Strangely Consistent

Theory, practice, and languages, braided together

Dreaming in mixins

Working with pls (a next-gen project installer for the Perl 6 ecosystem), I had a few classes with code like this:

class POC::Tester does App::Pls::Tester {
    method test($project --> Result) {
        my $target-dir = "cache/$project<name>";
        if "$target-dir/Makefile" !~~ :e {
            return failure;
        unless run-logged( relative-to($target-dir, "make test"),
                           :step('test'), :$project ) {
            return failure;

        return success;

(success and failure are Result enum values defined elsewhere. They felt like pleasant documentation, and when return type checking works, they'll even help catch errors!)

Now, I wanted to add super-simple progress diagnostics to this method. I wanted an announce-start-of('test', $project); at the start of the module, and either an announce-end-of('test', success); or an announce-end-of('test', failure);, depending on the success or failure of the method.

I have a low threshold for boilerplate. After realizing that I'd have to manually add those calls in the beginning of the method, and before each return — and not only in this method, but in several others — I thought "man, I shouldn't have to tolerate this. This is Perl 6, it should be able to do better!"

So I thought about what I really wanted to do. I wanted some sort of... method wrapper. Didn't really want a subclass, and a regular role wouldn't cut it (because class methods override same-named role methods).

Then it struck me: mixins. Did those already work in Rakudo? Oh well, try it and see. So I created this role:

role POC::TestAnnouncer {
    method test($project --> Result) {
        announce-start-of('test', $project&lt;name&gt;);
        my $result = callsame;
        announce-end-of('test', $result);
        return $result;

And then, later: does POC::TestAnnouncer

And it worked! On the first attempt! jnthn++!

(If you're wondering what in the above method that does the wrapping — it's the callsame call in the middle. It delegates back to the overridden method. Note that with this tactic, I get to write my announce-start-of and announce-end-of calls exactly once. I don't have to go hunting for all the various places in the original code where a return is made.)

I guess this counts as using mixins to do Aspect-Oriented Programming. This way of working certainly makes the code less scattered and tangled.

So, in this file, I currently have a veritable curry of dependency injection, behavior-adding roles, lexical subs inside methods, AOP-esque mixins, and a MAIN sub. They mix together to create something really tasty. And it all runs, today, under Rakudo HEAD.

As jnthn said earlier today, it's pretty cool that a script of 400 LoC, together with a 230-LoC module, make up a whole working installer. With so little code, it almost doesn't feel like coding.