Domain-model-mapper - A PHP Data Mapper implementation

At various PHP conferences and meetups over the last few weeks, I’ve seen attention drawn to the Data Mapper design pattern. This is an elegant pattern that splits the responsibilities of business logic and persistence. In the words of pattern supremo Martin Fowler:

The Data Mapper is a layer of software that separates the in-memory objects from the database. Its responsibility is to transfer data between the two and also to isolate them from each other. With Data Mapper the in-memory objects needn’t know even that there’s a database present; they need no SQL interface code, and certainly no knowledge of the database schema

This is a cleaner separation of concerns than that found in the ubiquitous Active Record pattern which, while a useful construct, conflates business logic with persistence. This can make a big difference in terms of testability as using a Data Mapper decouples the database from your domain models, making it easy to write unit tests. This has been something I’ve found slightly difficult with Django where the emphasis is more on writing integration tests that use fixtures to set up the test environmentl; writing unit tests without using a database is hard when foreign key constraints are involved.

Anyhow, it’s a favourite pattern of mine and I’ve recently pushed to Github a small library for PHP 5.3 which provides data mapper functionality. The extended details are in the README but the essential idea is: Create your domain models as subclasses of BaseDomainModel. This superclass provides methods for identifying a model, loading a model with data and implements a set of magic methods to allow easy access to field values. You can create a collection object too using ModelCollection as your superclass. This is useful if you want to implement methods that act on a collection of models, such as getTotalPrice() or similar. Create a corresponding mapper object as a subclass of Mapper. This class provides the usual persistence methods such as save(), insert(), update(), delete() as well as some helper methods to make writing “finder” methods easier. Sample usage is as follows. First set up your classes to model your domain.

// Create model class
class Person extends \DMM\BaseDomainModel
    public function __construct()
        // Specify field(s) that identify a model

        // Optionally specify field names
        $this->__setFieldNames(array('first_name', 'last_name', 'age'));

    public function getName()
        return trim(sprintf("%s %s", $this->first_name, $this->last_name));

// Create model collection class
class PersonCollection extends \DMM\ModelCollection
    public function getTotalAge()
        return array_sum($this->pluckField('age'));

// Create mapper class
class PersonMapper extends \DMM\Mapper
    private $tableName = 'people';
    private $tablePrimaryKey = 'person_id';

    protected $modelClass = 'Person';
    protected $modelCollectionClass = 'PersonCollection';

    public function __construct(PDO $pdo)
        parent::__construct($pdo, $this->tableName, $this->tablePrimaryKey);

    public function findByAge($age)
        $sql =
            "SELECT *
            FROM `{$this->tableName}`
            WHERE age = :age";
        $bindings = array(
            'age' => $age
        return $this->fetchCollection($sql, $bindings);

These can then used as follows:

// Create a new model
$person = new Person;
$person->first_name = 'Alan';
$person->last_name = 'Smith';
$person->age = 56;

// or
$otherPerson = new Person;
    'first_name' => 'Barry',
    'last_name' => 'Smith',
    'age' => 34

$mapper = new PersonMapper($pdo);
echo $person->person_id; // 1

// Load a collection
$twentyYearOlds = $mapper->findByAge(20);

Unit testing is now trivial as you can simply instantiate your model and use the __load method to populate it with data for testing.

$model = new Person;
$model->first_name = '  terry';
$model->last_name = 'jones     ';
$this->assertSame('terry jones', $model->getName());

Relationships between models are not a feature of the package at the moment. The best way to handle this is to use a “repository” object which composes several mappers.

The code is on github if you are interested.


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Tagged with: php, design patterns
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