Has anyone done any study into what exactly is so tightly integrated that a platform can't just piece existing components together using Adapters and similar approaches?
Building the ORM scaffold stuff doesn't seem to require rewriting anything from scratch. If you build the table first, then SQLObject can keep the fields in order (the only irritation I have when using SQLObject to create the tables), and the platform can use Adapters to build a FunFormKit-based system to edit/create the objects, and simple list/view things too. In other words, the developer only need do what the Rails developer does: create a model and a controller. The rest magically springs to life.
What _does_ require stronger integration, especially to the point of rewriting the existing components?
In part integration saves you a lot of little jobs. But later the integration might not be a big win, as your particular application goes further from the assumptions the integration makes. But, that still leaves you with a base to start with, and a convention -- if the integration serves no purpose except to codify application layout and object composition, that's still a valuable thing.
Hmm... I've noticed the column ordering problem in SQLObject as well. It would be good to keep track of the chronological order in which the Col objects were created, then sort on that. That should give the ordering you want.
As far as adapters, that's certainly how they are intended to be used. I've had mixed results using them; I might just be using them incorrectly, but I might again blame it on a lack of codifying best practices ;)