Stephen A. Fuqua (saf)

a Bahá'í, software engineer, and nature lover in Austin, Texas, USA

FlightNode API Application Architecture

The API for FlightNode is essentially structured along the lines of the onion architecture concept. Follow that link for a full description of the concept. Because my graphics toolkit is currently limited, my diagram for FlightNode has boxes instead of concentric onion-looking circles…

onion architecture

One key takeaway is the direction of dependencies: all of the solid line dependencies in this chart move from left to right. The Domain Entities are at the “center” in the onion, or rightmost in this chart. They are generally “dumb” data structures that group related fields together. The application’s core business logic is in the Domain Managers. These use Entities as both input and output. As with most systems, there is a need to persist the entities somewhere — and the Domain Interfaces define the structure of the persistence API without defining its implementation. Naturally the interfaces need to deal with Domain Entities as well.

But how do we get data in and out (I/O) of the Domain Model? From the end-user perspective, it is through an HTTP-based API. This API contains two parts of the MVC pattern: models and controllers. The view part is completely separated to another project. The responsibility of the controllers is to handle HTTP input and output via ASP.NET WebAPI. The data transfer objects for that I/O are the Models. The controllers serve the function of remote facades in Martin Fowler’s terminology.

Concrete implementations of the persistence interfaces are no longer at the center of the model, as in a traditional layered architecture. This helps liberate the domain model from attachment to any particular model or pattern for saving the data: we could use a Repository or Table Data Gateway; we could use any ORM; we could use SQL Server, MySQL, Azure, MongoDB. All that matters is that we have a classes that implement the Domain Interfaces, and successfully store and retrieve data for periods when the application is offline.

Which implementation of the interfaces will be used? That depends on how the Inversion of Control (IoC) container is configured. FlightNode uses Unity to map an Entity Framework context class, which implements each persistence interface, to those interfaces. Then ASP.NET WebAPI uses the container to create the correct classes at runtime. In this situation, Entity Framework’s context class does not exactly match the Repository pattern or any of the other traditional data access patterns. Thus, unusually, there are no “repository classes”. There are just persistence interfaces, and the context classes.

Posted with : Tech, General Programming, Application Architecture and Design, FlightNode: Citizen Science Bird-Monitoring