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LessQL is a lightweight and performant alternative to Object-Relational Mapping for PHP.

Guide | Conventions | API Reference | About

If you are looking for an SQL-based approach superior to raw PDO, check out DOP as an alternative.


Install LessQL via composer: composer require morris/lessql. LessQL requires PHP >= 5.6 and PDO.


// user: id, name
// post: id, title, body, date_published, is_published, user_id
// categorization: category_id, post_id
// category: id, title

// Connection
$pdo = new PDO('sqlite:blog.sqlite3');
$db = new LessQL\Database($pdo);

// Find posts, their authors and categories efficiently:
// Eager loading of references happens automatically.
// This example only needs FOUR queries, one for each table.
$posts = $db->post()
    ->where('is_published', 1)
    ->orderBy('date_published', 'DESC');

foreach ($posts as $post) {
    $author = $post->user()->fetch();

    foreach ($post->categorizationList()->category() as $category) {
        // ...

// Saving complex structures is easy
$row = $db->createRow('post', [
    'title' => 'News',
    'body' => 'Yay!',
    'categorizationList' => [
            'category' => ['title' => 'New Category']
        ['category' => $existingCategoryRow]

// Creates a post, a new category, two new categorizations
// and connects them all correctly.


  • Efficient deep finding through intelligent eager loading
  • Constant number of queries, no N+1 problems
  • Save complex, nested structures with one method call
  • Convention over configuration
  • Work closely to your database: LessQL is not an ORM
  • No glue code required
  • Clean, readable source code
  • Fully tested with SQLite3, MySQL and PostgreSQL
  • MIT license

Inspired mainly by NotORM, it was written from scratch to provide a clean API and simplified concepts.