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Patterns of Object Interaction
Abstract
A useful object framework must support all possible design and interaction patterns.
The framework must support a core suite of general-purpose design patterns.
The framework must provide a good foundation for external implementation of additional patterns.
Top-down design is impossible.
An object framework must support all future uses, but it cannot anticipate them.
People write programs, and people are unpredictable.
Bottom-up design tends to fail.
Simple conceptual models work well at small scales.
Growing complex systems from basic principles is difficult.
There is an early, seductive sense of success.
Simple conceptual models often fail over time.
Larger systems strain the requirements of simple conceptual models.
Prevailing best practices change over time, and new practices introduce new requirements.
The rules and corollaries eventually conflict.
It's impossible to anticipate everything.
A hybrid approach may succeed where the other two fail.
It's easier to catalog meta design and interaction patterns than use cases.
By cataloging basic object design and interaction patterns, certain basic requirements will emerge.
By satisfying these requirements, the emergent object framework will conceptually scale farther.
Roadmap
Catalog and consider as many design and interaction patterns as possible.
Describe the emergent meta patterns.
Develop and document a syntax and specification to support the meta patterns.
Implement the specification.
Call for Contribution
Please help.
This is a huge project.
The project leader has worked on bottom-up designs since 1998 and would like to get it right this time.
Object Structural Patterns
Code Conventions
Functions
Methods
Class Methods
Object Methods
Parameter Conventions
Self and Positional Parameter List
Self and Parameter Hashref
Lexical Aliases
Self
Hashref Members
Return Conventions
Returned Data Formats
Returned as a List
Returned as a Hashref
Type and Hashref
Returned Data Mechanisms
Return via Return Builtin
Emitting via Method
Synchronous Emit
The emitted message target is called during emit().
Bypassing queue latency is efficient.
Deep recursion can occur.
Broad recursion cannot occur.
Requires deep Perl magic to work across process boundaries.
Asynchronous Emit
A message representing the emit() call is enqueued for the message target.
Queue latency makes this slower than synchronous emit.
Deep recursion cannot occur.
Broad recursion can occur.
May work locally or remotely.
Hybrid Emit
Synchronous emit is used whenever possible.
Asynchronous emit is used at the first sign of recursion.
Asynchronous emit may also be used for remote messages.
Deep recursion cannot occur.
Broad recursion is less likely.
Constructor Conventions
Direct Instantiation
Instantiate in Another Thread
Instantiate in Another Process
Process Already Exists
Process Doesn't Exist
Instantiation upon Request
Destructor Conventions
Destruction upon Release
Owner Explicitly Releases Object
Cascaded Owner Destruction
Global Destruction
Destruction upon Request
External Shutdown Request
Avoid Shutdown upon Destruction
Shutdown upon destruction tends to be too late.
Shutdown may take time.
Objects in the throes of destruction don't have time.
Self-Destruction upon Task Completion
Relies upon weak references or implicit management.
May be thwarted by users holding onto additional object references.
Accidentally, causing memory leaks.
Explicitly, but power users.
Object Never Destructs
Do nothing vital within object destructors.
Object destructor invocation is not guaranteed.
POSIX::_exit()
Signals.
Object Composition Patterns
Static Class Composition
Inheritance
Interfaces and Implementations
Roles
Object Composition
Static Object Composition
Low-level objects that comprise a higher-level object are created along with the high-level object.
The instantiation-time configuration persists until destruction.
Dynamic Object Composition
A higher-level object creates and by default owns lower-level objects as needed.
The type and ordinality of lower-level objects may change over time.
Object Composition Roles
Lower-level objects fulfill roles within their higher-level objects.
Higher-level objects may assign role names to lower-level objects to simplify addressing and management.
Role Ordinalities
No Objects per Role
All objects for a role may have destructed, or no objects for a role may have been constructed yet.
One Object per Role
Each lower-level object comprising a higher-level object may have its own role, or no role at all.
Multiple Objects per Role
Multiple objects may be assigned the same role within a higher-level object.
Role Addressing
Addressing All Objects for a Role
Addressing One Object for a Role
Addressing One Object at Random
Round-Robin Addressing
Custom Addressing
Owner Ordinalities
No Owners
An object without an owner is usually a memory leak as a side oeffect of a circular reference.
