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Modular Abstractions in Scala with Cakes and Path Dependent Types

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Modular Abstractions in Scala with Cakes and Path Dependent Types

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I have been trying out various options of implementing the Cake pattern in Scala, considered to be one of the many ways of doing dependency injection without using any additional framework. There are other (more functional) ways of doing the same thing, one of which I blogged about before and also talked about in a NY Scala meetup. But I digress ..

Call it DI or not, the Cake pattern is one of the helpful techniques to implement modular abstractions in Scala. You weave your abstract components (aka traits), layering on the dependencies and commit to implementations only at the end of the world. I was trying to come up with an implementation that does not use self type annotations. It's not that I think self type annotations are kludgy or anything but I don't find them used elsewhere much besides the Cake pattern. And of course mutually recursive self annotations are a code smell that makes your system anti-modular.

In the following implementation I use path dependent types, which have become a regular feature in Scala 2.10. Incidentally it was there since long back under the blessings of an experimental feature, but has come out in public only in 2.10. The consequence is that instead of self type annotations or inheritance I will be configuring my dependencies using composition.

Let me start with some basic abstractions of a very simple domain model. The core component that I will build is a service that reports the portfolio of clients as a balance. The example has been simplified for illustration purposes - the actual real life model has a much more complex implementation.

A Portfolio is a collection of Balances. A Balance is a position of an Account in a specific Currency as on a particular Date. Expressing this in simple terms, we have the following traits ..
// currency
sealed trait Currency
case object USD extends Currency
case object EUR extends Currency
case object AUD extends Currency
case class Account(no: String, name: String, openedOn: Date, status: String)
trait BalanceComponent {
  type Balance
  def balance(amount: Double, currency: Currency, asOf: Date): Balance
  def inBaseCurrency(b: Balance): Balance
The interesting point to note is that the actual type of Balance has been abstracted in BalanceComponent, since various services may choose to use various representations of a Balance. And this is one of the layers of the Cake that we will mix finally ..

Just a note for the uninitiated, a base currency is typically considered the domestic currency or accounting currency. For accounting purposes, a firm may use the base currency to represent all profits and losses. So we may have some service or component that would like to have the balances reported in base currency.
trait Portfolio {
  val bal: BalanceComponent
  import bal._
  def currentPortfolio(account: Account): List[Balance]
Portfolio uses the abstract BalanceComponent and does not commit to any specific implementation. And the Balance in the return type of the method currentPortfolio is actually a path dependent type, made to look nice through the object import syntax.

Now let's have some standalone implementations of the above components .. we are still not there yet to mix the cake ..
// report balance as a TUPLE3 - simple
trait SimpleBalanceComponent extends BalanceComponent {
  type Balance = (Double, Currency, Date)
  override def balance(amount: Double, currency: Currency, asOf: Date) =
    (amount, currency, asOf)
  override def inBaseCurrency(b: Balance) =
    ((b._1) * baseCurrencyFactor.get(b._2).get, baseCurrency, b._3)
// report balance as an ADT
trait CustomBalanceComponent extends BalanceComponent {
  type Balance = BalanceRep
  // balance representation
  case class BalanceRep(amount: Double, currency: Currency, asOf: Date)
  override def balance(amount: Double, currency: Currency, asOf: Date) =
    BalanceRep(amount, currency, asOf)
  override def inBaseCurrency(b: Balance) =
    BalanceRep((b.amount) * baseCurrencyFactor.get(b._2).get, baseCurrency, b.asOf)
And a sample implementation of ClientPortfolio that adds logic without yet commiting to any concrete type for the BalanceComponent.
trait ClientPortfolio extends Portfolio {
  val bal: BalanceComponent
  import bal._
  override def currentPortfolio(account: Account) = {
    //.. actual impl will fetch from database
      balance(1000, EUR, Calendar.getInstance.getTime),
      balance(1500, AUD, Calendar.getInstance.getTime)
Similar to ClientPortfolio, we can have multiple implementations of Portfolio reporting that reports balances in various forms. So our cake has started taking shape. We have the Portfolio component and the BalanceComponent already weaved in without any implementation. Let's add yet another layer to the mix, maybe for fun - a decorator for the Portfolio.

We add Auditing as a component which can decorate *any* Portfolio component and report the balance of an account in base currency. Note that Auditing needs to abstract implementations of BalanceComponent as well as Portfolio since the idea is to decorate any Portfolio component using any of the underlying BalanceComponent implementations.

Many cake implementations use self type annotations (or inheritance) for this. I will be using composition and path dependent types.
trait Auditing extends Portfolio {
  val semantics: Portfolio
  val bal: semantics.bal.type
  import bal._
  override def currentPortfolio(account: Account) = {
    semantics.currentPortfolio(account) map inBaseCurrency

Note how the Auditing component uses the same Balance implementation as the underlying decorated Portfolio component, enforced through path dependent types.

And we have reached the end of the world without yet committing to any implementation of our components .. But now let's do that and get a concrete service instantiated ..
object SimpleBalanceComponent extends SimpleBalanceComponent
object CustomBalanceComponent extends CustomBalanceComponent
object ClientPortfolioAuditService1 extends Auditing {
  val semantics = new ClientPortfolio { val bal = SimpleBalanceComponent }
  val bal: semantics.bal.type = semantics.bal
object ClientPortfolioAuditService2 extends Auditing {
  val semantics = new ClientPortfolio { val bal = CustomBalanceComponent }
  val bal: semantics.bal.type = semantics.bal
Try out in your Repl and see how the two services behave the same way abstracting away all implementations of components from the user ..
scala> ClientPortfolioAuditService1.currentPortfolio(Account("100", "dg", java.util.Calendar.getInstance.getTime, "a"))
res0: List[(Double, com.redis.cake.Currency, java.util.Date)] = List((1300.0,USD,Thu Jan 31 12:58:35 IST 2013), (1800.0,USD,Thu Jan 31 12:58:35 IST 2013))
scala> ClientPortfolioAuditService2.currentPortfolio(Account("100", "dg", java.util.Calendar.getInstance.getTime, "a"))
res1: List[com.redis.cake.ClientPortfolioAuditService2.bal.Balance] = List(BalanceRep(1300.0,USD,Thu Jan 31 12:58:46 IST 2013), BalanceRep(1800.0,USD,Thu Jan 31 12:58:46 IST 2013))
The technique discussed above is inspired from the paper Polymoprhic Embedding of DSLs. I have been using this technique for quite some time and I have discussed a somewhat similar implementation in my book DSLs In Action while discussing internal DSL design in Scala.

And in case you are interested in the full code, I have uploaded it on my Github.


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