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InfoQ Homepage Articles Introducing the KivaKit Framework

Introducing the KivaKit Framework

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Key Takeaways

  • KivaKit is a modular Java framework for developing microservices that requires a Java 11+ virtual machine but is compatible with Java 8 source code
  • KivaKit provides base functionality for implementing applications, including command line parsing and application configuration
  • KivaKit components are lightweight and communicate status information using a broadcaster / listener messaging system
  • KivaKit mini-frameworks, including the conversion, validation, resource and logging mini-frameworks, consume and report status information via messaging
  • KivaKit configures and runs Jetty, Jersey, Swagger and Apache Wicket to provide microservice interfaces in a consistent way
  • Key KivaKit base classes are also available as stateful traits, or “mixins”

 

Overview

KivaKit is an Apache License open source Java framework designed for implementing microservices. KivaKit requires a Java 11+ virtual machine, but is source-compatible with Java 8 and 9 projects. KivaKit is composed of a set of carefully integrated mini-frameworks. Each mini-framework has a consistent design and its own focus, and can be used in concert with other mini-frameworks or on its own. A simplified dependency network of these frameworks provides a good high level view of KivaKit:

Each mini-framework addresses a different issue that is commonly encountered when developing microservices. This article provides a brief overview of the mini-frameworks in the diagram above, and a sketch of how they can be used.

Messaging

As we can see in the diagram above, messaging is central to KivaKit. Messaging is useful in building components whose status is observable, which is a helpful feature in a cloud-based world. Many objects in KivaKit broadcast or listen to status Messages such as Alert, Problem, Warning or Trace. Most are Repeaters, listening for status messages from other object(s) and re-broadcasting them to interested listeners downstream. This forms a listener chain with a terminal Listener:

C -> B -> A

Often, the final listener in a chain is some kind of Logger, but there can be multiple listeners at the end of the chain as well, and any object implementing Listener will work. For example, in the Validation mini-framework, status messages are captured by the ValidationIssues class, which is then used to determine if a validation succeeded or not, as well as to present specific problems from a validation failure to a user.

Given the listener chain above, C and B implement Repeater and the final object A implements Listener. Within each class in the chain, the listener chain is extended with:

listener.listenTo(broadcaster)

To transmit a message to interested listener(s), convenience methods are inherited from Broadcaster for common types of messages:

Message

Purpose

problem()

Something has gone wrong and needs to be addressed, but it’s not fatal to the current operation.

glitch()

A minor problem has occurred. Unlike a Warning, a Glitch indicates validation failure or data loss has occurred. Unlike a Problem, a Glitch indicates that the operation will definitely recover and continue.

warning()

A minor issue has occurred which should be corrected, but does not necessarily require attention.

quibble()

A trivial issue has occurred that does not require correction.

announcement()

Announces an important phase of an operation.

narration()

A step in some operation has started or completed.

information()

Commonly useful information that doesn’t represent any problem 

trace()

Diagnostic information for use when debugging.

Broadcaster also provides a mechanism for switching Trace messages on and off from the command line by pattern matching against classes and packages.

Mixins

In KivaKit, there are two ways to implement Repeater. The first is by simply extending BaseRepeater. The second is to use a stateful trait or Mixin. Implementing the RepeaterMixin interface is the same as extending BaseRepeater, but the repeater mixin can be used in a class that already has a base class. Note that the same pattern is used for the Component interface discussed below. If it’s not possible to extend BaseComponent then ComponentMixin can be implemented instead.

The Mixin interface provides a workaround for a missing Java language feature. It works by delegating state lookup to a package private class, MixinState, which uses the this reference of the class implementing Mixin to look up an associated state object in an identity hash map. The Mixin interface looks like this:

public interface Mixin
{
    default <T> T state(Class<? extends Mixin> type, Factory<T> factory)
    {
        return MixinState.get(this, type, factory);
    }
}

If the state object for this is not found by state(), the given factory method will be used to create a new state object, which will then be associated with the mixin in the state map. For example, our RepeaterMixin interface looks roughly like this (without most of the methods for the sake of brevity):

public interface RepeaterMixin extends Repeater, Mixin
{
    @Override
    default void addListener(Listener listener, Filter<Transmittable> filter)
    {
        repeater().addListener(listener, filter);
    }    
        
    @Override
    default void removeListener(Listener listener)
    {
        repeater().removeListener(listener);
    }

    [...]
    
    default Repeater repeater()
    {
        return state(RepeaterMixin.class, BaseRepeater::new);
    }        
}

Here, the addListener() and removeListener() methods each retrieve their BaseRepeater state object through repeater() and delegate the method call to that object. As we can see, it’s not very complicated to implement a mixin in KivaKit.

