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NAME ^

SPOPS::Manual::Object - Shows how you interact with SPOPS objects.

DESCRIPTION ^

This section of the SPOPS manual should be of interest to users and developers, since it describes how SPOPS objects are used. Note that all examples here assume the SPOPS class has already been created -- for more on this see SPOPS::Manual::Configuration and SPOPS::Manual::CodeGeneration for more information about that process.

A Simple Example

How better to start off than a simple example. Here we get values from CGI.pm, set the values into a new SPOPS object and save it:

  1: my $q = new CGI;
  2: my $obj = MyUserClass->new();
  3: foreach my $field ( qw( f_name l_name birthdate ) ) {
  4:     $obj->{ $field } = $q->param( $field );
  5: }
  6: my $object_id = eval { $obj->save };
  7: if ( $@ ) {
  8:     ... report error information ...
  9: }
 10: else {
 11:     warn " Object saved with ID: $obj->{object_id}\n";
 12: }

You can then display this object's information from a later request:

  1: my $q = new CGI;
  2: my $object_id = $q->param( 'object_id' );
  3: my $obj = MyUserClass->fetch( $object_id );
  4: print "First Name: $obj->{f_name}\n",
  5:       "Last Name:  $obj->{l_name}\n",
  6:       "Birthday:   $obj->{birthdate}\n";

To display other information from the same object, like related objects:

  1: my $user_group = $obj->group;
  2: print "Group Name: $user_group->{name}\n";

And you can fetch batches of objects at once based on arbitrary criteria:

  1: my $q = new CGI;
  2: my $last_name = $q->param( 'last_name' );
  3: my $user_list = MyUserClass->fetch_group({ where => 'l_name LIKE ?',
  4:                                            value => [ "%$last_name%" ],
  5:                                            order => 'birthdate' });
  6: print "Users with last name having: $last_name\n";
  7: foreach my $user ( @{ $user_list } ) {
  8:     print " $user->{f_name} $user->{l_name} -- $user->{birthdate}\n";
  9: }

Tie Interface

This version of SPOPS uses a tie interface to get and set the individual data values. You can also use the more traditional OO get and set operators, but most people will likely find the hashref interface easier to deal with. It also means you can interpolate data into strings: bonus!

The tie interface allows the most common operations -- fetch data and put it into a data structure for later use -- to be done very easily. It also hides much of the complexity behind the object for you so that most of the time you are dealing with a simple hashref.

However, the tie interface also allows us to give behaviors to the SPOPS object that are executed transparently with every get or set of a value. For instance, if you use strict field checking (example below), we can catch any property name misspellings or wrong names being used for properties. We can also track property state as necessary so we can know whether an object has changed or not since it was created or fetched. Property values can also be lazy-loaded.

Automatically Created Accessors and Mutators

In addition to getting the data for an object through the hashref method, you can also get to the data with accessors named after the fields.

For example, given the fields:

 $user->{f_name}
 $user->{l_name}
 $user->{birthday}

You can call the following to retrieve the data:

 $user->f_name();
 $user->l_name();
 $user->birthday();

And to the following to modify the data:

 $user->f_name( 'Ferris' );
 $user->l_name( 'Bueller' );
 $user->birthday( '1970-02-14' );

Since the accessor and mutator share a method the mutator needs to know whether to do its job. It does this by testing the first parameter passed in for definedness. Most of the time this is fine, but what happens when you want to clear out a value like this?

 $user->m_name( undef );

This won't do what you think -- since the first parameter is undefined it will simply act as an accessor.

To clear a value, call instead the '_clear' method associated with a fieldname:

 $user->m_name_clear;

This explicitly sets the value to undef.

SPOPS accomplishes this using AUTOLOAD, and after the first call it automatically creates a subroutine in the namespace of your class to catch successive calls. If you require you can modify how these two methods get created by overriding _internal_create_field_methods(). This takes three arguments: the object being modified, the class to install the routines into, and the fieldname used to create the methods. Don't implement this unless you know what you're doing -- check out the implementation in SPOPS before proceeding down this path, since doing it wrong could create some nasty side-effects.

Tracking State Changes

The object tracks whether any changes have been made since it was instantiated and keeps an internal toggle switch. You can query the toggle or set it manually.

 $obj->changed();

Returns 1 if there has been change, undef if not.

 $obj->has_change();

Sets the toggle to true.