If at all possible, objects should recognize and log a warning when they have been orphaned.
If possible, objects should recognize and throw excpetions when too many are leaking.
One Owner at a Time
Creator
An object's scope remains that of its creator for the object's lifetime.
Factory
One object creates new objects on behalf of another.
Namespace
An object is created within an object that allows it to be addressed by name.
An object is created outside a namespace and is later registered with the namespace.
Assembly Line
An object is created to represent some multi-stage task.
The object is passed from one worker to another.
Each worker performs part of a larger complex task.
The object represents a complete result when all stages are complete.
Multiple Owners
An object is created by one object and passed to one or more others.
Multiple Serial Owners
Each owner relinquishes ownership while passing the object to the next.
Multiple Parallel Owners
An object is created by one object and passed to one or more simultaneous users.
Use must be coordinated from within the object being used.
Users are not aware of each other.
Owned Ordinalities
Owns No Objects
Owns One or More Objects
Explicit Ownership
This is Perl's standard ownership mechanism.
Objects are stored in members of their owners.
Objects are destroyed when their owners release them.
Implicit Ownership
About
The base class tracks object ownership and parentage.
Dynamic composition is simplified.
Objects are permitted to self-destruct when they are finished.
Objects are identified by their roles within their owners.
The mechanism may be visualized as object-scoped namespaces.
Implicit Ownership upon Creation
Objects are assigned roles at construction time.
The base class tracks owned objects by roles.
Implicit Ownership upon Request
Objects created without roles may be assigned roles later.
The base class begins tracking these objects at the time of assignment.
Unassinging roles may trigger destruction if the base class held the sole reference to these objects.
Inspecting Implicitly Owned Objects
Addressing Owned Objects
Addressing owned objects by Role
Addressing Owned Objects by Class
Addressing a Single Owned Object
Addressing Multiple Owned Objects
Iterating Owned Objects
Iterating owned objects by Role
Iterating owned objects by Class
Counting Owned Objects
Counting Owned Objects by Role
Counting Owned Objects by Class
Benefits of Ownership
Default response target.
Role and type responses.
Transferring Ownership
Implicitly during storage.
This is Perl's referencing model.
Storing an object also implies sets ownership.
Releasing an object relinquishes ownership.
Easy to implement---just let Perl do it.
Difficult to convey benefits without ability to introspect owner relationships.
Explicitly via method.
Explicit mechanisms are easier to understand.
More work for users.
More reliable---no need for Perl magic.
Determining Ownership in Perl
Examine the call stack via caller() in package DB.
Have the framework call everything, all the time.
Decorator that injects the current $self.
Nick Perez suggested this.
Custom decorators can be defined with Devel::Declare and MooseX::Declare.
A simple C<< parent SomeObject->new() >> might deliver the necessary information.
It's a little magicky, but it might be easier (and saner) than walking the call stack.
MRO::Magic
Nick Perez suggested this.
Rjbs is working on it.
It's not necessary to track all object ownership.
Basic objects that don't use the framework don't need to be tracked.
Service Composition
Service Scope
Available to One Object
Generally pointless, since services are meant to be visible in wider scopes.
Available to Multiple Objects
It is ideal for a service to be available and useful for multiple objects.
The service must coordinate requests internally.
Objects cannot coordinate use of a service.
This is common, so it must be part of a base service class.
Available to No Objects
Invisiblity is useless.
A service must be visible to be used.
Service Ownership
A serice is owned by a single entity that exposes it to other objects.
Other objects may not assume ownership of a service.
Service Exposure
Service Exposed Within One Process
Service Exposed Internally and to Other Processes
Service Exposed Only to Other Processes
Service Creation
Service Creation by Configuration
Service Creation upon Request
Service Creation Implicitly upon Need
Service Destruction
Service Destruction upon Request
Graceful Shutdown
Immediate Shutdown
Service Destruction upon Container Destruction
Global Destruction at Program Exit
Object Interaction Patterns
Synchronous
Call and Return
Request and Wait for Reply
Ordinalities
One Call and One Request
Asynchronous
Request and Asynchronous Callback
Callback by Function Reference
Supports continuations.
