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Java 8: Lambda Expressions vs Auto Closeable

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Java 8: Lambda Expressions vs Auto Closeable

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If you used earlier versions of Neo4j via its Java API with Java 6 you probably have code similar to the following to ensure write operations happen within a transaction:

public class StylesOfTx
{
    public static void main( String[] args ) throws IOException
    {
        String path = "/tmp/tx-style-test";
        FileUtils.deleteRecursively(new File(path));
 
        GraphDatabaseService db = new GraphDatabaseFactory().newEmbeddedDatabase( path );
 
        Transaction tx = db.beginTx();
        try 
        {
            db.createNode();
            tx.success();
        } 
        finally 
        {
            tx.close();
        }
    }
}

In Neo4j 2.0 Transaction started extending AutoCloseable which meant that you could use ‘try with resources’ and the ‘close’ method would be automatically called when the block finished:

public class StylesOfTx
{
    public static void main( String[] args ) throws IOException
    {
        String path = "/tmp/tx-style-test";
        FileUtils.deleteRecursively(new File(path));
 
        GraphDatabaseService db = new GraphDatabaseFactory().newEmbeddedDatabase( path );
 
        try ( Transaction tx = db.beginTx() )
        {
            Node node = db.createNode();
            tx.success();
        }
    }
}

This works quite well although it’s still possible to have transactions hanging around in an application when people don’t use this syntax – the old style is still permissible.

In Venkat Subramaniam’s Java 8 book he suggests an alternative approach where we use a lambda based approach:

public class StylesOfTx
{
    public static void main( String[] args ) throws IOException
    {
        String path = "/tmp/tx-style-test";
        FileUtils.deleteRecursively(new File(path));
 
        GraphDatabaseService db = new GraphDatabaseFactory().newEmbeddedDatabase( path );
 
        Db.withinTransaction(db, neo4jDb -> {
            Node node = neo4jDb.createNode();
        });
    }
 
    static class Db {
        public static void withinTransaction(GraphDatabaseService db, Consumer<GraphDatabaseService> fn) {
            try ( Transaction tx = db.beginTx() )
            {
                fn.accept(db);
                tx.success();
            }
        }
    }
}

The ‘withinTransaction’ function would actually go on GraphDatabaseService or similar rather than being on that Db class but it was easier to put it on there for this example.

A disadvantage of this style is that you don’t have explicit control over the transaction for handling the failure case – it’s assumed that if ‘tx.success()’ isn’t called then the transaction failed and it’s rolled back. I’m not sure what % of use cases actually need such fine grained control though.

Brian Hurt refers to this as the ‘hole in the middle pattern‘ and I imagine we’ll start seeing more code of this ilk once Java 8 is released and becomes more widely used.

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