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Micro ORM

Sogeti Labs
October 08, 2019

Full Fledged ORM Challenges

When it comes to full-fledged ORM like Entity Framework, we have the below-mentioned challenges

  • Classic (N+1) problem due to lazy loading with Entity Framework for database reads.
  • Developer’s responsibility to either disable lazy loading or use it sparingly for specific use cases.
  • LINQ query expertise required.
  • Entity Framework slows down the data-heavy read operations if used incorrectly. Overkill for the reads.
  • Developer consistently must verify the queries that get translated within SQL for every LINQ execution.
  • Incorrect LINQ queries can have a drastic performance impact on the application.
  • Challenges w.r.t to managing migrations and database schema updates.

Micro ORM to the Rescue

Micro ORM like Dapper can solve these issues. Dapper is an open-source, lightweight ORM developed by the Stack Overflow team. Mentioned below are the advantages of using such an ORM.

As seen below, Dapper Custom C# Library can be integrated within .Net layered architecture or within CQRS design.

Micro ORM & Full-fledged ORM’s (Entity Framework or NHibernate) can co-exist within a .NET application.

Note:  Block marked as “Custom Library” is where the Micro ORM custom implementation will integrate.

  • Extremely fast compared to other ORMs primarily because of its lightweight.
  • Supports easy integration with MSSQL, Oracle, MySQL, SQLite, PostgreSQL (ADO.Net provider databases).
  • Built with performance and ease of use in mind.
  • Developers get the much faster speed of execution with all read or write operations compared to Entity Framework or NHibernate & performance is almost the same as ADO.Net as it’s a wrapper on top of ADO.Net.
  • Fastest ORM among the other open-source micro ORM’s that are available.
  • Supports transactions, stored procedures, bulk inserts of data.
  • Provides built-in support for .Net Async features (which came with .Net 4.5).
  • Leverages C# DLR (dynamic language runtime) which is a huge advantage.
  • Works well with the database’s first approach leveraging stored procedures or RAW SQL to the fullest.  
  • The developer can use stored procedures with Dapper API leveraging SQL benefits.
  • Dapper API helps to rule out SQL injections attacks with parameterized query parameters.
  • Dapper, being a ADO.NET wrapper eliminates the need for the developers to write all the complex ADO.NET logic to get data. Thereby acts as a handy replacement to hand written ADO.Net.
  • It enforces using SQL stored procedures to its maximum potential.
  • Complex logic gets wrapped within Dapper and the developer focuses only on passing the stored procedure name, parameters etc to Dapper API & Dapper does the rest to execute T-SQL.

Other Use case (within a project using CQRS Pattern)

  • Most windows or web applications heavily rely on reading operations which accounts for 80% of all operations.

Dapper can be easily integrated for all those read operations within such applications.

  • Dapper can help read data from the Materialized / Indexed View in the fastest possible manner.
  • Dapper ORM can be used within the Query part of the CQRS (command query responsibility segregation) implementation. The command part rather sticks to domain-driven design (DDD) & supports ACID transactions to facilitate data integrity using an ORM like Entity Framework or NHibernate.  
  • Thereby, both a Micro ORM & a full-fledged ORM can co-exist within a CQRS implementation.

Why Dapper is so fast

  • It’s fast because it uses dynamic method generation (MSIL) to assign column values to properties.
  • It’s a lightweight wrapper and an abstraction on top of ADO.Net.
  • It focuses just on executing user-supplied queries and mapping the results to CLR object properties.
  • It caches information for every query it runs thus allowing faster object materialization & parameter processing.

Dapper Micro ORM Vs Entity Framework Core benchmark

Note: Entity Framework 6 & 7 are much slower compared to EF core.

Overall a must-have tool for all database related operations in a web or windows application.

About the author

SogetiLabs gathers distinguished technology leaders from around the Sogeti world. It is an initiative explaining not how IT works, but what IT means for business.


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