The Vertabelo site has posted a tutorial that gives you an "under the hood" view of ORMs and what they're doing in the background to help make accessing your database information easier.
It often happens that if something is loved, it is also hated with the same power. The idea of object relational mapping fits into this concept perfectly. You will definitely come across many opposite points and fierce discussions as well as unwavering advocates and haters. So if you have ever asked whether to use ORM or not, the answer “it depends” will not be enough.
They start with a definition of an ORM to get everyone on the same page, highlighting how they represent database contents and what some of the benefits are in using them. From there the article talks about the importance of good SQL and a few common dangers in using an ORM and not knowing SQL. Then the article gets into how ORMs work and some of the common design patterns they can implement. It lists some of the more popular ORMs (for Python, Java and PHP) and covers some of the main disadvantages to their use. The article ends with examples of some of the libraries mentioned, highlighting the Propel ORM for the PHP world.