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My first attempt at Generics...

brunodrugowick profile image Bruno Drugowick Updated on ・3 min read

... it turns out I didn't need it!

It's been a while that I wanted to try something with Generics. The opportunity just hit me when an implementation with Reflection was shown to me. Those are two topics I want to make myself more comfortable with, so... ideal opportunity!

The Opportunity

I was implementing a PATCH HTTP request on a controller for an entity called Restaurant as part of a REST API course I'm taking. The implementation that the instructor came up with was something like this (using Reflection):

@PatchMapping("/{id}")
public ResponseEntity<?> partialUpdate(@PathVariable Long id, @RequestBody Map<String, Object> restaurantMap) {
    Restaurant restaurantToUpdate = restaurantCrudService.read(id);

    if (restaurantToUpdate == null) {
        return ResponseEntity.notFound().build();
    }

    merge(restaurantMap, restaurantToUpdate);

    return update(id, restaurantToUpdate);
}

public merge(Map<String, Object> objectMap, Restaurant restaurantToUpdate) {
    ObjectMapper objectMapper = new OjectMapper()
    Restaurant newObject = objectMapper.convertValue(objectMap, Restaurant.class);

    objectMap.forEach((fieldProp, valueProp) -> {
        Field field = ReflectionUtils.findField(Restaurant.class, fieldProp);
        field.setAccessible(true);

        Object newValue = ReflectionUtils.getField(field, newObject);

        ReflectionUtils.setField(field, objectToUpdate, newValue);
    });
}

And I'd have to reimplement this method on all my controllers (for other entities). So, I tried to create a solution with Generics.

The Solution

The Generic Class

This is the class that represents the code above but with Generics in mind:

public class ObjectMerger<T> {

    private ObjectMapper objectMapper;
    private Class<T> type;

    private ObjectMerger(Class<T> type) {
        this.objectMapper = new ObjectMapper();
        this.type = type;
    }

    public static ObjectMerger of(Class type) {
        return new ObjectMerger(type);
    }

    public void mergeRequestBodyToGenericObject(Map<String, Object> objectMap, T objectToUpdate) {
        T newObject = objectMapper.convertValue(objectMap, type);

        objectMap.forEach((fieldProp, valueProp) -> {
            Field field = ReflectionUtils.findField(type, fieldProp);
            field.setAccessible(true);

            Object newValue = ReflectionUtils.getField(field, newObject);

            ReflectionUtils.setField(field, objectToUpdate, newValue);
        });
    }
}

You can see that I can instantiate this with any other class type (hence "generic") using of method and the class will provide a method to map a Map<String, Object> to the object type provided. This is Generics solution to implement partial updates to an object via a PATCH HTTP request.

The new implementation for the PATCH HTTP method

This is the new implementation for the PATCH HTTP method of any Controller from now on (here, the Restaurant example):

@PatchMapping("/{id}")
public ResponseEntity<?> partialUpdate(@PathVariable Long id, @RequestBody Map<String, Object> restaurantMap) {
    Restaurant restaurantToUpdate = restaurantCrudService.read(id);

    if (restaurantToUpdate == null) {
        return ResponseEntity.notFound().build();
    }

    ObjectMerger
        .of(Restaurant.class)
        .mergeRequestBodyToGenericObject(restaurantMap, restaurantToUpdate);

    return update(id, restaurantToUpdate);
}

Wait... I was wrong!

What I wanted to do was simply DRY.

Don't Repeat Yourself, i.e. a solution where I would not repeat myself for the PATCH HTTP requests (in this case). I thought Generics was the solution because... reasons! Well, I don't know exactly at this point. All I remember now is that I also had in mind that I didn't want to instantiate ojects with new.

So, here it goes for historial purposes, the Generics implementation: the one where I was thinking with my ass.

And I didn't even need configuration.

public static ObjectMerger of(Class type) {
    return new ObjectMerger(type);
}

So I created a of method to return a new ObjectMerger: the one where someone helped me to make a bit of sense.

And to avoid instantiation I could cache on a map.

public static ObjectMerger of(Class type) {

    if (!cacheEnabled) {
        // Cache is not enabled. A new instance is always created.
        return new ObjectMerger(type);
    }

    if (!objectMergerCache.containsKey(type)) {
        ObjectMerger objectMerger = new ObjectMerger(type);
        objectMergerCache.put(type, objectMerger);
        // Cache enabled. Instance created (first request).
        return objectMerger;
    }

    // Cache enabled. Returning existing instance.
    return objectMergerCache.get(type);
}

This ideia led to this implementation: the one where I was almost there.

Well, what am I caching anyway?

public class ObjectMerger {

    public static void mergeRequestBodyToGenericObject(Map<String, Object> objectMap, Object objectToUpdate, Class type) {
        ObjectMapper objectMapper = new ObjectMapper();
        Object newObject = objectMapper.convertValue(objectMap, type);

        objectMap.forEach((fieldProp, valueProp) -> {
            Field field = ReflectionUtils.findField(type, fieldProp);
            field.setAccessible(true);

            Object newValue = ReflectionUtils.getField(field, newObject);

            ReflectionUtils.setField(field, objectToUpdate, newValue);
        });
    }
}

I didn't need any properties on the class, it could be a helper class, no state, just function. So I made a dead simple static method: the one where I felt like an idiot.

And that's it

It's working, I learnt a lot and I'm very pleased with myself. Hahahahaha.

You can see the history of this post here.
You can test the API here.


Image by U3100481

Posted on Dec 18 '19 by:

brunodrugowick profile

Bruno Drugowick

@brunodrugowick

I love helping people to understand and deal with technology. If I can build something in the process, even better!

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