Dorm is a client side library, it can he hooked up to a server side ORM implementation such as Hibernate for example. The idea behind Dorm is that you expose your ORM entity model (or a subset of it) to your client application and load and/or commit entities asynchronously via services.

Dorm is used and tested in a production application, the server-side implementation is not open sourced. To set it up for example between Java Hibernate and :dart: is not difficult however.

The entities implement the Observable library to provide easy binding into frameworks such as Polymer.

Communication with the server currently works via JSON, both for sending and receiving entities, but one can easily implement other message formats. An Entity has readExternal and writeExternal methods which will iterate all values and get or insert them to or from a Map object. This Map can them be converted to a message format of choice.

Dorm supports :

  • cyclic references (i.e. via pointers
  • default serializer for JSON data
  • Entities use the observe library, an Entity extends ObservableBase, and an Entity collection is an ObservableList

Dorm will soon support :

  • push via web sockets, share Entity status between clients

Build Status Stories in Ready

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Add the Dorm package to your pubspec.yaml file:

  dorm: any

Setting it up

The example in Dorm requires a Dart server which acts as a minimal ORM engine, running on JSON files. Here, you can define your database in the dbo folder using JSON.

The example is a good starting point for implementing Dorm yourself, it also has a few sample services and even a commit service.

When ready, run 'build_entities.dart' which will generate the client side entities needed in the dorm example.

Finally, run 'run_mock_server.dart' to launch the test server.

Now you can launch the 'dorm.dart' file in the main examples folder.

I've successfully hooked Dorm up with an existing Hibernate ORM, if you wish to do the same, then you must provide 2 things on the server :

  • a way to generate Dorm entities as in the example JSON test server, from your ORM engine
  • a serializer which supports cyclic references, Dorm can then access your webserver and request the JSON data

Generating Dorm entities

Dorm entities support inheritance.

Dorm entities use a proxy, you should generate Entity properties in the following way:

	// A declaration of an ID field called 'bar' and of type Bar
	@Property(BAR_SYMBOL, 'bar', Bar) // Bar being another [Entity]
	@Id() // Indicates that this property is an identity field, you can have multiple Id fields for combined key support
	@NotNullable() // We need a value when persisting this [Entity]
	@DefaultValue(const Bar('A null Bar')) // the default value when creating a new Bar();
	final DormProxy<Bar> _bar = new DormProxy<Bar>(BAR, BAR_SYMBOL); // the actual value is proxied
	static const String BAR = 'bar';
	static const Symbol BAR_SYMBOL = const Symbol(''); // full path + prop name
	Bar get bar => _bar.value;
	set bar(Bar value) => _bar.value = notifyPropertyChange(BAR_SYMBOL, _bar.value, value);

Then, in the Entity constructor body, you need to register this property as following:

      <DormProxy>[_bar, /*plus any other properties*/]

See Person for a full example of a Dorm entity.

Finally, you must also define a library file which contains all your generated entities,

with this file, generate the following method:

void ormInitialize() {
	EntityAssembler assembler = new EntityAssembler();

	assembler.scan(TestEntity, 'entities.TestEntity', TestEntity.construct);
	//... other Entities...

And in your project main(), call this method to initialize Dorm.


By default, Dorm uses a JSON serializer, but you could write your own serializer to support AMF for example.

Your client services must use the serializer when dealing with incoming/outgoing data, here's an example of a service's body:

	final Serializer serializer = new SerializerJson();
	Future serviceMethodNameHere(String operation, Map<String, dynamic> arguments) {
		Completer completer = new Completer();
			sendData:serializer.outgoing(arguments) // serialize your arguments to JSON
			(HttpRequest request) {
			  if (request.responseText.length > 0) {
				EntityFactory<Entity> factory = new EntityFactory(onConflict);
				List<Map<String, dynamic>> result = serializer.incoming(request.responseText); // parses the incomin JSON data to a Map
				ObservableList<Entity> spawned = factory.spawn(result, serializer); // generates your entities from the above Map
				completer.complete(isUniqueResult ? spawned.first : spawned);
		return completer.future;

The JSON serializer only handles the basic data types (numerics, String, basic Lists and Maps, ...) To support other types, you can set type handlers to the serializer as following :

      (int value) => (value != null) ? new DateTime.fromMillisecondsSinceEpoch(value, isUtc:true) : null,
      (DateTime value) => value.millisecondsSinceEpoch

This rule will read the date as int value from the incoming JSON data, and send out again the date as an int whenever the data is outgoing.

When Dorm submits changes to its entities, only properties that are dirty (changed on the client) will be serialized.

Serialization rules

Dorm needs to understand the serialized JSON when it comes to cyclic references, one way for the server to support this, is by creating DTO's for your entities, then when the serialization is needed, loop over the DTO and in doing so, keep a reference to the entities that are already serialized.

If a cyclic reference is detected, then instead of serializing the DTO values, do this instead:

		"?t":"", // the entity type, including the class path
		"?p":true, // indicates that this is a cyclic reference
		"foo_id":1 // primary key name and value


Warning: this library is experimental, and APIs are subject to change. [...]