Fun with NoRM 4

This time, a short post on how to model inheritance, which (at least in a class-oriented programming language) is one of the foundations of object-oriented programming.

Let’s take an example with a person, who has a home address that can be either domestic or foreign. Consider this:

Now, when I create a Person with a DomesticAddress and save it to my local Mongo, it looks like this:

which is all fine and dandy – and in the db:

which looks pretty good as well. BUT when I try to load the person again by doing this:

I get BOOM!!: Norm.MongoException: Could not find the type to instantiate in the document, and Address is an interface or abstract type. Add a MongoDiscriminatedAttribute to the type or base type, or try to work with a concrete type next time.

Why of course! JSON (hence BSON) only specifies objects – even though we consider them to be logical instances of some class, they’ re actually not! – they’re just objects!

So, we need to help NoRM a little bit. Actually the exception message says it all: Add a MongoDiscriminatedAttribute to the abstract base class, like so:

That was easy. Now, if I do a db.People.drop(), followed by my people.Insert(...)-code from before, I get this in the db:

See the __type field that NoRM added to the object? As you can see, it contains the assembly-qualified name of the concrete type that resulted in that particular object, allowing NoRM to deserialize properly when loading from the db.

Now, this actually makes working with inheritance hierarchies and specialization pretty easy – just add [MongoDiscriminated] to a base class, resulting in concrete type information being saved along with objects of any derived type.

Only thing that would be better is if NoRM would issue a warning or an exception when saving something that could not be properly deserialized – this way, one would not easily get away with saving stuff that could not (easily) be retrieved again.

Fun with NoRM 3

Third post in “Fun With NoRM” will be about how “the dynamism” of JavaScript and JSON is bridged into the rigid and statically typed world of C#. The thing is, in principle there’s no way to be certain that a JSON object returned from MongoDB will actually fit into our static object model.

Consider a situation where, for some reason, some of our orders have a field, PlacedBy, containing the name of the person who placed the order. Let’s see how things will go when adding the field and then querying all orders:

– and BOOM ! – Cannot deserialize!: Norm.MongoException: Deserialization failed: type MongoTest.Order does not have a property named PlacedBy

This is actually pretty good, because this way we will never accidentally load a document with un-deserializable properties and save it back, thus truncating the document. But how can we handle this?

Well, NoRM makes it pretty easy: Make your model class inherit Expando, thus effectively becoming a dictionary. E.g. like so:

Now we can do this:

– which yields:

when run with a small DB containing three orders. Nifty, huh?

If you’re sad that you’ve given up your single opportunity to inherit something by deriving from Expando, just go ahead and implement IExpando instead. Then you need to suply a few members, but you can just redirect to an internal Expando in your class.

Next up, a post on how to model inheritance hierarchies… one of my favorites! 🙂

Fun with NoRM 2

This second post in “Fun With NoRM” will be about querying…

How to get everything

Querying collections can be done easily with the anonymous types of C# 3 – e.g. the Order collection from my previous post can be queried for all orders like so:

How to use criteria

If we’re looking for some particular order, we can query by field values like so:

or by using the query operators residing in the static class Q:

More advanced criteria

The query operators can even be combined by combining criteria like so:

Now, what about the nifty dot notation? This an example where C#’s capabilities don’t cut it anymore, as everything on the left side in an anonymous type need to be valid identifiers – so no dots in property names!

This is solved in NoRM by introducing Expando! (not to be confused with ExpandoObject of .NET 4, even though they have similarities…)

Expando is just a dictionary, so to query by the field of an embedded object, do it like so:

As you can see, querying with NoRM is pretty easy – and I think the NoRM guys have found a pretty decent workaround in the case of dot notation, where C#’s syntax could not be bent further.

Stay tuned for more posts…

Fun with NoRM 1

My previous posts on MongoDB have been pretty un-.NETty, in that I have focused almost entirely on how to work the DB through its JavaScript API. To remedy that, I shall write a few short posts on how to get rolling with MongoDB using NoRM, the coolest C# driver for MongoDB at the moment.

First post will be on how to connect and shove data into MongoDB.

Short introduction to NoRM

NoRM is “No Object-Relational Mapping”. It’s a .NET-driver, that allows you to map objects and their fields and aggregated objects into documents. I like NoRM because it’s successfully preserved that low-friction MongoDB-feeling, bridging C#’s capabilities nicely to those of JavaScript in the best possible way, providing some extra C#-goodies along the way. Please read on, you’ll see…

Connect to MongoDB

Easy – can be done like so:

Inserting a few documents

Inserting documents with NoRM is easy – just create a class with fields and aggregated objects, and make sure the class either has a property named something like “Id” or has a property decorated with [MongoIdentifier], e.g. like so:

– and then go ahead and pull a strongly typed collection and insert documents into it:

Now, to make this work I need to create five 200-line XML-files with mapping info etc. </kidding> no, seriously – that’s all it takes to persist an entire aggregate root!!

Pretty cool, eh? That’ s what I meant when I said low friction. Stay tuned for more posts, e.g. on how to query a collection…