jOOQ Tuesdays: Daniel Dietrich Explains the Benefits of Object-Functional Programming

Welcome to the jOOQ Tuesdays series. In this series, we’ll publish an article on the third Tuesday every other month where we interview someone we find exciting in our industry from a jOOQ perspective. This includes people who work with SQL, Java, Open Source, and a variety of other related topics.

danieldietrich

I’m very excited to feature today Daniel Dietrich whose popular library vavr is picking up a lot of momentum among functional programming afictionados working with Java.

Daniel, you created vavr – Object-Functional Programming in Java, a library that is becoming more and more popular among functional programmers. Why is vavrso popular?

Thank you Lukas for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts.

I think that many users were disappointed about Java 8 in the whole, especially those who are already familiar with more advanced languages. The Java language architects did an awesome job. Java 8 brought groundbreaking new features like Lambdas, the new Stream API and CompletableFuture. But the new abstractions were only poorly integrated into the language from an API perspective.

There is already an increasing amount of write-ups about the disadvantages of Java 8, starting with the drawbacks of the Optional type. We read that we have to take care when using parallel Streams. These are self-made problems that keep us busy, stealing our expensive time. vavr provides us with alternatives.

There is no reason to reinvent the wheel. My vision is to bring as much as possible of the Scala goodness to Java. In fact Scala emerged from Java in the form of the Pizza language. Back in 2001 it had features like generics, function pointers (aka lambdas), case classes (aka value types) and pattern matching. In 2004 Java got generics, in 2014 came lambdas, and hopefully Java 10 will include value types. Scala left Java far behind. It used the last 15 year to evolve.

Object-functional programming is nothing new. It is the best of both worlds, object-oriented programming and functional programming. Scala is one of the better choices to do it on the JVM. Java’s Lambdas are an enabling feature. They allowed us to create a vavr API that is similar to Scala.

Java developers who get their hands on vavr often react in a way that I call the nice-effect: “Wow that’s nice, it feels like Scala”.

You have published a guest post on the jOOQ blog about vavr more than one year ago. Since then, vavr has moved forward quite a bit and you’ve recently published the roadmap for version 3.0. What have you done since then and where are you going?

Yes, that is true, it has changed a lot since then. We released vavr 1.2.2 two weeks before the first jOOQ guest post went online. Beside enriched functions that release offered popular Scala features like Option for null-safety, Try for performing computations headache-free in the presence of exceptions and a fluent pattern matching DSL. Also notably we shipped two common persistent collections, an eagerly evaluated linked List and the lazy form of it, also called Stream.

Roughly one year later we released vavr 2.0.0. We hardened the existing features and most notably included Future and Promise for concurrent programming and a full-fledged, Scala-like persistent collection library. Beside that, we replaced the pattern matching DSL with a more powerful pattern matching API that allows us to recursively match arbitrary object trees.

I spent a significant amount of time and energy abstracting on the type level over the mentioned features, as far as this is possible in Java. For Java developers it is not important to call things monads, sum-types or products. For example we do not need to know group theory in order to calculate 1 + 1. My duty as library developer is to make it as simple as possible for users of vavr to reach their goals. The need to learn new APIs and DSLs should be reduced to the minimum. This is the main reason for aligning vavr to Scala.

Our efforts for the next release concentrate on adding more syntactic sugar and missing persistent collections beyond those of Scala. It will be sufficient to add one import to reach 90% of vavr’s API. There will be new persistent collections BitSet, several MultiMaps and a PriorityQueue. We are improving the performance of our collections, most notably our persistent Vector. It will be faster than Java’s Stream for some operations and have a smaller memory footprint than Java’s ArrayList for primitive elements.

Beyond library features we pay special attention on three things: backward compatibility, controlled growth and integration aspects. Web is important. Our Jackson module ensures that all vavr types can be sent over the wire as serialized JSON. The next release will include a GWT module, first tests already run vavr in the browser. However, the vavr core will stay thin. It will not depend on any other libraries than the JDK.

Towards the next major release 3.0.0 I’m starting to adjust the roadmap I sketched in a previous blog post. I’ve learned that it is most important to our users that they can rely on backward compatibility. Major releases should not appear often, following the 2.x line is a better strategy. We will start to deprecate a few APIs that will be removed in a future major release. Also I keep an eye on some interesting developments that will influence the next major release. For example a new major Scala release is in the works and there are new interesting Java features that will appear in Java 10.

Looking at the current issues I don’t have to be an oracle to foresee that the next minor release 2.1.0 will take some more time. I understand that users want to start using the new vavr features but we need the time and the flexibility to get things right. Therefore we target a first beta release of 2.1.0 in Q4 2016.

In the meantime, there is a variety of functional(-ish) libraries for Java 8, like our own jOOλ, StreamEx, Cyclops, or the much older FunctionalJλvλ. How do all these libraries compare and how is yours different?

This question goes a little bit in the philosophical direction, maybe it is also political. These are my subjective thoughts, please treat them as such.

Humans have the ability to abstract over things. They express themselves in various ways, e.g. with painting and music. These areas split into different fields. For example in literature things are expressed in manifold ways like rhythmic prose and poetry. Furthermore different styles can be applied within these fields, like the iambic trimeter in poetry. The styles across different areas are often embossed by outer circumstances, bound to time, like an epoch.