It should be noted that each call to a method in a mixin will require a lookup in the state map. An identity hash map should be fairly efficient in general, but for a few components this could be a performance problem. As with most performance problems, it’s best for us to do the simplest thing until our profiler says otherwise.

Components

A KivaKit Component might commonly be a key part of a microservice. Components provide easy access to messaging either through extension of BaseComponent (the most common case) or by implementing ComponentMixin. Inheriting from Component adds no state at all to an object except for the list of listeners inherited from Repeater. This makes components very lightweight. It is not a problem to instantiate large numbers of them. Since Components are Repeaters, listener chains can be created, as described above.

In addition to providing convenient access to messaging, components also provide functionality to:

  • Register and lookup objects
  • Load and access settings objects
  • Access package resources

Let’s take a look at each of these facilities.

Object Registration and Lookup

KivaKit uses the service locator design pattern instead of dependency injection. The use of this pattern in a Component is simple. One component can register an object with registerObject() and another component can look it up with require():

Database database = [...]
registerObject(database);

[...]

var database = require(Database.class);

If multiple instances of a single class need to be registered, an enum value can be used to distinguish them:

enum Database { PRODUCTS, SERVICES }

registerObject(database, Database.PRODUCTS);

[...]

var database = require(Database.class, Database.SERVICES);

In KivaKit, anywhere we might have used dependency injection we use register and require instead.

Settings

Components in KivaKit can also readily access settings information with the require() method:

require(DatabaseSettings.class);

As with registered objects, an enum can be used to distinguish between settings objects in the event that there is more than one of the same type:

require(DatabaseSettings.class, Database.PRODUCTS);

Settings information can be registered in several ways:

registerAllSettingsIn(Folder)
registerAllSettingsIn(Package)
registerSettingsObject(Object)
registerSettingsObject(Object, Enum)

In KivaKit 1.0, settings objects loaded with the registerAllSettingsIn() methods are defined by .properties files. In the future, an API will be provided to allow properties to be loaded from other sources, such as .json files. The name of the settings class to instantiate is given by the class property. Individual properties of the instantiated object are then retrieved from the remaining properties. Each property is converted to an object using a KivaKit converter (described below).

For example:

DatabaseSettings.properties

class = com.mycompany.database.DatabaseSettings
port  = database.production.mypna.com:3306

DatabaseSettings.java

public class DatabaseSettings
{    
    @KivaKitPropertyConverter(Port.Converter.class)
    private Port port;
    
    public Connection connect()
    {
        // Return connection to database on desired port
        
        [...]
    }
}

Package Resources

KivaKit provides a resource mini-framework that unifies a variety of Resource types:

  • Files
  • Sockets
  • Zip or JAR file entries
  • Package resources
  • HTTP responses
  • Input streams
  • Output streams
  •     […]

Resources are Components from which an application can read streamed data. WritableResources are resources to which an application can write streamed data. Most of the methods available to a File will be available in any given Resource, but some resource types may leave some methods unsupported. For example, a resource might be streamed, so it can’t implement sizeInBytes().

KivaKit File is a special resource. It uses a service provider interface (SPI) to permit new filesystems to be added. The kivakit-extensions project provides implementations for the following filesystems:

  • HDFS files
  • S3 objects
  • GitHub repositories (read-only)

KivaKit components provide easy access to PackageResources. The style of encapsulating resources in KivaKit is similar to that in Apache Wicket, where a component’s package will have a sub-package containing resources that it requires to function. This allows easy packaging and use of components from a single source tree. Access to a package resource relative to a Component looks like this:

public class MyComponent extends BaseComponent
{

    [...]
    
    var resource = listenTo(packageResource("data/data.txt"));
    for (var line : resource.reader().lines())
    {
        
    }
}

Where the package structure looks like this:

├── MyComponent
└── data
    └── data.txt

Applications

A KivaKit Application is a glorified Component, containing methods related to startup, initialization and execution. Server is a subclass of Application:

Microservices are the most common use for KivaKit applications, but other types of applications can also be implemented (desktop, web, utility, etc.). The bare bones code for a microservice application looks like this:

public class MyMicroservice extends Server
{
    public static void main(final String[] arguments)
    {
        new MyApplication().run(arguments);
    }

    private MyApplication()
    {
        super(MyProject());
    }

    @Override
    protected void onRun()
    {
        [...]
    }
}

The main() method here creates the application and calls the run() method in the Application base class with the arguments passed from the command line. The constructor for the microservice then passes a Project object to the superclass constructor. This object is used to initialize the project that contains the application, as well as any other projects upon which it depends. Continuing our example, our Project class looks like this:

public class MyProject extends Project
{
    private static Lazy<MyProject> project = Lazy.of(MyProject::new);

    public static ApplicationExampleProject get()
    {
        return project.get();
    }

    protected ApplicationExampleProject()
    {
    }

    @Override
    public Set<Project> dependencies()
    {
        return Set.of(ResourceProject.get());
    }
}

A singleton instance of MyProject can be retrieved with get(). The dependencies for MyProject are returned by dependencies(). In this case, MyProject is dependent only on ResourceProject, which is the Project definition for the kivakit-resource mini-framework. ResourceProject in turn has its own dependencies. KivaKit will ensure that all transitive project dependencies are initialized before onRun() is called.

