The first thing you need to know about Idiorm is that you don’t need to define any model classes to use it. With almost every other ORM, the first thing to do is set up your models and map them to database tables (through configuration variables, XML files or similar). With Idiorm, you can start using the ORM straight away.


First, require the Idiorm source file:

require_once 'idiorm.php';

Then, pass a Data Source Name connection string to the configure method of the ORM class. This is used by PDO to connect to your database. For more information, see the PDO documentation.


You may also need to pass a username and password to your database driver, using the username and password configuration options. For example, if you are using MySQL:

ORM::configure('username', 'database_user');
ORM::configure('password', 'top_secret');

Also see “Configuration” section below.


Other than setting the DSN string for the database connection (see above), the configure method can be used to set some other simple options on the ORM class. Modifying settings involves passing a key/value pair to the configure method, representing the setting you wish to modify and the value you wish to set it to.

ORM::configure('setting_name', 'value_for_setting');

A shortcut is provided to allow passing multiple key/value pairs at once.

    'setting_name_1' => 'value_for_setting_1',
    'setting_name_2' => 'value_for_setting_2',
    'etc' => 'etc'

Use the get_config method to read current settings.

$isLoggingEnabled = ORM::get_config('logging');
ORM::configure('logging', false);
// some crazy loop we don't want to log
ORM::configure('logging', $isLoggingEnabled);

Database authentication details

Settings: username and password

Some database adapters (such as MySQL) require a username and password to be supplied separately to the DSN string. These settings allow you to provide these values. A typical MySQL connection setup might look like this:

ORM::configure('username', 'database_user');
ORM::configure('password', 'top_secret');

Or you can combine the connection setup into a single line using the configuration array shortcut:

    'connection_string' => 'mysql:host=localhost;dbname=my_database',
    'username' => 'database_user',
    'password' => 'top_secret'

Result sets

Setting: return_result_sets

Collections of results can be returned as an array (default) or as a result set. See the find_result_set() documentation for more information.

ORM::configure('return_result_sets', true); // returns result sets


It is recommended that you setup your projects to use result sets as they are more flexible.

PDO Driver Options

Setting: driver_options

Some database adapters require (or allow) an array of driver-specific configuration options. This setting allows you to pass these options through to the PDO constructor. For more information, see the PDO documentation. For example, to force the MySQL driver to use UTF-8 for the connection:

ORM::configure('driver_options', array(PDO::MYSQL_ATTR_INIT_COMMAND => 'SET NAMES utf8'));

PDO Error Mode

Setting: error_mode

This can be used to set the PDO::ATTR_ERRMODE setting on the database connection class used by Idiorm. It should be passed one of the class constants defined by PDO. For example:

ORM::configure('error_mode', PDO::ERRMODE_WARNING);

The default setting is PDO::ERRMODE_EXCEPTION. For full details of the error modes available, see the PDO set attribute documentation.

PDO object access

Should it ever be necessary, the PDO object used by Idiorm may be accessed directly through ORM::get_db(), or set directly via ORM::set_db(). This should be an unusual occurance.

After a statement has been executed by any means, such as ::save() or ::raw_execute(), the PDOStatement instance used may be accessed via ORM::get_last_statement(). This may be useful in order to access PDOStatement::errorCode(), if PDO exceptions are turned off, or to access the PDOStatement::rowCount() method, which returns differing results based on the underlying database. For more information, see the PDOStatement documentation.

Identifier quote character

Setting: identifier_quote_character

Set the character used to quote identifiers (eg table name, column name). If this is not set, it will be autodetected based on the database driver being used by PDO.

ID Column

By default, the ORM assumes that all your tables have a primary key column called id. There are two ways to override this: for all tables in the database, or on a per-table basis.

Setting: id_column

This setting is used to configure the name of the primary key column for all tables. If your ID column is called primary_key, use:

ORM::configure('id_column', 'primary_key');

You can specify a compound primary key using an array:

ORM::configure('id_column', array('pk_1', 'pk_2'));

Note: If you use a auto-increment column in the compound primary key then it should be the first one defined into the array.