In the area of mathematics there are also several fields, like algebra and mathematical analysis. Both have a notion of functions. Which field should I take when I want to express myself in a functional style?

Personally, I’m not able to afford the time to write non-trivial applications in each of the mentioned libraries. But I took a look at the source code and followed discussions. I see that nearly all libraries are embossed by the outer circumstance that lambdas finally made it to all curly-braces languages, especially to Java in our case. Library designers are keen to modernize their APIs in order to keep pace. But library designers are also interested in staying independent of 3rd party libraries for reasons like stability and progression.

The field of jOOQ is SQL in Java, the field of Cyclops is asynchronous systems. Both libraries are similar in the way that they adapted the new Java Lambda feature. I already mentioned that the new Java features are only poorly integrated into the language. This is the reason why we see a variety of new libraries that try to close this gap.

jOOQ needs jOOλ in order to stay independent. On the technical level StreamEx is similar to jOOλ in the way that both sit on top of Java’s Stream. They augment it with additional functionality that can be accessed using a fluent API. The biggest difference between them is that StreamEx supports parallel computations while jOOλ concentrates on sequential computations only. Looking at the SQL-ish method names it shows that jOOλ is tailored to be used with jOOQ.

Cyclops states to be the answer to the cambrian explosion of functional(-ish) libraries. It offers a facade that is backed by one of several integration modules. From the developer perspective I see this with skepticism. The one-size-fits-all approach did not work well for me in the past because it does not cover all features of the backing libraries. An abstraction layer adds another source of errors, which is unnecessary.

Many names of Cyclops look unfamiliar to me, maybe because of the huge amount of types. Looking at the API, the library seems to be a black hole, a cambrian implosion of reactive and functional features. John McClean did a great job abstracting over all the different libraries and providing a common API but I prefer to use a library directly.

FunctionalJλvλ is different. It existed long before the other libraries and has the noble goal of purely functional programming: If it does compile, it is correct. FunctionalJλvλ was originally driven by people well known from the Scala community, more specifically from the Scalaz community. Scalaz is highly influenced by Haskell, a purely functional language.

Haskell and Scala are much more expressive than Java. Porting the algebraic abstractions from Scalaz to Java turned out to be awkward. Java’s type system isn’t powerful enough, it does not allow us to reach that goal in a practical way. The committers seem to be disillusioned to me. Some state that Java is not the right language for functional programming.

vavr is a fresh take on porting Scala functionality to Java. At its core it is not as highly influenced by Scalaz and Haskell as FunctionalJλvλ is. However, for purely functional abstractions it offers an algebra module that depends on the core. The relation algebra/core can be compared to Scalaz/Scala.

vavr is similar to StreamEx in the way that it is not bound to a specific domain, in contrast to jOOλ and Cyclops. It is different from StreamEx in the sense that it does not build on top of Java’s Stream. I understand vavr as language addition that integrates well with existing Java features.

You have never spoken at conferences, you let other people do that for you. What’s your secret? :)

In fact I never attended a conference at all. My secret is to delegate the real work to others.

Joking aside, I feel more comfortable spending my time on the vavr source code than preparing conferences and travelling. Currently I am working on vavr beside my job but I’m still looking for opportunities to do it full-time.

It is awesome to see other people jumping on the vavr train. We receive help from all over the world. Beside IntelliJ and YourKit we recently got TouK as new sponsor and produced vavr stickers that are handed out at conferences.

Because of the increasing popularity of vavr there is also an increasing amount of questions and pull requests. Beside the conception and development I concentrate on code-reviews, discussions and managing the project.

Where do you see Java’s future with projects like Valhalla?

Java stands for stability and safety. New language features are moderately added, like salt to a soup. This is what we can expect from a future Java.

In his recent mission statement Brian Goetz gives us a great overview about the goals of Project Valhalla. From the developer point of view I really love to see that the Java language architects attach great importance to improve the expressiveness of Java. Value types for example will reduce a lot of redundant code and ceremony we are currently confronted with. It is also nice to see that value types will be immutable.

Another feature I’m really looking forward to is the extension of generics. It will allow us to remove several specializations that exist only for primitive types and void. Popular functional interfaces like Predicate, Consumer, Supplier and Runnable will be equivalent to Function. In vavr we currently provide additional API for performing side-effects. Having extended generics that API can be reduced to the general case, like it should have been from the beginning.

There are two more features I’m really interested in: local variable type inference, that will come to Java, and reified generics, that might come. Reified generics are needed when we want to get the type of a generic parameter at runtime. We already have type inference for lambdas. Extending it to local variables will increase conciseness and readability of method and lambda bodies while preserving type-safety. I think it is a good idea that we will still have to specify the return type of methods. It is a clear documentation of the API of an application.

I’m deeply impressed how Java and the JVM evolve over time without breaking backward compatibility. It is a safe platform we can rely on. The gap between Java and other, more modern languages is getting smaller but Java is still behind. Some popular features might never come and most probably outdated API will not get a complete refresh or a replacement. This is a field where libraries such as vavr can help.