 $obj->clear_change();

Sets the toggle to false.

Example:

 if ( $obj->changed() ) {
     my $rv = $obj->save();
 }

Note that this can (and should) be implemented within the subclass, so you as a user can simply call:

 $obj->save();

And not worry about whether it has been changed or not. If there has been any modification, the system will save it, otherwise it will not.

Multiple-Field ID Fields

As of SPOPS 0.53, SPOPS::DBI supports multi-field primary keys. To use it, you just use an arrayref to represent the ID field in the id() method rather than a string. (Wisenheimers who use an arrayref with one element may be shocked that SPOPS finds this attempt to trick it and sets the value to the single element.)

When using fetch(), you need to represent the ID as a comma-separated string similar to that returned by id() in scalar context (see below). For example:

 # Configuration
 myclass => {
     class => 'My::Customer',
     id    => [ 'entno', 'custno' ],
     ...
 },

 # Fetch object
 my $cust = My::Customer->fetch( "$entno,$custno" );

On finding multiple ID fields, SPOPS::ClassFactory::DBI creates new methods for id(), id_field and id_clause. Both id() and id_field() are context-sensitive, and id_clause() returns a clause with multiple atoms.

One at a time:

id( [ $id_value ] )

In list context, returns the values for the ID fields in order. In scalar context, returns the ID values joined by a comma. (This may be configurable in the future.)

 my ( $id_val1, $id_val2 ) = $object->id();
 my $id_string = $object->id();
 $object->id( [ 'value1', 'value2' ] );

id_field()

In list context, returns an n-element list with the ID fieldnames. In scalar context, returns the fieldnames joined by a comma. (This may be configurable in the future.)

 my ( $field1, $field2 ) = $object->id_field();
 my $field_string = $object->id_field();

id_clause()

Returns a full WHERE clause to find this particular record -- used in UPDATE and DELETE statements. If you're using as a class method, you need to pass in the ID values as an arrayref or as a comma-separated string as returned by id() in scalar context.

 my $where = $obj->id_clause();
 my $sql = "SELECT * FROM foo WHERE $where";

 my $where = $obj_class->id_clause( [ $id_val1, $id_val2 ] );
 my $sql = "SELECT * FROM foo WHERE $where";

 my $where = $obj_class->id_clause( "$id_val1,$id_val2" );
 my $sql = "SELECT * FROM foo WHERE $where";

Lazy Loading

As of version 0.40, SPOPS supports lazy loading of objects. This means you do not have to load the entire object at once.

To use lazy loading, you need to specify one or more 'column groups', each of which is a logical grouping of properties to fetch. Further, you need to specify which group of properties to fetch when you run a 'fetch' or 'fetch_group' command. SPOPS will fetch only those fields and, as long as your implementing class has a subroutine for performing lazy loads, will load the other fields only on demand.

For example, say we have an object representing an HTML page. One of the most frequent uses of the object is to participate in a listing -- search results, navigation, etc. When we fetch the object for listing, we do not want to retrieve the entire page -- it is hard on the database and takes up quite a bit of memory.

So when we define our object, we define a column group called 'listing' which contains the fields we display when listing the objects:

  1: $spops = {
  2:      html_page => {
  3:          class        => 'My::HTMLPage',
  4:          isa          => [ qw/ SPOPS::DBI::Pg SPOPS::DBI / ],
  5:          field        => [ qw/ page_id location title author content / ],
  6:          column_group => { listing => [ qw/ location title author / ] },
  7:          ...
  8:     },
  9: };

And when we retrieve the objects for listing, we pass the column group name we want to use:

  1: my $page_list = My::HTMLPage->fetch_group({ order        => 'location',
  2:                                             column_group => 'listing' });

Now each object in \@page_list has the fields 'page_id', 'location', 'title' and 'author' filled in, but not 'content', even though 'content' is defined as a field in the object. The first time we try to retrieve the 'content' field, SPOPS will load the value for that field into the object behind the scenes.