Setting: id_column_overrides

This setting is used to specify the primary key column name for each table separately. It takes an associative array mapping table names to column names. If, for example, your ID column names include the name of the table, you can use the following configuration:

ORM::configure('id_column_overrides', array(
    'person' => 'person_id',
    'role' => 'role_id',

As with id_column setting, you can specify a compound primary key using an array.

Limit clause style

Setting: limit_clause_style

You can specify the limit clause style in the configuration. This is to facilitate a MS SQL style limit clause that uses the TOP syntax.

Acceptable values are ORM::LIMIT_STYLE_TOP_N and ORM::LIMIT_STYLE_LIMIT.


If the PDO driver you are using is one of sqlsrv, dblib or mssql then Idiorm will automatically select the ORM::LIMIT_STYLE_TOP_N for you unless you override the setting.

Query logging

Setting: logging

Idiorm can log all queries it executes. To enable query logging, set the logging option to true (it is false by default).

When query logging is enabled, you can use two static methods to access the log. ORM::get_last_query() returns the most recent query executed. ORM::get_query_log() returns an array of all queries executed.


The code that does the query log is an approximation of that provided by PDO/the database (see the Idiorm source code for detail). The actual query isn’t even available to idiorm to log as the database/PDO handles the binding outside of idiorm’s reach and doesn’t pass it back.

This means that you might come across some inconsistencies between what is logged and what is actually run. In these case you’ll need to look at the query log provided by your database vendor (eg. MySQL).

Query logger

Setting: logger


You must enable logging for this setting to have any effect.

It is possible to supply a callable to this configuration setting, which will be executed for every query that idiorm executes. In PHP a callable is anything that can be executed as if it were a function. Most commonly this will take the form of a anonymous function.

This setting is useful if you wish to log queries with an external library as it allows you too whatever you would like from inside the callback function.

ORM::configure('logger', function($log_string, $query_time) {
    echo $log_string . ' in ' . $query_time;

Query caching

Setting: caching

Idiorm can cache the queries it executes during a request. To enable query caching, set the caching option to true (it is false by default).

ORM::configure('caching', true);

Setting: caching_auto_clear

Idiorm’s cache is never cleared by default. If you wish to automatically clear it on save, set caching_auto_clear to true

ORM::configure('caching_auto_clear', true);

When query caching is enabled, Idiorm will cache the results of every SELECT query it executes. If Idiorm encounters a query that has already been run, it will fetch the results directly from its cache and not perform a database query.

Warnings and gotchas

  • Note that this is an in-memory cache that only persists data for the duration of a single request. This is not a replacement for a persistent cache such as Memcached.
  • Idiorm’s cache is very simple, and does not attempt to invalidate itself when data changes. This means that if you run a query to retrieve some data, modify and save it, and then run the same query again, the results will be stale (ie, they will not reflect your modifications). This could potentially cause subtle bugs in your application. If you have caching enabled and you are experiencing odd behaviour, disable it and try again. If you do need to perform such operations but still wish to use the cache, you can call the ORM::clear_cache() to clear all existing cached queries.
  • Enabling the cache will increase the memory usage of your application, as all database rows that are fetched during each request are held in memory. If you are working with large quantities of data, you may wish to disable the cache.

Custom caching

If you wish to use custom caching functions, you can set them from the configure options.

$my_cache = array();
ORM::configure('cache_query_result', function ($cache_key, $value, $table_name, $connection_name) use (&$my_cache) {
    $my_cache[$cache_key] = $value;
ORM::configure('check_query_cache', function ($cache_key, $table_name, $connection_name) use (&$my_cache) {
       return $my_cache[$cache_key];
    } else {
    return false;
ORM::configure('clear_cache', function ($table_name, $connection_name) use (&$my_cache) {
     $my_cache = array();

ORM::configure('create_cache_key', function ($query, $parameters, $table_name, $connection_name) {
    $parameter_string = join(',', $parameters);
    $key = $query . ':' . $parameter_string;
    $my_key = 'my-prefix'.crc32($key);
    return $my_key;