10 Java Articles Everyone Must Read

One month ago, we’ve published a list of 10 SQL Articles Everyone Must Read. A list of articles that we believe would add exceptional value to our readers on the jOOQ blog. The jOOQ blog is a blog focusing on both Java and SQL, so it is only natural that today, one month later, we’re publishing an equally exciting list of 10 Java articles everyone must read.

Note that by “must read”, we may not specifically mean the particular linked article only, but also other works from the same authors, who have been regular bloggers over the past years and never failed to produce new interesting content!

Here goes…

1. Brian Goetz: “Stewardship: the Sobering Parts”

The first blog post is actually not a blog post but a recording of a very interesting talk by Brian Goetz on Oracle’s stewardship of Java. On the jOOQ blog, we’ve been slightly critical about 1-2 features of the Java language in the past, e.g. when comparing it to Scala, or Ceylon.

Brian makes good points about why it would not be a good idea for Java to become just as “modern” as quickly as other languages. A must-watch for every Java developer (around 1h)

2. Aleksey Shipilёv: The Black Magic of (Java) Method Dispatch

In recent years, the JVM has seen quite a few improvements, including invokedynamic that arrived in Java 7 as a prerequisite for Java 8 lambdas, as well as a great tool for other, more dynamic languages built on top of the JVM, such as Nashorn.

invokedynamic is only a small, “high level” puzzle piece in the advanced trickery performed by the JVM. What really happens under the hood when you call methods? How are they resolved, optimised by the JIT? Aleksey’s article sub-title reveals what the article is really about:

“Everything you wanted to know about Black Deviously Surreptitious Magic in low-level performance engineering”

Definitely not a simple read, but a great post to learn about the power of the JVM.

Read Aleksey’s “The Black Magic of (Java) Method Dispatch

3. Oliver White: Java Tools and Technologies Landscape for 2014

We’re already in 2015, but this report by Oliver White (at the time head of ZeroTurnaround’s RebelLabs) had been exceptionally well executed and touches pretty much everything related to the Java ecosystem.

Read Oliver’s “Java Tools and Technologies Landscape for 2014

4. Peter Lawrey: Java Lambdas and Low Latency

When Aleksey has introduced us to some performance semantics in the JVM, Peter takes this one step further, talking about low latency in Java 8. We could have picked many other useful little blog posts from Peter’s blog, which is all about low-latency, high performance computing on the JVM, sometimes even doing advanced off-heap trickery.

Read Peter’s “Java Lambdas and Low Latency

5. Nicolai Parlog: Everything You Need To Know About Default Methods

Nicolai is a newcomer in the Java blogosphere, and a very promising one, too. His well-researched articles go in-depth about some interesting facts related to Java 8, digging out old e-mails from the expert group’s mailing list, explaining the decisions they made to conclude with what we call Java 8 today.

Read Nicolai’s “Everything You Need To Know About Default Methods

6. Lukas Eder: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Java

This list wouldn’t be complete without listing another list that we wrote ourselves on the jOOQ blog. Java is an old beast with 20 years of history this year in 2015. This old beast has a lot of secrets and caveats that many people have forgotten or never thought about. We’ve uncovered them for you:

Read Lukas’s “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Java

7. Edwin Dalorzo: Why There Is Interface Pollution in Java 8

Edwin has been responding to our own blog posts a couple of times in the past with very well researched and thoroughly thought through articles, in particular about Java 8 related features, e.g. comparing Java 8 Streams with LINQ (something that we’ve done ourselves, as well).

This particular article explains why there are so many different and differently named functional interfaces in Java 8.

Read Edwin’s “Why There Is Interface Pollution in Java 8

8. Vlad Mihalcea: How Does PESSIMISTIC_FORCE_INCREMENT Lock Mode Work

When Java talks to databases, many people default to using Hibernate for convenience (see also 3. Oliver White: Java Tools and Technologies Landscape for 2014). Hibernate’s main vision, however, is not to add convenience – you can get that in many other ways as well. Hibernate’s main vision is to provide powerful means of navigating and persisting an object graph representation of your RDBMS’s data model, including various ways of locking.

Vlad is an extremely proficient Hibernate user, who has a whole blog series on how Hibernate works going. We’ve picked a recent, well-researched article about locking, but we strongly suggest you read the other articles as well:

Read Vlad’s “How Does PESSIMISTIC_FORCE_INCREMENT Lock Mode Work

9. Petri Kainulainen: Writing Clean Tests

This isn’t a purely Java-related blog post, although it is written from the perspective of a Java developer. Modern development involves testing – automatic testing – and lots of it. Petri has written an interesting blog series about writing clean tests in Java – you shouldn’t miss his articles!

Read Petri’s “Writing Clean Tests

10. Eugen Paraschiv: Java 8 Resources Collection

If you don’t already have at least 9 open tabs with interesting stuff to read after this list, get ready for a browser tab explosion! Eugen Paraschiv who maintains baeldung.com has been collecting all sorts of very interesting resources related to Java 8 in a single link collection. You should definitely bookmark this collection and check back frequently for interesting changes:

Read Eugen’s “Java 8 Resources Collection

Many other articles

There are, of course, many other very good articles providing deep insight into useful Java tricks. If you find you’ve encountered an article that would nicely complement this list, please leave a link and description in the comments section. Future readers will appreciate the additional insight.

