A library to develop component-based systems in Clojure.
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README.md

sv.system

A library to develop component-based systems in Clojure.

Why

A short feedback loop is essential for the productivity of a developer. Tools should interrupt the development flow as little as possible. The ideal is an interactive development experience, which is for example provided by the great Clojure tool figwheel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZjFVdU8VLI

A very advanced form of interactive development is demonstrated by Bret Victor here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QJytzcd7Wo

A lot of development environments burden the developer with long startup times. The Clojure REPL eliminates this problem and provides you with an interactive development experience on top of the JVM, which is great. But even with this mighty tool you accumulate more and more state changes over time, until you reach a point, where you like to start with a fresh state. Normally you stop and restart your application. But this could take from anywhere between ten seconds to a minute, depending on your hardware and your application.

One of the most compelling reasons to use a component-based system is that it provides you essentially with a reset button for your application, which takes you almost instantly back to a defined state of your application and it doesn't need to restart the JVM.

Stuart Sierra pioneered this approach for the Clojure ecosystem and created the component library as an implementation of the approach. In the meanwhile the Clojure ecosystem yielded serveral other implementations (like leaven or yoyo) and libraries that are based on component (modular or system for example).

sv.system is only my two cents for this problem space of component-based Clojure systems.

Design goals

I had the following goals in mind, while designing the library:

  • Create an experience with a low complexity overhead, so that even Clojure beginners might consider to build a component-based system.

  • Be pure, use plain functions, wherever it is possible (instead of records and protocols)

  • Make dependencies a central and declarative aspect of the approach.

  • Favor conventions over configuration to provide common application components, which are convenient to use.

Install

Add the following dependency to your project.clj file:

Clojars Project

There are more sv.system components for common tasks.

Examples

Two examples are provided to see sv.system and its components in action:

  • hello-world a minimal example how to expose a Ring handler via httpkit in a sv.system based application.

  • address-book shows how to structure an application that uses sv.system and several of its components.

Usage

A minimal component is defined like this:

(def component {:binds [:component-a]
                :start [identity 1]})

To start a system:

(use 'sv.system.core)

(start-system [component])

This will return:

{:component-a 1}

For sure this is pretty useless and we will look at a real world example in a minute, but it shows the basic building blocks. The start-system function will always return a map, which contains the complete started system. Here the component describes that it will bind the path [:component-a] in the system map. The value of :start is a vector, which first element is a function (here clojure.core/identity) . This function will be invoked with the given arguments (the rest of the vector, here 1). The return value (here: 1) will be the value of the path (here: [:component-a] cf. assoc-in).

Ok let's build something more interesting for the real world. One big issue that is handled by the component library is the management of stateful objects, which have a lifecylce. An example is a HTTP server that binds a port of your operation system and that has to be stopped appropriately to free the port and other resources. For the code sample we will use httpkit a minimal HTTP server for Clojure:

(use 'org.httpkit.server)

(defn start [ring-handler opts]
  (run-server
   ring-handler
   opts))

(defn stop [stop-httpkit]
  (stop-httpkit))

(defn httpkit-server []
  {:binds [:httpkit :server]
   :start [start [:ring :handler] {:port 8080}]
   :stop stop})

Here you see the first dependency [:ring :handler], which is declared under :start. The libary will fetch the value under this path in the system map and will substitute the path in the :start arguments with the value (cf. get-in).

The library uses these dependency declarations (here [:ring :handler]) to figure out an apporpriate start order of the components. Therefore we need a component, which binds [:ring :handler]:

(defn hello-handler-fn []
  (fn [request]
    {:status 200
     :body "Hello"
     :content-type "text/plain"}))

(defn hello-handler []
  {:binds [:ring :handler]
   :start [hello-handler-fn]})

The hello-handler component just binds a Ring handler to the [:ring :handler] path in the system map:

{:ring {:handler (hello-handler-fn)}}

Now we can start the system:

(def system
  (start-system #{(hello-handler) (httpkit-server)}))

Open http://localhost:8080/ in your browser to get your Hello message. Note that the order of the components in the start-system call does not matter, since an appropriate order is automatically calculated by the library.

