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Dao & Norm

  • Dao - A ColdFusion library for easy and db agnostic CRUD interaction and Linq style query building.
  • Norm (Not ORM) - A dynamic Object Mapping layer built on top of DAO that provides oData support on top of ORM style object interactions (load, save, relate entities, etc...).

Elevator Pitch

Dao/Norm is a duo of libraries that provide a simple yet full featured interface to perform script based queries as well as adds extended functionality such as ORM (with easy and dynamic relationships), oData (Consume/Produce), LINQ style queries and more. Basically it is the data interaction ColdFusion/Railo/Lucee should have come with out of the box.

In short, the goal of this library is to allow one to interact with the database in a DB platform agnostic way, while making it super easy.


Currently this library has been actively used and tested on Lucee 4x, CF11+

Database Platform Agnostic

Currently there are two databases that are supported: MySQL and MS SQL. Others can be added by creating a new CFC that implements the necessary methods (see IDAOConnector.cfc). The CFC name would then be the "dbtype" argument passed to the init method when instantiating dao.cfc. So if you have otherrdbs.cfc, you'd instantiate as: dao = new dao( dbType = 'otherrdbs' );

What's in this library?

There are two parts to this library, the first is for a more traditional DAO type interaction where one uses a handful of CRUD functions:

  • dao.insert()
  • dao.read()
  • dao.update()
  • dao.delete()

as well as a general dao.execute() to run arbitrary SQL against the database.

Using the built-in methods for CRUD provides some benefits such as being database agnostic, providing optional "onFinish" callbacks functions, transaction logging (for custom replication).

The second part, NORM (Norm.cfc) adds a layer of ORM type functionality, plus a whole lot more.


See Installation

DAO Examples:

// create instance of DAO - must feed it a datasource name
dao = new com.database.dao( dsn = "myDatasource" ); // note: dbtype is optional and defaults to MySQL
// Also note that if a default datasource was specified in Application.cfc you do not need to pass it in.
// If a default datasource was defined:
dao = new com.database.dao();

// Insert data (could have easily been a form scope or "rc" struct)
DATA = {
		"_id" = lcase(createUUID()),
		"first_name" = "Joe" ,
		"last_name" = "Shmo",
		"email" = "[email protected]",
		"created_datetime" = now()

newID = dao.insert( table = "users", data = DATA );
// newID would contain the record's auto-incremented PK value

// the `dao.insert` function can also accept an array of structs to insert multiple records.
DATA = [
		"_id" = lcase(createUUID()),
		"first_name" = "Joe" ,
		"last_name" = "Shmo",
		"email" = "[email protected]",
		"created_datetime" = now()
		"_id" = lcase(createUUID()),
		"first_name" = "Sam" ,
		"last_name" = "Miller",
		"email" = "[email protected]",
		"created_datetime" = now()
		"_id" = lcase(createUUID()),
		"first_name" = "Diana" ,
		"last_name" = "Smith",
		"email" = "[email protected]",
		"created_datetime" = now()
insertedIDs = dao.insert( table = "users", data = DATA );
// insertedIDs would be an array of auto-incremented PK values for each inserted record

// The `dao.insert` function can also accept a query object as long as the query columns match the destination table columns
DATA = dao.read("imported_users");
insertedIDs = dao.insert( table = "users", data = DATA );

// DAO has a method queryParam() that wraps your values in
// appropriate cfqueryparam tags.  The method takes 4 args:
// value - required
// cfsqltype - optional, will be guessed based on value.  Uses
// common data type names, no need for the cf_sql_type... crap.
// list - true/false; will pass to cfqueryparam list attribute
// null - true/false; will pass to the cfqueryparam null attribute

// Insert data (using mysql specific replace into syntax )
newID2 = dao.execute("
	REPLACE INTO users (id, `_id`, first_name, last_name, email, created_datetime)
			,#dao.queryParam('[email protected]')#
			,#dao.queryParam(now(), 'timestamp')#
// newID2 would also contain the record's new PK value
// This is true for insert and replace statements only.

// You can also use $queryParam()$, which will be evaluated at runtime (as aposed to compile time)
// This is helpful if your SQL is persisted in storage and later read and executed.

// Another param option is to pass in named params.  Named params take the signature of:
//   :paramName{type="datatype",null=true/false,list=true/false}
// And you pass in a struct containing the named parameters and values.  You do not need
// to provide any of the optional properties, dao can guess these for you.  This means you could
// simply do: :paramName and not supply the {...} parts.
// Below is how the previous
// example would look using named params (using various forms of the named param syntax):
newID2 = dao.execute("
	REPLACE INTO users (id, `_id`, first_name, last_name, email, created_datetime)
		uuid = lcase( createUUID() ),
		firstName = 'john',
		lastName = 'deere',
		email = '[email protected]',
		createDate = now() }
// Notice that :lastName{} could have been written as :lastName or :lastName{type='varchar'}, etc...
// Not shown above, but you can also use the list parameter to indicate a list for IN() type statements.

