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A state machine DSL for Flex. Honouring the Ruby state machine DSL's AASM and others.
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README.markdown

README.markdown

Flex State Machine

Introduction: A best approximation of a DSL.

This is a heavy WIP, nonetheless it works well in our production code. To make the state machine as 'DSL' like as possible i've tried to take advantage of mixins to allow one class to 'act_as' a state machine. This part hasn't worked out so well, but it is my intention to make it happen if at all possible.

At the outset I must tell you, none of the code on this page is tested. I'll do that some other time :P

All code is under the MIT license.

TODO

  • MXML Markup support? maybe? We don't have a specific use for this.
  • Mixin behaviour so that it can 'act_as'
  • Multiple to/from states in one even definition (still creates multiple transitions)

An example

This is lifted from production code, I think it's elegant but I do invite criticism.

static public const IDLE:String = "idle";
static public const COMMITTING:String = "committing";
static public const EDITING:String = "editing";

private function configureStateMachine():void {
  machine = new StateMachine();

  machine.addState(
      COMMITTING,
      {entry:setBusy,exit:clearBusy}
  );
  machine.addState(EDITING);
  machine.addState(IDLE);

  machine.select = 
    {fromState:IDLE, toState:IDLE, actions:select};

  machine.idle = 
    {fromState:COMMITTING, toState:IDLE, actions:clearEdit};
  machine.idle = 
    {fromState:EDITING, toState:IDLE, actions:clearEdit};

  machine.construct = 
    {fromState:IDLE, toState:EDITING, actions:construct};

  machine.edit = 
    {fromState:IDLE, toState:EDITING, actions:edit, guards:selectedResourceExists};
  machine.edit = 
    {fromState:EDITING, toState:IDLE, guards:selectedResourceExists};
  machine.edit = 
    {fromState:COMMITTING, toState:IDLE, guards:selectedResourceExists};

  machine.dispose = 
    {fromState:IDLE, toState:COMMITTING, actions:dispose, guards:selectedResourceExists};
  machine.dispose = 
    {fromState:EDITING, toState:IDLE, guards:selectedResourceExists};
  machine.dispose = 
    {fromState:COMMITTING, toState:IDLE, guards:selectedResourceExists};

  machine.disposeSelected = 
    {fromState:IDLE, toState:COMMITTING, actions:disposeSelected, guards:selectedResourceExists};

  machine.editSelected = 
    {fromState:IDLE, toState:EDITING, actions:editSelected, guards:selectedResourceExists};

  machine.save = 
    {fromState:EDITING, toState:COMMITTING, actions:saveEdit};

  machine.follow(this,'synchronousStatus');

  machine.setInitialState(IDLE);
}

Tutorial

I assume you know how state machines work, and know what a 'State', 'Event', 'Transition', 'Action' and 'Guard' are.

Normally all your prep of the state machine will be done in one method. Dynamic state machines are too hard to keep track of :)

Instance the machine

machine = new StateMachine();

States

Define states

machine.addState("start");
machine.addState("running");

Now Do it Right

You know, with constants.

static const START:String = "start";
static const RUNNING:String = "running";
... later ...
machine.addState(START);
machine.addState(RUNNING);

Set an initial state

machine.setInitialState(START);

States support entry and exit actions

Entry and exit actions support parameters, see Actions support parameters.

machine.addState(
    COMMITTING,
    {entry:setBusy,exit:clearBusy}
);

entry and exit actions can stack

machine.addState(
    COMMITTING,
    {
      entry:[setBusy,clearScreen],
      exit:[clearBusy,populateScreen]
    }
);

Events

A simple event

machine.begin = {fromState:START, toState:RUNNING};

Creates an event "begin", which triggers a transition from START to RUNNING

Events can trigger multiple transitions

machine.toggle = {fromState:A, toState:B};
machine.toggle = {fromState:B, toState:A};

No shortcut for multiple fromStates

You may find you want to do this:

machine.quit = {
  fromState:[WAITING,MENU,FIRING], 
  toState:FINISHED
};

But alas that's not supported yet. You need:

machine.quit = {fromState:WAITING, toState:FINISHED};
machine.quit = {fromState:MENU, toState:FINISHED};
machine.quit = {fromState:FIRING, toState:FINISHED};

Calling an event

Trigger a transition by calling the event. First the event is defined:

machine.quit = {fromState:WAITING, toState:FINISHED};

If the current state is WAITING, then calling:

var success:Boolean = machine.quit();

causes state to change from WAITING to FINISHED.

Transitions do not occur if the current state does not match a fromState for the event being called. In this case, for example, if the state was RUNNING, calling quit() does nothing.

Success is shown in the result of the event trigger.

Transition Actions

Calling an action on a transition

machine.quit = {fromState:WAITING, toState:FINISHED, actions:_quit};
...later...
private function _quit():void {
  ... 
    called when the transition occurs (state changes)
  ...
}

_quit is only called if the event can cause the transition.

More than one action

machine.quit = {fromState:WAITING, toState:FINISHED, actions:[_quit,_other]};
...later...
private function _quit():void {
  ... do stuff ...
}
private function _other():void {
  ... then this ...
}

Actions support parameters

You can call an event with parameters which are passed to actions.

machine.quit = {fromState:WAITING, toState:FINISHED, actions:_quit};
...later...
private function _quit(message:String = null):void {
  trace("Quitting with: " + message);
}

Called with

machine.quit("You Lose");

will output

Quitting with: You Lose

Guards

machine.disposeSelected = {}
  fromState:IDLE, 
  toState:COMMITTING, 
  actions:disposeSelected, 
  guards:selectedResourceExists
};

selectedReesourceExists must return true or false. If it returns true, and the fromState is true, the transition will occur.

Guards support parameters, see Actions support parameters.

Guards can stack

machine.disposeSelected = {}
  fromState:IDLE, 
  toState:COMMITTING, 
  actions:disposeSelected, 
  guards:[selectedResourceExists,selectedResourceValid]
};

Tests (cans)

You can test if an event would cause a transition with 'cans':

Assume the quit event is declared:

machine.quit = {fromState:WAITING, toState:FINISHED};

You can check if calling quit() will cause a transition with

trace(machine.quit);

or preferably:

trace(machine.canQuit)

See how these are not method calls, just property inspection. I prefer canQuit, it reads a lot better than quit.

'cans' return true if the transition will complete.

'Cans' and guards

Be aware, guards are included in the 'can'.

'Cans' are [bindable]

Common use case for 'cans' are as flags to enbable UI elements. for example:

<mx:Button label="Quit" enabled="{machine.canQuit}" >  

Rasheed Abdul-Aziz, Visfleet.

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