Deployments

KivaKit applications can load collections of settings objects automatically from an application-relative package named deployments. This feature is useful when deploying a microservice to a particular environment. The structure of our application looks like this:

├── MyMicroservice
└── deployments
    ├── development
    │   ├── WebSettings.properties
    │   └── DatabaseSettings.properties
    └── production
        ├── WebSettings.properties
        └── DatabaseSettings.properties

When the switch -deployment= is passed to the application on the command line, it will load settings from the named deployment (either development or production in this case). It is especially nice to use packaged deployment settings for a microservice because use of the application is very simple:

java -jar my-microservice.jar -deployment=development [...]

This makes it easy to run the application in a Docker container even if you don’t know much about it.

If packaged deployment settings are not desired, an external folder can be used by setting the environment variable KIVAKIT_SETTINGS_FOLDERS:

-DKIVAKIT_SETTINGS_FOLDERS=/Users/jonathan/my-microservice-settings

Command Line Parsing

Applications can also parse command lines by returning a set of SwitchParsers and/or a list of ArgumentParsers:

public class MyMicroservice extends Application
{
    private SwitchParser<File> DICTIONARY = 
        File.fileSwitchParser("input", "Dictionary file")
                    .required()
                    .build();

    @Override
    public String description()
    {
        return "This microservice checks spelling.";
    }

    @Override
    protected void onRun()
    {
        var input = get(DICTIONARY);    
        if (input.exists())
        {
            [...]
        }
        else
        {
            problem("Dictionary does not exist: $", input.path());
        }
    }
    
    @Override
    protected Set<SwitchParser<?>> switchParsers()
    {
        return Set.of(DICTIONARY);
    }
}

Here, the DICTIONARY switch parser returned by switchParsers() is used by KivaKit to parse the command line. In the onRun() method, the File argument passed on the command line is retrieved with get(DICTIONARY). If there is a syntactic problem with the command line or it doesn’t pass validation, KivaKit will automatically report the problem and give usage help derived from the description(), and the switch and argument parsers:

┏-------- COMMAND LINE ERROR(S) -----------   
┋ ○ Required File switch -input is missing  
┗------------------------------------------ 

KivaKit 1.0.0 (puffy telephone)

Usage: MyApplication 1.0.0 <switches> <arguments>

This microservice checks spelling.

Arguments:

  None

Switches:

    Required:

      -input=File (required) : Dictionary file

Switch Parsers

In our application example, we used this code to build a SwitchParser:

private SwitchParser<File> INPUT = 
    File.fileSwitchParser("input", "Input text file")
                .required()
                .build();

The File.fileSwitchParser() method returns a switch parser builder which can be specialized with several methods before build() is called:

public Builder<T> name(String name)
public Builder<T> type(Class<T> type)
public Builder<T> description(String description)
public Builder<T> converter(Converter<String, T> converter)
public Builder<T> defaultValue(T defaultValue)
public Builder<T> optional()
public Builder<T> required()
public Builder<T> validValues(Set<T> validValues)

The implementation of File.fileSwitchParser() then looks like this:

public static SwitchParser.Builder<File> fileSwitchParser(String name, String description)
{
    return SwitchParser.builder(File.class)
            .name(name)
            .converter(new File.Converter(LOGGER))
            .description(description);
}

All switches and arguments are typed objects, so the builder(Class) method creates a builder with the File type (using the type() method). It is given the name and description passed to fileSwitchParser() and the File.Converter method is used to convert between String and File objects.

Converters

KivaKit provides many converters, and converters can be used in many places in KivaKit. Converters are reusable objects that transform one type into another. They are especially easy to create, and they handle common issues like exceptions and null or empty values:

public static class Converter extends BaseStringConverter<File>
{
    public Converter(Listener listener)
    {
        super(listener);
    }

    @Override
    protected File onToValue(String value)
    {
        return File.parse(value);
    }
}

Calling StringConverter.convert(String) will turn a String into a File. Calling StringConverter.unconvert(File) will turn a File back into a String. Any issues that are encountered during conversion are broadcast to interested listener(s), and if conversion fails null is returned.

As we can see, converters take a different approach to listener chains. Instead of relying on converter users to call listenTo(), all converters require a listener as a constructor argument. This ensures that all converters are able to report conversion problems to at least one listener.

