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README.md

Uniform

CI Status Version License Platform

Purpose

Uniform is a framework for maintaining in-memory object consistency.

Motivation

Object consistency is an important consideration, particularly in regard to user interfaces. Keeping in-memory objects and the views they populate up to date ensures a consistent experience for the user as they navigate throughout the app.

Consider the following cases:

  • The user follows another user. After navigating back to their own profile, they expect their following count to be incremented by one.

  • The user likes a video from the player. If the user then closes the player and returns to the video list from which they opened the player, they expect the video in that list to be liked.

  • The user manually refreshes a list of videos, one of which whose title has changed since it was last requested. If that same video exists in a list on another tab, the user would expect that video's title to be updated in that list as well.

Uniform provides a system to enable these experiences by maintaining object state in a safe and simple way.

Documentation

Two Parts

Uniform is really the combination of two mechanisms: enabling objects to merge with each other, and keeping track of object owners.

Mergeable Objects

Objects that care about consistency need to conform to the ConsistentObject protocol. This protocol defines a few requirements used to get and set properties by name. These should be relatively trivial to implement, and can easily be generated. Using this interface, the protocol is extended with merge functions that enable a single object to update with another object, or a collection of objects to update with another object.

There are two ways to update with another object.

Synchronously:

// For a single object

object = object.updated(with: otherObject)
// For a collection of objects

objects = objects.updated(with: otherObject)

Asynchronously:

// For a single object

object.updated(with: otherObject, in: self) { (updatedObject) in

    object = updatedObject
}
// For a collection of objects

objects.updated(with: otherObject, in: self) { (updatedObjects) in

    objects = updatedObjects
}

All of these functions will perform a deep merge. This means that the object and any of its nested objects will be merged with the other object and any of its nested objects, guaranteeing perfect state parity.

Object Owner Registry

In order for updates to propagate across the app, a registry of object owners must be maintained. This is handled by the ConsistencyManager. This object, most likely used as a singleton, keeps track of anyone who owns ConsistentObjects. ConsistentObject owners need to conform to ConsistentEnvironment. This protocol defines an interface used by the ConsistencyManager to push and pull objects. The aggregate collection of ConsistentEnvironments owned by the ConsistencyManager functions like a distributed object store that's always up to date. This allows Uniform to use no extra memory.

To register with the ConsistencyManager, a ConsistentEnvironment must call:

ConsistencyManager.shared.register(self)

ConsistencyManager only holds a weak reference to each ConsistentEnvironment, so there is no need to unregister.

Object Consistency

Object consistency throughout the app can be achieved by combining the two mechanisms above. The ConsistencyManager provides the following API to take advantage of this system.

Push API

When objects are updated, either as the result of a network response or a local update, they need to be pushed to the ConsistencyManager.

// For a single object

ConsistencyManager.shared.pushUpdatedObject(object)
// For a collection of objects

ConsistencyManager.shared.pushUpdatedObjects(objects)

This will push each new object to each registered ConsistentEnvironment using the functions required by the protocol. The ConsistentEnvironments are then responsible for merging the new object into any of its owned objects using the ConsistentObject merge functions.

Here's an example of a ConsistentEnvironment:

class ProfileViewController: UIViewController
{
    @IBOutlet weak var label: UILabel!

    private var user: User
    {
        didSet
        {
            self.label.text = self.user.name
        }
    }

    override func viewDidLoad()
    {
        super.viewDidLoad()

        ConsistencyManager.shared.register(self)
    }
}

// MARK: Object Consistency

extension ProfileViewController: ConsistentEnvironment
{
    var objects: [ConsistentObject]
    {
        return [self.user]
    }

    func update(with object: ConsistentObject)
    {
        self.user = self.user.updated(with: object)
    }
}

Because merging accounts for nested objects, even if the updated object is not of the same type as the existing object, it may still update with parts of the updated object. For example, if the existing object is a video and the updated object is a channel, the video may update its user property with the channel's user property if the users have the same identifier.

Pull API

The pull API can be used to retrieve the most up to date version of an object or collection of objects from the ConsistentEnvironments.

// For a single object

ConsistencyManager.shared.pullUpdatedObject(for: object)
// For a collection of objects

ConsistencyManager.shared.pullUpdatedObjects(for: objects)

These functions direct the ConsistencyManager to run through the objects of each registered ConsistentEnvironment and perform any necessary updates to the given object, ensuring that it's up to date.

These can be used for situations in which we have potentially stale objects. For example, if we're requesting objects from a network cache, we probably want to use these functions to update them before returning them to the requester. This way, any changes that have happened locally since the response was cached are accounted for in the returned objects.

Example

To run the example project, clone the repo, and run pod install from the Example directory first.

Minimum Requirements

  • Swift 4.1

Installation

Uniform is available through CocoaPods. To install it, simply add the following line to your Podfile:

pod 'Uniform'

Author

Gavin King, gavin@vimeo.com

License

Uniform is available under the MIT license. See the LICENSE file for more info.

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