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Defining Traits

This chapter provides details about how traits are defined and used in Lasso 9. Topics include an introduction to traits, defining traits, and trait arithmetic.

Introduction

Traits provide a way to define data types in a modular fashion. Each trait includes a set of reusable tag implementations along with a set of requirements which must be satisfied in order for the included tags to function properly.

Traits allow a hierarchy of data types which share common functionality to be created without relying on single or multiple inheritance. Traits are similar to mixins and abstract classes found in other languages.

Each trait encapsulates a set of requirements and provides a set of tag members. When a trait is applied to a data type the requirements are checked. If they are satisfied then the provided tag members are added to the type as if they had been implemented directly in the type. Traits can only define public tag members.

Lasso includes many types which have common tags. For example, the pair, array, string, and other data types implement ->first, ->second, ->last tags which return the named element.

  array(1, 2, 3, 4)->last;  4
  'Quick brown fox'->second  u
  pair('name'=John')->first  name

The ->first tag can be implemented by calling the ->get(x) tag member of each type with a parameter of 1. The ->second tag calls the same tag with a parameter of 2. The ->last tag calls the same tag with a parameter defined by the ->size of the type.

The requirements for implementing the ->first, ->second, and ->last tags is that the type we applyt the trait to has ->get(x) and ->size member tags. In a trait this requirement would be specified as follows.

  require get(x::integer)
  require size()::integer

The requirements take the form of a list of tag memeber signatures. If all of the tag member signatures are defined by the type which the trait is applied to then the tags which are provided by the trait will work.

The tags provided by the trait are specified similar to how tags are defined in custom types. The implementation for the ->first, ->second, ->last tags would appear as follows.

  provide first() => .get(1)
  provide second() => .get(2)
  provide last() => .get(.size)

Note that the period . notation is used to call the member tags of the current object the same as it would be used within a custom type implementation. The implementation of the provided tags can make use of the ->get and ->size tags because the requirements ensure that they will be available.

The full trait definition for trait_firstlast would be as follows.

  define trait_firstlast => trait {
     require get(x::integer)
     require size()::integer
     provide first() => .get(1)
     provide second() => .get(2)
     provide last() => .get(.size)
  }

If we define a new type, e.g. month which supports ->get and ->size then we can import this trait to automatically get an implementation of ->first, ->second, and ->last.

  define month => type {
     data y, m
     public onCreate(year::integer, month::integer) => {
       .'y' = #year;
       .'m' = #month;
  }
  public get(x::integer) => {
     return date(-year=.'y', -month=.'m', -day=#x);
  }
  public size()::integer => {
     local(temp = date(-year=.'y', -month=.'m'+1, -day=1));
     #temp->subtract(-day=1);
     return #temp->dayofmonth;
  }
  trait {
     import trait_firstlast
    }
  }

Defining Traits

A trait is defined using the define reserved word. The define for a trait consists of the trait name followed by the association operator =>, the reserved word trait and a codeblock containing the definition of the trait.

define myTrait => trait {
...
}

The codeblock contains one or more sections which are each identified by a label. Tag implementations which are provided by the trait are specified in a provide section. Requirements for the trait are specified in a require section. Other traits can be imported in a import section. Each section will be introduced in this chapter and discussed in more detail in the Defining Traits chapter.

Provide

The tag members which a trait provides are specified similar to the public section of a data type definition. The section begins with the reserved word provide which is followed by a comma separated list of tag member definitions. The member list has the same form as custom tag definitions. Each tag is defined using a signature, the association operator =>, and an expression which defines the implementation of the tag.

The following trait would provide two tag members for getting and setting a data member.

  define myTrait => trait {
      provide getFirstName() => {
         return .firstName;
    }
      provide setFirstName(value::string) => {
        .firstName = #value;
    }
  }

Require

The require section allows a list of tag signatures to be specified which are required for the tag to operate properly. The signatures may be simple tag names or they may be complete signatures with parameter specifications. As many require sections as are necessary can be specified.

