Definition

object-relational mapping (ORM)

Object-relational mapping (ORM) is a mechanism that makes it possible to address, access and manipulate objects without having to consider how those objects relate to their data sources. ORM lets programmers maintain a consistent view of objects over time, even as the sources that deliver them, the sinks that receive them and the applications that access them change.

Based on abstraction, ORM manages the mapping details between a set of objects and underlying relational databases, XML repositories or other data sources and sinks, while simultaneously hiding the often changing details of related interfaces from developers and the code they create.

ORM hides and encapsulates change in the data source itself, so that when data sources or their APIs change, only ORM needs to change to keep up—not the applications that use ORM to insulate themselves from this kind of effort. This capacity lets developers take advantage of new classes as they become available and also makes it easy to extend ORM-based applications. In many cases, ORM changes can incorporate new technology and capability without requiring changes to the code for related applications.

This was last updated in February 2008

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