My biased view on Doctrine vs Propel

I’m getting old and I’m old fashioned.

I’m still using mysql, not mongoDB.

I’m using php and apache, not node.js, ruby, python or lighttpd, nginx or ….

And I’m using propel again (1.5), not doctrine. AND I’M LOVING IT!!

After #sfdaycng 2009, the presentations and talks there, I forced myself to giving Doctrine a try and really liked it then. A lot of reading through documentation in the beginning if you are new to it, but hey, that’s normal. However, today, even when writing a simple query, I still have to consult the docs. Why? The syntax seems not to be “my style” somehow, it won’t fit into my type of writing code.

But there is such a HUGE difference between Doctrine and Propel and Doctrine is SO MUCH BETTER

Is it? Do I care what’s inside if I’m only querying a database without using all possibilities? Remember sfLive 2010?

“Is Doctrine re-inventing propel” Hahaha LOL ROFL LMAO

At this years big symfony conference #sflive2010, in a Q&A session about Doctrine2, a poor guy obviously asked the question, that made it into a big running gag: “Are you trying to re-invent propel?”

I have to admit and regret that I was not there, but if you followed the #sflive2010 hashtag on twitter, it was not very long until this got tweeted over and over again. And everybody was making fun of it…

Sure, it is kind of funny to ask @jwage, (lead) developer of Doctrine that question… But hey? What’s really so funny about it?

While everybody in the audience laughed, it really would have been interesting to

a) see how many were trying to smirk, wondering whats so funny about that

b) know how many would have been able to give a good reply on that?

And with “good reply” I mean, explain the difference.

And with “difference” I mean, explain it beyond

  • “doctrine has the schema.yml and the model classes in a subfolder”
  • “propel uses two classes User and UserPeer, doctrine has User and UserTable”
  • “propel has a criteria object, doctrine a query object”

If you started with symfony 1.0 as a developer that did not work with frameworks like symfony before (like I did), everthing is “symfony” – may it be propel, phing, creole, PDO, … and getting into these differences was not really worth it in the first place if you wanted to get started with writing your first applications.

What I’m trying to say: I guess that a lot of symfony developers out there don’t know or care about “Doctrine” vs “Propel” – they use the default. And they call it “symfony”, thinking that it belongs to it. If they started with symfony <1.2, they’ll use propel, now they use doctrine – because it’s the default. You learn it, you use it, you stick to it.

And I sticked to propel throughout 1.2. And it was quite save for me getting along ignoring Doctrine. Just then, when I started using Doctrine after #sfdaycgn I found new things, new approaches, things I liked, things I had to learn and a lot of stuff I could not get the hang of.

So now, with propel 1.5 and the new Query objects, I gave it a try and was so excited, I decided to come back to Propel. Just because it “feels like home” and fits my personal style of thinking/coding.

And of course both ORMs have their features and behaviours and at #sfdaycng Doctrine had more of them and so on… But I also assume that a lot of those features are beyond most everyday developer’s needs

But Propel is dead

Oh no, it’s not!!!

With the new 1.5 it REALLY got amazingly easy to write your code, extend your Query Model and easy query creation. 1.6 is on it’s way and 2.0 was just recently announced to be based on Doctrine2, as a layer on top, providing the usability features… that’s something we will have to wait for, but I does sound very good.

But Benchmarks show that…

So what? I couldn’t care less. Why should I? I am not running sites that have gazillions of users with quadrubillions of tables and hexafoobarillions of rows – I don’t care if grabbing all posts with a certain topic and tag for a given user takes 111 ms or 132 ms. But I do care if I have to consult the docs for writing that query because I couldn’t remember the syntax or – on the other hand – my IDE (yeah, right, eclipse, I’m REALLY old fashioned) nearly automagically creates the query for me.

But what are you actually trying to say?

  • Most developers don’t need benchmarks to find their ORM – it’s about own style and preference (or customer specs, but thats another story)
  • Some symfony developers might not even have thought about giving “the other one” a try.
  • Personally, I get along with propel 1.5 better
  • I’m getting old

So, if you know Doctrine, give Propel 1.5 a try.

