Idiorm provides a *fluent interface* to enable simple queries to be built without writing a single character of SQL. If you’ve used jQuery at all, you’ll be familiar with the concept of a fluent interface. It just means that you can chain method calls together, one after another. This can make your code more readable, as the method calls strung together in order can start to look a bit like a sentence.

All Idiorm queries start with a call to the for_table static method on the ORM class. This tells the ORM which table to use when making the query.

Note that this method **does not* escape its query parameter and so the table name should not be passed directly from user input.*

Method calls which add filters and constraints to your query are then strung together. Finally, the chain is finished by calling either find_one() or find_many(), which executes the query and returns the result.

Let’s start with a simple example. Say we have a table called person which contains the columns id (the primary key of the record - Idiorm assumes the primary key column is called id but this is configurable, see below), name, age and gender.

Single records

Any method chain that ends in find_one() will return either a single instance of the ORM class representing the database row you requested, or false if no matching record was found.

To find a single record where the name column has the value “Fred Bloggs”:

$person = ORM::for_table('person')->where('name', 'Fred Bloggs')->find_one();

This roughly translates into the following SQL: SELECT * FROM person WHERE name = "Fred Bloggs"

To find a single record by ID, you can pass the ID directly to the find_one method:

$person = ORM::for_table('person')->find_one(5);

Multiple records


It is recommended that you use results sets over arrays - see As a result set below.

Any method chain that ends in find_many() will return an array of ORM class instances, one for each row matched by your query. If no rows were found, an empty array will be returned.

To find all records in the table:

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->find_many();

To find all records where the gender is female:

$females = ORM::for_table('person')->where('gender', 'female')->find_many();

As a result set


There is a configuration setting return_result_sets that will cause find_many() to return result sets by default. It is recommended that you turn this setting on:

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

You can also find many records as a result set instead of an array of Idiorm instances. This gives you the advantage that you can run batch operations on a set of results.

So for example instead of running this:

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->find_many();
foreach ($people as $person) {
    $person->age = 50;

You can simple do this instead:

->set('age', 50)

To do this substitute any call to find_many() with find_result_set().

A result set will also behave like an array so you can count() it and foreach over it just like an array.

foreach(ORM::for_table('person')->find_result_set() as $record) {
    echo $person->name;
echo count(ORM::for_table('person')->find_result_set());


For deleting many records it is recommended that you use delete_many() as it is more efficient than calling delete() on a result set.

As an associative array

You can also find many records as an associative array instead of Idiorm instances. To do this substitute any call to find_many() with find_array().

$females = ORM::for_table('person')->where('gender', 'female')->find_array();

This is useful if you need to serialise the the query output into a format like JSON and you do not need the ability to update the returned records.

Counting results

To return a count of the number of rows that would be returned by a query, call the count() method.

$number_of_people = ORM::for_table('person')->count();

Filtering results

Idiorm provides a family of methods to extract only records which satisfy some condition or conditions. These methods may be called multiple times to build up your query, and Idiorm’s fluent interface allows method calls to be chained to create readable and simple-to-understand queries.


Only a subset of the available conditions supported by SQL are available when using Idiorm. Additionally, all the WHERE clauses will be ANDed together when the query is run. Support for ORing WHERE clauses is not currently present.

These limits are deliberate: these are by far the most commonly used criteria, and by avoiding support for very complex queries, the Idiorm codebase can remain small and simple.

Some support for more complex conditions and queries is provided by the where_raw and raw_query methods (see below). If you find yourself regularly requiring more functionality than Idiorm can provide, it may be time to consider using a more full-featured ORM.

Equality: where, where_equal, where_not_equal

By default, calling where with two parameters (the column name and the value) will combine them using an equals operator (=). For example, calling where('name', 'Fred') will result in the clause WHERE name = "Fred".

If your coding style favours clarity over brevity, you may prefer to use the where_equal method: this is identical to where.

The where_not_equal method adds a WHERE column != "value" clause to your query.

Shortcut: where_id_is

This is a simple helper method to query the table by primary key. Respects the ID column specified in the config.

