I have been thinking about some of the concepts and patterns described in the Domain-Driven Design book and how they could be implemented in a Flex or AIR environment.
One thing that interests me in particular is the use of a Repository as a container for Domain Objects. In short, a Repository is responsible for fetching, persisting and manipulating objects. Its intent is to shield the client from the implementation details of the data storage or the remote services that are used to get and manipulate objects.
However, there seems to be a fundamental problem in creating an ActionScript implementation. Since remote services are handled asynchronously, it is impossible to create a Repository as it is originally described by Eric Evans.
Here’s a snippet of a post (by myself) on the DDD list:
Would it be correct to assume that repositories don’t make much sense if you are dealing with async remote calls? Or should I say that async data fetching is a problem currently not addressed by DDD? Quoting Eric Evans in the DDD book (p. 157): “The client of a REPOSITORY should be given the illusion that the objects are in memory.”. That being said, it is no problem to call a method on a repository and have it return the objects immediately if the objects are in memory. But, if the objects are sent back asynchronously, the whole point of encapsulating that behavior is gone since the client needs to “listen” for a response on the repository. So it knows about the implementation details of the repository.
As a reply, someone offered to try to make the call synchronous by waiting for a result. Although I think that might work, for instance by entering a loop until the result is received, I’m not completely sure as I haven’t tried this. Here’s my reply:
The problem I see is that the UI will be locked/frozen until the response is received because the code runs in a single thread within the Flash player. That means it won’t be possible to create a (animated) loading screen to give the user some visual feedback. This would probably not be a problem with remote calls that return a small amount of data and a fast remote connection, but it certainly will be a (usability) problem if the connection is slow or if we are loading large chunks of data.
So my conclusion at this moment is that implementing Repository in Flex doesn’t make much sense since the client still needs to know about some of the technical details of the implementation. Locking the UI would most certainly lead to usability problems (if it would even be possible). On the other hand, a Repository could be perfectly implemented as intended in an AIR application that uses an embedded SQLite database and synchronous calls, but the UI would also be locked.
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