// Return all records in a table
users = dao.read( "users" );

// Return all records using SQL - and cache it
users = dao.read(
	sql = "SELECT first_name, last_name FROM users",
	cachedWithin = createTimeSpan(0,0,2,0)

// Using named parameters
users = dao.read("
	SELECT first_name, last_name
	FROM users
	WHERE last_name IN( :lastNameList )
	AND first_name like :firstName
{ lastNameList : 'deere,doe', firstName : 'jo%' } );
// This will return all users with the last name of either 'deere' or 'doe' and
// where their first name starts with JO.
// NOTE: for list parameters you can also pass in an array:
// ... lastNameList : [ 'deere', 'doe' ]....

DAO Query Return Types

With the DAO read() function you can return data as a Query object, a Array of Structs or a JSON string. See example below:

users = dao.read( sql = "
		SELECT first_name, last_name
		FROM users
		WHERE last_name IN( :lastNameList )
		AND first_name like :firstName
	params = { lastNameList : 'deere,doe', firstName : 'jo%' },
	returnType = "JSON"
// This would return a string similar to:
// [{"first_name" : "john", "last_name" : "deere" }, {"first_name" : "joe", "last_name" : "deere" }]
// Other options are "Array" or "Query".  If not specified "Query" will be used.

Query Params

As described above, there are several ways to parameterize your values (for performance and security reasons you should always parameterize values passed into SQL). Each method ultimately results in the same thing, but has a slightly different path. Which method you choose will largely depend on vanity more than practicality. The methods are:

  • Inline call to queryParam()
user = dao.read("
	SELECT * FROM users
	WHERE userID = #dao.queryParam( value = myUserIdVariable, type = 'int', list = false, null = false )#

This method evaluates the parameters at compile time, so in the above example myUserIdVariable must already exist.

  • Inline placeholders - $queryParam()$
user = dao.read("
	SELECT * FROM users
	WHERE userID = $queryParam( value = myUserIdVariable, type = 'int', list = false, null = false )$

This method will evaluate the parameters at runtime. This means that in the above, myUserIdVariable doesn't get evaluated until the query is run. This allows parameterized SQL to be stored in a file, or database and executed later. It also allows building parameterized SQL strings that refer to variables that don't exist in the current context, but is then passed into a method that will have those variables. Contrived example:

sql = "SELECT * FROM users
WHERE userID = $queryParam( value = myUserIdVariable, type = 'int', list = false, null = false )$";
someFunction( sql );

function someFunction( sql ){
	myUserIdVariable = 1;
	dao.read( sql );
  • Named parameters - :paramName{ options }
user = dao.read("
	SELECT * FROM users
	WHERE userID = :userId{ type = 'int' }
{ userId: myUserIdVariable }

This method is sort of a hybrid of both the other methods. It allows you to have stored SQL (read from file/db, pieced together during request, etc...) with named parameters. The difference is that you will pass in the actual parameter values as an argument to dao.read() or dao.execute() so the parameters are evaluated at compile time then injected at runtime. The named parameter as described before, can either be :nameOfParam by itself and the datatype will be guessed, or can be :nameOfParam{ options } to include the options.

Each method takes the following options:

  • value - the value of the parameter
  • type - the data type of the parameter (can be adobe's cf_sql_{type} or equivilent shorthand ):
    • cf_sql_double or double
    • cf_sql_bit or bit
    • cf_sql_bigint
    • cf_sql_bit
    • cf_sql_char
    • cf_sql_blob
    • cf_sql_clob
    • cf_sql_date or datetime,date
    • cf_sql_decimal or decimal
    • cf_sql_double
    • cf_sql_float
    • cf_sql_idstamp
    • cf_sql_integer or int,integer,numeric,number,
    • cf_sql_longvarchar
    • cf_sql_money or money
    • cf_sql_money4
    • cf_sql_numeric
    • cf_sql_real
    • cf_sql_smallint
    • cf_sql_time
    • cf_sql_timestamp or timestamp
    • cf_sql_tinyint
    • cf_sql_varchar or varchar,char,text,memo,nchar,nvarchar,ntext
    • SHORTHAND == just drop off the *cf_sql_ * prefix.
  • list - True/False. If the value is a list to be included in an IN() clause. If true, the value argument can either be a string list or an array.
  • null - True/False. If true, the value is considered null.

All Read() Arguments

  • sql (String) = The actual SQL statement you wish to run.
  • params (Struct) = A struct of key/value pairs where Key is the parameter's name used in the SQL statement and the value is the resulting value. Example
usersByFirstName = dao.read(
	sql="SELECT * FROM users where Name = :userFirstName",
	params = {userFirstName:session.user.getFirstName()}
  • name (String) = Name of Query (required for cachedwithin)
  • QoQ (Struct) = A struct of key/value pairs where the Key is the query's name as used in the SQL statement and the value is the actual query object. Example
filtered = dao.read(
	sql="SELECT * FROM filteredUsers",
	QoQ = {filteredUsers:usersByFirstName}
  • cachedwithin (Timespan) = createTimeSpan() value to cache this query
  • table (String) = Table name to select from. Used only if not using SQL argument Example
users = dao.read( table = "users" )
users = dao.read("users");
  • columns (String) = List of valid column names for select statement. Used only if not using SQL argument Example
users = dao.read( table = "users", columns = "Id,firstName,LastName" );
  • where (String) = Where clause. Used only if not using SQL argument
  • limit (Number) = Limits the number of returned results. If SQL argument is provided it will reduce the results to the limit provided, otherwise will use native TSQL limits (i.e. MySQL LIMIT 10 OFFSET 1). Default = unlimited
  • offset (Number) = If SQL argument is provided it will remove the records from the results up to the offset provided, otherwise will use native TSQL offset (i.e. MySQL LIMIT 10 OFFSET 1). Default = 1
  • orderBy (String) = Column name to order the query by. Used only if not using SQL argument
  • returnType (String) = Type of data to return. Options: Query (default), Array (Array of Structs) or JSON
  • map (Function) = A function to be executed for each row in the results ( only used if returnType == Array )