Less than / greater than: where_lt, where_gt, where_lte, where_gte

There are four methods available for inequalities:

  • Less than: $people = ORM::for_table('person')->where_lt('age', 10)->find_many();
  • Greater than: $people = ORM::for_table('person')->where_gt('age', 5)->find_many();
  • Less than or equal: $people = ORM::for_table('person')->where_lte('age', 10)->find_many();
  • Greater than or equal: $people = ORM::for_table('person')->where_gte('age', 5)->find_many();

String comparision: where_like and where_not_like

To add a WHERE ... LIKE clause, use:

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->where_like('name', '%fred%')->find_many();

Similarly, to add a WHERE ... NOT LIKE clause, use:

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->where_not_like('name', '%bob%')->find_many();

Set membership: where_in and where_not_in

To add a WHERE ... IN () or WHERE ... NOT IN () clause, use the where_in and where_not_in methods respectively.

Both methods accept two arguments. The first is the column name to compare against. The second is an array of possible values.

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->where_in('name', array('Fred', 'Joe', 'John'))->find_many();

Working with NULL values: where_null and where_not_null

To add a WHERE column IS NULL or WHERE column IS NOT NULL clause, use the where_null and where_not_null methods respectively. Both methods accept a single parameter: the column name to test.

Raw WHERE clauses

If you require a more complex query, you can use the where_raw method to specify the SQL fragment for the WHERE clause exactly. This method takes two arguments: the string to add to the query, and an (optional) array of parameters which will be bound to the string. If parameters are supplied, the string should contain question mark characters (?) to represent the values to be bound, and the parameter array should contain the values to be substituted into the string in the correct order.

This method may be used in a method chain alongside other where_* methods as well as methods such as offset, limit and order_by_*. The contents of the string you supply will be connected with preceding and following WHERE clauses with AND.

$people = ORM::for_table('person')
            ->where('name', 'Fred')
            ->where_raw('(`age` = ? OR `age` = ?)', array(20, 25))

// Creates SQL:
SELECT * FROM `person` WHERE `name` = "Fred" AND (`age` = 20 OR `age` = 25) ORDER BY `name` ASC;

Note that this method only supports “question mark placeholder” syntax, and NOT “named placeholder” syntax. This is because PDO does not allow queries that contain a mixture of placeholder types. Also, you should ensure that the number of question mark placeholders in the string exactly matches the number of elements in the array.

If you require yet more flexibility, you can manually specify the entire query. See Raw queries below.

Limits and offsets

Note that these methods **do not* escape their query parameters and so these should not be passed directly from user input.*

The limit and offset methods map pretty closely to their SQL equivalents.

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->where('gender', 'female')->limit(5)->offset(10)->find_many();


Note that these methods **do not* escape their query parameters and so these should not be passed directly from user input.*

Two methods are provided to add ORDER BY clauses to your query. These are order_by_desc and order_by_asc, each of which takes a column name to sort by. The column names will be quoted.

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->order_by_asc('gender')->order_by_desc('name')->find_many();

If you want to order by something other than a column name, then use the order_by_expr method to add an unquoted SQL expression as an ORDER BY clause.

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->order_by_expr('SOUNDEX(`name`)')->find_many();


Note that this method **does not* escape it query parameter and so this should not by passed directly from user input.*

To add a GROUP BY clause to your query, call the group_by method, passing in the column name. You can call this method multiple times to add further columns.

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->where('gender', 'female')->group_by('name')->find_many();

It is also possible to GROUP BY a database expression:

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->where('gender', 'female')->group_by_expr("FROM_UNIXTIME(`time`, '%Y-%m')")->find_many();


When using aggregate functions in combination with a GROUP BY you can use HAVING to filter based on those values.

HAVING works in exactly the same way as all of the where* functions in Idiorm. Substitute where_ for having_ to make use of these functions.

For example:

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->group_by('name')->having_not_like('name', '%bob%')->find_many();

Result columns

By default, all columns in the SELECT statement are returned from your query. That is, calling:

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->find_many();

Will result in the query:

SELECT * FROM `person`;

The select method gives you control over which columns are returned. Call select multiple times to specify columns to return or use `select_many <#shortcuts-for-specifying-many-columns>`_ to specify many columns at once.

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->select('name')->select('age')->find_many();

Will result in the query:

SELECT `name`, `age` FROM `person`;

Optionally, you may also supply a second argument to select to specify an alias for the column:

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->select('name', 'person_name')->find_many();

Will result in the query:

SELECT `name` AS `person_name` FROM `person`;

Column names passed to select are quoted automatically, even if they contain table.column-style identifiers:

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->select('person.name', 'person_name')->find_many();

Will result in the query:

SELECT `person`.`name` AS `person_name` FROM `person`;

If you wish to override this behaviour (for example, to supply a database expression) you should instead use the select_expr method. Again, this takes the alias as an optional second argument. You can specify multiple expressions by calling select_expr multiple times or use `select_many_expr <#shortcuts-for-specifying-many-columns>`_ to specify many expressions at once.

