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big-red v1.0.3

REference Data manager

Big Red

Build Status

Big Red Dog

This module provides a sane interface between definitions of master data that may reside in a database or other store, and an in memory cache of this data that needs to be periodically updated (e.g. if the underlying data changes).

The idea is that these data sets are typically small and slow moving, but you don't want to put the data in code as it will force a re-deploy of all services using them. You also don't really want to hit the database on every single request given it probably only changes once a week or once a month, and you are probably getting millions of requests per day.

Explicit Definitions

You can explicitly attach a reference data handler (the example shows data in memory - clearly in the real world you would go off to a data store or a web service to get this data):

var br = require('big-red');

var data = [
  {id:'1', name:'Kermit', type:'frog'},
  {id:'2', name:'Miss Piggy', type: 'pig'},
  {id:'3', name:'Fozzie Bear', type: 'bear'}
];

br.attach({
  name:'muppets',
  retriever: function(next) {
    next(null, data);
  },
  poller:function(next) {
    next(null, true);
  },
  interval: 5000
});

br.load(['muppets'], function() {
  expect(br.get('muppets').array).to.be(data);
  done();
});

The first parameter to load is an array of names of references that it will load, leave the array empty to load all.

Concepts

A reference data handler must consist of the following:

{
  name:'muppets',
  retriever: function(next) {
    next(null, data);
  },
  poller:function(next) {
    next(null, true);
  },
  fn: {
    first: function() {
      var self = this.array;
      return self[0];
    }
  },
  interval: 5000
}
FieldDescription
nameThis is the name you can use to later retrieve the data loaded by it.
retrieverThis is the function that will retrieve the data from the remote data source, it needs to respond with next(err, data) - where data is the data that will be cached in memory.
pollerThis is the function that will be executed to determine if the cache should be refreshed, it needs to respond with next(err, hasChanges) where the second parameter is true if the data should be refreshed.
fnA list of helper functions that will be bound to the data and exposed on the resultant cache object under the fn map.
intervalOptional - ms interval between running the poller to check for changes, defaults to 1 minute.
idOptional - property to use as the index for the array > map conversion, set to null to disable.

Data Types

Data returned by the retriever can be either be an array or an object (referred to as a map given it is typically just a set of key / values one level deep).

If you return an array, and elements within that array have an 'id' field, it will automatically transform the values into a map for you (you can update the field used for this by passing the id parameter into the attach function).

br.get('muppets').array

will return:

[
  {id:'1', name:'Kermit', type:'frog'},
  {id:'2', name:'Miss Piggy', type: 'pig'},
  {id:'3', name:'Fozzie Bear', type: 'bear'}
]

Using this same data structure, but accessing the data via the transformed map:

br.get('muppets').map

Will return:

{
  '1': { id: '1', name: 'Kermit', type: 'frog' },
  '2': { id: '2', name: 'Miss Piggy', type: 'pig' },
  '3': { id: '3', name: 'Fozzie Bear', type: 'bear' }
}

If the retriever callback returns a map (and not an array), then the data property will remain as an empty array, with the data you returned accessible via the map property.

Helper Function Binding

Any helper functions defined within the fn section of the configuration will be bound to the data returned by the retriever, so 'this' === your returned data set.

Data in first tick

As the data is loaded asynchronously, you need to ensure that you do not attempt to do anything with the data until you are sure if it is loaded, and if you are unsure (e.g. your code isn't in the context of a request), then wrap it with:

br.loaded(function() {
  // Your code
});

Of course the idiomatic way to do this is to actually do this once during application startup, and then pass the reference to the br instance that you know is loaded into all of your modules and functions that need master data. For legacy reasons at TES we will use both methods for a period.

Interacting with Cached Data and Functions

var br = require('br');
br.loaded(function() {
  var muppets = br.get('muppets');
  var muppetsArray = muppets.array;
  var muppetsMap = muppets.map;
  var firstMuppet = muppets.fn.first();
});

This is effectively 'dom ready' for your reference data.

Definition Folder

You can also store each of the definitions as a module in a folder, and load all of the definitions in a single action.

In folder ./definitions, create a file called: muppets.js (have as many files as you like):

var data = [
  {id:'1', name:'Kermit', type:'frog'},
  {id:'2', name:'Miss Piggy', type: 'pig'},
  {id:'3', name:'Fozzie Bear', type: 'bear'}
];

module.exports = {
  name:'muppets',
  retriever: function(next) {
    next(null, data);
  },
  poller:function(next) {
    next();
  }
}

Then point Big Red at your definition folder:


var br = require('big-red');
br.attachPath('./definitions');

br.load([], function() {
  expect(br.get('muppets').array).to.be([
    {id:'1', name:'Kermit', type:'frog'},
    {id:'2', name:'Miss Piggy', type: 'pig'},
    {id:'3', name:'Fozzie Bear', type: 'bear'}
  ]);
});

Elsewhere, in other modules, you can now simply:

var br = require('big-red');
br.loaded(function() {
  done();
});

Metadata

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