Supports quick, low-level code.
Callback by Object or Class and Method Name
Callback by Role and Response Type
Promises
Requests as Promise Factories
Waiting for Promises
Request Ordinalities
No Requests
One Request
Multiple Requests
Response Ordinalities
No Responses
One Response
Multiple Responses
Task Patterns
Task Lifespan
Task Commencement
Task Begins with Object Instantiation
Task Begins upon Request Receipt
Task Completion
Task Ends upon Successful Completion
Task Ends upon Exception
Task Ends with Cancellation Request
Task Ends with Object Shutdown
Task Ends with Object Destruction
Objects may be destroyed before they are finished.
Global destruction is an extreme case.
There may be a race between the task completion and object destruction.
A user may knowingly cancel a task by destroying the object performing it.
Task Never Ends
Programs may halt without notification or opportunity to clean up.
There's nothing to be done in these cases.
If absolute reliability is required, try to minimize the amount of time when sudden halting can be catastrophic.
Task Ordinality
No Tasks Per Object
An object may be created for a purpose that is not needed in a partucular execution.
Optimally, the object would not be created until its task is required.
One Task Per Object
Multiple Tasks Per Object
Tasks Performed Serially
Tasks Performed in Limited Parallelism
Tasks Performed without Parallelism Limit
Communication Patterns
Terms
Producer
An object that produces information.
Also known as a source.
Might be a better name than "responder".
POE::Wheel is a kind of producer.
POE::Component::IRC is both a producer and a consumer.
Consumer
An object that consumes information from a producer.
Also known as a sink.
Objects may be both producers and consumers at the same time.
Requester
An object that initiates a transaction by making a request.
Requests may be performed by sending messages to services.
Some objects imply requests when they are created.
Method calls are a form of request.
Requesters produce requests.
Requesters may consume responses.
Responder
An object that receives a request and performs some kind of work.
Called responders because they often respond to requests.
Some objects perform side effects without responding.
A universal sink (the /dev/null of objects) may neither respond nor perform a side effect.
Consider calling them workers.
Responders may consume requests.
Responders may produce responses.
To Do
The producer/consumer and requester/responder combinations may need to be enumerated and explained in more detail.
Discrete Transactions
Ordinalities
Point to Point
One Requester, One Responder
Broadcast and Gather
One Requester, Any Responders
Serial Responders
Parallel Responders
Message Channels
Any Requesters, Any Responders
Service
Any Requesters, One Responder
Multi-Transaction Sessions
Ordinalities
Point to Point
One Connector, One Service
Observation and Notification
Terms
Notifier
An object that advertises notifications when its data members change.
Observer
An object that observes data member changes in one or more other objects.
An object may observe its own data members.
Ordinalities
No Notifiers, Any Observers
Ideally the system will optimize this case into a no-op.
Runtime support for dynamic ordinalities may prevent optimization.
Any Notifiers, No Observers
Ideally the system will optimize this case into a no-op.
Runtime support for dynamic ordinalities may prevent optimization.
One Notifier, One or More Observers
Notofication is sent to all observers.
One or More Notifiers, One Observer
An observer may observe more than one notifier.
It remains to be seen whether this case is practical.
Multiple Notifiers, Multiple Observers
The observation/notification equivalent of a data bus.
It also remains to be seen wheter this is practical.
Notifications
Notification on Set
Observers are notified whenever a value is written to an observed member.
Obseration occurs even when the new value is identical to the old one.
Level-triggered notification.
Notification on Change
Observers are notified whenever a new value is written to an observed member.
Obseration does not occur when the new value is identical to the old one.
Edge-triggered notification.
Continuation Patterns
About
Continuations are encapsulated bits of program state that can be passed around and swapped in and out as needed.
Each continuation includes an instruction pointer and all the program state required to resume a program from that point in its execution.
Perl supports coroutines by grafting its interpreter onto an event dispatcher.
This grafting is done deep in its implementation using sharp implements.
Continuations may also be implemented as explicit objects to manage execution state between callbacks.
Event frameworks like POE implement such continuations, albeit at a rather low level.
Multiple continuations may be active at once.
