Configurable Services in Loklak Search

Loklak search being an angular application has a concept of wiring down the code in the special form of classes called Services. These serviced have important characteristics, which make them a powerful feature of angular.

  • Services are shared common object wired together by Dependency Injection.
  • Services are lazily instantiated at the runtime.

 

The DI and the instantiation part of a service are handled by angular itself so we don’t have to bother about it. The parts of the services we are always concerned about is the logical part of the service. As the services are the sharable code at the time of writing a service we have to be 100% sure that this is the part of the code which we want to share with our components, else this can lead to the bad implementation of architecture which makes application harder to debug.

Now, the next question which arises is how services are different from something like redux state? Well, the difference lies in the word itself, services don’t have a persistent state of themselves. They are just a set of methods to separate a common piece of code from all the components into one class. These services have functions which take an input, processes them and spit an output.

Services in Loklak Search

So in loklak search, the main services are the ones which on request, fetch data from the backend API and return the data to the requester. All the services in loklak search have a fixed well-defined task, i.e. to use the API and get the data. This is how all the services must be designed, with a specific set of goals. A service should never try to do what is not necessary, or in other words, each service should have one and only one aim and it should do it nicely.

In loklak search, the services are classified by the API endpoints they hit to retrieve data. These services receive the query to be searched from the requested and they send the AJAX request to correct API endpoint and return the fetched data. This is the common structure of all the Loklak services, they all have a fetchQuery() method which takes a string argument query and requests the API for that query and after completion, it either returns the correct response from the API or throws an error if something goes wrong.

@Injectable()
class SearchService() {
public fetchQuery( query: string ) {  }
private extractData( response ) {  }
private handleError( error ) {  }
}

Problems faced in this structure

This simple structure was good enough for the application in the basic levels, but as the number of features in the application increase, our simple service becomes less and less flexible as the fetchQuery() method takes only a query string as an argument and requests the API for that query, along with some query parameters. These query parameters are the additional information given to the server to process and respond to our request in a particular way, like a number of results to be fetched, aggregations to be carried out, and much more. In the current implementation, the setting up these parameters were solely done by the service itself, so these parameters were fixed inside the service and there was no easy way to modify them. This reduced the flexibility of the service as all the requesters were bound to a fixed set of parameters, thus lacking the usability of the service in other places of the application.

 

Solution – Service Configs

The solution to this problem of service customizability is the Service Config classes. The objects of these classes contain the information about the query parameters which various requesters can configure according to their specific needs, and our services will simply configure the query params accordingly. This idea of having a shared structure for the service configurations plays very nicely with our scenario where we want extra control over the parameters which our service is configuring.

@Injectable()
class SearchService() {
public fetchQuery( query: string, config: SearchServiceConfig ) {  }
private extractData( response ) {  }
private handleError( error ) {  }
}

This small modification to our service structure enables us to have the amount of control which we required. The config class is a fairly simple one.

export class SearchServiceConfig {
private count: number;
private source: Source;
private fields: Set<AggregationFields>;
private aggregationLimit: number;
private maximumRecords: number;
private startRecord: number;
private timezoneOffset: string;
private filters: Set<Filter>;

// Other methods to get/set these attributes
}

Now any requester will instantiate a new object of this class and will set the attributes according to his needs then this object is passed to the fetchQuery() method of our function. Which designs the request to be sent accordingly.

Conclusion

In conclusion, i would like to mention the how these attributes are chosen to be a part of the Config and not as a query string. Our API endpoints accept the query string along with some attributes which filter out the results or run aggregations in various fields. So we should have all these attributes in our config as these all properties may vary according to the requesters need. Therefore, this idea of configurable services makes us not only better reuse the existing models and services in multiple situations but also make us write better predictable code.

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