Samstag, 5. April 2014

Why use JSR330 Dependency Injection annotations

I rather apologise to introduce another Dependency Injection Container for the Java world - dinistiq - a very minimalistic approach to the topic. It turned out to be easier to implement another one, than to use others listed here. Limited in features, easy to use, and still more configurable than other options I could think of. After some months of use, I now can invite other users to take a look at it and try it in their own projects.
Also this text gives you a "why" on the use of the JSR 330 annotations for Dependency Injection. It simply makes your code even more reusable in case your development or deployment environment changes.
Since tangram is much more about glueing together proven existing software components and frameworks than writing code, I felt the need to check if the existing code base was really fully dependent on the Spring Framework.
Despite the fact that spring more or less in many ways does what I need, it sometimes feels a bit bloated and does too much magic I don't understand in detail (which I still had to learn when debugging things). So I tried to isolate the spring code during the tangram 0.9 work and present at least a second solution for all the things I did with spring so far.
For tangram spring does three things
  • Dependency Injection to plug the whole application together
  • support a decent view layer with JSP and Apache Velocity views
  • A concise way to map http requests to code - controller classes or methods
So I took a look at other view frameworks like Vaadin, GWT, Apache Wicket, Play, Struts, JSF/JEE, Stripes. Right at the moment I think Vaading, GWT, Wicket, and Play are no really good fit for tangram, Struts in my eyes is a fading technology, and only JSF/JEE is an obvious option. With Java Server Faces I only had unsatisfying project experiences and the rest of JEE goes for plain Servlet. So tangram had to be provided with a plain Servlet way of doing the view layer.
Since the modularity of tangram was achieved by the Spring way of plugging components together with Dependency Injection, the first thing to do was, to mark the generic components in a spring independent way and to look at the other options for the Dependency Injection part. Only then it would be possible to replace the spring view layer with a Servlet view layer during the startup and wire-up of the application.
So the list of relevant DI frameworks gets shortened to those supporting the generic Dependency Injection annotations from JSR330 which are intended for JEE and can e.g. also be used with Google Guice and the Spring Framework alike.
From the reading Google Guice seemed to be a good alternative for the proof of concept phase, but it took me that much work to get something to run with it (not everything can be plugged together programmatically in my case), that I came out faster with my own Dependency Injection Container. Rather minimalistic and only suited for the setup of components.
Its advantage over Guice is that it's smaller and easier configurable with properties files. Weeks later I discovered TinyDI as another option. While this container seems to be a lot cleverer about the search of annotated classes it seems to lack the needed option of extending the configuration aspects from the annotations with properties files - defaults and overridden values and references.
So right at the moment I still don't have a running tangram application but all of the tangram framework now can be used with dinistiq. This example shows that now over 90% of the classes of tangram are free of direct dependencies to the Spring Framework while still taking advantage of its features and runtime environment. The code definitely got cleaner and more reusable.