Container

The App Framework assembles the application by using a container based on the software pattern Dependency Injection. This makes the code easier to test and thus easier to maintain.

If you are unfamiliar with this pattern, watch the following videos:

Dependency Injection

Dependency Injection sounds pretty complicated but it just means: Don’t put new dependencies in your constructor or methods but pass them in. So this:

<?php

// without dependency injection
class AuthorMapper {

  private $db;

  public function __construct() {
    $this->db = new Db();
  }

}

would turn into this by using Dependency Injection:

<?php

// with dependency injection
class AuthorMapper {

  private $db;

  public function __construct($db) {
    $this->db = $db;
  }

}

Using a container

Passing dependencies into the constructor rather than instantiating them in the constructor has the following drawback: Every line in the source code where new AuthorMapper is being used has to be changed, once a new constructor argument is being added to it.

The solution for this particular problem is to limit the new AuthorMapper to one file, the container. The container contains all the factories for creating these objects and is configured in lib/AppInfo/Application.php.

To add the app’s classes simply open the lib/AppInfo/Application.php and use the registerService method on the container object:

<?php

namespace OCA\MyApp\AppInfo;

use \OCP\AppFramework\App;

use \OCA\MyApp\Controller\AuthorController;
use \OCA\MyApp\Service\AuthorService;
use \OCA\MyApp\Db\AuthorMapper;

class Application extends App {


  /**
   * Define your dependencies in here
   */
  public function __construct(array $urlParams=array()){
    parent::__construct('myapp', $urlParams);

    $container = $this->getContainer();

    /**
     * Controllers
     */
    $container->registerService('AuthorController', function($c){
      return new AuthorController(
        $c->query('AppName'),
        $c->query('Request'),
        $c->query('AuthorService')
      );
    });

    /**
     * Services
     */
    $container->registerService('AuthorService', function($c){
      return new AuthorService(
        $c->query('AuthorMapper')
      );
    });

    /**
     * Mappers
     */
    $container->registerService('AuthorMapper', function($c){
      return new AuthorMapper(
        $c->query('ServerContainer')->getDb()
      );
    });
  }
}

How the container works

The container works in the following way:

  • A request comes in and is matched against a route (for the AuthorController in this case)

  • The matched route queries AuthorController service from the container:

    return new AuthorController(
      $c->query('AppName'),
      $c->query('Request'),
      $c->query('AuthorService')
    );
    
  • The AppName is queried and returned from the baseclass

  • The Request is queried and returned from the server container

  • AuthorService is queried:

    $container->registerService('AuthorService', function($c){
      return new AuthorService(
        $c->query('AuthorMapper')
      );
    });
    
  • AuthorMapper is queried:

    $container->registerService('AuthorMappers', function($c){
      return new AuthorService(
        $c->query('ServerContainer')->getDb()
      );
    });
    
  • The database connection is returned from the server container

  • Now AuthorMapper has all of its dependencies and the object is returned

  • AuthorService gets the AuthorMapper and returns the object

  • AuthorController gets the AuthorService and finally the controller can be instantiated and the object is returned

So basically the container is used as a giant factory to build all the classes that are needed for the application. Because it centralizes all the creation of objects (the new Class() lines), it is very easy to add new constructor parameters without breaking existing code: only the __construct method and the container line where the new is being called need to be changed.

Which classes should be added

In general all of the app’s controllers need to be registered inside the container. Then the following question is: What goes into the constructor of the controller? Pass everything into the controller constructor that matches one of the following criteria:

  • It does I/O (database, write/read to files)
  • It is a global (e.g. $_POST, etc. This is in the request class by the way)
  • The output does not depend on the input variables (also called impure function), e.g. time, random number generator
  • It is a service, basically it would make sense to swap it out for a different object

What not to inject:

  • It is pure data and has methods that only act upon it (arrays, data objects)
  • It is a pure function