The Java Legacy is Constantly Growing

I’ve recently stumbled upon a very interesting caveat of the JDK APIs, the Class.getConstructors() method. Its method signature is this:

Constructor<?>[] getConstructors()

The interesting thing here is that Class.getConstructor(Class...) returns a Constructor<T>, with <T> being maintained:

Constructor<T> getConstructor(Class<?>... parameterTypes)

Why is there a difference, i.e. why doesn’t the first method return Constructor<T>[]?

Let’s consider the Javadoc:

Note that while this method returns an array of Constructor<T> objects (that is an array of constructors from this class), the return type of this method is Constructor<?>[] and not Constructor<T>[] as might be expected. This less informative return type is necessary since after being returned from this method, the array could be modified to hold Constructor objects for different classes, which would violate the type guarantees of Constructor<T>[].

59539500

That’s a tough one. Historically, here’s how this happened:

Java 1.0 / Oak: Arrays

In Java 1.0 (the immediate successor of the Oak programming language), arrays were already introduced. In fact, they have been introduced before the collections API, which was introduced in Java 1.2. Arrays suffer from all the problems that we know today, including them being covariant, which leads to a lot of problems at runtime, that cannot be checked at compile time:

Object[] objects = new String[1];
objects[0] = Integer.valueOf(1); // Ouch

Java 1.1: Reflection API

Short of a “decent” collections API, the only possible return type of the Class.getConstructors() method was Constructor[]. A reasonable decision at the time. Of course, you could do the same mistake as above:

Object[] objects = String.class.getConstructors();
objects[0] = Integer.valueOf(1); // Ouch

but in the addition to the above, you could also, rightfully, write this:

Constructor[] constructors  = String.class.getConstructors();
constructors[0] = Object.class.getConstructor();

// Muahahahahahahaha

Java 1.2: Collections API

Java has been backwards-compatible from the very early days, even from Oak onwards. There’s a very interesting piece of historic research about some of Oak’s backwards-compatibility having leaked into Java to this date in this Stack Overflow question.

While it would have been natural to design the reflection API using collections, now, it was already too late. A better solution might’ve been:

List getConstructors()

However, note that we didn’t have generics yet, so the array actually conveys more type information than the collection.

Java 1.5: Generics

In Java 5, the change from

Constructor[] getConstructors()

to

Constructor<?>[] getConstructors()

has been made for the reasons mentioned above. Now, the alternative API using a collection would definitely have been better:

List<Constructor<T>> getConstructors()

But the ship has sailed.

Java, the ugly wart

Java is full of these little caveats. They’re all documented in the Javadocs, and often on Stack Overflow. Just yesterday, we’ve documented a new caveat related to completely new API in Map and ConcurrentHashMap.

“Stewardship: the Sobering Parts,” a very good talk about all those caveats and how hard it is to maintain them by Brian Goetz can be seen here:

The summary of the talk:

When language designers talk about the language they're designing
When language designers talk about the language they’re designing

Really Too Bad that Java 8 Doesn’t Have Iterable.stream()

This is one of the more interesting recent Stack Overflow questions:

Why does Iterable not provide stream() and parallelStream() methods?

At first, it might seem intuitive to make it straight-forward to convert an Iterable into a Stream, because the two are really more or less the same thing for 90% of all use-cases.

Granted, the expert group had a strong focus on making the Stream API parallel capable, but anyone who works with Java every day will notice immediately, that Stream is most useful in its sequential form. And an Iterable is just that. A sequential stream with no guarantees with respect to parallelisation. So, it would only be intuitive if we could simply write:

iterable.stream();

In fact, subtypes of Iterable do have such methods, e.g.

collection.stream();

Brian Goetz himself gave an answer to the above Stack Overflow question. The reasons for this omittance are rooted in the fact that some Iterables might prefer to return an IntStream instead of a Stream. This really seems to be a very remote reason for a design decision, but as always, omittance today doesn’t mean omittance forever. On the other hand, if they had introduced Iterable.stream() today, and it turned out to be a mistake, they couldn’t have removed it again.

Well, primitive types in Java are a pain and they did all sorts of bad things to generics in the first place, and now to Stream as well, as we have to write the following, in order to turn an Iterable into a Stream:

Stream s = StreamSupport.stream(iterable.spliterator(), false);

Brian Goetz argues that this is “easy”, but I would disagree. As an API consumer, I experience a lot of friction in productivity because of:

  • Having to remember this otherwise useless StreamSupport type. This method could very well have been put into the Stream interface, because we already have Stream construction methods in there, such as Stream.of().
  • Having to remember the subtle difference between Iterator and Spliterator in the context of what I believe has nothing to do with parallelisation. It may well be that Spliterators will become popular eventually, though, so this doubt is for the magic 8 ball to address.
  • In fact, I have to repeat the information that there is nothing to be parallelised via the boolean argument false

Parallelisation really has such a big weight in this new API, even if it will cover only around 5%-10% of all functional collection manipulation operations. While sequential processing was not the main design goal of the JDK 8 APIs, it is really the main benefit for all of us, and the friction around APIs related to sequential processing should be as low as possible.

The method above should have just been called

Stream s = Stream.stream(iterable);

It could be implemented like this:

public static<T> Stream<T> stream(Iterable<T> i) {
    return StreamSupport.stream(i.spliterator(), false);
}

Obviously with convenience overloads that allow for the additional specialisations, like parallelisation, or passing a Spliterator

But again, if Iterable had its own stream() default method, an incredible number of APIs would be so much better integrated with Java 8 out of the box, without even supporting Java 8 explicitly!

