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Graph Loader

When we need to return data for the UI the single aggregate (or list) returned by our domain service is most of the times not enough:

more than one aggregate

In the example we suppose to display a list of posts, the view needs also informations about users and comments. One possibile commands sequence is:

more than one aggregate

This has several problems, notably over and under fetching, so we learn to use DTOs:

more than one aggregate

We have now shifted the problem on the backend, with other types of problems, notably the N+1 problem: we load the list of posts then for each post load its users and so on.

One possibile solution are batched loads:

more than one aggregate

Organize an API of DTOs types with loaders and assemblers from scratch is repetitive and error-prone.

java-dataloader is able to load a graph layer after layer together with graphql-java with handling of multi-threading and async loads. Unfortunately there is no easy way to use only java-dataloader to achieve this task, AFAIK you have to implement the whole GraphQL stack.

Graph Loader is a tiny library for this task in a fashion similar to GraphQL + data loaders but without the GraphQL language. It uses batch loaders to optimize the load of graph/tree structures. Your query are static and basically consist in a set of assemblers.

Introduction

Graph Loader is a tiny library to load a graph of objects, for instance one or more DTOs, from a remote/slow medium that hence should be loaded in a batch for acceptable performances.

The idea comes from use cases that, in the context of a business application, are many times resolved by using data loaders and GraphQL, however you need to implement the whole GraphQL stack in order to use batched data loaders, in java you need to implement graphql-java to use java-dataloader.

If you don't need/want dinamic queries execution GL could be for you.

By the way: graphql-java and java-dataloader are great projects and have their own fields of use where graph-loader is almost useless. I compared GL with these projects just because the idea of batched loads is not new and the GraphQL paradigm is well known.

Source code snippet

In test there are complete examples, also implemented and compared (using jmh) with graphql-java.

Configuration

First we define our DTOs types (plain data bags), for instance:

public class PostResource {
    public String text = null;
    public UserResource author = null;

these would be type declarations in GraphQL.
Than we need repositories capable of batch loads:

public class PostRepository {
    public static Map<Long, Post> load(Set<Long> keys) {

these are almost the same we would need with GraphQL.
We don't have queries, we have a list of predefined queries in the form of assemblers. Assemblers map values loaded from a repository to a DTO:

public class PostResourceAssembler implements GlAssembler<Post, PostResource> {
    @Override
    public PostResource assemble(Post post, GlAssemblerContext context) {
        PostResource resource = new PostResource();
        resource.text = post.content;   // Simple field.
        // Get authorLoader from context.
        authorLoader.load(post.authorId, user -> resource.author = authorAssembler.assemble(user, context));   // Resource field.

Fields of primitive types or the ones do not require a load, are simply set on the result DTO. The key point is how fields, like PostResource.author, that require a load gets resolved. Here java-dataloader would use a CompletableFuture, we use a consumer of User, most of the time this consists just in passing the value to the assembler and set the returned value into the result.

Execution

more than one aggregate

A GraphLoader instance has resolve() and resolveValue() methods:

GlResult<PostResource> result = graphLoader.resolve(1L, "postLoader", new PostResourceAssembler());
Post post = ...
GlResult<PostResource> result = graphLoader.resolveValue(post, new PostResourceAssembler());

The resolve() method takes a key of generic type K and resolveMany() takes a list of K. Both need also a name of loader to load that keys into values of generic type V and an assembler to assemble V into our final generic type D.

resolveValue() take a value V and resolveValues() takes a list of values V, and execute just the second part of the process assembling them into instance of final type D.

From GlResult we can get the result, a PostResource in this case, or an exception if one were raised somewhere in the resolveX() method.

Async Execution

From version 1.0.3 there is also an async version of AsyncGraphLoader, (see tests):

CompletableFeature<GlResult<PostResource>> result = graphLoader.resolve(1L, "postLoader", new PostResourceAssembler());
Post post = ...
CompletableFeature<GlResult<PostResource>> result = graphLoader.resolveValue(post, new PostResourceAssembler());

Use GraphLoaderFactory to get instances of AsyncGraphLoader that has the resolve methods that return CompletableFuture<GlResult<>>. With this version of GL one can register and use the async version of DataLoader that has the dispatch() method return a CompletionStage.

