Port And Transport And Port

I use Ports-and-Adapters to abstract away my application’s interactions with external systems. I bend the dependency’s interface to the shape that I want for my domain. This makes it easier to think about my code and to unit test it.

This kind of interface might look something like:

	Settings Get()
	Set(name, value)

UserSettingsOnDisk : IUSerSettings
	Settings Get()
		jsonText = ReadTextFile('~/.myapp.json')
		return JsonDeserialize(jsonText)

Now imagine a distribute system, where I have code running on multiple computers. For example, maybe there is a security restriction that forces certain code to run on a certain computer, while some business logic runs on another computer. This is a lot like talking to an external system, except that I fully control the interface and can make it look however I want. I don’t need the same kind of adapting. But I do want to abstract away the remote communication, and I don’t want to deal with remoting when testing the business rules. If both sides are implemented using the same technology, I use this trick or organize and test them in a convenient way.

  1. Define the interface I wish I had. In practice, I push tweak this interface repeatedly as I push responsibilities from one side to the other.
  2. Make one class implement that interface, while another talks to that interface.
  3. Test the components together.

class ...(IFoo foo)

class Foo : IFoo

// Test
manager = new Manager(new Bar())
Assert(Foo.Bar did the right thing)
  1. Write a transport for that interface.
  2. Test the transport. The question is “if I send in message X, does message X pop out on the other side?”. There’s no business logic, no conditionals to test.
class FooToHttp(IPAddress ipAddress) : IFoo
		HttpPost(ipAddress, "bar")

class HttpToFoo(IFoo foo)

// Test
loggingFoo = new LoggingFoo()
new HttpServer(new HttpToFoo(loggingFoo))
subject = new FooToHttp(localhost)

Assert(loggingFoo got a call to Bar())
  1. In production, wire it all up together:
// Computer 1
manager = new Manager(new FooToHttp(system2ipAddress))

// Computer 2
new HttpServer(new HttpToFoo(new Foo()))

I’ve only had the chance to use this in the wild one time, so I don’t know how to triangulate it: Where is it not appropriate? What are its weaknesses? How could it be better?

A lot of web development uses JavaScript in a browser to talk to Ruby/C#/PHP on the server, which doesn’t lend itself to this technique. But if you’re using Node on the server, then you should be able to run the client- and server-side JavaScript together this way. You’ll still need to factor out the client-side business logic from the client-side display logic, to decouple from the browser, which I think almost no one does. So this may be difficult to apply for most people.

Written on November 12, 2017