DAO can automatically fire a callback method upon completion each data modifying event. To take advantage of this, supply the a function to the "onFinish" argument of the update, insert or delete functions. DAO will supply the callback with data specific to the action, or more precisely:

  • on insert():
  • table = Name of the table in which data was inserted
  • data = A query object containing the data that was inserted into said table
  • id = The value of the primary key that was generated (or supplied)
  • on update():
  • table = Name of the table in which data was updated
  • data = A query object containing the data that was inserted into said table
  • changes = An array of structs containing the actual changed data as:
  • column = Name of column that changed
  • original = Original value before the data was changed
  • new = Value the data was changed to
  • on delete():
  • table = Name of the table from which data was deleted
  • id = The value of the primary key that was deleted In addition to the DAO supplied argumetns, you can also pass in an argument named callbackArgs to the insert/update/delete function. These will be passed in along with the DAO supplied data to your handler method.
DATA = {
	"id" = 123,
	"last_name" = "Bond"
dao.update( table = "users", data = DATA, onFinish = afterUpdate, callbackArgs = { "modifiedBy" : session.userId } );

public function afterUpdate( response ){
	// Simple audit logger, could get much more detailed.
	var description = "User: #response.modifiedBy# Updated table: #response.table# ID: #response.data.ID# -- ";
	for( var change in response.changes ){
		description &= "Changed #change.column# from '#change.original#' to '#change.new#'. ";
	description &= " -- at #now()#";
	this.execute( "
			INSERT INTO eventLog( event, description, eventDate )
		" );

Note: Using the ORM-like functionality provided by Norm (see Norm - The ORM'sh side of DAO section below) will give you much more control over the insert/update/delete using an event model similar to the ColdFusion ORM events.

Query of Queries

With DAO you can also query an existing query result. Simply pass the query in as the QoQ argument ( struct consisting of name_to_use = query_name ), then write your SQL as if you would normally write a query of queries.

users = dao.read("users");
johns = dao.read( sql = "
		SELECT first_name, last_name
		FROM userQuery
		WHERE lower(first_name) = :firstName
	params = { firstName : 'john' },
	returnType = "Array",
	QoQ = { userQuery : users}

Entity Queries

New as of version 0.0.57 ( June 6, 2014 ) you can now perform LINQ'ish queries via dao.cfc. This allows you to build criteria in an OO and platform agnostic way. This will also be the only query language available when communicating with a non-RDBMS data store (i.e. couchbase, mongoDB, etc...) Here's an example of how to use this new feature:

// build the query criteria
var query = request.dao.from( "eventLog" )
					.where( "eventDate", "<", now() )
					.andWhere( "eventDate", ">=", dateAdd( 'd', -1, now() ) )
						.andWhere( "ID", ">=", 1)
							.andWhere( "event", "=", "delete")
							.orWhere( "event", "=", "insert")
					.orderBy("eventDate desc")
					.run(); // the run() method executes the query and returns a query object.  If you don't
							// run() then it returns the dao object, which you can later use to add to the
							// criteria, or run at your leasure.

for( var rec in query ){
	//do something with the record

The MySQL generated from the above example would look something like:

SELECT `description`, `event`, `eventdate`, `ID`
FROM eventLog
WHERE `eventDate` < ?
AND `eventDate` >= ?
AND ( `ID` >= ? OR ( `event` = ? OR `event` = ? ) )
ORDER BY eventDate desc

You can also specify the desired return type (supports the same return types as read(): Query, Array, JSON). To do so, simply call the .returnAs() method in the chain, like so:

var query = dao.from( "eventLog" )
				.where( "eventDate", "<", now() )


With Entity Queries there are also a couple ways to define joins.

  • Directly define the join in the from() call:
var query = request.dao.from(
		table = "pets",
		columns = "pets.ID as petId, users.ID as userID, pets.firstname as petName, users.first_name as ownerName",
		joins = [{ type: "LEFT", table: "users", on: "users.id = pets.userId"}] )
	.where( "pets.ID", "=", 93 );
  • With the join() function:
var query = request.dao.from(
		table = "pets",
		columns = "pets.ID as petId, users.ID as userID, pets.firstname as petName, users.first_name as ownerName" )
	.join( type = "LEFT", table = "users", on = "users.id = pets.userId")
	.where( "pets.ID", "=", 93 ).run();

When defining a join will want to supply the columns argument to properly alias your columns. The above examples supply all of the columns in the from() function, however you can also supply the columns directly in the join, either as a key in the joins array when passing the joins argument to the from() function, or as the columns argument to the join() function. The benefit of this method is that you can define the columns as they are joined, which may be in different parts of your code. Here's an example:

var query = request.dao.from( table = "pets")
		type = "LEFT",
		table = "users",
		on = "users.id = pets.userId",
		columns = "users.ID as userID, users.first_name as ownerName" )
	.where( "pets.ID", "=", 93 ).run();

