Chris Winters > Class-Observable > Class::Observable

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NAME ^

Class::Observable - Allow other classes and objects to respond to events in yours

SYNOPSIS ^

  # Define an observable class
 
  package My::Object;
 
  use base qw( Class::Observable );
 
  # Tell all classes/objects observing this object that a state-change
  # has occurred
 
  sub create {
     my ( $self ) = @_;
     eval { $self->_perform_create() };
     if ( $@ ) {
         My::Exception->throw( "Error saving: $@" );
     }
     $self->notify_observers();
  }
 
  # Same thing, except make the type of change explicit and pass
  # arguments.
 
  sub edit {
     my ( $self ) = @_;
     my %old_values = $self->extract_values;
     eval { $self->_perform_edit() };
     if ( $@ ) {
         My::Exception->throw( "Error saving: $@" );
     }
     $self->notify_observers( 'edit', old_values => \%old_values );
  }
 
  # Define an observer
 
  package My::Observer;
 
  sub update {
     my ( $class, $object, $action ) = @_;
     unless ( $action ) {
         warn "Cannot operation on [", $object->id, "] without action";
         return;
     }
     $class->_on_save( $object )   if ( $action eq 'save' );
     $class->_on_update( $object ) if ( $action eq 'update' );
  }
 
  # Register the observer class with all instances of the observable
  # class
 
  My::Object->add_observer( 'My::Observer' );
 
  # Register the observer class with a single instance of the
  # observable class
 
  my $object = My::Object->new( 'foo' );
  $object->add_observer( 'My::Observer' );
 
  # Register an observer object the same way
 
  my $observer = My::Observer->new( 'bar' );
  My::Object->add_observer( $observer );
  my $object = My::Object->new( 'foo' );
  $object->add_observer( $observer );
 
  # Register an observer using a subroutine
 
  sub catch_observation { ... }
 
  My::Object->add_observer( \&catch_observation );
  my $object = My::Object->new( 'foo' );
  $object->add_observer( \&catch_observation );
 
  # Define the observable class as a parent and allow the observers to
  # be used by the child
 
  package My::Parent;
 
  use strict;
  use base qw( Class::Observable );
 
  sub prepare_for_bed {
      my ( $self ) = @_;
      $self->notify_observers( 'prepare_for_bed' );
  }
 
  sub brush_teeth {
      my ( $self ) = @_;
      $self->_brush_teeth( time => 45 );
      $self->_floss_teeth( time => 30 );
      $self->_gargle( time => 30 );
  }
 
  sub wash_face { ... }
 
 
  package My::Child;
 
  use strict;
  use base qw( My::Parent );
 
  sub brush_teeth {
      my ( $self ) = @_;
      $self->_wet_toothbrush();
  }
 
  sub wash_face { return }
 
  # Create a class-based observer
 
  package My::ParentRules;
 
  sub update {
      my ( $item, $action ) = @_;
      if ( $action eq 'prepare_for_bed' ) {
          $item->brush_teeth;
          $item->wash_face;
      }
  }
 
  My::Parent->add_observer( __PACKAGE__ );
 
  $parent->prepare_for_bed # brush, floss, gargle, and wash face
  $child->prepare_for_bed  # pretend to brush, pretend to wash face

DESCRIPTION ^

If you have ever used Java, you may have run across the java.util.Observable class and the java.util.Observer interface. With them you can decouple an object from the one or more objects that wish to be notified whenever particular events occur.

These events occur based on a contract with the observed item. They may occur at the beginning, in the middle or end of a method. In addition, the object knows that it is being observed. It just does not know how many or what types of objects are doing the observing. It can therefore control when the messages get sent to the obsevers.

The behavior of the observers is up to you. However, be aware that we do not do any error handling from calls to the observers. If an observer throws a die, it will bubble up to the observed item and require handling there. So be careful.

Throughout this documentation we refer to an 'observed item' or 'observable item'. This ambiguity refers to the fact that both a class and an object can be observed. The behavior when notifying observers is identical. The only difference comes in which observers are notified. (See "Observable Classes and Objects" for more information.)