Continuations may be nested, in which case the inner continuation should run to completion before the outer one may resume.
Lexical::Persistence
Lexical::Persistence was written to map continuation object data members into lexical pads.
This simplifes their use---lexical variables magically refer to the right continuation.
It's somewhat off-putting magic, however.
Perl seems to behave abnormally.
An alternative, explicit mechanism might feel nicer.
Request Based Continuations
About
Tasks require their own continuations.
Each task is initiated by some form of request.
The request may be implicit in an object's creation.
It may be an explicit message sent to a service.
Inbound Request Continuations
Inbound request continuations are state associated with tasks that one object or service performs on behalf of another.
These continuations are associated with inbound requests.
They are accessible within receivers of requests.
They are automatically made available whenever code is executed as a consequence of the initial request.
In other words, these continuations are in scope during the performance of a task triggered by some request.
Outbound Request Continuations
Outbout request continuations associated with tasks that are being performed by another object upon the current object's request.
These continuations are associated with outbound requests.
They are accessible within request senders, or method callers.
They are automatically made available whenever a response is received by the helper object or service.
These continuations provide continuity between asynchronous messages and the responses they generate.
Object Based Continuations
Self Continuations
Each object has a continuation that is in scope whenever the object is active.
This continuation is the object itself.
Parent Object Continuations
These continuations are special cases of Inbound Request Continuations.
They exist when the parent object created the current object for the purpose of performing a task.
Are there other useful uses of parent object continuations?
Child Object Continuations
These continuations are special cases of Outbound Request Continuations.
They exist when the parent object created the current object for the purpose of performing a task.
Are there other useful uses of parent object continuations?
Connection Based Continuations
About
Persistent connections or sessions between objects are useful.
Continuation scope and lifetime can be associated to persistent connections.
Management of connection state is automated as a result.
Connector's Continuation
Connector continuations are associated with the client sides of connections between objects.
They provide continuity over the course of the connection.
Additionally, outbound request continuations may be associated with individual requests that are sent down connections.
Service's Continuation
Service continuations are associated with the server sides of connections between objects.
They provide continuity within the service over the course of the connection.
Additionally, inbound request continuations may be associated with individual requests that a service may receive.
Lexical Aliases for Continuation Variables
About
Lexical::Persistence was written to provide easy lexical aliases for continuation variables.
Members of a continuation object may be aliased to lexical variables within a callback.
Accessing or modifying lexical variables magically does the same to members of the continuation object.
However, the aliasing incurs overhead and is not lazy.
All aliases are configured regardless whether a particular code path requires them.
Lexical Alias Conflicts
Multiple continuations may be active at once.
They may have identical data members.
Lexical variable names need to identify the continuations to which they refer.
POE::Stage and Lexical::Persistence use prefixes to disambiguate continuations.
The part of the variable name up to the first underscore identifies the continuation.
The remaining variable name identifies the data member within the named continuation.
Additional Conveniences
$self may automatically be aliased to $_[0], Perl's conventional method parameter identifying the object.
The "self" prefix may be aliased to members of $self.
$args may be aliased to a hashref of method parameters, possibly kept in $_[1].
Likewise, the "arg" prefix may be aliased to $args members.
Miscellaneous Ideas
Metaphors
Extending the Actor Metaphor
Actor
An object that can take requests and respond with results.
Described as "services" elsewhere.
May also be helper objects.
POE::Session is a kind of actor, although not in the computer science sense of the word.
POE::Wheel objects aren't actors because they don't stand alone.
In this metaphor, actors don't include their own mailboxes, nor do they actively await messages.
Prop
Basic, non-actor helper objects.
They may interact with messages, or use basic asynchronous callback facilities like timers.
They generally perform very low-level work.
Actors use them to fulfill their roles.
Director
The event loop, message router and dispatcher.
May represent POE::Kernel within the metaphor.
Stage
About
Isolated computational units.
More like conventional actors.
Ideally, stages should behave identically no matter what.
In practice, each type of stage probably has its own caveats.
Cooperative Stages
Act as thin interfaces between POE::Kernel and actors.
Don't have their their own mailboxes.
Immediately and synchronously forward events to actors.