For sure we also like to stop the system:

(stop-system system)

This works since the start-system functions adds the calculated start order as meta data to the system map. This order is reversed and used by stop-system to stop the components in the correct order.

To stop the httpkit-server component the function under :stop from above is used:

(defn stop [stop-httpkit]
  (stop-httpkit))

(defn httpkit-server []
  {:binds [:httpkit :server]
   :start [start [:ring :handler] {:port 8080}]
   :stop stop})

Httpkit's run-server function returns a no-arg function per default to shutdown the httpkit server (here: (stop-httpkit)). If the value of :stop in the component declaration is a function, then it will be invoked with the value under the path (see :binds) of the component (here [:httpkit :server]). It would also be possible to define the :stop section like this:

(defn httpkit-server []
  {:binds [:httpkit :server]
   :start [start [:ring :handler] {:port 8080}]
   :stop [stop [:httpkit :server]]})

Which is the same syntax that is used for the :start section. This allows the stop function to use further elements from the system map to appropriately stop the component.

As you already noticed, we have hard-coded the options for httpkit (here {:port 8080}), which is for sure not desirable. Like in the case of the system map we will also put the complete configuration into a single map. The component get this map to populate the component declaration with the configuration parameters. The configuration map for our example looks like this:

(def config
  {:httpkit {:opts {:port 8080}}})

We change the httpkit-server component like this:

(defn httpkit-server [config]
  {:binds [:httpkit :server]
   :start [start [:ring :handler] (-> config :httpkit :opts)]
   :stop stop})

After also adding one argument to the hello-handler component:

(defn hello-handler [config]
  {:binds [:ring :handler]
   :start [hello-handler-fn]})

We can use the config-components helper function to start the system:

(def system
  (start-system
   (config-components
    config
    [httpkit-server
     hello-handler])))

Stopping the system still looks the same:

(stop-system system)

Wildcard dependencies

Sometimes a component depends on a bunch of other components that it doesn't know in advance. An example of such a component is sv.system.ring.handlers:

(defn start [handlers]
  (fn [request]
    (some
     (fn [handler]
       (handler request))
     (vals handlers))))

(defn handlers [config]
  {:binds [:ring :handlers-dispatcher]
   :start [start [:ring :handlers :*]]})

It binds a ring handler under [:ring :handlers-dispatcher] that requests each handler under [:ring :handlers :*] to handle the ring request. The last element :* of the latter path is a wildcard. Only one wildcard at the end of a path is allowed. Other components can register ring handlers under this path:

(require 'sv.system.ring.handlers
         'sv.system.httpkit.core
         '[sv.system.core :refer :all])

(defn hello-handler-fn []
  (fn [request]
    {:status 200
     :body "Hello"
     :content-type "text/plain"}))

(def config
  {:httpkit {:opts {:port 8080}}})

(def system
  (start-system
   [(sv.system.ring.handlers/handlers config)
    (sv.system.httpkit.core/httpkit-server config)
    {:binds [:ring :handlers ::hello]
     :start [hello-handler-fn]}
    {:binds [:ring :handler]
     :start [identity [:ring :handlers-dispatcher]]}]))

This example also shows how an ad hoc component can be used to wire different components of the system:

{:binds [:ring :handler]
 :start [identity [:ring :handlers-dispatcher]]}

Here we just register the [:ring :handlers-dispatcher] as [:ring :handler], so that the httpkit component finds a main ring handler. Thereby the sv.system.ring.handlers component is also decoupled from the context, in which it is used by the system. As an example the ring handler [:ring :handlers-dispatcher] could also be wrapped by some ring middleware before it is bound to [:ring :handler] in the system map.

More components

There are some sv.system components for common tasks:

License

Copyright © 2016 Max Weber (SimpleValue UG)

Distributed under the Eclipse Public License either version 1.0 or (at your option) any later version.