Understanding Omeka_Record_AbstractRecord

Omeka_Record_AbstractRecord is the heart of the ORM for Omeka. It is an abtract class that is extended to create the models for Omeka and its plugins. Each class extending Omeka_Record_AbstractRecord corresponds to a database table, with each row representing an individual record. Table columns correspond to public properties of the class.

In plugins, it’s best practice to include the name of the plugin at the beginning of each model name, to avoid any potential conflicts with models from the core or other plugins.

Classes extending Omeka_Record_AbstractRecord are placed in the models folder of a plugin (or application/models in the core). You can choose to keep the model classes all directly under the models folder or organize them into subfolders. Omeka will work with either organizational style, but as with all other class files, additional levels of the folder structure must have corresponding underscores in the class name. For example, a model named MyPluginThing would be located at <plugin folder>/models/MyPluginThing.php, while one named MyPlugin_Thing would be located at <plugin folder/models/MyPlugin/Thing.php.

class MyPluginThing extends Omeka_Record_AbstractRecord
     * text Text for the Thing
    public $text;

Note that an $id property is inherited from Omeka_Plugin_AbstractRecord. All Omeka ORM models have an id property/column that uniquely identifies a particular record. Tables that would normally have a composite primary key, like “junction” tables representing many-to-many relationships, must either have a redundant id column or be managed outside the ORM.

Database tables

The Omeka convention is for table names to be underscore-separated and pluralized (i.e. a MyPluginThing model will correspond to a table my_plugin_things in the database). This convention can be overridden if necessary in the corresponding Table model. Accessing a model name as a property ($db->MyPluginThing) from the DB object will return the table name for that model, correctly prepended with the user’s configured database prefix. This is the preferred way to get the table name when needed for SQL queries (like a CREATE TABLE query).

To create the tables in the database table for a plugin, use the install hook. The table must contain a column for each public property of the model, as well as an auto-incrementing id column, usually as the primary key. For example, this code in a plugin would create a table for the above model:

protected $_hooks = array('install' /* ... */);

/* ... */

public function hookInstall() {
    $db = $this->_db;
    $sql = "
    CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS `$db->MyPluginThing` (
      `id` int(10) unsigned NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT PRIMARY KEY,
      `text` text NOT NULL
      ) ENGINE=InnoDB DEFAULT CHARSET=utf8 COLLATE=utf8_unicode_ci";

Other features like additional indexes besides the primary key would be specified in the CREATE TABLE statement when necessary.

Plugins that create tables should drop them in their uninstall hook.

Events and callbacks

The abstract record contains callback functions creating, reading, updating, and deleting records, both before and after those actions. These are helpful if any automatic processing should be done during those operations.

For example, to append to the text column before the record is saved, override the beforeSave() callback.

protected function beforeSave()
    // only append upon insert
    if (! $this->exists()) {
        $this->text = $this->text . "Hello!";

The _validate() function can similarly be overridden to add custom validation code for the record.