Life Through a Lens – Mappers and Wrappers

Mike Edwards (at SUGCON 2015) did an awesome presentation on data modelling (I would highly recommend you check it out if he re-runs it) on the pros and cons of how to model data. Glass Mapper (unlike wrapping frameworks – Synthesis / Fortis) is uses the Data Mapper pattern to represent data. He also wrote a great post here – http://www.glass.lu/Blog/TemplateVsRendering

This gives distinct advantages in the functionality it can provide in terms of its exposure of native .net types, its ability to be able to read / write between databases, control of serialization, non-reliance on code generation, mocking, testing, caching etc.

It does also have the downside of being heavier on instantiation in comparison to simply wrapping the item and performing casts on demand. It is also further away from the originating record. This also means that unlike wrapping frameworks, the number of mapped properties will actually also impact the overall performance.

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Glass Mapper – Introducing Glass Maps

This is due to be released in an upcoming module (along with the delegate mapper described here), however – here is a sneak preview of what I have been working on for Glass Mapper.

I think Glass Mapper is a fantastic and versatile ORM for Sitecore, however one of my slight bugbears with Glass Mapper as it stands is this. I want to build my POCOs as isolated as they can be. Glass Mapper has provided a fluent API which is grand, but the implementation by default leaves it a little short in my humble opinion. Out of the box, it’s a bunch of configurations that you add to the GlassScCustom (or in your own) class. In addition to this, if you want to support inheritance – say IExtendedSitecoreItem : ISitecoreItem you have to define all of the mapping for ISitecoreItem on IExtendedSitecoreItem as well. There are ways in Glass to sort this – using imports and the like, but you can end up with the framework excepting if you import the same thing twice. For me, I wanted an interface similar to that of fluent nHibernate, using a mapping generic to provide the mappings in an isolation from the original POCOs so I have created just such a thing:

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Controlling glass fields from your own code.

I make no secret of Glass Mapper being my current ORM of choice on the Sitecore platform but recently (not for the first time) I came across the need to control the mapping process in a crazier manner than Glass allows out of the box.

Glass provides a good set of structures to allow you to extend its behaviour when it comes to the mapping process and I utilised this to hook in and provide a ‘Delegate’ fluent mapping. This mapping allows you to delegate the behaviour of the mapping process back to code you control using a simple mappingContext.Delegate(x => x.MyField).GetValue(y => GetMeTheField(y.Item)). This is similar to the mappingContext.Field() or mappingContext.SitecoreInfo() methods that Glass Mapper provides out of the box.
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