How to use

repositories {
    maven { url 'https://jitpack.io' }
}
dependencies {
    implementation 'com.github.mar9000:graph-loader:1.0.2'
}

Concepts

  1. load and assemble: the result gets calculated by successive approximations indeed objects resolved by GL should be mutable. I like to use immutable objects whenever possible, but here mutable objects seemed good enough as I plan to use GL just to prepare data just before the serialization to JSON or XML. GraphQL for example return a mix of maps and lists as result, here you can use the same paradigm or develop and compose your own DTOs types.

  2. batched load: should be possible to batch data loading, for instance load several database records or ReST resources at once.

The main idea is:

  • a factory that last for the entire lifespan of the application, configured with a registry a pure function (batch loaders) and a global context.
  • given an execution context it returns a graph loader that can be used to resolve one or more graph. Caching of data can be activated to reuse resources loaded by preceding executions.

Classes

One can start designing the API from the types GL will assemble, this is how your response data will look like. In test the examples use PostResource, UserResource, etc.

At the other side of the algorithm there are the objects loaded from you medium. These can be records loaded from the database of other resources loaded via ReST. In test they are Post, User, etc., let's call them entities.

Then one have to describe how these entities are loaded in batch. This is specified with a set of MappedBatchLoader each one taking a set of keys and returning a Map<Key,Entity>. MappedBatchLoaders are organized into a MappedBatchLoaderRegistry.

These MappedBatchLoader are wrapped transparently served as DataLoader that you use into an assembler when you need to load a child entity.

After an entity gets loaded it is transformed by an assembler, see GLAssembler. It receives a complete context GLAssemblerContext containing:

  • GLContext: context that last for the life span of GL, probably for the whole application.
  • DataLoaderRegistry: so you can load more child entity.
  • ExecutionContext: context of a single GL.resolve().

The characteristic of GL is to required DataLoader that take a Consumer<Entity> that is invoked as soon as the entity gets loaded. This consumer is usally just the execution of an assembler.

GraphLoaderFactory is usually a singleton configured with a MappedBatchLoaderRegistry and a GLContext. It returns GraphLoader instances given an ExecutionContext.

GL is the main class with two methods resolve() and resolveMany() that return a GLResult<D> or a GLResult<List<D>> respectively. The K generic indicates the type of the key, of a loaded value indicated with V that is processed by an assembler that produces a result of type D.

Internal classes

  • GLDataLoader: wrapper around a DataLoader plus an ExecutionState.
  • MappedDataLoader.
  • StatedDataLoaderRegistry: wrapper around DataLoaderRegistry instrumented with counters required for statistics and dispatch.

Example

See tests.

Benchmarks

GL is not really comparable with graphql-java as it is a complete implementation of GraphQL. However, I could not find a better pair project for benchmarks. Said that if you don't want to use GraphQL, want to express you DTO and (assembler) in Java, this is an approach, with or without GL, worth a try. There is a quick comparison, probably to be refined, launch:

./gradlew jmh
Benchmark                                                             Mode  Cnt       Score       Error   Units
GLBenchmark.glAvgTime                                                 avgt    3       1.212 ±     0.033   us/op
GLBenchmark.glAvgTime:·gc.alloc.rate.norm                             avgt    3    2728.000 ±     0.001    B/op
GLBenchmark.glAvgTime:·gc.churn.PS_Eden_Space.norm                    avgt    3    2730.117 ±   205.321    B/op
GraphQLJavaBenchmark.graphqlAvgTime                                   avgt    3      94.926 ±     5.929   us/op
GraphQLJavaBenchmark.graphqlAvgTime:·gc.alloc.rate.norm               avgt    3  162968.507 ±   267.677    B/op
GraphQLJavaBenchmark.graphqlAvgTime:·gc.churn.PS_Eden_Space.norm      avgt    3  163431.654 ± 16347.211    B/op

TODOs

  • more tests.
  • more benchmarks with bigger and more complex DTOs.

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