDocument and a @Nodename field, the parent is used to determine the id from this information. This is the most failsave strategy as it will ensure that there is a PHPCR parent existing for the document;
  • If only an @ParentDocument field is present, the auto takes the path from the @ParentDocument as the parent id generator does, but generates the node name automatically using the PHPCR addNodeAutoNamed method;
  • If there is only an id field, the assigned is used. It expects you to assign the repository path to the id field. You will have to make sure yourself that the parent exists.

Another strategy that is never chosen automatically but that you can assign explicitly is the RepositoryIdGenerator. For this you need to configure a custom repository implementing RepositoryIdInterface. This way you can implement any logic you might need.

Parent and name strategy (recommended)

This strategy uses the @Nodename (name of this node) and @ParentDocument (PHPCR-ODM document that is the parent). The id is generated as the id of the parent concatenated with '/' and the Nodename.

If you supply a ParentDocument annotation, the strategy is automatically set to parent. This strategy will check the parent and the name and will fall back to the assigned id if either is missing.

To create a new document, you do something like this:

$doc = new Document();
$doc->setParent($dm->find(null, '/test'));
// document is persisted with id /test/mynode

Assigned Id

This is the default but very unsafe strategy. You need to manually assign the path to the id field. A document is not allowed to have no parent, so you need to make sure that the parent of that path already exists. (It can be a plain PHPCR node not representing any PHPCR-ODM document, though.)

To create a new document, you do something like this:

$doc = new Document();
// document is persisted with id /test/mynode

Repository strategy

If you need custom logic to determine the id, you can explicitly set the strategy to "repository". You need to define the repositoryClass in your Document mapping which will handle the task of generating the id from the information in the document. This gives you full control how you want to build the id path.

The corresponding code could look like this:

namespace Demo;

use Doctrine\ODM\PHPCR\Id\RepositoryIdInterface;
use Doctrine\ODM\PHPCR\DocumentRepository as BaseDocumentRepository;
use Doctrine\ODM\PHPCR\Mapping\Annotations as PHPCR;

 * @PHPCR\Document(repositoryClass="Demo\DocumentRepository")
class Document
    /** @PHPCR\Id(strategy="repository") */
    private $id;
    /** @PHPCR\String */
    private $title;

class DocumentRepository extends BaseDocumentRepository implements RepositoryIdInterface
     * Generate a document id
     * @param object $document
     * @return string
    public function generateId($document, $parent = null)
        return '/functional/'.$document->getTitle();

Symfony2 bundle

If you are using the Symfony DoctrinePHPCRBundle, you can use the ValidPhpcrOdm validator to validate your documents.

You can find an example in the Symfony documentation.