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Fluent Interface

Reactive Functional

Intent

A fluent interface provides an easy-readable, flowing interface, that often mimics a domain specific language. Using this pattern results in code that can be read nearly as human language.

Explanation

The Fluent Interface pattern is useful when you want to provide an easy readable, flowing API. Those interfaces tend to mimic domain specific languages, so they can nearly be read as human languages.

A fluent interface can be implemented using any of

  • Method chaining - calling a method returns some object on which further methods can be called.
  • Static factory methods and imports.
  • Named parameters - can be simulated in Java using static factory methods.

Real world example

We need to select numbers based on different criteria from the list. It's a great chance to utilize fluent interface pattern to provide readable easy-to-use developer experience.

In plain words

Fluent Interface pattern provides easily readable flowing interface to code.

Wikipedia says

In software engineering, a fluent interface is an object-oriented API whose design relies extensively on method chaining. Its goal is to increase code legibility by creating a domain-specific language (DSL).

Programmatic Example

In this example two implementations of a FluentIterable interface are given.

public interface FluentIterable<E> extends Iterable<E> {

  FluentIterable<E> filter(Predicate<? super E> predicate);

  Optional<E> first();

  FluentIterable<E> first(int count);

  Optional<E> last();

  FluentIterable<E> last(int count);

  <T> FluentIterable<T> map(Function<? super E, T> function);

  List<E> asList();

  static <E> List<E> copyToList(Iterable<E> iterable) {
    var copy = new ArrayList<E>();
    iterable.forEach(copy::add);
    return copy;
  }
}

The SimpleFluentIterable evaluates eagerly and would be too costly for real world applications.

public class SimpleFluentIterable<E> implements FluentIterable<E> {
  ...
}

The LazyFluentIterable is evaluated on termination.

public class LazyFluentIterable<E> implements FluentIterable<E> {
  ...
}

Their usage is demonstrated with a simple number list that is filtered, transformed and collected. The result is printed afterwards.

    var integerList = List.of(1, -61, 14, -22, 18, -87, 6, 64, -82, 26, -98, 97, 45, 23, 2, -68);

    prettyPrint("The initial list contains: ", integerList);

    var firstFiveNegatives = SimpleFluentIterable
        .fromCopyOf(integerList)
        .filter(negatives())
        .first(3)
        .asList();
    prettyPrint("The first three negative values are: ", firstFiveNegatives);


    var lastTwoPositives = SimpleFluentIterable
        .fromCopyOf(integerList)
        .filter(positives())
        .last(2)
        .asList();
    prettyPrint("The last two positive values are: ", lastTwoPositives);

    SimpleFluentIterable
        .fromCopyOf(integerList)
        .filter(number -> number % 2 == 0)
        .first()
        .ifPresent(evenNumber -> LOGGER.info("The first even number is: {}", evenNumber));


    var transformedList = SimpleFluentIterable
        .fromCopyOf(integerList)
        .filter(negatives())
        .map(transformToString())
        .asList();
    prettyPrint("A string-mapped list of negative numbers contains: ", transformedList);


    var lastTwoOfFirstFourStringMapped = LazyFluentIterable
        .from(integerList)
        .filter(positives())
        .first(4)
        .last(2)
        .map(number -> "String[" + valueOf(number) + "]")
        .asList();
    prettyPrint("The lazy list contains the last two of the first four positive numbers "
        + "mapped to Strings: ", lastTwoOfFirstFourStringMapped);

    LazyFluentIterable
        .from(integerList)
        .filter(negatives())
        .first(2)
        .last()
        .ifPresent(number -> LOGGER.info("Last amongst first two negatives: {}", number));

Program output:

The initial list contains: 1, -61, 14, -22, 18, -87, 6, 64, -82, 26, -98, 97, 45, 23, 2, -68.
The first three negative values are: -61, -22, -87.
The last two positive values are: 23, 2.
The first even number is: 14
A string-mapped list of negative numbers contains: String[-61], String[-22], String[-87], String[-82], String[-98], String[-68].
The lazy list contains the last two of the first four positive numbers mapped to Strings: String[18], String[6].
Last amongst first two negatives: -22    

Class diagram

Fluent Interface

Applicability

Use the Fluent Interface pattern when

  • You provide an API that would benefit from a DSL-like usage.
  • You have objects that are difficult to configure or use.

Known uses

Credits