The section begins with the reserved word require[/require] followed by a comma separated list of tag signatures. The following trait requires a getter and setter for the [code]firstName data member.

  define myTrait => trait {
      require firstName, firstName=
      provide getFirstName() => {
         return .firstName;
    }
      provide setFirstName(value::string) => {
         .firstName = #value;
    }
  }

Import

The import section allows the characteristics of other traits to be imported into this trait definition. Using import a hierarchy of traits can be defined. As many import sections as are necessary can be specified.

The section begins with the reserved word import[/require] followed by a comma separated list of trait names. The following trait simply imports the characteristics of the built-in trait_array trait.

  define myTrait => trait {
      import trait_array
  }

All of the requirements and provided tag members of the imported trait will be added to the trait being defined. The requirements of one of the traits may be satisfied by the tags provided by the other trait.

However, if both traits provide the same tag member then there is a conflict. The conflict is resolved by eliminating both implementations of that tag member and adding a requirement for it to the trait. The type which which the trait is ultimately applied to must implement that tag member in order for the trait to be applied.

Trait Arithmetic

Traits can be combined together into new traits using the addition [code]+ operator. This is called composing a new trait. The result of this expression will be a trait that has all the requirements and provides all the member tags of the traits that have been combined.

The same rules which are used for importing traits apply to composed traits. The requirements of one trait may be satisified by a member tag provided by the other trait in the composition.

However, if both traits provide the same tag member then there is a conflict. The conflict is resolved by eliminating both implementations of that tag member and adding a requirement for it to the trait. The type which which the trait is ultimately applied to must implement that tag member in order for the trait to be applied.

An alternate method of defining the trait example from the start of this chapter would be to define three sub-traits and then use the composition operator + to compose them into a single trait.

  define trait_first => trait {
      require get
      provide first() => .get(1)
  }
  define trait_second => trait {
      require get
      provide second() => .get(2)
  }
  define trait_last => trait {
      require get, size
      provide last() => .get(.size)
  }
  define trait_firstlast => trait_first + trait_second + trait_last

Replacing the last line with this trait definition would product exactly the same result. In general the latter method is preferred for trait definitions, while the composition operator + is preferred for runtime changes.

  define trait_firstlast => trait {
      import trait_first
      import trait_second
      import trait_last
  }

Checking Traits

Since traits provide member tags for a type it is often useful to check whether a given type instance has a trait applied. The ->isa tag can be used for this check. This member tag can be used on any type instance and will return True if the instance has the provided trait name applied to it.

In this code the ->isa tag returns True since the month data type does have the trait trait_firstlast applied to it.

  local(mymonth = month(2008, 12));
  #mymonth->isa(::trait_firstlast)  True

Trait Checking Tags

Tag Description
->IsA(name::tag) Checks whether an instance is of the given type. The tag will return True if the name of the type is specified or the name of any parent type other than null. The tag will also return True for any trait name which the type has applied to it. The tag ->Isa(::Null) will only return True for the null type instance itself.
->IsNotA(name::tag) The opposite of ->IsA.

Applying Traits

Traits can be applied to types as part of the type definition. This makes the trait an integral part of the type definition. The provided tag members are indistinguishable to the user of the type from tag members that are implemented directly in the type.

Each type definition can include a single trait section. The trait can import as many traits as are needed. Requirements and tag members can be provided directly within the trait.

define myType => type { trait { import ... provide ... } data ... public ... }

When an instance of the type is create the instance has the specified trait applied to it automatically.

The trait of any object in Lasso can be manipulated using the ->trait, ->settrait, and ->addtrait tags.

Trait Manipulation Tags

Tag Description
->Trait() Returns the trait for the target object. Returns null if the object does not have a trait.
->SetTrait(trait::trait) Sets the trait of the target object to the parameter. The existing trait is replaced.
->AddTrait(trait::trait) Combines the target objects trait with the parameter.

The ->settrait tag should be used with care since resetting the trait of a type instance may result in many of its member tags becoming unavailable. In general traits will be added to a type instance to provide additional functionality rather than resetting the entire trait for a given object. Using #myinstance->addtrait(trait_firstlast) is equivalent to using #myinstance->settrait(#myinstance->trait + trait_firstlast).

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