// OR

var query = request.dao.from(
		table = "pets",
		joins = [{
			type: "LEFT",
			table: "users",
			on: "users.id = pets.userId",
			columns: "users.ID as userID, users.first_name as ownerName"}] )
	.where( "pets.ID", "=", 93 ).run();

The above will return every column in the pets table, and only the ID and first_name from the users table (aliased). With either method you can also specify the columns in the from() function to limit the columns from the main table to be returned:

var query = request.dao.from(
		table = "pets",
		columns = "pets.ID as petId, pets.firstName as petName"
		joins = [{
			type: "LEFT",
			table: "users",
			on: "users.id = pets.userId",
			columns: "users.ID as userID, users.first_name as ownerName"}] )
	.where( "pets.ID", "=", 93 ).run();

Which will only return pets.ID and pets.firstName (aliased) from the pets table and users.ID and users.first_name (aliased) from the users table.

This new syntax will provide greater separation of your application layer and the persistence layer as it deligates to the underlying "connector" (i.e. mysql.cfc) to parse and perform the actual query.


These are simply where clauses that you can build independently from the linq query chain. For instance you may build a series of predicates over time that you then feed into the linq (Entity Query). The following methods are provided to create and use predicates:

  • predicate( column, operator, value ) - Convenience method to return a struct representation of the predicate/clause {column:column, operator:operator, value:value }
  • orPredicate( predicate ) - Adds a single or array of predicates to an OR group.
  • andPredicate( predicate ) - Adds a single or array of predicates to an AND group. i.e.:
var predicate = dao.predicate("columnName", "=", "123" );
var predicate2 = dao.predicate("SecondcolumnName", "=", "abc" );
var results = dao.from("myTable").where(predicate).andWhere(predicate2).run();

You could also group and pass in multiple as arrays i.e.

var predicates = [
	dao.predicate("columnName", "=", "123" ),
	dao.predicate("SecondcolumnName", "=", "abc" )
var results = dao.from("myTable").where(1,"=",1).andWhere(predicates).run();

These are also usefull for nested groups such as the following SQL:

WHERE 1 = 1
AND ( column1 = 1 OR column2 = "a" OR ( column3 = "c" AND column4 = "d") )

This would be represented in entity query/linq as:

var orPredicates = [
	dao.predicate("column1", "=", "1" ),
	dao.predicate("column2", "=", "a" )
var andPredicates = [
var results = dao.from("myTable")
			.orPredicate( orPredicates )
				.andPredicate( andPredicates )

NORM - The ORM'sh side of DAO

The second part of this library is an ORM'sh implementation of entity management. It internally uses the dao.cfc (and dbtype specific CFCs), but provides an object oriented way of playing with your model. Consider the following examples:

// create instance of dao ( could be injected via your favorite DI library )
dao = new dao( dsn = "myDatasource" );

// Suppose we have a model/User.cfc model cfc that extends "Norm.cfc"
user = new model.User( dao );

// Create a new user named john.
user.setFirstName( 'john' );
user.setLastName( 'deere' );
user.setEmail('[email protected]');

// Save will insert the new record because it doesn't exist.
// If we had loaded the entity with a user record, it would perform an update.

// So the entity has been persisted to the database.  If we wanted
// to at this point, we could use the user.getID() method to get the
// value of the newly created PK.  Or we could do another update
user.save(); // Now the entity has been "updated" and persisted to the databse.

// Now, to load data into an entity it's as simple as:
user = new model.User( dao );
user.load(1);  // assuming our record's ID == 1

// We can also do crazy stuff like:
user.loadByFirstNameAndLastName('Johnny', 'deere');
// Every property/field in the entity can be included in this dynamic load function
// just prefix the function name as "loadBy" and delimit the field name criteria by "And"

// A model entity can also be used to load collections, not just a single member
user = new model.User( dao );
users = user.loadAll(); // <--- returns array of intitialized entity objects - one for each record

// you can also filter using the dynamic load function
users = user.loadAllByFirstName('Johnny');

// there is also a list function that will return a query object
users = user.list( where = "FirstName = 'Johnny' ");

// Even more coolness. We can return the entity (or collection) as an array, or JSON, or struct!
user.toJSON(); // <--- know that this is not the ACF to JSON crap, it's real serialized JSON.

// Collection return types
users = user.listAsArray( where = "FirstName = 'Johnny' ");
users = user.listAsJSON( where = "FirstName = 'Johnny' ");

That's the very basics of Entity management in DAO. It get's real interesting when you start playing with relationships. By-in-large I have adopted the property syntax used by CF ORM to define entity properties and describe relationships. Example:

/* Pet.cfc */
component norm_persistent="true" table="pets" extends="com.database.Norm" accessors="true" {

	property name="ID" type="numeric" fieldtype="id" generator="increment";
	property name="_id" fieldtype="id" generator="uuid" type="string" length="45";
	property name="userID" type="numeric" sqltype="int";
	property name="firstName" type="string" column="first_name";
	property name="lastName" type="string" column="last_name";
	property name="createdDate" type="date" column="created_datetime";
	property name="modifiedDate" type="date" column="modified_datetime" formula="now()";

	/* Relationships */
	property name="user" inverseJoinColumn="ID" cascade="save-update" fieldType="one-to-one" fkcolumn="userID" cfc="model.User";
	property name="offspring" type="array" fieldType="one-to-many" singularname="kid" fkcolumn="offspringID" cfc="model.Offspring";

	public string function getFullName(){
		return variables.firstName & " " & variables.lastName;

When in development you can have dao create your tables for you by passing the dropcreate = true to the initializer. Exmaple:

	user = new User( dao = dao, dropCreate = true );

This will inspect your CFC properties and create a table based on those details. This supports having different property names vs column names, table names, data types, etc...

