Catching up on Blogs – Conceptual Space

I’ve been catching up on blogs and ran across this from Zlatko from Dec. 14.

His basic point is that EF is more than an OR/M mapper because it works in a conceptual space between the object layer and the database – creating a third layer.

I’m very happy that Zlatko said this. It articulates something I’ve never articulated well. The metadata is not a representation of the object layer – it is a way of thinking described in metadata that can be thought of as entities, or abstractions, or something else rather vague and fluffy – see I have problems explaining it.

Entity Framework does pins down this previously mind based abstraction. It’s a subtle shift but it exposes how we think about objects, and now gives us a word for it – the conceptual model. It takes what was previously a mind cloud that we shared by implication from metadata definitions and makes it something we can visual in a drawing.

Unless I’m entirely missing the point though, I do not buy that the existence of this layer is new. I think most or all of us that do metadata based code generation have been doing this for years.

But it is not trivial and it is important to articulate and create a visualizer for something that we’ve just been doing between our ears by implication. It’s part of what makes the implications of EF for metadata for all code generation significant.

The EF conceptual and metadata layers are important even though its current incarnation comes up a bit short in richness and in ease of access. We can fix both these with some effort – I’m loving the moment in time we’re living in and just wishing I had twice as much time to work each day.

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