Wednesday, December 9, 2009

State of the 'Dependecy Injection'

"Dependecy Injection" is one of the most popular design patterns on the Java platform. It was suggested by Martin Fowler, here, instead of the term "Inversion of control". Article was published on 2004.
What it brings to a application is a way to create, compose, use and destroy any java object, which are called beans.
The leading framework that first used this approach was the "the Spring Framework". The approach emerged as a alternative to EJB's. The applications built with it are easier to test and offered a easy way to integrate to most of the other frameworks and technologies out there. If you check out the api packages you can see the support for other frameworks like jsf, hibernate etc.
Today "Dependecy Injection" is part of JEE6 named CDI, JSR-299. Reference implementation is called Weld. Here are some of the highlights of CDI:
XML vs. Annotations
CDI dumps the xml approach. However there are still some use for xml's. Every bean archive must have a META-INF/beans.xml even if its empty. This file marks the jar archive as a bean archive and is scanned for beans. 'beans.xml' is also where you enable and define the ordering of 'alternative' beans and interceptors.
First thing that CDI takes to account while trying to inject a bean is the type of the bean. If however there are more than one bean that could qualify CDI requires a Qualifier meta-data to resolve the ambiguity. CDI has a way to define this meta-data as an annotation, thus making our app. strong typed apposed to the usual string based qualifier approach.
By defining a few annotations we could implement the Observer pattern without any boilerplate code.
Again with annotations we could implement the decorator pattern.
Part of JEE6
Now we could inject our beans to servlets and filters like we do to any other class.
Overall as far as I could tell CDI looks like it could improve an applications code quality making it decoupled and strong-typed. JEE6 still needs some time though, best implementation out there seems to be JBoss 6 Milestone 1.

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