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Author image Thomas Rubattel
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DBIx::Class::LookupColumn - DBIx::Class components to help using Lookup tables.


DBIx::Class::LookupColumn::Auto is probably what you need to apply this system on your schema.

 # User table with columns user_id, name, and user_type_id (foreign_key to UserType Lookup table)
 package MySchema::Result::User;
 __PACKAGE__->add_columns( "user_id",{}, "name", {}, "user_type_id", {} );
 __PACKAGE__->belongs_to( "user_type" => "Schema3::Result::UserType", {"user_type_id" => "self.user_type_id"} );

 # UserType Lookup table, with 2 columns (user_type_id, name) with rows: ( 1 => 'Administrator' , 2 => 'User' , 3 => 'Guest' )

 # $user is a DBIx::Class::Row instance, e.g. $user=$schema->resultset('User')->find( { name => 'Flash Gordon'} )
 print $user->type; # print 'Administrator', not very impressive, could be written as $user->user_type()->name()
 print $user->type; # same thing, but we are sure that no database request is done thanks to the cache system
 print $user->is_type('Administrator')  ? 'Ok' : 'Access Restricted';
 # equivalent (but more efficient) to
 my $type = $schema->resultset('UserType')->find( { name => 'Administrator' })
   or die "Bad name 'Administrator' for Lookup table UserType";
 print $user->user_type_id eq $type->id  ? 'Ok' : 'Access Restricted';
 # equivalent (but more efficient) to
 my $type = $schema->resultset('UserType')->find( { name => 'User'} ) or die "Bad name 'User' for Lookup table UserType";
 $user->user_type_id( $type->id );
 my @users = $schema->resultset('User')->all; # suppose there are 1000 users
 # how many database requests: at most one !
 # and if you mispelled 'Administrator' the code would die with a meaningful error message
 foreach my $user (@users) {
     print $user->name, " has admin rights\n" if $user->is_type('Administrator');


The objective of this module is to bring efficient and convenient methods for dealing with Lookup Tables. We call Lookup tables tables that are actually catalogs of terms.

A good example is the table UserType in the Synopsis, that describles all the possible values for the user types. A normalized database has usually lots of such Lookup tables. This is a good database design practice, basically avoiding using hard_coded strings in your database tables. Unfortunately it tends to either moving the problem in your code by using hard-coded strings such as 'Administrator' , or to complexifying your code.

This module tries to solve this problem by allowing the developer to use strings instead of IDs in his code to increase readability (e.g. using 'Administrator' instead of the corresponding ID) without sacrificing performance nor safety, thanks to the cache (see DBIx::Class::LookupColumn::Manager ) and the constant value checking.

It works in a lazy slurpy way: the first time a Lookup table value is needed, the whole table is read and stored in the cache (see DBIx::Class::LookupColumn::Manager). The DBIx::Class::LookupColumn::LookupColumnComponent allows to generate accessors for convenience. The DBIx::Class::LookupColumn::Auto allows to quickly add those accessors for all your tables.

Lookup Tables

What we call Lookup Tables, as stated above, are catalogs of terms, hard-coded values. This a quite fuzzy definition, and in our understanding these kinds of tables are also usually small and stable, making perfect candidates for caching.

The idea of this modules came when using a database schema with dozens of tables called PermissionType, UserType, DocumentType each with less than 10 values. Using DBIx::Class objects, this leaded to very inefficient database queries. Using this module solved this problem, and we hope it could be useful to others.


Side effect : if one ResultSource class DBIx::Class::ResultSource you would like to apply a lookup relation on has been set to immutable Class::MOP::Class it will turn it to mutable for adding the accessors. It will then be reset to immutable.

Do not use this module on big tables, it could actually slow down your code and eat all your memory.

Example of use in a many-to-many relationship

Suppose we have a many-to-many relationship between the Actor and RoleType tables. Then a new table, let's call it ActorRole, has to be designed for playing the interface between them. In this case the RoleType is the Lookup table and ActorRole the one the lookup relation is called on. However let's add two sugar functions for applying the getter and checker accessor on the Actor objects directly.

 # In the Actor ResultSource
 # let's add both functions below as suggar
 sub role_names {
        my $self = shift;
        # role() is generated by DBIx::Class::LookupColumn::LookupColumnComponent
        return map { $_->role() } $self->actorroles;

 sub has_role {
        my ( $self, $role_name ) = @_;
        # is_role() is generated by DBIx::Class::LookupColumn::LookupColumnComponent
        my $found = grep { $_->is_role( $role_name ) }  $self->actorroles;
        return $found;

 # In the appropriated ResultSource
 # let's define the relationships
 SchemaMany2Many::Result::Actor->has_many('actorroles', 'SchemaMany2Many::Result::ActorRole', { 'foreign.actor_id' => 'self.actor_id' } );
 SchemaMany2Many::Result::Actor->many_to_many('roletypes',  'actorroles', 'roletype');

 SchemaMany2Many::Result::ActorRole->belongs_to('roletype', 'SchemaMany2Many::Result::RoleType', {"foreign.role_id" => "self.role_id" } );
 SchemaMany2Many::Result::ActorRole->belongs_to('actor',  'SchemaMany2Many::Result::Actor', {"foreign.actor_id" => "self.actor_id" });

 SchemaMany2Many::Result::RoleType->has_many('actorroles', 'SchemaMany2Many::Result::ActorRole', { 'foreign.role_id' => 'self.role_id' } );
 SchemaMany2Many::Result::RoleType->many_to_many('actors', 'actorroles', 'actor');

 # In the Schema Class
 # let's automatize the lookup relation creation
 __PACKAGE__->load_components( qw/LookupColumn::Auto/ );

 my @tables = __PACKAGE__->sources;
                targets => [ grep{ !/Type$/  } @tables ],
                lookups => [ grep{ /Type$/} @tables],
                relation_name_builder => sub{
                        my ( $class, %args) = @_;       
                        $args{lookup} =~ /^(.+)Type$/;
                        lc( $1 );
                lookup_field_name_builder => sub { 'name' }

 # In a script
 my $actor = $schema->resultset('Actor')->find ( 1 );

 # with DBIx::Class::LookupColumn package
 my @roles_played = $actor->role_names(); # ONE and only one DB request whose result is cached
 my $played_warlock = $actor->has_role ('Warlock');  # assigns boolean
 # my $played_warlock = $actor->has_role ('Warloc');  # throws an exception because does not exist in the DB

 # inefficient classical way to do it
 my @roles_played_classical = map { $_->roletype()->name } $actor->actorroles(); # does a DB request at EACH loop !
 my $played_warlock_classical =  'Warlock' ~~ @roles_played_classical; # assigns boolean 
 # my $played_warlock_classical =  'Warloc' ~~ @roles_played_classical; # assigns an empty string, NOT safe regarding TYPOS !