Take jOOQ for instance. jOOQ still supports Java 6, so a direct dependency is not possible. However, jOOQ’s ResultQuery type is an Iterable. This allows you to use such queries directly inline in foreach loops, as if you were writing PL/SQL:

PL/SQL

FOR book IN (
  SELECT * FROM books ORDER BY books.title
)
LOOP
  -- Do things with book
END LOOP;

Java

for (BookRecord book : 
  ctx.selectFrom(BOOKS).orderBy(BOOKS.TITLE)
) {
  // Do things with book
}

Now imagine the same thing in Java 8:

ctx.selectFrom(BOOKS).orderBy(BOOKS.TITLE)
   .stream()
   .map / reduce / findAny, etc...

Unfortunately, the above is currently not possible. You could, of course, eagerly fetch all the results into a jOOQ Result, which extends List:

ctx.selectFrom(BOOKS).orderBy(BOOKS.TITLE)
   .fetch()
   .stream()
   .map / reduce / findAny, etc...

But it’s one more method to call (every time), and the actual stream semantics is broken, because the fetch is done eagerly.

Complaining on a high level

This is, of course, complaining on a high level, but it would really be great if a future version of Java, e.g. Java 9, would add this missing method to the Iterable API. Again, 99% of all use-cases will want the Stream type to be returned, not the IntStream type. And if they do want that for whatever obscure reason (much more obscure than many evil things from old legacy Java APIs, looking at you Calendar), then why shouldn’t they just declare an intStream() method. After all, if someone is crazy enough to write Iterable<Integer> when they’re really operating on int primitive types, they’ll probably accept a little workaround.

When the Java 8 Streams API is not Enough

Java 8 was – as always – a release of compromises and backwards-compatibility. A release where the JSR-335 expert group might not have agreed upon scope or feasibility of certain features with some of the audience. See some concrete explanations by Brian Goetz about why …

But today we’re going to focus on the Streams API’s “short-comings”, or as Brian Goetz would probably put it: things out of scope given the design goals.

Parallel Streams?

Parallel computing is hard, and it used to be a pain. People didn’t exactly love the new (now old) Fork / Join API, when it was first shipped with Java 7. Conversely, and clearly, the conciseness of calling Stream.parallel() is unbeatable.

But many people don’t actually need parallel computing (not to be confused with multi-threading!). In 95% of all cases, people would have probably preferred a more powerful Streams API, or perhaps a generally more powerful Collections API with lots of awesome methods on various Iterable subtypes.

Changing Iterable is dangerous, though. Even a no-brainer as transforming an Iterable into a Stream via a potential Iterable.stream() method seems to risk opening pandora’s box!.

Sequential Streams!

So if the JDK doesn’t ship it, we create it ourselves!

Streams are quite awesome per se. They’re potentially infinite, and that’s a cool feature. Mostly – and especially with functional programming – the size of a collection doesn’t really matter that much, as we transform element by element using functions.

If we admit Streams to be purely sequential, then we could have any of these pretty cool methods as well (some of which would also be possible with parallel Streams):

  • cycle() – a guaranteed way to make every stream infinite
  • duplicate() – duplicate a stream into two equivalent streams
  • foldLeft() – a sequential and non-associative alternative to reduce()
  • foldRight() – a sequential and non-associative alternative to reduce()
  • limitUntil() – limit the stream to those records before the first one to satisfy a predicate
  • limitWhile() – limit the stream to those records before the first one not to satisfy a predicate
  • maxBy() – reduce the stream to the maximum mapped value
  • minBy() – reduce the stream to the minimum mapped value
  • partition() – partition a stream into two streams, one satisfying a predicate and the other not satisfying the same predicate
  • reverse() – produce a new stream in inverse order
  • skipUntil() – skip records until a predicate is satisified
  • skipWhile() – skip records as long as a predicate is satisfied
  • slice() – take a slice of the stream, i.e. combine skip() and limit()
  • splitAt() – split a stream into two streams at a given position
  • unzip() – split a stream of pairs into two streams
  • zip() – merge two streams into a single stream of pairs
  • zipWithIndex() – merge a stream with its corresponding stream of indexes into a single stream of pairs

jOOλ’s new Seq type does all that

All of the above is part of jOOλ. jOOλ (pronounced “jewel”, or “dju-lambda”, also written jOOL in URLs and such) is an ASL 2.0 licensed library that emerged from our own development needs when implementing jOOQ integration tests with Java 8. Java 8 is exceptionally well-suited for writing tests that reason about sets, tuples, records, and all things SQL.

But the Streams API just slightly feels insufficient, so we have wrapped JDK’s Streams into our own Seq type (Seq for sequence / sequential Stream):

// Wrap a stream in a sequence
Seq<Integer> seq1 = seq(Stream.of(1, 2, 3));

// Or create a sequence directly from values
Seq<Integer> seq2 = Seq.of(1, 2, 3);

We’ve made Seq a new interface that extends the JDK Stream interface, so you can use Seq fully interoperably with other Java APIs – leaving the existing methods unchanged:

public interface Seq<T> extends Stream<T> {

    /**
     * The underlying {@link Stream} implementation.
     */
    Stream<T> stream();
	
	// [...]
}

Now, functional programming is only half the fun if you don’t have tuples. Unfortunately, Java doesn’t have built-in tuples and while it is easy to create a tuple library using generics, tuples are still second-class syntactic citizens when comparing Java to Scala, for instance, or C# and even VB.NET.

