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Simple.Data and Dynamic Calls Are Awesome

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Couple of weeks ago I started to look into different open source packages on the .NET platform such as Nancy and Simple.Data. They all looked very cool, but one paragraph in an article called Introducing Simple.Data – explaining how the code snippet below works – caught my attention:

var db = Database.Open(); // Connection specified in config.
var user = db.Users.FindByNameAndPassword(name, password);

That’s pretty neat, right? So, did we have to generate the Database class and a bunch of table classes to make this work?

No.

In this example, the type returned by Database.Open() is dynamic. It doesn’t have a Users property, but when that property is referenced on it, it returns a new instance of a DynamicTable type, again as dynamic. That instance doesn’t actually have a method called FindByNameAndPassword, but when it’s called, it sees “FindBy” at the start of the method, so it pulls apart the rest of the method name, combines it with the arguments, and builds an ADO.NET command which safely encapsulates the name and password values inside parameters. The FindBy* methods will only return one record; there are FindAllBy* methods which return result sets. This approach is used by the Ruby/Rails ActiveRecord library; Ruby’s metaprogramming nature encourages stuff like this.

Mark RendleIntroducing Simple.Data

Just read that sentence once again…

That instance doesn’t actually have a method called FindByNameAndPassword, but when it’s called, it sees “FindBy” at the start of the method, so it pulls apart the rest of the method name, combines it with the arguments, and builds an ADO.NET command which safely encapsulates the name and password values inside parameters.

This sounds like crazy awesome magic and I need to understand it!

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