  1: 
  2: foreach my $page ( @{ $page_list } ) {
  3: 
  4:     # These properties are in the fetched object and are not
  5:     # lazy-loaded
  6: 
  7:     print "Title: $page->{title}\n",
  8:           "Author: $page->{author}\n";
  9: 
 10:     # When we access lazy-loaded properties like 'content', SPOPS goes
 11:     # and retrieves the value for each object property as it's
 12:     # requested.
 13: 
 14:     if ( $title =~ /^OpenInteract/ ) {
 15:         print "Content\n\n$page->{content}\n";
 16:     }
 17: }

Obviously, you want to make sure you use this wisely, otherwise you will put more strain on your database than if you were not using lazy loading. The example above, for instance, is a good use since we might be using the 'content' property for a few objects. But it would be a poor use if we did not have the if statement or if every 'title' began with 'OpenInteract' since the 'content' property would be retrieved anyway.

See SPOPS::Manual::Serialization for how to implement lazy loading for your objects.

Field Mapping

As of version 0.50, SPOPS has the ability to make an object look like another object, or to put a prettier face on existing data.

In your configuration, just specify:

 field_map => { new_name => 'existing_name', ... }

For example, you might need to make your user objects stored in an LDAP directory look like user objects stored in a DBI database. You could say:

  1: field_map    => { 'last_name'  => 'sn',
  2:                   'first_name' => 'givenname',
  3:                   'password'   => 'userpassword',
  4:                   'login_name' => 'uid',
  5:                   'email'      => 'mail',
  6:                   'user_id'    => 'cn'  }

So, despite having entirely different schemas, the following would print out equivalent information:

  1: sub display_user_data {
  2:     my ( $user ) = @_;
  3:     return <<INFO;
  4:   ID:     $user->{user_id}
  5:   Name:   $user->{first_name} $user->{last_name}
  6:   Login:  $user->{login_name}
  7:   Email:  $user->{email}
  8: INFO
  9: }
 10: 
 11: print display_user_data( $my_ldap_user );
 12: print display_user_data( $my_dbi_user );

Another use might be to represent properties in a different language.

Note that you can have more than one new field pointing to the same old field.

Field Value Altering

In some implementations (notably SPOPS::DBI), you can alter the value of a field before it gets set in the object. This can be a useful (if sometimes non-portable) way of doing transparent data formatting for all objects. And this method is usually faster than just using Perl, which is an added bonus.

For instance, maybe you're using MySQL and you want to take advantage of its date-formatting capabilities. You can tell SPOPS to use them in one of two ways.

First, you can specify the information in your object configuration:

  1: my $config = {
  2:     myobject => {
  3:           class       => 'My::SPOPS',
  4:           field       => [ qw/ my_id my_name my_date / ],
  5:           field_alter => { my_date => "DATE_FORMAT( my_date, '%Y/%m/%d %I:%i %p' )" },
  6:           ...,
  7:     },
  8: };

Second, you can pass the information in on a per-object basis:

  1: my $alter = { my_date => "DATE_FORMAT( my_date, '%Y/%m/%d %I:%i %p' )" };
  2: my $object = My::SPOPS->fetch( $object_id, { field_alter => $alter } );

Both will have exactly the same effect.

So, how would you do this in Perl and SPOPS? You would likely create a post_fetch rule that did whatever data manipulation you wanted:

  1: sub ruleset_add {
  2:     my ( $class, $rs_table ) = @_;
  3:     push @{ $rs_table->{post_fetch_action} }, \&manipulate_date;
  4:     return ref $class || $class;
  5: }
  6: 
  7: sub manipulate_date {
  8:     my ( $self, $p ) = @_;
  9:     return 1 unless ( $self->{start_date} );
 10:     my $start_date_object = Class::Date->new( $self->{start_date} );
 11:     local $Class::Date::DATE_FORMAT = '%Y/%m/%d %I:%M %p';
 12:     $self->{start_date} = "$start_date_object";
 13: }

See SPOPS::Manual::ObjectRules for more info on creating rulesets and what you can do with them.

Multivalued Fields

Some data storage backends -- like LDAP -- can store multiple values for a single field. As of version 0.50, SPOPS can do the same.

All you need to do is specify in your configuration which fields should be multivalued:

  1:  multivalue => [ 'field1', 'field2' ]

Thereafter you can access them as below (more examples in SPOPS::Tie):

  1: my $object = My::Object->new;
  2: 
  3: # Set field1 to [ 'a', 'b' ]
  4: $object->{field1} = [ 'a', 'b' ];
  5: 
  6: # Replace the value of 'a' with 'z'
  7: $object->{field1} = { replace => { a => 'z' } };
  8: 
  9: # Add the value 'c'
 10: $object->{field1} = 'c';
 11: 
 12: # Find only the ones I want
 13: my @ones = grep { that_i_want( $_ ) } @{ $object->{field1} };

Note that the value returned from a field access to a multivalue field is always an array reference. If there are no values, the reference is empty.

