twenty four merry days of Perl Feed

A Holiday PAPR-ation

Plack::App::Path::Router - 2014-12-22

Jesse, Junior IT Elf Second Class grumbled to himself, "Who even thought this was a good idea anyway." He had grabbed a ticket out of the North Pole's ticketing system, thinking that adding a simple new endpoint to an existing RESTful API would be a fairly trivial task. He had hoped to get out of the office early today, and instead he was staring at a creeping horror and the possibility of working all weekend.

Clearly, the code had originally started out as a very simple API of only a few endpoints. The original coder, either being in a hurry or just not knowing any better, had decided to implement it as a series of if - elsif - else blocks based on the first element in the URL string.

Now, 10 years later, there were dozens of elsif blocks, each with its own specialized handling of the subsequent parts of the URL. There was no overall organization to the code -- it seemed as if every time a new endpoint was required, the elf doing the work had just slapped in an elsif block whereever they felt like. The end result now had a structure something like this (only much worse -- the example is sanitized for a family audience):


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use CGI;

my $cgi = CGI->new();

my( $first , @rest ) = $cgi->path_info();

# /present/present_id/action
if( $first eq 'present' ) {
  my( $id , $action ) = @rest;
  validate_present_id( $id ) or return_error("bad id");
  if( $action ) {
    return_error("bad method") unless $ENV{REQUEST_METHOD} eq 'POST';
    $action =~ /^(add|update|delete)$/ or return_error("bad action");
    _handle_present_update( $id , $action );
  }
  else {
    return_error("bad method") unless $ENV{REQUEST_METHOD} eq 'GET';
    _handle_present_get( $id )
  }
}
# /good_child/child_id/reason
elsif( $first eq 'good_child' ) {
  my( $id , $reason ) = @rest;
  validate_child_id( $id ) or return_error("bad id");
  validate_reason( $reason) or return_error("bad reason");
  return_error("bad method") unless $ENV{REQUEST_METHOD} eq 'POST';
  _handle_child_update( 'good_child' , $id , $reason );
}
# /bad_child/child_id/reason
elsif( $first eq 'bad_child' ) {
  my( $id , $reason ) = @rest;
  validate_child_id( $id ) or return_error("bad id");
  validate_reason( $reason) or return_error("bad reason");
  return_error("bad method") unless $ENV{REQUEST_METHOD} eq 'POST';
  _handle_child_update( 'bad_child' , $id , $reason );
}
else {
  return_error("no match!")
}

 

As Jesse sat and stared at screen after screen of cascading conditionals, grumbling and muttering to himself, his boss Margaret walked by and asked, "What's going on, Jesse?"

Jesse started to rant about the API code, but Margaret cut him off quickly. "Listen, didn't you see the last memo that came out from the Big Guy? We're supposed to be replacing all those old CGIs with PSGIs when ever we have to make any changes to them. This is your lucky day, Junior! You get to clean up this mess. But we've got apps deployed in the field that rely on this API, so make sure you don't change any of the endpoints while you're porting it over, or there will be heck to pay."

"Fine", Jesse sighed. "I guess I can go on MetaCPAN and research the best way to..."

Margaret cut him off again. "No need, kid. Just use PAPR -- Plack::App::Path::Router!"

Jesse sighed again as he pulled up the documentation on MetaCPAN. He learned that Plack::App::Path::Router provides a convenient way to take a Path::Router specification and wrap it up as a PSGI. Jesse was quickly able to turn the existing conditional cascade into a much more declarative set of add_route statements. He also quickly realized that he could replace all the custom validation routines in the old code with Path::Router's parameter extraction and Moose-style validations.

Within a few hours, Jesse had converted all the old style code to a form that looked like this:


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use Plack::App::Path::Router;
use Path::Router;

my $router = Path::Router->new();
# note - formerly handled by a single conditional stanza; now split into two
$router->add_route( '/present/:present_id' => (
  validations => { present_id => 'Int' } ,
  target => sub {
# $request is a L<Plack::Request> object
my( $request , $id ) = @_;
    return_error("bad method") unless $request->method() eq 'GET';
    _handle_present_get( $id )
  }
));

$router->add_route( '/present/:present_id/:action' => (
  validations => {
    present_id => 'Int' ,
    action => qr/^(add|update|delete)$/ , # validations can also be plain regexps
  },
  target => sub {
    my( $request , $id , $action ) = @_;
    return_error("bad method") unless $request->method() eq 'POST';
    _handle_present_update( $id , $action );
  }
));

# covers both /good_child/ and /bad_child/ endpoints
$router->add_route( '/:child_type/:child_id/:reason' ) => (
  validations => {
    child_type => qr/^(good|bad)_child/ ,
    child_id => 'Int' ,
    reason => 'Str' ,
  } ,
  target => sub {
    my( $request , $type , $id , $reason ) = @_;
    return_error("bad method") unless $request->method() eq 'POST';
    _handle_child_update( $type , $id , $reason );
  }
));

# now create the Plack app
my $app = Plack::App::Path::Router->new( router => $router );

 

He commited his changes, and then added in one more change that added the new endpoint that had originally started him down this path. Work all done, he pushed his branch, and moved the ticket into the code review stage. While it had taken him a little longer than he expected, it still looked like he'd be done early.

As he made one last scan over his email, Jesse realized that Margaret had already responded to his code review request ... and worse, she'd rejected his changes! She was asking for something that was more data-driven and didn't have so much boilerplate code. Her suggestion was to look at Plack::App::Path::Router::Custom -- which Jesse dutifully pulled up on MetaCPAN. After a few minutes of reading, he saw exactly what she was talking about. He rapidly converted the previous version into this completely data-driven form:


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use Path::Router;
use Plack::App::Path::Router;
use Plack::Request;

use SantasWorkshop::API; # all the '_handle' methods were migrated to here

# each entry is 'route definition' => 'method' => 'hashref of options'
my @routes = (
  [ '/present/:present_id' => 'handle_present_get' => {
    methods => { 'GET' => 1 } ,
    validations => { present_id => 'Int' } ,
  }] ,

  [ '/present/:present_id/:action' => 'handle_present_update' => {
    methods => { 'POST' => 1 } ,
    validations => {
      present_id => 'Int' ,
      action => qr/^(add|update|delete)$/ , # validations can also be plain regexpsld
    },
  }] ,

# covers both /good_child/ and /bad_child/ endpoints
[ '/:child_type/:child_id/:reason' => 'handle_child_update' => {
    methods => { 'POST' => 1 } ,
    validations => {
      child_type => qr/^(good|bad)_child/ ,
      child_id => 'Int' ,
      reason => 'Str' ,
    } ,
  }] ,
)

# dynamically build the routing table based on the @routes data structure
my $router = Path::Router->new();
foreach (@routes) {
  my ( $endpoint, $action, $options ) = @$_;

  $router->add_route( $endpoint => (
    target => sub {
      my ( $request, @rest ) = @_;

      if ( exists $options->{methods} ) {
        my $request_method = $request->method();
        return_error("bad method") unless $options->{methods}{$request_method};
      }

      return SantasWorkshop::API->new()->$action(@rest);
    } ,
    validations => $options->{validations} ,
  ));
}

# once the routing table is all build, make the app using that router.
my $app = Plack::App::Path::Router::Custom->new(
  router => $router,
  new_request => sub { Plack::Request->new(shift) } ,
);

 

Jesse pushed the final revision up for code review and got notification of Margaret's merging of the code into the release branch only a few minutes later -- along with an IM saying, "Nice work, kid -- how about you take off early today."

See Also

Gravatar Image This article contributed by: John SJ Anderson <genehack@genehack.org>