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Advanced Tutorial

Let's continue our exploration of Fractl by further developing the blog-application. Currently, the :Blog.Core component looks like this:

(component :Blog.Core)

(entity :BlogPost
{:Name {:type :String :guid true}
:Title :String
:Content :String
:PostedBy :Email
:PostedOn :Now})

As of now, anyone can create blog-posts. Let's fix this issue in multiple steps - first we shall introduce the concept of a "user" to the application:

(entity :User
{:Email {:type :Email :guid true}
:FirstName :String
:LastName :String
:MemberSince :Now})

To express the idea that a blog-post is always created under a user, we make use of the :contains relationship:

(relationship :PostsBy
{:meta {:contains [:User :BlogPost]}})

:PostsBy establishes a hierarchical relationship between a :User and the blog-posts that he/she creates. This means, the :PostedBy attribute of :BlogPost has now become superfluous and can be removed. the core-component is now,

(component :Blog.Core)

(entity :User
{:Email {:type :Email :guid true}
:FirstName :String
:LastName :String
:MemberSince :Now})

(entity :BlogPost
{:Name {:type :String :id true}
:Id :Identity
:Title :String
:Content :String
:PostedOn :Now})

(relationship :PostsBy
{:meta {:contains [:User :BlogPost]}})

Note that the :PostedBy attribute from :BlogPost has been removed. Instead, each blog-post will be contained under the :User that create it. This is achieved by the :PostsBy contains relationship which declares the :User entity to be the parent of the :BlogPost entity.

You might've noticed that the :BlogPost.Name attribute is now marked as :id - this was earlier marked as :guid. A :guid is globally-unique - only a single instance of :BlogPost with a particular name can exist in the whole system. An attribute marked as :id is also a unique-identifier - but its uniqueness is scoped under a parent entity-instance. In other words, more than one :User can create a :BlogPost with the same name, but only once. We also need an attribute to act as a globally-unique identifier for a blog-post - now this role is played by the :Id attribute whose type is :Identifier. The type :Identifier expands to {:type :UUID :guid true :default <an-auto-generated-uuid>}.

Let's test our updated model. First delete the old data-file - data/blog - as the schema for our model has changed. Then start the application by running the fractl run command and try the following requests.

  1. Create a couple of users
curl -X POST http://localhost:8080/_e/Blog.Core/User \
-H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
-d '{"Blog.Core/User": {"Email": "jj@fractl.io", "FirstName": "James", "LastName": "Jay"}}'

curl -X POST http://localhost:8080/_e/Blog.Core/User \
-H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
-d '{"Blog.Core/User": {"Email": "mm@fractl.io", "FirstName": "Madhu", "LastName": "M"}}'
  1. Create blog posts under individual users
curl -X POST http://localhost:8080/_e/Blog.Core/User/jj@fractl.io/PostsBy/BlogPost \
-H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
-d '{"Blog.Core/BlogPost": {"Name": "post01", "Title": "hello, world", "Content": "My first post"}}'

In the response that you receive, note the auto-generated __path__ attribute in the blog-post instance that encodes the route to the blog-post from the user. Also note the system generated globally-unique identifier for the blog-post, under the attribute :Id.

  1. Fetch all blog posts made by a user
curl http://localhost:8080/_e/Blog.Core/User/jj@fractl.io/PostsBy/BlogPost
  1. Fetch an individual blog-post by path
curl http://localhost:8080/_e/Blog.Core/User/jj@fractl.io/PostsBy/BlogPost/post01
  1. Update a blog-post by path

curl -X PUT http://localhost:8080/_e/Blog.Core/User/jj@fractl.io/PostsBy/BlogPost/post01 \
-H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
-d '{"Data": {"Title": "hello, there"}}'
  1. Delete a blog-post by path
curl -X DELETE http://localhost:8080/_e/Blog.Core/User/jj@fractl.io/PostsBy/BlogPost/post01

Exercise 1 Add a new entity :BlogComment to represent comments on blog-posts. Connect comments and blog-posts through a :contains relationship.

Grouping blog-posts

A common feature required by bloggers is the ability to categorize blog posts. There might be a set of categories that come predefined - like "technology", "travel" etc. Users should be able to create their own categories as well. A category may be represented by the entity shown below:

(entity :Category
{:Name {:type :String :guid true}})

A new category is created as:

curl -X POST http://localhost:8080/_e/Blog.Core/Category \
-H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
-d '{"Blog.Core/Category": {"Name": "Programming"}}'

How can we add a blog-post to a category? This operation could be viewed as a :between relationship - a simple link that connects two instances forming a flat-graph (rather than a hierarchy as established by a :contains relationship). This relationship is defined as:

(relationship :BelongsTo
{:meta {:between [:BlogPost :Category]}})

A :between relationship is stored in the system just like an entity instance - so it may be created directly using a POST request.

curl -X POST http://localhost:8080/_e/Blog.Core/BelongsTo \
-H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
-d '{"Blog.Core/BelongsTo": {"BlogPost": "2da0f682-c0f3-456b-b177-c45c19fe74eb", "Category": "Programming"}}'

Note that the :BlogPost attribute of :BelongsTo must be the globally-unique attribute of the :BlogPost entity. Here it will be the value of the :BlogPost.Id attribute.

All blog-posts that belong to a particular category is listed by the following GET request:

curl  http://localhost:8080/_e/Blog.Core/Category/Programming/BelongsTo/BlogPost

Querying data

In this section we'll look at a few more examples of querying data.

The following request will return all blog-posts by the user jj@fractl.io with the title "hello, world".

curl http://localhost:8080/_e/Blog.Core/User/jj@fractl.io/PostsBy/BlogPost?Title=hello%2C%20world

What if we want to fetch all blog-posts whose title starts with the string "hello"? For this we need to add a user-defined query to the model. Custom queries and business logic is added to a Fractl model by way of dataflows. A dataflow is attached to an event, which is a data structure similar to entities. When an instance of the event is created, the attached dataflow is executed. So for our requirement, we define the following event and dataflow:

(event :LookupPosts
{:Title :String})

(dataflow :LookupPosts
{:BlogPost
{:Title? [:like :LookupPosts.Title]}})

This dataflow contains a single pattern - a query on the :Title attribute of :BlogPost. All blog-posts whose title starts with the string specified in :LookupPosts.Title will be returned. To invoke the dataflow, we send an instance of the :LookupPosts event to the blog application over an HTTP POST:

curl -X POST http://localhost:8080/_e/Blog.Core/LookupPosts \
-H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
-d '{"Blog.Core/LookupPosts": {"Title": "hello%"}}'

Note that the value passed to :Title ends with the wildcard character % - this is because we want to match all titles that starts with the characters "hello".

We have reached the end of our whirlwind tour of Fractl. There's a lot of ground left to cover - please continue your journey by reading about the core concepts of Fractl and the language reference.