Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Lots of packages in the Catalyst namespace are simple adaptors of external libraries. In many cases what you need from that adaptor layer is only passing initialisation values from the config file to the appropriate call to the object creator. By using the Dependency Injection pattern you can move that initialisation code out of that "deep in the framework guts" place into something that can be called another config file - containing values that are complex objects instead of simple constants. This way your view object can be constructed there and then injected into the application which does not need to know how to construct it. You still might prefer to have a different config file with simple literal configuration values using the standard YAML or Config::General syntax.

If that was too vague for you - don't worry - Stevan promised some more docs for Bread::Board soon. The real take away from all of this is that Bread::Board and future sub-classes of it spares you from the need to writing adaptor classes for all the view or model classes of your yet another web framework. Maybe you'll not need a framework at all - and assemble your application using Bread::Board out of a web dispatcher and other ready made parts.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Frameworks are not yet well refactored libraries.

At first we had Catalyst. After some refactoring we got HTTP::Engine and now we have PSGI/Plack and the tools around that abstraction that provide a lot of functionality that previously required using Catalyst. Now all of that is in libraries that can be used independently from each other, there is no coupling between the components other than the well defined and pretty minimal PSGI interface.

The title of this blog post might not be universally true, it is possible that there are some kernel parts in some frameworks or even most of the frameworks that could never be in any practical way reduced into sets of libraries. But what I observe is that frameworks tend to grow and only in very exceptional cases spawn libraries that are refactored out of their main body. It is just so much easier to just write new extensions, plugins or things that use the whole framework than find the right abstraction that would let to split some functionality out of the main code base. Certainly I would never guess that the simple PSGI abstraction would let people refactor so much into separate libraries, I bow to it's author. But we should always try:

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Friday, December 18, 2009

Catalyst app/context split

This week I've received a bounty from the Enlightened Perl Organisation for my work on the app/context split. As I understand they have doubled the private bounty from groditi who was too busy to keep his promise to do that job and wanted someone to free him from the shame of broken promises. Anyway I am very happy with the outcome. I am not sure if this can be a stable way of founding work on Open Source projects - but it this time it worked :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Scope and Immutability

I am sold on the immutability thing. I started to think about various designs and about what immutability of objects would mean to them and I think the results are promising - they tend to have much more clear structure - and just thinking about immutability gives you a chance to see an additional structure in the code. One quite obvious rule of such design is that you cannot keep data of narrower scope in objects with wider scope - and this forces you to think about the scope of various data pieces in your programs. For example in web oriented programming you have (usually) three scopes:

  • Application - i.e. all data that is persistent to the whole web server process (like configuration)
  • Session - i.e. data saved into the session variables (there is an opinion, and I mostly subscribe to it, that you should keep that minimal).
  • Request - i.e. the data you receive from the web client and that you send back to it

An example of framework that does not respect this division is known to everyone - it's Catalyst - fortunately the app/context split is mostly done.

Acknowledgements: Stevan thanks for the web apps scope break down :)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

External dependencies once again

My proposal to add a 'lib_requires' keyword to the META file - with identical semantics as Devel::CheckLib did not make at this round of META spec changes. Now I think that maybe a better strategy would be to start with adding this to the documentation. I am sure many packages already do that - but I have encountered others that don't. What I have in mind is a standard POD section that would be generated by all the module scaffolding generators (like Module::Starter) and which would contain all the information needed to install the external lib in common environments. After this becomes a common thing we would be able to make more informed decisions about including it into the META file.