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Active Record Frequently Asked Questions

Modified on 2010/07/05 09:36 by Kenneth Siewers Møller Categorized as Uncategorized
This page has a list of frequently asked questions.

General questions

What is ActiveRecord?

ActiveRecord is a well-known pattern described in Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture. Basically all static methods act on the whole set of records, while instances represents each row.

Read more about the pattern:

What is Castle ActiveRecord?

Castle ActiveRecord is an implementation of the ActiveRecord Pattern inspired by Rails' ActiveRecord, which relies on NHibernate to perform the actual mapping (as you see we don't suffer from Not-invented-here anti-pattern).

How does it differ from pure NHibernate usage?

Castle ActiveRecord was built on top of NHibernate. It offers:

  • Fast development (it handles the mapping and infers as much as it can so you don't have to dig into documentation or deal with tons of xml files every time something changes on your schema)
  • Predefined common methods like Create, Update, Save and Delete
  • Easy to implement method like Find, FindAll and FindByName (predefined if you use ActiveRecordBase)
  • Session and transaction scopes that abstracts the ISession offering a more natural idiom
  • By using pure NHibernate, you have more control over more complex mappings. However, using Castle ActiveRecord is a guarantee to boost your productivity

My text columns are being truncated

Add ColumnType="StringClob" parameter to your Property attribute. For example:

public String Contents
    get { return _contents; }
    set { _contents = value; }

This tells NHibernate to map the string to a Text type rather than a nvarchar(4000) type.

My property name is a reserved word in my database

Add explicit column name parameter to your Property attribute and quote it with backticks. For example:

public String User
    get { return _user; }
    set { _user = value; }

This tells NHibernate to quote the column name when querying the database.

ActiveRecord throws an exception saying: Ambiguous column name 'Status'

A column named Status is returned internally by NHibernate. Try renaming your column in the database.

Database related

Gaining access to the underlying database connection

This is possible using the session holder:

using Castle.ActiveRecord;


// Expects a root type
ISession sess = ActiveRecordMediator.GetSessionFactoryHolder().CreateSession(typeof(ActiveRecordBase));
// Now you can use sess.DbConnection

// Release the session when finished (ie. try, catch, finally)
Try to use a finally block to release the session. Do not invoke ISession.Close or ISession.Dispose.

Lazy loading

How to enable lazy loading

Check the documentation (trunk or v1rc1) on lazy load.

What 'Failed to lazily initialize a collection - no session' error means?

Means that there is no session available. Check the documentation on lazy load in order to know how to make it work properly.

Lazy loading in web applications

Check the documentation on ActiveRecord in web applications.

Lazy loading in desktop/winforms applications

Start the ActiveRecord during application start up. You can create a readonly SessionScope and flush it in appropriate moments using SessionScope.Current.Flush. Check the manual for further reference.

Changes to objects are persisted without an explicit call to the Save() method

This commonly happens if you are using SessionScope per request pattern. Basically this is an expected NHibernate behavior, although the first time you experience it, it can seem very confusing.

From: NHibernate Users FAQ

When an object is loaded by NHibernate the ISession keeps a snapshot of the state of your object. When you Flush() the ISession NHibernate compares that snapshot to the current state of the object. The appropriate changes are written to the database.

So when the Session is Flush()ed any changes to an objects state are written to the database. The next question is when does a Flush() occur? Well according to Tobins' NHibernate FAQ it can occur at a number of different (and possibly unexpected) places.

If this is really bothering you, you can create a readonly SessionScope. In this case it is up to you to Flush it. You can read more about the SessionScope on ActiveRecord documentation.

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