// NOTE: For illustrative purposes only. To perform a count query, use the count() method.
$people_count = ORM::for_table('person')->select_expr('COUNT(*)', 'count')->find_many();

Will result in the query:

SELECT COUNT(*) AS `count` FROM `person`;

Shortcuts for specifying many columns

select_many and select_many_expr are very similar, but they allow you to specify more than one column at once. For example:

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->select_many('name', 'age')->find_many();

Will result in the query:

SELECT `name`, `age` FROM `person`;

To specify aliases you need to pass in an array (aliases are set as the key in an associative array):

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->select_many(array('first_name' => 'name', 'age'), 'height')->find_many();

Will result in the query:

SELECT `name` AS `first_name`, `age`, `height` FROM `person`;

You can pass the the following styles into select_many and select_many_expr by mixing and matching arrays and parameters:

select_many(array('alias' => 'column', 'column2', 'alias2' => 'column3'), 'column4', 'column5')
select_many('column', 'column2', 'column3')
select_many(array('column', 'column2', 'column3'), 'column4', 'column5')

All the select methods can also be chained with each other so you could do the following to get a neat select query including an expression:

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->select_many('name', 'age', 'height')->select_expr('NOW()', 'timestamp')->find_many();

Will result in the query:

SELECT `name`, `age`, `height`, NOW() AS `timestamp` FROM `person`;


To add a DISTINCT keyword before the list of result columns in your query, add a call to distinct() to your query chain.

$distinct_names = ORM::for_table('person')->distinct()->select('name')->find_many();

This will result in the query:

SELECT DISTINCT `name` FROM `person`;


Idiorm has a family of methods for adding different types of JOINs to the queries it constructs:

Methods: join, inner_join, left_outer_join, right_outer_join, full_outer_join.

Each of these methods takes the same set of arguments. The following description will use the basic join method as an example, but the same applies to each method.

The first two arguments are mandatory. The first is the name of the table to join, and the second supplies the conditions for the join. The recommended way to specify the conditions is as an array containing three components: the first column, the operator, and the second column. The table and column names will be automatically quoted. For example:

$results = ORM::for_table('person')->join('person_profile', array('person.id', '=', 'person_profile.person_id'))->find_many();

It is also possible to specify the condition as a string, which will be inserted as-is into the query. However, in this case the column names will not be escaped, and so this method should be used with caution.

// Not recommended because the join condition will not be escaped.
$results = ORM::for_table('person')->join('person_profile', 'person.id = person_profile.person_id')->find_many();

The join methods also take an optional third parameter, which is an alias for the table in the query. This is useful if you wish to join the table to itself to create a hierarchical structure. In this case, it is best combined with the table_alias method, which will add an alias to the main table associated with the ORM, and the select method to control which columns get returned.

$results = ORM::for_table('person')
    ->select('p2.name', 'parent_name')
    ->join('person', array('p1.parent', '=', 'p2.id'), 'p2')

Aggregate functions

There is support for MIN, AVG, MAX and SUM in addition to COUNT (documented earlier).

To return a minimum value of column, call the min() method.

$min = ORM::for_table('person')->min('height');

The other functions (AVG, MAX and SUM) work in exactly the same manner. Supply a column name to perform the aggregate function on and it will return an integer.

Raw queries

If you need to perform more complex queries, you can completely specify the query to execute by using the raw_query method. This method takes a string and optionally an array of parameters. The string can contain placeholders, either in question mark or named placeholder syntax, which will be used to bind the parameters to the query.

$people = ORM::for_table('person')->raw_query('SELECT p.* FROM person p JOIN role r ON p.role_id = r.id WHERE r.name = :role', array('role' => 'janitor'))->find_many();

The ORM class instance(s) returned will contain data for all the columns returned by the query. Note that you still must call for_table to bind the instances to a particular table, even though there is nothing to stop you from specifying a completely different table in the query. This is because if you wish to later called save, the ORM will need to know which table to update.

Note that using raw_query is advanced and possibly dangerous, and Idiorm does not make any attempt to protect you from making errors when using this method. If you find yourself calling raw_query often, you may have misunderstood the purpose of using an ORM, or your application may be too complex for Idiorm. Consider using a more full-featured database abstraction system.