The "Pet.cfc" above would create a table named pets with an auto incrementing PK name ID, a "varchar(45)" _id field, a userID field with the type "Int" varchar fields named first_name and last_name a datetime field named created_datetime and a datetime field named modified_datetime.

  • The _id field, will automatically generate a UUID value when a record is first created because we specified a generator UUID.
  • The getters/setters for first_name, last_name, craeted_datetime, modified_datetime would be:
    • get/setFirstName();
    • get/setLastName();
    • get/setCreatedDate();
    • get/setModifiedDate();
  • The modifiedDate will update with the evaluated value of "now()" each time the data is updated.
  • The dynamic load statements respect the name/column differences, so the loadByFirstName("?") will essentially translate to "first_name = ?"

Entity Events

Norm supports almost the same ORM entity events as Adobe ColdFusion does (it in fact supports the same events, just named a little better. Instead of pre/post in the name Norm uses before/after):

  • beforeLoad(): This method is called before the load operation or before the data is loaded from the database.
  • afterLoad(): This method is called after the load operation is complete.
  • beforeInsert(): This method is called just before the object is inserted. If anything is returned it will abort the insert.
  • afterInsert(): This method is called after the insert operation is complete.
  • beforeUpdate(Norm oldData): This method is called just before the object is updated. A struct of old data is passed to this method to know the original state of the entity being updated. If anything is returned it will abort the update.
  • afterUpdate(): This method is called after the update operation is complete.
  • beforeDelete(): This method is called before the object is deleted. If anything is returned it will abort the delete.
  • afterDelete(): This method is called after the delete operation is complete.

Each event also receives the current entity as an argument. This is important for injected event handlers as it allows you to get/set properties on the current entity within the handler.

These can be defined within a CFC, or injected after the fact. Examples:

	// Entity CFC
	component extends="com.database.Norm"{
		function beforeInsert( entity ){
			//do something.
			if(  entity.getSomeKey() == false ){
				return false;
	// Alternative: Inject Event Handler
	user = new com.database.Norm( "user" );
	user.beforeInsert = function( entity ){
		if( entity.getSomeKey() == false ){
			return false;

Dynamic Entities

Sometimes it's a pain in the arse to create entity CFCs for every single table in your database. You must create properties for each field in the table, then keep it updated as your model changes. This feature will allow you to define an entity class with minimal effort. Here's an example of a dynamic entity CFC:

/* EventLog.cfc */
component norm_persistent="true" table="eventLog" extends="com.database.Norm"{

That's all we need. Now say I created a table named eventLog in my databse with the following:

CREATE TABLE `eventLog` (
  `event` varchar(100) DEFAULT NULL,
  `description` text,
  `eventDate` datetime DEFAULT NULL,

When I instantiate the EventLog.cfc with:

eventLog = new model.EventLog( dao = dao );

I'll get an instance of EventLog as if the CFC had included the following properties:

property name="ID" fieldtype="id" generator="increment";
property name="event" type="string";
property name="description" type="string";
property name="eventDate" type="date";

To make this work, just make sure you set the table attribute to point to the actual table in the database, extend Norm and set the norm_persistent=true. When you then create an instance of that CFC, the table (eventLog in the above example) will be examined and all the fields in that table will be injected into your instance - along with all the getters/setters. This even works with identity fields (i.e. Primary Keys) and auto generated (i.e. increment) fields.

You can also mix and match. You can statically define properties:

component norm_persistent="true" table="eventLog" extends="com.database.Norm" accessors="true"{
	property name="description" type="string";

And DAO will just inject the rest of the columns. This is handy in cases where your table definition has been altered (i.e. new fields) as they will automatically be included. For anything more than straight table entities (i.e. you need many-to-many relationships, formulas, custom validation, etc...) you still need to declare those properties in the CFC. You also must statically define properties where you want the property name to be different than the table's column name. (NOTE: the DAO is smart enough to check for both when injecting properties)

Dynamic Entity - A step further

In some cases it may best to create entity CFCs that extend Norm, but... for dynamic entities you don't necessarily have to. Here's what we could have done above without having to create EventLog.cfc:

eventLog = new com.database.Norm( dao = dao, table = 'eventLog' );

That would have returned an entity instance with all the properties from the eventLog table. It will also attempt to auto-wire related entities ( which is not an exclusive feature of dynamic entities itself, but a feature of any object that extends Norm : See more below about dynamic relationships ).

Now, if you are on CF10+ or Railo 4.x or Lucee 4.x and you have a default datasource setup in Application.cfc (this.datasource) you can omit the dao argument:

eventLog = new com.database.Norm( 'eventLog' );

However, doing so will create a new instance of DAO for each instance of Norm. It is often more peformant to create a singleton instance and store it in a global scope, then pass that in.


