Clean Architecture Exploration
This directory contains a Lisp application for browsing a database of books. The application attempts to use a Clean Architecture as described by Uncle Bob Martin in various talks and blog posts.
The goal of Clean Architecture is to have the directory structure of your application shout out what your application does rather than what framework was used to present your application or what database is nestled in the depths of your application. Your program is divided into Entities, Use Cases, and Interface Adapters.
Entities encapsulate "Enterprise-wide business rules." Use Cases encapsulate "Application-specific business rules." Interfaces and Adapters represent how your Use Cases want to interact with the outside world (e.g. databases, users, printers, etc.).
In Clean Architecture, the Entities cannot know that the Use Cases exist and the Use Cases cannot know anything about the Adapters except for the Interface to them which is defined by the Use Case rather than by the Adapter. The Use Case does not know whether the application is being used from the command-line or from the web or from a remote service calling into it. The Use Case does not know whether the data is being stored in the file system or in a relational database. Nothing in the Adapters can know anything about the Entities.
I have a project that I am just starting. I thought I would use this new project to see how Clean Architecture works for me.
There are a few simple examples around the web. The most notable is Mark Paluch's Clean Architecture Example. It is just big enough to get a sense of how things hang together. If you're willing to put up with Java's insane directory hierarchies, you can get a pretty good idea of what the application does just by poking around the Use Cases directory.
My First Use Case
My first Use Case is to let the User browse the a list of Book Summaries. The User should be able to sort by Title, Author, Publication Date, or Date the Book was acquired. The User should be able to filter the list based upon Genre or Keyword. The Use Case should allow the caller to implement pagination, so the Use Case needs to support returning up to a given number of Book Summaries starting with a specific number.
But, let's start with baby steps.
The Simplified Version of my First Use Case
Let's just say the User wishes to see a list of all of the Book Summaries.
This simple version of the Use Case is implemented in this repository
under the tag
The architecture consists of some simple structures with no "business
logic" in them at all:
book. It consists of one
browse-books which defines the use-case interface
browse-books-use-case along with its input structure
browse-books-request and its output structure
browse-books-response. It defines the method
must be called with a
browse-books-use-case instance, a
browse-books-request instance, and
In my implementation, the
browse-books-response is a simple data
structure. One could easily imagine that the
would return one rather than filling one in that was passed to it. In
some variants of Clean Architecture (like the Paluch example cited
above), the response model is a class instance upon which a method is
called to complete the interaction. I'm not sure what one gains by
this. In some cases, it might provide you with an easy way to let the
response happen asynchronously, but it seems unlikely that all of the
Adapters calling your code would be okay with that sudden change in
synchrony. And, your Use Case has to dictate how it is used, it
cannot make assumptions or references to whomever invoked it except by
calling methods on the response model which the Use Case defined.
The use case also defines the
book-repository interface that it
needs. In the Paluch example, all of the use cases share the same
repository interfaces. In several of Uncle Bob's videos, he makes the
claim (or claims equivalent to the claim) that each use case should
define an interface for just the methods it needs to use on a Book
repository. In this use case, it would need only the ability to
retrieve the list of Books. In other use cases, it might instead need
the ability find a Book based on its ISBN.
browse-books-impl class which extends the
browse-book-use-case. It takes an instance of
construction. It uses that to retrieve the list of Books. Then, it
book-summary from each
book instance retrieved from the
To test the design so far, I wrote
which implements the
book-repository interface that was defined in
the Use Case. I also wrote a
console frontend which invokes the
To tie it all together, I wrote
app-context which holds the current
browse-books instance. And, I wrote the
app which creates an
instance of the
in-memory-book-repository and creates the
browse-books-impl for the
app-context. Then, it runs the main
loop of the
Trouble In Paradise
Already, in this simple interface, I am torn. For this Use Case, I do not need the repository to return me the list of Books. I could, instead, ask the repository to return me the list of Book Summaries. If I do that, my application is just a fig-leaf over the repository.
Well, the argument against asking the repository for Book Summaries is that it should not be up to the database to decide how I would like to have my Books summarized. That certainly seems like it should be "business logic" and probably "application specific" business logic at that.
So, fine. I will have the repository return Books and the Use Case will summarize them.
Now, let me extend the Use Case the next little bit forward. What if I want to support pagination? My choices are to push the pagination down to the repository so that I can ask it to give me up to 20 Books starting with the 40th Book. Or, I can let the repository give me all of the books and do the pagination in the Use Case.
Here, I can find no guidance in any of the Clean Architecture videos that I have watched nor in the examples that I have found online. Everyone seems happy with the repositories being able to return one item given that item's unique identifier or return all of the items.
If the repository is going to return all of the Books, then why wouldn't my Use Case just return them all and leave the caller to do any pagination that is needed?
This works fine when there are a few dozen books and they are small. It does not scale, and I don't know how it is supposed to scale without pushing most of the responsibility onto the repository.
Sure, I can push the responsibility onto the repository. But, one of the reasons that Clean Architecture is so structured is to allow easy testing of all of the application logic. The more that I push into the repository, the less that I actually exercise when I run my unit tests with my mock repository (and the more complex my mock repository should probably be).