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The ORM Dilemma

By Steve Jones,

I'm not a big fan of ORM frameworks. I've worked with a few and they have been problematic to me as a DBA or end user when I've been under a load or I've been trying to get a change made. Perhaps my developers have not understood the framework well enough to make it work well, but it's left a bad taste in my mouth that has be cringing every time someone suggests going with an ORM framework.

I ran across this post recently called "How to fail at ORM" and it's kind of a funny look at various things that will ensure you fail when implementing an ORM, but these are the types of things that have seen various developers do. Things like Consider the ORM’s SQL engine to be a black box or

Use ORM generated schema without manually tweaking it.

Any software that is built as a general framework or a general solution will  often need some tweaking. You can't solve specific problems well with general tools. You'll need to tweak them to fit your needs, which requires some understanding of how the system works, and it requires effort on the part of the entire development team, DBA included.

I've been wary of living with a framework since I think that these modifications can sometimes take more time than it might take to write your own system. This becomes part of the build v buy decision that so many companies struggle with. In my mind, you can start with a framework, but you will likely quickly evolve into your own development project, which you'll then be maintaining.

ORM frameworks can save time, but not by themselves. It requires an investment on the part of the developers to learn more about how the framework is built and the courage to change it when it doesn't perform well.

Steve Jones

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