Nonetheless…

jOOλ also has tuples

We’ve run a code-generator to produce tuples of degree 1-8 (we might add more in the future, e.g. to match Scala’s and jOOQ’s “magical” degree 22).

And if a library has such tuples, the library also needs corresponding functions. The essence of these TupleN and FunctionN types is summarised as follows:

public class Tuple3<T1, T2, T3>
implements 
    Tuple, 
	Comparable<Tuple3<T1, T2, T3>>, 
	Serializable, Cloneable {
    
    public final T1 v1;
    public final T2 v2;
    public final T3 v3;
	
	// [...]
}

and

@FunctionalInterface
public interface Function3<T1, T2, T3, R> {

    default R apply(Tuple3<T1, T2, T3> args) {
        return apply(args.v1, args.v2, args.v3);
    }

    R apply(T1 v1, T2 v2, T3 v3);
}

There are many more features in Tuple types, but let’s leave them out for today.

On a side note, I’ve recently had an interesting discussion with Gavin King (the creator of Hibernate) on reddit. From an ORM perspective, Java classes seem like a suitable implementation for SQL / relational tuples, and they are indeed. From an ORM perspective.

But classes and tuples are fundamentally different, which is a very subtle issue with most ORMs – e.g. as explained here by Vlad Mihalcea.

Besides, SQL’s notion of row value expressions (i.e. tuples) is quite different from what can be modelled with Java classes. This topic will be covered in a subsequent blog post.

Some jOOλ examples

With the aforementioned goals in mind, let’s see how the above API can be put to work by example:

zipping

// (tuple(1, "a"), tuple(2, "b"), tuple(3, "c"))
Seq.of(1, 2, 3).zip(Seq.of("a", "b", "c"));

// ("1:a", "2:b", "3:c")
Seq.of(1, 2, 3).zip(
    Seq.of("a", "b", "c"), 
    (x, y) -> x + ":" + y
);

// (tuple("a", 0), tuple("b", 1), tuple("c", 2))
Seq.of("a", "b", "c").zipWithIndex();

// tuple((1, 2, 3), (a, b, c))
Seq.unzip(Seq.of(
    tuple(1, "a"),
    tuple(2, "b"),
    tuple(3, "c")
));

This is already a case where tuples have become very handy. When we “zip” two streams into one, we want a wrapper value type that combines both values. Classically, people might’ve used Object[] for quick-and-dirty solutions, but an array doesn’t indicate attribute types or degree.

Unfortunately, the Java compiler cannot reason about the effective bound of the <T> type in Seq<T>. This is why we can only have a static unzip() method (instead of an instance one), whose signature looks like this:

// This works
static <T1, T2> Tuple2<Seq<T1>, Seq<T2>> 
    unzip(Stream<Tuple2<T1, T2>> stream) { ... }
	
// This doesn't work:
interface Seq<T> extends Stream<T> {
    Tuple2<Seq<???>, Seq<???>> unzip();
}

Skipping and limiting

// (3, 4, 5)
Seq.of(1, 2, 3, 4, 5).skipWhile(i -> i < 3);

// (3, 4, 5)
Seq.of(1, 2, 3, 4, 5).skipUntil(i -> i == 3);

// (1, 2)
Seq.of(1, 2, 3, 4, 5).limitWhile(i -> i < 3);

// (1, 2)
Seq.of(1, 2, 3, 4, 5).limitUntil(i -> i == 3);

Other functional libraries probably use different terms than skip (e.g. drop) and limit (e.g. take). It doesn’t really matter in the end. We opted for the terms that are already present in the existing Stream API: Stream.skip() and Stream.limit()

Folding

// "abc"
Seq.of("a", "b", "c").foldLeft("", (u, t) -> t + u);

// "cba"
Seq.of("a", "b", "c").foldRight("", (t, u) -> t + u);

The Stream.reduce() operations are designed for parallelisation. This means that the functions passed to it must have these important attributes:

But sometimes, you really want to “reduce” a stream with functions that do not have the above attributes, and consequently, you probably don’t care about the reduction being parallelisable. This is where “folding” comes in.

A nice explanation about the various differences between reducing and folding (in Scala) can be seen here.

Splitting

// tuple((1, 2, 3), (1, 2, 3))
Seq.of(1, 2, 3).duplicate();

// tuple((1, 3, 5), (2, 4, 6))
Seq.of(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).partition(i -> i % 2 != 0)

// tuple((1, 2), (3, 4, 5))
Seq.of(1, 2, 3, 4, 5).splitAt(2);

The above functions all have one thing in common: They operate on a single stream in order to produce two new streams, that can be consumed independently.

Obviously, this means that internally, some memory must be consumed to keep buffers of partially consumed streams. E.g.