In the example above, Pet.cfc defines a one-to-one relationship with the user. This will automatically load the correct "User" object into the Pet object when the Pet object is instantiated. If none exists it will load an un-initialized instance of User. When a save is performed on Pet, the User is also evaluated and saved (if any changes were detected ).

One can also identify one-to-many relationships. This will also auto-load and "cascade" save unless told otherwise via the "cascade" attribute. This type of relationship creates an Array of whatever object it is related to, and adds the add<Entity Name>() method to the instance so you can add instances to the array. Notice in our Pets.cfc example we define a one-to-many relationship of "offspring" which maps to "model.Offspring".

Dynamic Relationships

Now, I'm lazy, so wiring up relationships is kind of a bother. Many times we're just working with simple one-to-many or many-to-one relationships. Using a convention over configuration approach, this lib will look for and inject related entities when the object is loaded. So, if you have an "orders" table, that has a "customers_ID" field which is a foriegn key to the "customers" table, we can automatically join the two when you load the "orders" entity. This can also be configured to use a custom naming convention by passing in the dynamicMappingFKConvention property during init, or setting it afterwards. See:

MANY-TO-ONE Relationship

var order = new com.database.Norm( dao = dao, table = 'orders');
order.load(123); // load order with ID of 123
writeDump( order.getCustomers().getName() );
// ^ If the customers table has a field named "name" this writeDump will
// output the customer name associated with order 123

// If the naming convention is tableId instead of table_ID you can specify this as:
// The keyword {table} will be replaced at runtime to reflect the actual table name.
// This could also be set during init as"
var order = new com.database.Norm( dao = dao, table = 'orders', dynamicMappingFKConvention = '{table}Id');

ONE-TO-MANY Relationship

Now say you you have an order_items table that contains all the items on an order ( realted via order_items.orders_ID ( adheres to the dynamicMappingFKConvention property described above ) ). Using the same order object created above, we could do this:

writeDump( order.getOrder_Items() );

That would dump an array of "order_item" entity objects, one for each order_items record associated with order 123. Note that we didn't need to create a single CFC file, or define any relationships, or create any methods. Sometimes, however, you don't want the objects. You just need the data in a struct format.

writeDump( order.getOrder_ItemsAsArray() );

That will dump an array of struct representation of the order_items associated with order 123. Awesome, I know. However, when writing an API, you sometimes need just JSON:

writeDump( order.getOrder_ItemsAsJSON() );

There you have it. A JSON representation of your data. Ok, now say you just want to retrieve order 123 and return it, and all of it's related data as a struct. This is a little trickier since the dynamic relationships need to know something about your related data. We achieved that above by using the table name and return types in the method call ( get Order_Items as JSON ). If you just want to load the data and return it with all child data, you need to define what you want back:

order.hasMany( 'order_items' );
order.toStruct();// or order.toJSON();

The hasMany method can also specify the primary key ( if other than <table>_ID ), and an alias for the property that is injected into the parent. So if you wanted to reference the order_items as say, orderItem you could do this:

order.hasMany( table = 'order_items', property = 'orderItems' );

In addition, the hasMany method can take a where argument that is used to filter the child entities. For instance, if you have a column in your order_items table called status, in which the value 1 means it's active and 99 means it's deleted you could define your hasMany relationship like:

order.hasMany( table = 'order_items', property = 'orderItems', where = 'status != 99' );

This would only return "active" order_items.

The hasMany method is great for defining one-to-many relationships that can't be/aren't defined by naming conventions, but there's also a way to define many-to-one relationships in this manner; the belongsTo method.

order.belongsTo( table = 'customers', property = 'company', fkColumn = 'customerID' );
writeDump( order.getCompany() );

This may not be as useful as the hasMany method, as these many-to-one relationships can easily be defined using dynamicMappings (discussed below), but it can bind these relationships after the entity has been loaded, where dynamicMappings occur during load.

##Dynamic Mappings/Aliases Now, there are also ways to create user friendly aliases for your related entity properties. You do this by supplying the optional dynamicMappings argument to the Norm's init method. The dynamicMappings argument expects a struct containing key and value pairs of mappings wher the key is the desired property name for one-to-many or column name for many-to-one relationships and the value is the actual table name (or a struct, explained later).

So for instance if you would rather use orderItems instead of order_items you could pass in the "dynamicMappings" argument to the init method.

dynamicMappings = { "orderItems" = "order_items" };
order = new com.database.Norm( dao = dao, table = 'orders', dynamicMappings = dynamicMappings );
order.load( 123 );
writeDump( order.getOrderItems() );

That would dump an array of entities representing the order_items records that are related to the order #123

The above is a simple mapping of property name to a table - a one-to-many relationship mapping. We can also specify mappings to auto-generate relationships using a non-standard naming convention. As mentioned previously, the auto-wiring of many-to-one relationships happens if we encounter a field/property named <table>_ID. However, sometimes you may have a field tha doesn't follow this pattern. If you do, you can specify it in mappings and we'll auto-wire it with the rest. For example, say you have a customers table which has a default_payment_terms field that is a FK to a table called payment_terms, here's how we could handle that with simple dynamicMappings:

dynamicMappings = { "default_payment_terms" = "payment_terms" };
order = new com.database.Norm( dao = dao, table = 'orders', dynamicMappings = dynamicMappings );
order.load( 123 );
writeDump( order.getDefault_Payment_Terms() );

There you have it. This would dump the payment_terms entity that was related to the default_payment_terms value. But, what if you don't want the property to be called default_payment_terms? Simple, we can supply a struct as the value part of the mapping. The struct consists of two keys: table and property. So, if we wanted the defualt_payment_terms to be defaultPaymentTerms all we'd have to do is:

dynamicMappings = { "default_payment_terms" = { table = "payment_terms", property = "defaultPaymentTerms" } };
order = new com.database.Norm( dao = dao, table = 'orders', dynamicMappings = dynamicMappings );
order.load( 123 );
writeDump( order.getDefaultPaymentTerms() );

This will dump the exact same as the previous example. This is only necessary on many-to-one relationships.

