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Syntax - Tasty Web Development Treats

WTF is an ORM

Wed Jun 28 2023


This episode covers the basics of ORM (object-relational mapping) and dives into the benefits of using an ORM. It explores Prisma, a powerful ORM with TypeScript support, and discusses its features and integrations. Other ORMs and database solutions are also mentioned. The episode explains the concept of database schemas and models, as well as the importance of migrations. Additional insights include the use of hooks in ORMs and a recommendation for the show 'I Think You Should Leave'.


ORMs provide abstraction and ease of use

ORMs simplify database queries and operations, provide type safety, and allow for basic CRUD operations in a familiar language syntax.

Prisma offers powerful features

Prisma has its own DSL called Prisma schema, provides a specific linter, catches errors across different databases, and generates types automatically.

Considerations when using an ORM

Using an ORM may lead to performance issues if not optimized, and there can be compatibility issues, learning curves, and debugging challenges.

Database schemas and models

Database schemas define the structure of data, while models are higher-level ORM descriptions. Migrations ensure valid data and facilitate database modifications.

Additional insights

Some ORMs have hooks or events, the show 'I Think You Should Leave' has a unique humor style, and Wise is recommended for currency exchange in Europe.


  1. Introduction to ORM
  2. Benefits of Using an ORM
  3. Prisma - A Powerful ORM
  4. Using Prisma with TypeScript
  5. Prisma Features and Integrations
  6. Other ORMs and Database Solutions
  7. More ORMs and Considerations
  8. Understanding Database Schemas and Models
  9. Additional Insights

Introduction to ORM

00:01 - 06:34

  • ORM stands for object-relational mapping, which is a translation layer between databases and programming languages.
  • ORMs provide abstraction and ease of use when working with databases.
  • Developers often end up using an ORM or building their own because of the benefits it offers.
  • ORMs have been around for a long time and support multiple types of databases.
  • Using an ORM allows for consistent code across different database systems.

Benefits of Using an ORM

06:06 - 13:47

  • ORMs have been around since the 1960s and are still widely used today.
  • Using an ORM can simplify database queries and operations compared to writing SQL directly.
  • ORMs provide type safety, which is beneficial in languages like TypeScript and JavaScript.
  • ORMs allow for basic CRUD operations in a more familiar language syntax.
  • Some ORMs include validation layers for data integrity.
  • Different ORMs may use the terms 'schema' and 'model' interchangeably, but they both refer to structuring data for a database.
  • MongoDB has built-in data validation using JSON schema.

Prisma - A Powerful ORM

13:17 - 20:18

  • TypeScript allows for custom validation in database models, which is not included in most ORMs.
  • Prisma, the ORM being discussed, has its own DSL called Prisma schema that provides a source of truth for database models.
  • Prisma includes a specific linter that can warn about issues across different database technologies.
  • Using an ORM may lead to performance issues if not properly understood and optimized.
  • Prisma caught an error where a field could only have specific values in Postgres but not in MySQL, requiring the creation of a separate model.
  • WordPress has its own ORM called the query and rarely requires writing raw SQL queries.
  • Mature systems with databases often have mature and good ORMs associated with them.
  • ORMs make code more reusable and allow for safer and better overall code when connecting to databases.
  • Prisma generates types automatically, eliminating the need for duplicating types between server-side and client-side code.

Using Prisma with TypeScript

19:51 - 26:52

  • Typescript types should be used on the client side to ensure data consistency
  • Prisma and SvelteKit are smart enough to pass only the required fields from the database
  • Utilities like pick and omit can be used to manipulate data in sub-components
  • There is a debate about whether to type leaf components with specific properties or import the entire object
  • Prisma is a popular ORM with a polished product and good documentation
  • Prisma works well with various databases and has excellent migration tools
  • Prisma provides a cheap and easy admin UI for searching, filtering, and editing data

Prisma Features and Integrations

26:27 - 33:23

  • Prisma provides a UI for searching, filtering, and editing MongoDB data
  • Prisma Studio blocks changes that would not be approved in the application
  • Prisma does not have type validation like code validation
  • Prisma validates incorrect user IDs when updating related user ID
  • Sequelize is a popular SQL system that supports Postgres, MySQL, MariaDB, and SQL Server
  • Sequelize is useful for saving data locally with SQLite or in memory
  • Sequelize simplifies database operations with shorter code
  • Objection.js is a mature option with TypeScript support and JSON schema validation
  • English spelling can be confusing and challenging to teach children

Other ORMs and Database Solutions

32:55 - 39:55

  • pronounces it as 'connects'
  • Putting a pronunciation guide next to a product name is not ideal
  • Drizzle is a batteries included SQL query builder
  • Drizzle is lightweight, has zero dependencies, and doesn't use code generation
  • Drizzle supports Postgres, MySQL, SQLite, Superbase, and Web SQLite
  • The word cloud on Drizzle's website may make it seem less serious
  • Drizzle's implementation uses HTTP focus for serverless compatibility
  • Most database solutions are sufficient for typical use cases
  • Drizzle supports every major serverful and serverless runtime
  • Mongoose is an ORM for working with MongoDB in an easier way

More ORMs and Considerations

39:35 - 46:16

  • Mongoose is an option for relational mapping and queries in MongoDB
  • Mongo aggregation pipeline can be tricky to write
  • Type ORM is the ORM from Nest.js and works with multiple databases
  • Waterline is the ORM from Sales, similar to Rails
  • Superbase is not just an ORM, but a larger service that provides hosting, CRUD operations, auth, web hooks, etc.
  • Potential downsides of using an ORM include performance overhead, less control over queries, learning curve for the specific ORM language and syntax, database compatibility issues, and debugging challenges
  • Drizzle offers configuration in JavaScript and has handy features like type inference and Zod integration
  • Prisma is simple to work with and provides strong typing throughout the process
  • Different terms are used for modeling a database (model/schema), but ultimately it's about modeling the data

Understanding Database Schemas and Models

45:53 - 52:26

  • Database schemas refer to the modeling of your database as a model or schema.
  • The structure of your data is defined by the database schema, including field types, relationships, and default values.
  • Schema is the lower-level database description, while model is a higher-level ORM description.
  • ORMs can generate migrations to keep the database up to date with changes in data.
  • Migrations ensure valid data and allow for modifications beyond adding fields.
  • Without proper migrations, making changes to the database can be challenging and risky.
  • Virtual fields can be used during migrations to handle in-between values when switching from old to new fields.
  • Migrations are often necessary and provide important benefits for maintaining databases.

Additional Insights

52:04 - 58:22

  • I've used ish ORMs before as well, things that were just validating data that kind of did some of the role of an ORM.
  • If you've used any ORMs and find them fantastic, let us know on Twitter.
  • Some ORMs have hooks or events that allow for specific actions when certain properties are updated or deleted.
  • The show 'I Think You Should Leave' is a favorite among some people but not everyone gets its humor.
  • Wise (previously TransferWise) is recommended for easy and cost-effective currency exchange while traveling in Europe.