  • duplication needs to keep track of all values that have been consumed in one stream, but not in the other
  • partitioning needs to fast forward to the next value that satisfies (or doesn’t satisfy) the predicate, without losing all the dropped values
  • splitting might need to fast forward to the split index

For some real functional fun, let’s have a look at a possible splitAt() implementation:

static <T> Tuple2<Seq<T>, Seq<T>> 
splitAt(Stream<T> stream, long position) {
    return seq(stream)
          .zipWithIndex()
          .partition(t -> t.v2 < position)
          .map((v1, v2) -> tuple(
              v1.map(t -> t.v1),
              v2.map(t -> t.v1)
          ));
}

… or with comments:

static <T> Tuple2<Seq<T>, Seq<T>> 
splitAt(Stream<T> stream, long position) {
    // Add jOOλ functionality to the stream
    // -> local Type: Seq<T>
    return seq(stream)
	
    // Keep track of stream positions
    // with each element in the stream
    // -> local Type: Seq<Tuple2<T, Long>>
          .zipWithIndex()
	  
    // Split the streams at position
    // -> local Type: Tuple2<Seq<Tuple2<T, Long>>,
    //                       Seq<Tuple2<T, Long>>>
          .partition(t -> t.v2 < position)
		  
    // Remove the indexes from zipWithIndex again
    // -> local Type: Tuple2<Seq<T>, Seq<T>>
          .map((v1, v2) -> tuple(
              v1.map(t -> t.v1),
              v2.map(t -> t.v1)
          ));
}

Nice, isn’t it? A possible implementation for partition(), on the other hand, is a bit more complex. Here trivially with Iterator instead of the new Spliterator:

static <T> Tuple2<Seq<T>, Seq<T>> partition(
        Stream<T> stream, 
        Predicate<? super T> predicate
) {
    final Iterator<T> it = stream.iterator();
    final LinkedList<T> buffer1 = new LinkedList<>();
    final LinkedList<T> buffer2 = new LinkedList<>();

    class Partition implements Iterator<T> {

        final boolean b;

        Partition(boolean b) {
            this.b = b;
        }

        void fetch() {
            while (buffer(b).isEmpty() && it.hasNext()) {
                T next = it.next();
                buffer(predicate.test(next)).offer(next);
            }
        }

        LinkedList<T> buffer(boolean test) {
            return test ? buffer1 : buffer2;
        }

        @Override
        public boolean hasNext() {
            fetch();
            return !buffer(b).isEmpty();
        }

        @Override
        public T next() {
            return buffer(b).poll();
        }
    }

    return tuple(
        seq(new Partition(true)), 
        seq(new Partition(false))
    );
}

I’ll let you do the exercise and verify the above code.

Get and contribute to jOOλ, now!

All of the above is part of jOOλ, available for free from GitHub. There is already a partially Java-8-ready, full-blown library called functionaljava, which goes much further than jOOλ.

Yet, we believe that all what’s missing from Java 8’s Streams API is really just a couple of methods that are very useful for sequential streams.

In a previous post, we’ve shown how we can bring lambdas to String-based SQL using a simple wrapper for JDBC (of course, we still believe that you should use jOOQ instead).

Today, we’ve shown how we can write awesome functional and sequential Stream processing very easily, with jOOλ.

Stay tuned for even more jOOλ goodness in the near future (and pull requests are very welcome, of course!)

Java 8 Friday: Language Design is Subtle

At Data Geekery, we love Java. And as we’re really into jOOQ’s fluent API and query DSL, we’re absolutely thrilled about what Java 8 will bring to our ecosystem.

Java 8 Friday

Every Friday, we’re showing you a couple of nice new tutorial-style Java 8 features, which take advantage of lambda expressions, extension methods, and other great stuff. You’ll find the source code on GitHub.

Language Design is Subtle

It’s been a busy week for us. We have just migrated the jOOQ integration tests to Java 8 for two reasons:

  • We want to be sure that client code compiles with Java 8
  • We started to get bored of writing the same old loops over and over again

The trigger was a loop where we needed to transform a SQLDialect[] into another SQLDialect[] calling .family() on each array element. Consider:

Java 7

SQLDialect[] families = 
    new SQLDialect[dialects.length];
for (int i = 0; i < families.length; i++)
    families[i] = dialects[i].family();

Java 8

SQLDialect[] families = 
Stream.of(dialects)
      .map(d -> d.family())
      .toArray(SQLDialect[]::new);

OK, it turns out that the two solutions are equally verbose, even if the latter feels a bit more elegant. :-)

And this gets us straight into the next topic:

Backwards-compatibility

For backwards-compatibility reasons, arrays and the pre-existing Collections API have not been retrofitted to accommodate all the useful methods that Streams now have. In other words, an array doesn’t have a map() method, just as much as List doesn’t have such a method. Streams and Collections/arrays are orthogonal worlds. We can transform them into each other, but they don’t have a unified API.

This is fine in everyday work. We’ll get used to the Streams API and we’ll love it, no doubt. But because of Java being extremely serious about backwards compatibility, we will have to think about one or two things more deeply.