Validation

In the command line parsing code above, switches and arguments are validated using the kivakit-validation mini-framework. Another common use case is in validating the domain objects of a web application user interface to a microservice.

A Validatable class implements:

public interface Validatable
{
    /**
     * @param type The type of validation to perform
     * @return A {@link Validator} instance
     */
    Validator validator(ValidationType type);
}

To implement this method, a BaseValidator can be subclassed anonymously. BaseValidator provides convenience methods to check state consistency, and to broadcast problems and warnings. KivaKit captures these messages with a ValidationIssues object. Default methods in the Validatable interface can then be used to query this state. Usage looks like:

public class User implements Validatable
{
    String name;
    
    [...]
    
    @Override
    public Validator validator(ValidationType type)
    {
        return new BaseValidator()
        {
            @Override
            protected void onValidate()
            {
                problemIf(name == null, "User must have a name");
            }
        };
    }
}

public class MyComponent extends BaseComponent
{
    public void myMethod()
    {
        var user = new User("Jonathan");
        if (user.isValid(this))
        {
            [...]
        }
    }
}

Messages from validation here are captured to determine if the User object is valid. The same messages are also broadcast to listeners of MyComponent, where they might be logged or displayed in some user interface.

Logging

A KivaKit Logger is a message Listener that logs all of the messages it hears. The base Application class has a Logger that logs any messages that bubble up from components to the application level. This means that there isn’t any need to create loggers in an application or any of its components, provided that the listener chain leads from each component all the way back to the application.

The simplest logger is ConsoleLogger. Shrinking this design to its bare bones, ConsoleLogger and related classes look roughly like this (and see UML diagram below):

public class ConsoleLogger extends BaseLogger
{
    private Log log = new ConsoleLog();

    @Override
    protected Set<Log> logs()
    {
        return Sets.of(log);
    }
}

public class BaseLogger implements Logger
{
    void onMessage(final Message message)
    {
        log(message);
    }

    public void log(Message message) 
    { 
        [...] 
        
        for (var log : logs())
        {
            log.log(entry);
        }
    }        
}

public class ConsoleLog extends BaseTextLog
{
    private Console console = new Console();

    @Override
    public synchronized void onLog(LogEntry entry)
    {
        console.printLine(entry.message().formatted());
    }
}

The BaseLogger.log(Message) method converts the message it is given into a LogEntry by adding contextual information. It then passes the log entry to each Log in the list of logs returned by logs(). In the case of ConsoleLogger, a single instance of ConsoleLog is returned. ConsoleLog writes the LogEntry to the console.

KivaKit has an SPI that allows new loggers to be dynamically added and configured from the command line. Some loggers provided with KivaKit include:

  • ConsoleLog
  • EmailLog
  • FileLog

Web and REST

The kivakit-extensions project contains bare-bones support for Jetty, Jersey, Swagger and Apache Wicket since these are often useful in implementing microservices. These mini-frameworks are all integrated together so it’s very easy to start a Jetty server providing REST and Web access for a microservice:

@Override
protected void onRun()
{
    final var port = (int) get(PORT);

    final var application = new MyRestApplication();

    // and start up Jetty with Swagger, Jersey and Wicket.
    listenTo(new JettyServer())
            .port(port)
            .add("/*", new JettyWicket(MyWebApplication.class))
            .add("/open-api/*", new JettySwaggerOpenApi(application))
            .add("/docs/*", new JettySwaggerIndex(port))
            .add("/webapp/*", new JettySwaggerStaticResources())
            .add("/webjar/*", new JettySwaggerWebJar(application))
            .add("/*", new JettyJersey(application))
            .start();
}

JettyServer here allows Jersey, Wicket and Swagger to be combined with a consistent API, making the code clear and concise. Often this is all that’s needed.

Conclusion

Although KivaKit is brand-new at version 1.0, it has been in use at Telenav for more than ten years. Input from the open source community is very welcome, including feedback, bug reports, feature ideas, documentation, tests and code contributions.

The following resources can help you dive into the details:

Resource

Description

License

Apache License, Version 2.0

Related Projects

kivakit-extensions, kivakit-examples

Developer Setup

Blog

Step-by-step setup instructions

State-of-the-Art

GitHub

GitHub project home page

Code

git clone https://github.com/Telenav/kivakit.git

Email

kivakit@telenav.com

   

Twitter

@OpenKivaKit

   

About the Author

Jonathan Locke has been working with Java since 1996, and he was a member of the Sun Microsystems Java Team. As an open source author, he is originator of the Apache Wicket web framework, as well the Java UML documentation tool Lexakai. Jonathan works as a Principal Software Architect at Telenav.


 

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