Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Scala-IO Core: To Resource Converters

In order to simplify integration with existing libraries, most commonly Java libraries, Scala-IO provides a JavaConverters object with implicit methods that add as*** methods (asInput, asOutput, asSeekable, etc...) to several types of objects.  It is the same pattern as in the scala.collection.JavaConverters object.

These methods can be used instead of the Resource.from*** methods to provide a slightly nicer appearing code.

There is one warning. When using JavaConverters, instead of Resource.from*** for creating Input/Output/Seekable/etc... objects, the chances of falling into the trap of creating non-reusable resources or causing a resource leak is increased. See: scala-io-core-reusable-resources for more details on this.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Scala-IO Core: Reusable Resources

One aspect of resources in Scala-IO that can cause problems is the construction of resource objects.  The factory methods that are provided in the Resource object each have a lazy parameter for opening the underlying resource.  However a common error developers can make is to pass in the already open resource to the method which has multiple problems.

In the example above the stream is created and opened at the definition of stream (it is a val).  This has two effects:

  1. the stream is open and if the resource object is not closed you will have a resource leak
  2. since the stream is opened the resource can only be used once since it will be closed after each use.
The correct way to create the resource would be to change val to def so that the stream is only created on demand and therefore there will be no chance of a resource leak.  The following is the correct example:

This anti-pattern is also a risk when using the converter methods in the JavaConverters object. (A future post will look into this in more detail.) The following example shows the anti-pattern in effect: The asOutput method can only be applied to an object (at time of this writing) and therefore the resulting object has all of the negative characteristics mentioned above. Therefore it is recommended that asOutput/asInput/etc... only be used on 1 time use resources (like InputStream) within a scope and not passed out to an external method so that it is easy to view the entirety of the operation.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Scala-IO Core: ReadChars and WriteChars

The Input and Output objects of Scala-IO assume that the underlying data is composed of bytes.  However, another common pattern is to have the underlying data be composed of characters instead of bytes, for example and  While it is possible to decompose the output into Bytes and construct an Input object from the decorated object, ReadChars and WriteChars can be used in this situation to reduce the work needed to interact with such resources.

ReadChars and WriteChars are traits that contain the character and string methods of Input and Output.  The primary difference is that the Charset is defined by the underlying resource rather than supplied at the method invocation site.  

Compare two methods:

def chars(implicit codec: Codec = Codec.default): LongTraversable[Char]
def chars: LongTraversable[Char]
You will notice that the ReadChars method does not have the codec parameter because there translation is not required, unlike in Input which requires the characters to be created from raw bytes.

Not many examples are needed to explain these concepts but here are a few examples on how to create ReadChar and WriteChar objects: