MongoDB ODM: Mixing Types of Documents

One major advantage to using something like MongoDB is the fact that it is schema-less. We can store multiple types of documents in a single collection and we are not limited to a single type of document in embedded and referenced documents. This article shows how you can easily mix types of documents in collections, embedded and referenced documents.

Mixing Types in Collections

If you don’t want to use SINGLE_COLLECTION inheritance you can easily store different documents in the same collection by using a discriminator field. First define an Article document that maps to my_documents:

<?php
/**
 * @Document(collection="my_documents")
 * @DiscriminatorField(fieldName="type")
 * @DiscriminatorMap({"article"="Article", "album"="Album"})
 */
class Article
{
    // ...
}

Next create another document named Album and also map it to my_documents:

<?php
/**
 * @Document(collection="my_documents")
 * @DiscriminatorField(fieldName="type")
 * @DiscriminatorMap({"article"="Article", "album"="Album"})
 */
class Album
{
    // ...
}

Now if you create some instances and persist them they will all be stored in the my_documents collection and will have a discriminator field named type automatically set with the value specified in the mapping:

<?php
$article = new Article();
$article->setTitle('Sample Article');
// ...

$album = new Album();
$album->setName('My Album');

$dm->persist($article);
$dm->persist($album);

Finally, if you retrieve the documents they’ll all be retrieved from my_documents but you will get back the proper PHP classes that created them:

<?php
$articles = $dm->find('Article');
$albums = $dm->find('Album');

You can retrieve more then just one document type by specifying an array:

<?php
$documents = $dm
    ->createQuery(array('Article', 'Album'))
    ->execute();

The returned documents will contain instances of articles and albums!

Mixing Types in Embedded Documents

You can store multiple types of documents in embedded documents by simply omitting the targetDocument option. First create a User document and embed multiple task documents:

<?php
/** @Document(collection="users") */
class User
{
    // ...

    /** @Embedded */
    private $tasks = array();

    // ...
}

**NOTE** Notice how on the ``$tasks`` annotation we don't specify
whether it is ``one`` or ``many``. This is because we know it is
``many`` due to the default value being an array.

Now create the different types of tasks we can add to the user:

<?php
/** @EmbeddedDocument */
class DownloadTask
{
    // ...
}

/** @EmbeddedDocument */
class UploadTask
{
    // ...
}

Now you can embed any type of class in the $tasks property:

<?php
$user = $dm->findOne('User', array(...));

$task = new DownloadTask();
// ...

$user->addTask($task);

$task = new UploadTask();
// ...

$user->addTask($task);

$dm->flush();

Mixing Types in Referenced Documents

Mixing types in referenced documents works just the same as embedded by omitting the targetDocument option. In this example a user can add references to all his favorite albums, songs and books. First define a User document with a many references property for storing the users favorites:

<?php
/** @Document(collection="users") */
class User
{
    // ...

    /** @Reference */
    private $favorites = array();

    // ...
}

Now here is what the referenced documents would look like:

<?php
/** @Document(collection="albums") */
class Album
{
    // ...
}

/** @Document(collection="songs") */
class Song
{
    // ...
}

/** @Document(collection="books") */
class Book
{
    // ...
}

Now it is easy to add the references to his favorites:

<?php
$user->addFavorite($album);
$user->addFavorite($song);
$user->addFavorite($book);

$dm->flush();

When you retrieve the user and access the $favorites the documents will be grouped by type and loaded with one or more $in queries:

<?php
$user = $dm->findOne('User', array(...));
$favorites = $user->getFavorites();

// Lazily loads references
// Contains Album, Song and Book instances
foreach ($favorites as $favorite) {
    // ...
}

That is it! It is easy to take advantage of the schema-less features of MongoDB with the Doctrine Object Document Mapper (ODM)!

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