NOTE: It is also important to note that the dynamicMappings are passed into any object instantiated during the load() method. So if you have a dynamicMapping on the order entity, when you load it and it crawls through auto-wiring the order_items, customers, etc... it will apply the same mappings throughout. So as the example above, the property defaultPaymentTerms would be used anytime a property/column named default_payment_terms was encoutnerd. Here's an example of a more real-world dynamicMapping:

dynamicMappings = {
	"company" = "customers",
	"users_ID" = { "table" = "users", property = "User" },
	"orderItems" = "order_items",
	"default_payment_terms" = "payment_terms",
	"default_locations_ID" = { "table" = "locations", "property" = "defaultLocation" },
	"primary_contact" =  { "table" = "contacts", "property" = "primaryContact" }
order = new com.database.Norm( dao = dao, table = 'orders', dynamicMappings = dynamicMappings );
order.load( 123 );
writeDump( order.getCompany().getUser() );

###Dynamic Relationship Best Practices Although you can definitely define your relationships on the fly using naming conventions, the dynamicMappings property, and hasMany/belongsTo methods it may not always be the best practice. Take for example the code snippet above where we are setting all of those dynamic mappings. It's likely that everywhere you need the order entity you'll probably want those mappings to exist (and be consistent). To accomplish this you'll want a hybrid aproach using a facade CFC. Here's a sample of how that could look:

Order Entity Facade: model/Order.cfc

* I define relationships and preset defaults for the orders entity
component accessors="true" output="false" table="orders" extends="com.database.Norm" {
	public init(){

	// Load relationships, etc.. here
	public any function load(){

		// Define alias mappings.  This needs to happen before the entity is loaded, because the
		// load method needs this mapping to build the entity relationships.
			"company" = "customers",
			"users_ID" = { "table" = "users", property = "User" },
			"orderItems" = "order_items",
			"default_payment_terms" = "payment_terms",
			"default_locations_ID" = { "table" = "locations", "property" = "defaultLocation" },
			"primary_contact" =  { "table" = "contacts", "property" = "primaryContact"

		// Now load the entity, passing any args that we were given
		super.load( argumentCollection = arguments );

		// Now that the entity is loaded, we can identify any many-to-one relationships with the hasMany function
		this.hasMany( table = "order_items", fkcolumn = "orders_ID", property = "orderItems", where = "status != 99" );

		return this;

With the above, I can simply instantiate the Order entity like so:

order = new model.Order();
writeDump( order.getCompany().getUser() );
writeDump( order.getOrderItems() );

lazy loading

If you are fortunate enough to be on Lucee 4.x, Railo 4x or ACF10+ you can take advantage of lazy loading. This dramatically improves performance when loading entities with a lot of related entities, or are loading a collection of entities that have related entities. What it will do is load the parent entity and "overload" the getters methods of the child entities with a customized getter that will first instantiate/load the child object, then return it's value. This way, only child entities that are actually used/referenced will be loaded.

To lazy load, you simply use the dynamic load method, prefixed with "lazy"

pet = new Pet( dao ).lazyLoadAll();
// then, if I only need the first name of the "user" for the second pet I'd just:
ownerName = pet[2].getFirstName();  // That would trigger the "load" on only the that pet's user object.

Data Validation

Each property in a Norm object can be validated using the validateProperty() or you can validate the entire object by calling validate() on the Norm object. By default this will validate against the type attribute on the property definition. This attribute is either hard coded via property tag, or dynamically via the DB column definition (if object initialized dynamically - apposed to via cfc definition).

To provide custom validation, you'll need to define the property in a CFC. You don't need to spell out the entire model object in the cfc, just the properties you want custom validation on. For example:

/* Events.cfc */
component norm_persistent="true" table="events" extends="com.database.Norm"{
	property name="priority" type="range" min="0" max="3";
	property name="eventDate" type="date";
	property name="eventUrl" type="regex" regex="^(http://|https://)[\w\.-]+\.[a-zA-Z]{2,3}(/?)$";
	property name="title" type="text" allowNulls="false";
	property name="venue" type="model.Venue";

With the above object, the priority would only be valid if it was between 0 and 3, the eventDate must be a valid date, eventUrl must be a valid url (according to the supplied regex), title cannot be null and venue must be an instance of the model.Venue object.

Calling obj.validate() will return a struct with key valid set to true if no errors or false if any validation errors. If a validation error was found it will also contain an array of errors.


