Wheels makes up for the slowness of arrays of objects in CFML by providing calculated properties. With calculated properties, you can generate additional properties on the fly based on logic and data within your database.
Consider the example of
fullName. If your database table has fields for
lastName, it wouldn't make sense to store a third column called
fullName. This would require more storage for redundant data, and it would add extra complexity that could lead to bugs and maintenance problems in the future.
In most object-oriented languages, you would add a method to your class called
getFullName(), which would return the concatenation of
this.firstName & " " & this.lastName. The
getFullName() method could potentially provide arguments to list the last name first and other types of calculations or transformations as well.
Wheels still allows for you to do this sort of dynamic calculation with the
returnAs="objects" argument in methods like findAll(), but we advise against it when fetching large data sets because of the slowness of
CreateObject() across CFML engines.
See the chapter on Reading Records for more information.
As an alternative, you can set up a calculated property that dynamically performs the concatenation at the database level. In our example, we would write a line similar to this in our model's
property( name="fullName", sql="RTRIM(LTRIM(ISNULL(users.firstname, '') + ' ' + ISNULL(users.lastname, '')))" );
As you can probably deduce, we're creating a SQL statement that will be run in the
SELECT clause to generate the `fullName.
Naturally, if you store the user's birth date in the database, your application can use that data to dynamically calculate the user's age. Your app always knows how many years old the user is without needing to explicitly store his or her age.
In order to calculate an extra property called
age based on the
birthDate column, our calculated property in
config() may look something like this:
property( name="age", sql="(CAST(CONVERT(CHAR(8), GETDATE(), 112) AS INT) - CAST(CONVERT(CHAR(8), users.date_of_birth, 112) AS INT)) / 10000" );
Much like the
fullName example above, this will cause the database to add a property called
age storing the user's age as an integer.
Note that the cost to this approach is that you may need to introduce DBMS-specific code into your models. This may cause problems when you need to switch DBMS platforms, but at least all of this logic is isolated into your model CFCs.
Calculated properties don't end at just generating extra properties. You can now also use the new property for additional calculations:
- Creating additional properties with the
- Record sorting with
- And so on…
For example, let's say that we only want to use
age to return users who are in their 20s. We can use the new
age property as if it existed in the database table. For extra measure, let's also sort the results from oldest to youngest.
users = model("user").findAll( where="age >= 20 AND age < 30", order="age DESC" );
By default, calculated properties will return
char as the column data type. Whilst this covers most scenarios, if you want to return something like a date, it can be problematic. Thankfully we can just specify a
dataType argument to return the appropriate data type.
property( name="createdAtAlias", sql="posts.createdat", dataType="datetime" );