Observable Classes and Objects

The observable item does not need to implement any extra methods or variables. Whenever it wants to let observers know about a state-change or occurrence in the object, it just needs to call notify_observers().

As noted above, whether the observed item is a class or object does not matter -- the behavior is the same. The difference comes in determining which observers are to be notified:

Whichever you chose, your documentation should make clear which type of observed item observers can expect.

So given the following example:

 BEGIN {
     package Foo;
     use base qw( Class::Observable );
     sub new { return bless( {}, $_[0] ) }
     sub yodel { $_[0]->notify_observers }
 
     package Baz;
     use base qw( Foo );
     sub yell { $_[0]->notify_observers }
 }
 
 sub observer_a { print "Observation A from [$_[0]]\n" }
 sub observer_b { print "Observation B from [$_[0]]\n" }
 sub observer_c { print "Observation C from [$_[0]]\n" }
 
 Foo->add_observer( \&observer_a );
 Baz->add_observer( \&observer_b );
 
 my $foo = Foo->new;
 print "Yodeling...\n";
 $foo->yodel;
 
 my $baz_a = Baz->new;
 print "Yelling A...\n";
 $baz_a->yell;
 
 my $baz_b = Baz->new;
 $baz_b->add_observer( \&observer_c );
 print "Yelling B...\n";
 $baz_b->yell;

You would see something like

 Yodeling...
 Observation A from [Foo=HASH(0x80f7acc)]
 Yelling A...
 Observation B from [Baz=HASH(0x815c2b4)]
 Observation A from [Baz=HASH(0x815c2b4)]
 Yelling B...
 Observation C from [Baz=HASH(0x815c344)]
 Observation B from [Baz=HASH(0x815c344)]
 Observation A from [Baz=HASH(0x815c344)]

And since Bar is a child of Foo and each has one class-level observer, running either:

 my @observers = Baz->get_observers();
 my @observers = $baz_a->get_observers();

would return a two-item list. The first item would be the observer_b code reference, the second the observer_a code reference. Running:

 my @observers = $baz_b->get_observers();

would return a three-item list, including the observer for that specific object (observer_c coderef) as well as from its class (Baz) and the parent (Foo) of its class.

Observers

There are three types of observers: classes, objects, and subroutines. All three respond to events when notify_observers() is called from an observable item. The differences among the three are are:

Examples:

Subroutine observer:

 sub respond {
     my ( $item, $action, $params ) = @_;
     return unless ( $action eq 'update' );
     # ...
 }
 $observable->add_observer( \&respond );

Class observer:

 package My::ObserverC;
 
 sub update {
     my ( $class, $item, $action, $params ) = @_;
     return unless ( $action eq 'update' );
     # ...
 }

Object observer:

 package My::ObserverO;
 
 sub new {
     my ( $class, $type ) = @_;
     return bless ( { type => $type }, $class );
 }
 
 sub update {
     my ( $self, $item, $action, $params ) = @_;
     return unless ( $action eq $self->{type} );
     # ...
 }

Observable Objects and DESTROY

Previous versions of this module had a problem with maintaining references to observable objects/coderefs. As a result they'd never be destroyed. As of 1.04 we're using weak references with weaken in Scalar::Util so this shouldn't be a problem any longer.

METHODS ^

Observed Item Methods

notify_observers( [ $action, @params ] )

Called from the observed item, this method sends a message to all observers that a state-change has occurred. The observed item can optionally include additional information about the type of change that has occurred and any additional parameters @params which get passed along to each observer. The observed item should indicate in its API what information will be passed along to the observers in $action and @params.

Returns: Nothing

Example:

 sub remove {
     my ( $self ) = @_;
     eval { $self->_remove_item_from_datastore };
     if ( $@ ) {
         $self->notify_observers( 'remove-fail', error_message => $@ );
     }
     else {
         $self->notify_observers( 'remove' );
     }
 }

add_observer( @observers )

Adds the one or more observers (@observer) to the observed item. Each observer can be a class name, object or subroutine -- see "Types of Observers".

