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Sub-questions:

  • Does this pattern have a formal definition?

  • Who invented it?

  • Is it considered a DSL?

The reason why I am asking is because I would like to better assess its applicability to non-classic-DB scenarios, for example as an alternative to configuration files with a custom format, that don't need to be changeable after compilation.

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Does this pattern have a formal definition?

This is also referred as convention over configuration.

Who invented it?

This is a hard question, according to Wikipedia it goes back to 1960's. Apparently it's influenced by the concept of default.

Is it considered a DSL?

I would say yes, because it's specific to the domain of ORM framework (related to the examples you have pointed out)

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Not sure if this answers your question appropriately, but I would advise against using EF or Nhibernate or any other large ORM for non classic DB structures. I highly suggest using a microORM such as Dapper, petaPOCO, or Susanoo (full discretion Susanoo is my open source project). EF for instance has some pretty stringent rules and conventions that don't play well if you don't design your DB as it expects.

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