Recently, we have published a post about The Dark Side of Java 8. It was a bit of a rant, although a mild one in our opinion (and it was about time to place some criticism, after all the praise we’ve been giving Java 8 in our series, before ;-) ). First off, that post triggered a reaction by Edwin Dalorzo from our friends at Informatech. (Edwin has written this awesome post comparing LINQ and Java 8 Streams, before). The criticism in our article evolved around three main aspects:

  • Overloading getting more complicated (see also this compiler bug)
  • Limited support for method modifiers on default methods
  • Primitive type “API overloads” for streams and functional interfaces

A response by Brian Goetz

I then got a personal mail from no one less than Brian Goetz himself (!), who pointed out a couple of things to me that I had not yet thought about in this way:

I still think you’re focusing on the wrong thing. Its not really the syntax you don’t like; its the model — you don’t want “default methods”, you want traits, and the syntax is merely a reminder that you didn’t get the feature you wanted. (But you’d be even more confused about “why can’t they be final” if we dropped the “default” keyword!) But that’s blaming the messenger (where here, the keyword is the messenger.)

Its fair to say “this isn’t the model I wanted”. There were many possible paths in the forest, and it may well be the road not taken was equally good or better.

This is also what Edwin had concluded. Default methods were a necessary means to tackle all the new API needed to make Java 8 useful. If Iterator, Iterable, List, Collection, and all the other pre-existing interfaces had to be adapted to accommodate lambdas and Streams API interaction, the expert group would have needed to break an incredible amount of API. Conversely, without adding these additional utility methods (see the awesome new Map methods, for instance!), Java 8 would have been only half as good.

And that’s it.

Even if maybe, some more class building tools might have been useful, they were not in the center of focus for the expert group who already had a lot to do to get things right. The center of focus was to provide a means for API evolution. Or in Brian Goetz’s own words:

Reaching out to the community

It’s great that Brian Goetz reaches out to the community to help us get the right picture about Java 8. Instead of explaining rationales about expert group decisions in private messages, he then asked me to publicly re-ask my questions again on Stack Overflow (or lambda-dev), such that he can then publicly answer them. For increased publicity and greater community benefit, I chose Stack Overflow. Here are:

The amount of traction these two questions got in no time shows how important these things are to the community, so don’t miss reading through them!

“Uncool”? Maybe. But very stable!

Java may not have the “cool” aura that node.js has. You may think about JavaScript-the-language whatever you want (as long as it contains swear words), but from a platform marketing perspective, Java is being challenged for the first time in a long time – and being “uncool” and backwards-compatible doesn’t help keeping developers interested.

But let’s think long-term, instead of going with trends. Having such a great professional platform like the Java language, the JVM, the JDK, JEE, and much more, is invaluable. Because at the end of the day, the “uncool” backwards-compatibility can also be awesome. As mentioned initially, we have upgraded our integration tests to Java 8. Not a single compilation error, not a single bug. Using Eclipse’s BETA support for Java 8, I could easily transform anonymous classes into lambdas and write awesome things like these upcoming jOOQ 3.4 nested transactions (API not final yet):

ctx.transaction(c1 -> {
    DSL.using(c1)
       .insertInto(AUTHOR, AUTHOR.ID, AUTHOR.LAST_NAME)
       .values(3, "Doe")
       .execute();

    // Implicit savepoint here
    try {
        DSL.using(c1).transaction(c2 -> {
            DSL.using(c2)
               .update(AUTHOR)
               .set(AUTHOR.FIRST_NAME, "John")
               .where(AUTHOR.ID.eq(3))
               .execute();

            // Rollback to savepoint
            throw new MyRuntimeException("No");
        });
    }

    catch (MyRuntimeException ignore) {}

    return 42;
});

So at the end of the day, Java is great. Java 8 is a tremendous improvement over previous versions, and with great people in the expert groups (and reaching out to the community on social media), I trust that Java 9 will be even better. In particular, I’m looking forward to learning about how these two projects evolve:

Although, again, I am really curious how they will pull these two improvements off from a backwards-compatibility perspective, and what caveats we’ll have to understand, afterwards. ;-)

Anyway, let’s hope the expert groups will continue to provide public feedback on Stack Overflow. Stay tuned for more awesome Java 8 content on this blog.

Where’s the Self-Confidence when Advertising Java 8, Oracle?

I have often wondered, why the team around Brian Goetz has been heading towards a “decent compromise” so strongly from the beginning, both from a marketing AND technical point of view, instead of adding more boldness to how Java 8 is advertised. At Devoxx Belgium 2013, Brian Goetz seems to have really sold his accomplishments completely under value, according to this interesting article. Having extensively followed the lambda-dev mailing list, I can only stress how little the creators of Java 8 loved their new defender methods feature, for instance.

Java 8 is what we have all been waiting for, for so long! After all, the introduction of lambda expressions and defender methods (equally impactful, if not as often advertised!) is one of the most significant improvements to the Java language since the very beginnings.

Given the tremendous success of LINQ in .NET, I have recently contemplated whether Java 8, lambda expressions and the Streams API might actually be an equally interesting approach to adding features to an ecosystem, compared to the “scariness” of comprehensions and monads as understood by LINQ: https://blog.jooq.org/2013/11/02/does-java-8-still-need-linq-or-is-it-better-than-linq/

While my article above certainly wasn’t well received with the .NET community (and even Erik Meijer himself smirked at it), it did get quite a bit of love from the Java community. In other words, the Java community is ready for Java 8 goodness. Let’s hope Oracle will start advertising it as the cool new thing that it is.