Any of your Norm entities can produce and/or consume oData. OData (Open Data Protocol) is (according to the official site) " an OASIS standard that defines the best practice for building and consuming RESTful APIs.". Basically it is a protocol to communicate model interactions between the front-end and back-end. This allows you to use front-end libraries/oData Clients such as BreezeJS to build RESTFul APIs without having to duplicate your model on the client. See examples/breezejs/README.md for a sample BreezeJS app that uses Taffy/Norm to create a simple TODO app (specifically /examples/breezejs/api/resources/).

Currently we support the following oData methods:

  • getODataMetaData - Returns oData metadata that describes the entire server model ( for oData $metadata endpoint )
  • listAsOData - Returns a list of the requested collection (filtered/ordered based on query args) in an oData format.
// FROM BREEZEJS SAMPLE: Taffy Resource for "get" verb to return an array of items matching the oData formated filter criteria
remote function get(string $filter = "" ,string $orderby = "", string $skip = "", string $top = ""){
	var todo = new com.database.Norm( table = "TodoItem" );

	return representationOf(
    	//returns an oData object containing all of the matching entities in our DB
				filter = arguments.$filter,
				orderby = arguments.$orderby,
				skip = arguments.$skip,
				top = arguments.$top,
	            excludeKeys = [ "_id", "other_field_you_want_to_hide" ]

  • toODataJSON - Convenience function to return JSON representation of the current entity with additional oData keys.
  • oDataSave - Accepts an array of oData entities and perform the appropriate DB interactions based on the metadata and returns the Entity struct with the following:
    • Entities: An array of entities that were sent to the server, with their values updated by the server. For example, temporary ID values get replaced by server-generated IDs.
    • KeyMappings: An array of objects that tell oData which temporary IDs were replaced with which server-generated IDs. Each object has an EntityTypeName, TempValue, and RealValue.
    • Errors (optional): An array of EntityError objects, indicating validation errors that were found on the server. This will be null if there were no errors. Each object has an ErrorName, EntityTypeName, KeyValues array, PropertyName, and ErrorMessage.
// FROM BREEZEJS SAMPLE: Taffy Resource for "post" verb to save one or more "TodoItem" records.
   remote function post(){
   	var todo = new com.database.Norm( table = "TodoItem" );
   	var ret = todo.oDataSave( arguments.entities );
   	return representationOf( ret ).withStatus(200);

Railo/Lucee Notes

In order to use the DAO caching options with Railo/Lucee you'll need to enable a default cache in the Railo/Lucee Administrator. If this is not done, the caching mechanism will be forced off (otherwise would result in errors). Simply create a "RamCache" (for some reason EHCache throws NPE) type Cache service under Services > Cache and set it to be the default for Object caches. The default can also be set per app using Application.cfc by adding:

this.cache.object = "your_cache_name_here";

NOTE: DAO Caching is experimental and does not currently work well with nested dynamic relationships.

Also, the "Preserve single quotes" setting must be checked in the Railo/Lucee admin. DAO specifically passes the SQL strings through preserveSingleQuotes(), but this doesn't seem to work unless you have that setting checked under Services > Datasources.


0.3.x Breaking Changes

  • Changed get function to a generic property getter get('propertyName') rather than a data fetching method. If using entity.get(1) to get the record with ID of 1, use entity.getRecord(1) instead.
  • Split out LINQ and oData features into mixin files (linq.cfm and oData.cfm respetively). If updating from a previous version, simply make sure you deploy all files in the /database folder to your target.

New in 0.2.x

This version bump to 0.2.x indicates some breaking changes. First, and most trivial is the renaming of BaseModelObject to Norm. Norm has long been the pet name for this project as it is sort of a polysemantic name. First, the name Norm is an acronym for Not ORM (or one could argue Not Only ORM, but Noorm didn't look as good to me). The second is that this project (and parent Dao) has always been about Norm-alizing the data access layer. Building on Dao/Norm gives you a centralized, unified way to interact with your various dbs, providing the ability to introduce AOP style functionality (via events), db agnostic systems with the abstractions that Dao provides, etc...

0.2.x Breaking changes

The "Norm" aspect of this project has always aimed to closely mimic the Adobe ColdFusion implementation of ORM. It uses the same attributes, has support to define relationships via properties, even supports the same events. While this is still a goal, I found it necessary to diverge sligthly in certain areas. The first being the attribute names.

Attribute names used in Norm in version 0.1.x were always named exactly as the ORM counterpart attributes. While this makes it easy to migrate from CF ORM to Norm, it caused unexpected issues due to the fact that the cfml engine (Lucee in particular) may see these attributes as reserved keywords at compile time, which fires up Hibernate and expect ORM to be enabled. To mitigate this, I've change the persistent attribute to norm_persistent. So far this is the only attribute name I've needed to change, but will evaluate changing the rest as needed.

The other breaking change, and deviation from the CFML way is in the ORM style events. ACF named these events "preLoad, postLoad, etc...", and while that is fine for ACF I thought it to be stupid naming. I've opted to use beforeLoad, and afterLoad, etc... instead. If you are using this lib and really, really want it to be pre/post, submit an issue, or better yet a pull request to add support for both namings.

One to Many relationships have changed in that when dynamically loading child records these will be loaded as either an array of structs instead of array of objects or an array of closures for lazy loading the objects (for which calling parentObj.getWhateverChildNameIs() would hydrate the object). The process to load fully initialized/loaded objects is quite expensive when adding 3 or more child entities to a parent entity.

This update also includes many bug fixes and performance improvements.

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