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Slim and readable state machine for Ruby
Ruby
branch: master

README.md

Finity

Finity tries to be an extremly lightweight state machine implementation with an easily readable syntax. At the time of this writing, Finity is comprised of only ~160 lines of code. It is inspired by transitions, a great state machine implementation tightly integrated with ActiveRecord by Jakub Kuźma and Timo Rößner.

The aim of Finity is to provide a state machine implementation which is as slim and fast as possible while maintaining a beautiful and readable syntax. However, if you need ActiveModel/ActiveRecord integration, transitions may be your weapon of choice.

Installation

If you use Rails, include this into your Gemfile and run bundle install via command line:

gem 'finity'

Otherwise you can install Finity with gem via command line:

gem install finity

Usage

Finity can transform any class into a state machine. For example, consider a state machine modelling an elevator in a building with 3 floors: ground, first and second. The elevator can perform the following actions:

  • On floors ground and first, it can go up to the floor above.
  • On floors first and second, it can go down to the floor below.

Leaving (entering) a floor, the doors need to close (open). Also, when entering a floor or pressing down (up) on the ground (second) floor, a bell should ring. The following class models the elevator:

class Elevator
  include Finity

  finity :init => :ground do

    state :ground,
      :enter => :open,
      :cycle => :ring,
      :leave => :close

    state :first,
      :enter => :open,
      :leave => :close

    state :second,
      :enter => :open,
      :cycle => :ring,
      :leave => :close

    event :up do
      transitions :from => [:ground], :to => :first
      transitions :from => [:first, :second], :to => :second
    end

    event :down do
      transitions :from => [:ground, :first], :to => :ground
      transitions :from => [:second], :to => :first
    end
  end

  def up
    event! :up
  end

  def down
    event! :down
  end

  private

  def open
    ring and puts "Doors opening on the #{@current} floor."
  end

  def ring
    puts "Ring!"
  end

  def close
    puts "Doors closing..."
  end
end

While the different floors are modelled as states, the actions up and down are modelled as events. The elevator is initialized on the ground floor, which in this case is redundant, since, by default, Finity treats the first state as the initial state. The instance variable @current holds the current floor/state. The methods which are invoked upon entering, leaving or cycling (staying in a state) are declared private, as they should not be accessible from the outside. Only up and down are public.

We can now create an instance of the elevator and play with it:

elevator = Elevator.new
elevator.down # => Ring!
elevator.up   # => Doors closing...
              # => Ring!
              # => Doors opening on the first floor.
elevator.up   # => Doors closing...
              # => Ring!
              # => Doors opening on the second floor.
elevator.up   # => Ring!
elevator.down # => Doors closing.
              # => Ring!
              # => Doors opening on the first floor.

While this example is very basic, it clearly shows the power of finite state machines to model complex systems with a finite set of states and events triggering transitions between them.

States, Events and Transitions

States

A state is uniquely identified by its name and can define functions to be executed upon entering, leaving and cycling (staying inside). These functions can be referenced as Symbols, Strings, Procs or Lambdas:

state :ground,
  :enter => :open,                           # Symbols must reference (private) methods
  :cycle => proc { ring },                   # Procs are evaluated in the context of the instance
  :leave => -> elevator { elevator.close }   # Lambdas are provided with the instance as an argument

If there are several states with the same set of transition functions, they can be defined in a single run. Considering our example, the ground and the second floor bear the same set of actions, so we can combine them:

state [:ground, :second],
  :enter => :open,
  :cycle => :ring,
  :leave => :close

Events and Transitions

Events are like states identified by their name and may define an arbitrary number of transitions between different states. The transitions are evaluated in the order in which they are defined. A transition is executed, if it is found to be valid, which means that it contains the current state in from and the if-guard, if defined, returns true. If no valid transition is found for a given event, Finity will raise an error. Starting with our example, the minimal information needed for the up-event is:

event :up do
  transitions :from => [:ground], :to => :first
  transitions :from => [:first, :second], :to => :second
end

Like for states, multiple events can be defined in a single run with the same set of transitions:

event [:up, :down] do
  ...
end

In case of an event, we sometimes want to take different actions from the same state, so we need to specify guards. If a transition specifies a guard, it is only considered valid if the guard returns true. For example, if we want to deactivate the buttons when the elevator is stuck, we do the following:

event :up do
  transitions :from => [:ground], :to => :first,
    :if => :not_stuck?
  transitions :from => [:first, :second], :to => :second,
    :if => :not_stuck?
  transitions :from => [:ground, :first, :second, :stuck], :to => :stuck
end

This implies, that we defined a new state called stuck and a method to determine whether the elevator is stuck at the moment. Unless not_stuck? returns true, the elevator will keep working as in our original example. Otherwise, only the last transition is valid and the elevator will enter the stuck state from any other state.

Additionally, we can define functions to be executed for specific transitions only. This can be achieved with do:

event :up do
  transitions :from => [:ground], :to => :first,
    :if => :not_stuck?
  transitions :from => [:first, :second], :to => :second,
    :if => :not_stuck?
  transitions :from => [:ground, :first, :second, :stuck], :to => :stuck,
    :do => proc { puts "The elevator is stuck" }
end

Now, if the elevator is stuck, a message is displayed everytime a button is pushed. Like for states, all functions can be defined as Symbols, Strings, Procs or Lambdas.

Definitions

Finity defines two methods on the including instance:

  • state? name: Returns true if the state machine is in state name.
  • event! name: Triggers event name.

Those methods can also be accessed from the outside. The current state is held within the instance variable @current, contained in the including instance.

License

Copyright (c) 2012 Martin Donath

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

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