Returns: The number of observers now observing the item.

Example:

 # Add a salary check (as a subroutine observer) for a particular
 # person
 my $person = Person->fetch( 3843857 );
 $person->add_observer( \&salary_check );
 
 # Add a salary check (as a class observer) for all people
 Person->add_observer( 'Validate::Salary' );
 
 # Add a salary check (as an object observer) for all people
 my $salary_policy = Company::Policy::Salary->new( 'pretax' );
 Person->add_observer( $salary_policy );

delete_observer( @observers )

Removes the one or more observers (@observer) from the observed item. Each observer can be a class name, object or subroutine -- see "Types of Observers".

Note that this only deletes each observer from the observed item itself. It does not remove observer from any parent classes. Therefore, if an observer is not registered directly with the observed item nothing will be removed.

Returns: The number of observers now observing the item.

Examples:

 # Remove a class observer from an object
 $person->delete_observer( 'Lech::Ogler' );
 
 # Remove an object observer from a class
 Person->delete_observer( $salary_policy );

delete_all_observers()

Removes all observers from the observed item.

Note that this only deletes observers registered directly with the observed item. It does not clear out observers from any parent classes.

WARNING: This method was renamed from delete_observers. The delete_observers call still works but is deprecated and will eventually be removed.

Returns: The number of observers removed.

Example:

 Person->delete_all_observers();

get_observers()

Returns all observers for an observed item, as well as the observers for its class and parents as applicable. See "Observable Classes and Objects" for more information.

Returns: list of observers.

Example:

 my @observers = Person->get_observers;
 foreach my $o ( @observers ) {
     print "Observer is a: ";
     print "Class"      unless ( ref $o );
     print "Subroutine" if ( ref $o eq 'CODE' );
     print "Object"     if ( ref $o and ref $o ne 'CODE' );
     print "\n";
 }

copy_observers( $copy_to_observable )

Copies all observers from one observed item to another. We get all observers from the source, including the observers of parents. (Behind the scenes we just use get_observers(), so read that for what we copy.)

We make no effort to ensure we don't copy an observer that's already watching the object we're copying to. If this happens you will appear to get duplicate observations. (But it shouldn't happen often, if ever.)

Returns: number of observers copied

Example:

 # Copy all observers of the 'Person' class to also observe the
 # 'Address' class
 
 Person->copy_observers( Address );
 
 # Copy all observers of a $person to also observe a particular
 # $address
 
 $person->copy_observers( $address )

count_observers()

Counts the number of observers for an observed item, including ones inherited from its class and/or parent classes. See "Observable Classes and Objects" for more information.

Debugging Methods

Note that the debugging messages will try to get information about the observed item if called from an object. If you have an id() method in the object its value will be used in the message, otherwise it will be described as "an instance of class Foo".

SET_DEBUG( $bool )

Turn debugging on or off. If set the built-in implementation of observer_log() will issue a warn at appropriate times during the process.

observer_log( @message )

Issues a warn if SET_DEBUG hsa been called with a true value. This gets called multiple times during the registration and notification process.

To catch the warn calls just override this method.

observer_error( @message )

Issues a die if we catch an exception when notifying observers. To catch the die and do something else with it just override this method.

RESOURCES ^

APIs for java.util.Observable and java.util.Observer. (Docs below are included with JDK 1.4 but have been consistent for some time.)

http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.4/docs/api/java/util/Observable.html

http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.4/docs/api/java/util/Observer.html

"Observer and Observable", Todd Sundsted, http://www.javaworld.com/javaworld/jw-10-1996/jw-10-howto_p.html

"Java Tip 29: How to decouple the Observer/Observable object model", Albert Lopez, http://www.javaworld.com/javatips/jw-javatip29_p.html

SEE ALSO ^

Class::ISA

Class::Trigger

Aspect

COPYRIGHT ^

Copyright (c) 2002-2004 Chris Winters. All rights reserved.

This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the same terms as Perl itself.

AUTHOR ^

Chris Winters <chris@cwinters.com>

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