Strict Fields

If you ask, SPOPS will ensure that all get and set accesses are checked against the fields the object should have. You ask by setting the configuration option 'strict_field'. For instance:

  1: $spops = {
  2:       user => {
  3:           class        => 'My::User',
  4:           isa          => [ qw/ SPOPS::DBI::Pg SPOPS::DBI / ],
  5:           field        => [ qw/ first_name last_name login / ],
  6:           strict_field => 1,
  7:           ...
  8:      },
  9: };
 10: ...
 11: my $user = My::User->new;
 12: $user->{firstname} = 'Chucky';

would result in a message to STDERR, something like:

  1: Error setting value for field (firstname): it is not a valid field
  2: at my_tie.pl line 9

since you have misspelled the property. Note that SPOPS will continue working and will not 'die' on such an error, just issue a warning.

More Examples

  1: # Retrieve all themes and print a description
  2: 
  3: my $themes = eval { $theme_class->fetch_group( { order => 'title' } ) };
  4: if ( $@ ) { ... report error ... }
  5: else {
  6:     foreach my $thm ( @{ $themes } ) {
  7:         print "Theme: $thm->{title}\n",
  8:               "Description: $thm->{description}\n";
  9:     }
 10: }

  1: # Create a new user, set some values and save
  2: 
  3: my $user = $user_class->new;
  4: $user->{email}      = 'mymail@user.com';
  5: $user->{first_name} = 'My';
  6: $user->{last_name}  = 'User';
  7: my $user_id = eval { $user->save };
  8: if ( $@ ) {
  9:     print "There was an error: $SPOPS::Error::system_msg\n"
 10: }
 11: 
 12: # Retrieve that same user from the database
 13: 
 14: my $user_id = $cgi->param( 'user_id' );
 15: my $user = eval { $user_class->fetch( $user_id ) };
 16: if ( $@ ) { ... report error ... }
 17: else {
 18:     print "The user's first name is: $user->{first_name}\n";
 19: }

  1: # Create a new object with initial values, set another value and save
  2: 
  3: my $data = MyClass->new({ field1 => 'value1',
  4:                           field2 => 'value2' });
  5: print "The value for field2 is: $data->{field2}\n";
  6: $data->{field3} = 'value3';
  7: eval { $data->save };
  8: if ( $@ ) { ... report error ... }
  9: 
 10: # Remove the object permanently
 11: 
 12: eval { $data->remove };
 13: if ( $@ ) { ... report error ... }
 14: 
 15: # Call arbitrary object methods to get other objects
 16: 
 17: my $other_obj = eval { $data->call_to_get_other_object() };
 18: if ( $@ ) { ... report error ... }
 19: 
 20: # Clone the object with an overridden value and save
 21: 
 22: my $new_data = $data->clone({ field1 => 'new value' });
 23: eval { $new_data->save };
 24: if ( $@ ) { ... report error ... }
 25: 
 26: # $new_data is now its own hashref of data --
 27: # explore the fields/values in it
 28: 
 29: while ( my ( $k, $v ) = each %{ $new_data } ) {
 30:     print "$k == $v\n";
 31: }
 32: 
 33: # Retrieve saved data
 34: 
 35: my $saved_data = eval { MyClass->fetch( $id ) };
 36: if ( $@ ) { ... report error ... }
 37: else {
 38:   while ( my ( $k, $v ) = each %{ $saved_data } ) {
 39:       print "Value for $k with ID $id is $v\n";
 40:   }
 41: }
 42: 
 43: # Retrieve lots of objects, display a value and call a
 44: # method on each
 45: 
 46: my $data_list = eval { MyClass->fetch_group({ 
 47:                                     where => "last_name like 'winter%'" }) };
 48: if ( $@ ) { ... report error ... }
 49: else {
 50:     foreach my $obj ( @{ $data_list } ) {
 51:         print "Username: $obj->{username}\n";
 52:         $obj->increment_login();
 53:     }
 54: }

COPYRIGHT ^

Copyright (c) 2001-2004 Chris Winters. All rights reserved.

See SPOPS::Manual for license.

AUTHORS ^

Chris Winters <chris@cwinters.com>

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