dep-t-advice: Giving good advice to functions in records-of-functions.

[ bsd3, control, library ] [ Propose Tags ]

Companion to the dep-t package. Easily add behaviour to functions living in a record-of-functions, whatever the number of arguments they might have.

In other words: something like the "advices" of aspect-oriented programming.

Various flavors of advice are provided: one for environments parameterized by the DepT monad, and others for environments parameterized by ReaderT, IO and generic monads.

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Dependencies base (>= && <5), dep-t (>=0.6.1 && <0.7), mtl (>=2.2), sop-core (>= && <0.6), transformers (>=, unliftio-core (>= [details]
License BSD-3-Clause
Author Daniel Diaz
Category Control
Source repo head: git clone
Uploaded by DanielDiazCarrete at 2022-10-23T13:21:01Z
Distributions NixOS:
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Last success reported on 2022-10-23 [all 1 reports]

Readme for dep-t-advice-

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This package is a companion to dep-t. It provides a mechanism for handling cross-cutting concerns in your application by adding "advices" to the functions in your record-of-functions, in a way that is composable and independent of each function's particular number of arguments.



So, you have decided to structure your program in a record-of-functions style, using dep-t. Good choice!

You have already selected your functions, decided which base monad use for DepT, and now you are ready to construct the environment record, which serves as your composition root.

Now seems like a good moment to handle some of those pesky "croscutting concerns", don't you think?

Stuff like:

  • Logging
  • Caching
  • Monitoring
  • Validation
  • Setting up transaction boundaries.
  • Setting up exception handlers for uncaught exceptions.

But how will you go about it?

A perfectly simple and reasonable solution

Imagine that you want to make this function print its argument to stdout:

foo :: Int -> DepT e_ IO () 

Easy enough:

foo' :: Int -> DepT e_ IO ()
foo' arg1 = do
    liftIO $ putStrLn (show arg1)
    foo arg1

You can even write your own general "printArgs" combinator:

printArgs :: Show a => (a -> DepT e_ IO ()) -> (a -> DepT e_ IO ())
printArgs f arg1 = do
    liftIO $ putStrLn (show arg1)
    f arg1

You could wrap foo in printArgs when constructing the record-of-functions, or perhaps you could modify the corresponding field after the record had been constructed.

This solution works, and is easy to understand. There's an annoyance though: you need a different version of printArgs for each number of arguments a function might have.

And if you want to compose different combinators (say, printArgs and printResult) before applying them to functions, you need a composition combinator specific for each number of arguments.

The solution using "advices"

The Advice datatype provided by this package encapsulates a transformation on DepT-effectful functions, in a way that is polymorphic over the number of arguments. The same advice will work for functions with 0, 1 or N arguments.

Advices can't change the type of a function, but they might:

  • Analyze and change the values of the function's arguments.

  • Add additional effects to the function, either effects from the base monad, or effects from handlers found in the environment.

  • Change the result value of the function.

  • Sidestep the execution of the function altogether, providing al alternative result.

Here's how a printArgs advice might be defined:

printArgs :: forall e_ m r. MonadIO m => Handle -> String -> Advice Show e_ m r
printArgs h prefix =
    ( \args -> do
        liftIO $ hPutStr h $ prefix ++ ":"
        hctraverse_ (Proxy @Show) (\(I a) -> liftIO (hPutStr h (" " ++ show a))) args
        liftIO $ hPutStrLn h "\n"
        liftIO $ hFlush h
        pure args

The advice receives the arguments of the function in the form of an n-ary product from sop-core. But it must be polymorphic on the shape of the type-level list which indexes the product. This makes the advice work for any number of parameters.

The advice would be applied like this:

advise (printArgs stdout "foo args: ") foo

Advices should be applied at the composition root

It's worth emphasizing that advices should be applied at the "composition root", the place in our application in which all the disparate functions are assembled and we commit to a concrete monad, namely DepT.

Before being brought into the composition root, the functions need not be aware that DepT exists. They might be working in some generic MonadReader environment, plus some constraints on that environment.

Once we decide to use DepT, we can apply the advice, because advice only works on functions that end on a DepT action. Also, advice might depend on the full gamut of functionality stored in the environment.

What about Dep.ReaderAdvice and Dep.IOAdvice?

Advices from Dep.Advice require us to work with DepT, but DepT is kind of weird. Instead, we may might to use more common monads for our effects, like ReaderT o plain old IO.

That's why Dep.ReaderAdvice and Dep.IOAdvice exist: they provide alternative versions of the Advice type which work with those monads.

Ain't that a lot of code duplication? Why not have a single Advice type which works with all monads? That leads us to...

What about Dep.SimpleAdvice?

Dep.SimpleAdvice provides a version of the Advice type that can be used with different concrete monads like ReaderT or IO.

See this thread in the Haskell Discourse for more info.

There's a catch, however. Dep.SimpleAdvice depends on the coerce mechanism of Haskell, and it can sometimes be finicky, for example when some required constructor hasn't been imported, or when there are polymorphic functions involved.

That's the reason Dep.ReaderAdvice and Dep.IOAdvice are still necessary. For their particular monads, they work in more cases.

Historical aside

According to Wikipedia, the term "advice" in the sense of aspect-oriented programming goes back to 1966. Quoting from PILOT: A Step Toward Man-Computer Symbiosis:

There are two ways a user can modify programs in this subjective model of programming: he can modify the interface between procedures, or he can modify the procedure itself. (Since procedures are themselves made up of procedures, modifying a procedure at one level may correspond to modifying the interface between procedures at a lower level.) Modifying the interface between procedures is called advising. Modifying a procedure itself is editing.

Advising is the basic innovation in the model, and in the PILOT system. Advising consists of inserting new procedures at any or all of the entry or exit points to a particular procedure (or class of procedures). The procedures inserted are called "advice procedures" or simply "advice".

Since each piece of advice is itself a procedure, it has its own entries and exits. In particular, this means that the execution of advice can cause the procedure that it modifies to be bypassed completely, e.g., by specifying as an exit from the advice one of the exits from the original procedure; or the advice may change essential variables and continue with the computation so that the original procedure is executed, but with modified variables. Finally, the advice may not alter the execution or affect the original procedure at all, e.g., it may merely perform some additional computation such as printing a message or recording history. Since advice can be conditional, the decision as to what is to be done can depend on the results of the computation up to that point.

The principal advantage of advising is that the user need not be concerned about the details of the actual changes in his program, nor the internal representation of advice. He can treat the procedure to be advised as a unit, a single block, and make changes to it without concern for the particulars of this block. This may be contrasted with editing in which the programmer must be cognizant of the internal structure of the procedure.