8 Sep 2003 dsnopek   » (Journeyer)

I give this a big "Argh!"

I decided it was finally time to add multi-layer joins to Xmldoom because I needed to create MANY-TO-MANY relationships.  For example:

<table name="orders">
        <int name="order_id" unsigned="true" auto="true" primary-key="true"/>
        <datetime current="true"/>
<table name="items_ordered">
        <int name="order_id" unsigned="true"/>
        <int name="item_id" unsigned="true"/>

    <!-- TODO: could use a more succinct syntax? -->
    <join column="order_id" link="orders.order_id" relationship="parent"/>
    <join column="item_id" link="items.item_id" relationship="parent"/>
<table name="items">
        <int name="item_id" unsigned="true"/>
        <string name="description" length="80"/>

Anyway, we would obviously want to be able to retrieve the items on the order.  This is where the multi-layer join comes in.  We ask definition, "How do I get from orders to items?"  The answer is:  

orders.order_id -> items_ordered.order_id
items_ordered.item_id -> items.item_id

In the end, we'd have a Order.GetItems() method that would return the items on the order, right?  Well, not exactly.  What if items_ordered contained more data about each item ordered?  For example, the quantity or the sale price.  Not only common but almost essential.  So I could almost see the need for a new object: ItemOrdered with properties for Quantity and SalePrice.  But this isn't exactly what we want because an object must have a single object key.

Here are a number of options:

  • Allow an object to be identified by two keys. This also opens the possibility for simply declaring the keys in the table and <object-key ...> will only refer to a table. This would also remove the need for <unique/>.
  • Performing the two-layer join but also merging the Item object with the ItemOrdered object so that we can get all of its properties without another query. Or maybe return a dict or tuple containing the packed Item object and the extra ItemOrdered data? Maybe the ability to have ItemOrdered be a descendant of the Item object?

The answer will probably be a combination of the above ideas.  I am just upset that I never thought of this situation before now.

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