If you only use Propel, give Doctrine a try.

And if you still use Propel 1.4 – MAN!!! Get the 1.5!!!

Any comments appreciated, I really like to see what I’m missing

PS: I’m even more old fashioned: I’m using vi – not vim, but eclipse with the vi plugin. Why? REAL code completion! A wonderful thing with propel 1.5!

Criteria -> DQL

Posted on 2009-09-11

So, now I have some new classes that use doctrine to acces my DB and the move went quite smoothly.

However, I had some methods that – of course – used propel criteria to create special queries… those times are gone. What’s it like in doctrine?

But first, I had to add a Behaviour Timestampable to my schema to make sure good old updated_at and created_at still work. They have to be removed from the schema.yml, though and be replaced by

actAs: [Timestampable]

Hope, that works…

Regarding my criteria: For example, I had the quite simple case:

$c=new Criteria();
$this->zip_list = ZipPeer::doSelect($c);

Now, this obviouls needs to become a DQL something.

$q = Doctrine::getTable(‘Zip’)->createQuery(‘z’)
$this->zip_list = $q->fetchArray();

Honestly, I have no clue right now what the parameter of the create is supposed to do – the documentation does not really explain it… and the fetchArray() returns an array – and all my getMethods fail… *hmpf* I thought there was object hydration?


$user = new User();
$user->username = 'jwage';        // Object
$user['username'] = 'jwage';      // Array
$user->set('username', 'jwage');  // Function
$user->setUsername('jwage');      // Propel access

But why does “getId() fail then?

Maan, it took quite some reading through the docs to find out that the doctrine examples like the array representation and always use fetchArray, while for retrieveing the results as hydrated objects, you need to simply ->execute()


$q = Doctrine::getTable(‘Zip’)->createQuery(‘z’)
$this->zip_list = $q->execute();

Now, it looks quite good…

As far as standard methods go, I had to replace

$zip = ZipPeer::retrieveByPk($request->getParameter(‘id’))


$zip = Doctrine::getTable(‘Zip’)->findOneById($request->getParameter(‘id’)

using magic finders, which seems to be quite easy – but I remember John Wage say, that magic finders should not be used in final production environments… well, for the time being I’ll keep it…

Move from Propel to doctrine

Original Date: 2009-09-11

Big day today!

My plan is to dive into doctrine today by converting a small application. I have been using propel all the time and now it looks like I need to change something, because doctrine will be the path forward for symfony.

BTW, I’ll write this one in English, because it might help some people out there (and not only Germans…)

So, first stop:

The symfony and Doctrine Book

So I ran

./symfony configure:database --name=doctrine --class=sfDoctrineDatabase "mysql:host=localhost;dbname=dbname" user secret

to get the basic connection set up. Afterwards, I needed to clean some old Propel line removed from the database.yml

My Database is alread existing, so I can recreate the schema from the DB.

php symfony doctrine:build-schema

et voilà – I have a subfolder doctrine with the schema.yml

Hmm, first question now: Where did the _attribute: { phpname: .. } go?

Looking at the schema, the big difference between propel and doctrine seems to be: doctrine specifies a tablename for a parent element called like the table, but propel specifies a phpname for a parent that IS the table…

In my example I have a mysql table called “plz” but the phpname was “Zip”.

So, doctrine created a classname “Plz:” with tableName: plz – I try to change “Plz:” into “Zip:” … keep your fingers crossed

The doc talks about multiple connectiosn and attributes now, I’ll skip that for now, got no clue what the attributes mean and I only need one connection.

BUILD!! Thats what I want to do!!!

I don’t want to erase the table, so I only

php symfony doctrine:build-model

and YES, as hoped, it created a “Zip.class.php”. COOL!

add some

php symfony doctrine:build-forms
php symfony doctrine:build-filters
php symfony doctrine:build-sql

and now we should be fine, right?