Threaded Stages
Act as bidirectional queues between POE::Kernel (which lives in the main thread) and the actors that coexist within a subthread.
Contain their own mailboxes.
Cannot directly call anything that exists in another stage.
Other iThreads caveats apply.
Forked Stages
Act as bidirectional queues between POE::Kernel (which lives in the main process) and the actors that coexist within a child process.
Contain their own mailboxes.
Cannot directly call anything that exists in another stage.
Other process-boundary caveats apply.
Propmaster
An ORM of some sort.
DOM Namespaces
XPath Object Addressing
About
Allows global addressing of objects through a DOM-like container and XPath-like queries.
Proof of concept exists using XML::LibXML and actual DOM and XPath queries.
Supports multiple-object addressing.
Supports identifying objects by class, role, and other attributes.
In a cluster, nodes may advertise their services by adding their DOMs to a directory.
The directory can execute XPath queries that span the entire network.
Caveats with XPath Object Addressing
Robert Grimes pointed out that there is very little actual need for finding objects globally.
Most objects interact locally.
Parent object interacts with children.
Children interact with parents.
Children interact with siblings, usually through a moderator.
Global addressing facilitates broken encapsulation.
Global addressing should only be used for services.
Javascript use of DOM Addressing
Torsten Raudssus pointed out that Javascript uses DOM for similar purposes.
Code may manipulate page elements singly or in groups by addressing them with XPath.
It can be very convenient.
This seems to be a subset of Robert Grimes' earlier point.
Javascript is manipulating sibling objects within the same container---the page containing the code.
In a larger application, it seems safer to limit each object's reach.
What sorts of limitations are reasonable?
Proxy Objects
About
Proxy objects are an alternative to services and explicit messages.
Remote Object Type
Remote Helper
Remote Service
Remote Object Existence
Remote Object Already Exists
The local proxy object connects to the remote object during instantiation or first use.
Remote Object Created on Demand
Creating the local proxy triggers creation of the corresponding remote object.
Remote Process Existence
Remote Process Already Exists
The local proxy object connects to the remote process during instantiation or first use.
Remote Process Created on Demand
Remote processes are created as needed.
Remote Class Existence
Remote Process Has Required Class
Remote objects are instantiated from remote copies of the requied class.
Incompatible versions of the same class may cause problems.
Remote Process Needs Required Class
The local process may push a required class to the remote process.
Dependencies may also need to be pushed.
In some cases, tarballing the entire module suite may be needed.
The remote process must have a version of Perl capable of executing the remote object.
Injecting code into other processes or even other machines must be done securely.
The remote process should cache the code to avoid additional performance issues.
Alternatively, the remote process may install the required module from CPAN.
Compiled modules have their own set of problems.
Modules may need to be built on the destination machine to guarantee they work.
Further Considerations
Blocking Constructors
Constructors are expected to return complete, usable objects.
Remote procedure calls imply blocking until responses are ready.
Promises can alleviate this somewhat.
Promises are permitted to work in the background until their information is needed.
They therefore block less than synchronous calls.
However they may still block for significant amounts of time.
Conserving TCP Sockets
One implementation could use a TCP connection per remote object.
TCP connection building and teardown are expensive.
It will be more efficient to multiplex object communication between the same processes.
The BXXP protocol seems designed for this task.
Reflexive Data Members
POE's early object environment experiments were very MUD-like.
Nearly every object was required to be in a container.
Changing an object's container required updates to its old and new containers' contents.
This was a fundamental aspect of the system.
The system implemented basic code to handle the referential integrity.
Procedure
Ask the object whether its container may be changed.
Ask the old container whether the object may be removed.
Ask the new container whether the object may be added.
Move the object from its old container to its new container.
Notify the old container that the object was removed.
Notify the new container that the object was added.
Notify the object that its container has changed.
Technology Questions
How are new Moose types defined?
New types may be needed for some of the container magic.
How may hooks be affixed to Moose members?
Attribute traits allow accessors and mutators to behave differently.
Member change advertisement may be implemented as traits.
Chris Williams suggested Variable::Magic as well.
How does Moose map to this framework's features?
Moose features seem to be coupled to classes rather than individual objects.
How can Moose implement the basic functionality necessary for the features listed in this document?
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