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eQual comes with an object-relational mapper (ORM) that greatly eases the interactions with the database by handling the data conversions, classes inheritance and objects relations.

The ObjectManager service is dedicated to Object-Relational Mapping. It handles all tasks that relate to objects search and manipulations and offers an abstract layer for DBMS queries.

The ORM can be used in order to :

  • create, update or delete one or more objects (based on the ID field)
  • retrieve a single entity or a list of entities (both based on the ID field)
  • retrieve a list of IDs of entities that match some criteria

ObjectManager methods are for low-level manipulations (no data conversion nor validation, and no user permission check at this level). These are mostly used in methods of classes definition.

Controllers mostly require high-level manipulations (including data conversion, validation and permission checks) and therefore use Collections returned by class autoloader.

Object Definition


In the object-relational mapping (ORM) system, object definitions are structured using classes that inherit from the equal\orm\Model. This base class provides methods and properties that are common to all objects within the system.

Fields Definition

Each model class must implement at least one mandatory method: getColumns(). This method is essential as it defines the model fields.

The getColumns() returns an associative array, mapping field names to their definitions. This method allows for the specification of each field's characteristics, such as type, default values, constraints, and any other relevant attributes.

Below is a basic implementation of the getColumns() method in PHP:


public static function getColumns() {
    // Returns an empty array by default
    return [];

Default Values

The default property of a field allows automatically assigning a default value when creating a new object. The framework supports scalar values, closures, and references to class methods for defining default values.

Scalar Values

Scalar values include numbers, strings, and results from PHP function calls that are evaluated when the class is parsed. In this case, there is no special handling, and all created instances will have the value (or the result of the function) as assigned during the class declaration. This assignment of default values occurs when the ORM first retrieves the class definition.

For example:


'day' => [
    'type'    => 'date',
    'default' => time()

This will generate instances with the same timestamp for all subsequent calls within the same thread.


Using a closure allows for dynamic generation of default values, where a new value can be determined each time a new instance is created. However, this method is limited to basic functionalities and does not allow for the retrieval of contextual information (like services, current user, etc.).

Example of using a closure:


'day' => [
    'type'    => 'date',
    'default' => function () { return time(); }

This configuration will generate instances with a different timestamp for each creation of a new instance.

Class Methods

Default values can also be defined by referencing a class method. This method can dynamically compute the default value based on additional context such as the current user.

For instance:


'user_id' => [
    'type'           => 'many2one',
    'foreign_object' => 'core\User',
    'default'        => 'defaultUserId'

public static function defaultUserId($self, $auth) {
    return $auth->userId();

In this example, the default value for the user_id field is dynamically obtained from the defaultUserId method, which utilizes the current authentication service to fetch the user ID.

Classes inheritance

Classes can extend other classes, potentially from different packages, to add new fields or customize behavior.

When a class inherits from another, objects instantiated from this class will contain not only the fields defined in the class itself but also all the fields defined in its ancestor classes. There can be multiple levels of inheritance.

All model classes inherit from the class equal\orm\Model.

Object Storage Using ORM

To store objects, the ORM utilizes a dedicated table in the database following the active record pattern. By convention, the name of the table for a given class is derived from the name of the first ancestor class that extends equal\orm\Model, with the full namespace converted to snake case. For example, objects of the class realestate\RentalUnit are stored in the "realestate_rentalunit" table.

However, it is also possible to have inheritance that is distinct from the table assignment in the database.

For example, the classes sale\customer\Customer and identity\Contact both inherit from the class identity\Partner. However, they are distinct objects which are preferable not to mix. In such cases, it is possible to manually define the table to be used for a class via the getTable() method.

Impact of Inheritance on Translations

Inheritance affects translation files as well. All fields are eligible for providing a translation. If some fields are common between a class and its ancestor, they can be overridden. If not, the translations from the first ancestor declaring a translation will be utilized.

If a JSON file is absent for a given class, the system returns the first available JSON file from the class ancestors. For example, if no translation file is defined for lodging\realestate\RentalUnit, then the translation file for realestate\RentalUnit will be returned.

Impact of Inheritance on Views

The inheritance system influences how views are managed in software applications. When a view is related to a class that inherits from another, the view can leverage all the properties and methods available from the ancestor classes. This allows for a more flexible and powerful user interface design, accommodating extended functionality as defined by the inheritance chain.

ObjectManager methods

Objects manipulations are made on selections of objects, described as an array of identifiers.

All methods can either return an array (in case of success), or an integer (in case of error, the integer is an error code).


Fetches specified field values for the selected objects.


mixed read( string $class [, int[] $ids=null, string[] $fields=null, 
string $lang=DEFAULT_LANG] )


Parameter Description
class Class of the objects we want to retrieve.
ids List of identifiers of the objects we want to retrieve.
fields Array holding the names of the fields we want to retrieve .
lang Language under which return fields values (only relevant for multilang fields).

Returned value

Returns an associative array containing, for every object id, a sub array mapping each field to its value.
Returns an integer (error code) if an error occurred.


Sets new values for one or more object instances.

multilang fields

While saving in a specific language, no test is done to check that specified fields are defined as multilang (it means

that saving non-multilang fields in a non-default language will result in a loss of data).


mixed update( string $object_class, int[] $ids [, array[] $values=null, 
string $lang=DEFAULT_LANG, boolean $create=false] )


Parameter Description
object_class Class of the objects we want to update.
ids Ids of the objects to update.
fields Array mapping fields names with their new values .
lang Language to wich apply the changes (affects only multilang fields).
session_id Identifier of the session holding user data (by default, the current session).

Returned value

Returns an array containing ids of newly created objects (if any).
Returns an integer (error code) if an error occurred.


Deletes an object permanently or puts it in the "trash bin" (i.e. setting the 'deleted' flag to 1).


mixed remove( string $class, array $ids [, boolean $permanent=false] )


  • class : class of the objects to delete
  • ids : ids of the objects to delete
  • permanent : flag for marking deletion as soft-deletion (default) or hard-deletion. In the latter case, the record is removed from DB.

Returned value

Returns an associative array containing ids of the objects actually deleted.
Returns an integer (error code) if an error occurred.

Search for objects matching the domain criteria.


mixed search( string $class [, array $domain=null, string $order='id', string 
$sort='asc', string $start='0', string $limit='0', string $lang=DEFAULT_LANG] )


Parameter Description
class Class of the objects we want to look for.
domain Search criteria that objects have to match.
order Field on which the resulting list must be sorted .
sort Sorting order.
start Position in the global resulting list from which we want the ids.
limit Amount of ids to return.
lang Language under which search applies (only relevant for multilang fields).

Returned value

Returns an array of objects ids.
Returns an integer (error code) if an error occurred.


Checks whether the values of a given object fields are consistent with the related model definition.


mixed validate(string $class, int[] $ids, array[] $values, 
boolean $check_unique=false, boolean $check_required=false)


Parameter Description
class Class of the object we want to validate.
values Associative array containing fields and their values.

Returned value

Returns an associative array containing invalid fields with their associated error_message_id (thus an empty array means no invalid fields).
Returns an integer (error code) if an error occurred.