Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Ponder Design Review

Review of  function features

The Ponder library is a fork of CAMP and takes its design decisions from there. The biggest change was the removal of Boost, which should leave the functionality of the API unchanged.

CAMP has some interesting features, e.g. in Function we can assign a function callback to test whether a function is currently callable.

   * \brief Set the callable state of the current function with a dynamic value
   * function can be any C++ callable type, and will be called to return the
   * callable state of the function each time it is requested. This way, the callable
   * state of a function can depend on metaclass instances.
   * \param function Function to call to get the callable state of the function
   * \return Reference to this, in order to chain other calls
  template <typename F>
  ClassBuilder<T>& callable(F function);

I'm not sure of the rationale of some of the features. This is a feature I have not used. There are other features, like parent-child user objects, again unused. These features may have a use in a particular application, but they might not be viewed as widely used. So, perhaps they should not be so tightly coupled with the function data.

Design is choice

As Andrei Alexandrescu says, "Design is choice". There may be many solutions to problem, but the design is the one you chose.

In CAMP the data of an object is mixed with its use, e.g. function data also contains methods to call the function. There may be different ways in which we want to call the function. The current call method takes a dynamic array of arguments which are value types. This is quite inefficient, along with the value mapping that occurs, where many of the objects may be copied.

CAMP call behaviour has several particular traits:
  • Coercion of values through ValueMapper.
  • Calling with dynamic array of values.
  • Ability to block calls (callable).
It might be best to separate the call behaviour from the type information. This way calling, and any other uses of the type, can be customised for its use. This is a significant change away from CAMP.

I am currently extending Ponder with Lua scripting ability. This has been complicated by the Ponder value mapping and its difficulty in dealing with the ambiguity of references.

Type data is immutable

Type information is static. It is baked into the program at compile-time. The Ponder types should reflect this. Any uses of the data should refer to the data, but not modify it.

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