TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Finding Fault Volume Number: 17 (2001)
Issue Number: 1
Column Tag: WebObjects

Finding Fault

By Sam Krishna and Patrick Taylor

Why the EOFaulting mechanism neatly solves a thorny problem in the Object-Relational paradigm

The Object-Relational paradigm is the conceptual foundation to the Enterprise Objects Framework (EOF). Concepts such as tables map nicely to classes, rows to objects, row-column values to instance variables (ivars), etc. The mapping is so neat and clean that one is rather surprised to find a terrible flaw marring the paradigm.

One difficulty is that few situations are easily encompassed by single, isolated tables. A relational approach is frequently needed. However, having started down the Object-Relational path, what happens to objects that are related to other objects? What happens if a large set of objects is related to a single object? How can these relationships be represented without compromising performance or overwhelming system memory?

In real life, relationships are numerous, complex and widespread. Consider a (simplified) model of a credit card reporting application.

How would such an application be able to traverse from Consumer to Purchases without swamping the memory footprint? If we tried to apply this model to 200 million individuals charging approximately US$10,000 per year on 3 credit cards (on average), the situation could get nasty in a hurry. Imagine fetching 600 million rows into an application in order to traverse the relationship graph for a credit card query. What kind of memory footprint would be needed to do a report on the purchasing information? When the program exceeds memory requirements, the machine will grind to a stop.

Without an efficient way of accessing our program's data, the value of the application comes into question. The types of applications created by WebObjects depend on a reasonable amount performance, but an elegant object-relational mapping is a useless affectation if it becomes an albatross. Object-orientation is not an end in itself, but rather a means - preferably a superior means.

Fortunately for us, the EOF engineering team solved this problem using a mechanism called the EOFault class and its EOFaultHandler. Together these classes form a system where light placeholder objects are substituted for regular objects before they are fetched. The EOFault is a raincheck, promising to fetch the real objects when actually needed.

Ready-Aim-Fire!

If you wish to fetch a related row in EOF, a fault has to be fired. Before you get the idea that this is extremely complicated in either theory or practice, stop fretting. It isn't. You simply "walk" the relationship graph and, most of the time, your WebObjects application will do this for you.

Take a look at the Movies example model that ships with WebObjects. Let's assume that you need to get a list of movie roles for any given movie that is selected. After fetching a particular movie, let's take a look at the movieRoles relationship before the fault is fired:

JavaDebug>> po movieRoles
movieRoles = <ArrayFault(0x195cfc8) source: [GID: Movie, (155)] relationship: movieRoles >

As you can see, movieRoles is an ArrayFault which knows to fetch all the rows on the destination side of a to-many relationship named movieRoles. The GID refers to an EOGlobalID, an object that contains the primary key information within Movie that is needed by the faulting system to fetch the related rows in the movieRoles table. When the fault is cleared or fired, EOF generates the SQL necessary to fetch the related rows. What is cool is that you don't have to write any code to fire these faults, WebObjects/EOF simply knows how to fault relationships automagically with very little (if any) programmer intervention.

At this point, your program might need to ask which studio produced which movie. It can do this by faulting the movie's studio relationship. Here's what the fault will look like before it is fired:

movie.studio is <EOGenericRecord(0x2057c98) Fault [GID: Studio, (9)]>

Once the studio fault is fired, EOF will again automatically generate the SQL, fetch the related row, stuff the results in a brand new Enterprise Object (EO), and return the new EO to the WebObjects Movies application.

Batch Faulting

If the Movies example was a real application with real users, then it's quite likely that someone would wish to see a list of credits for the movie's actors. This isn't an unreasonable demand since WebObjects will traverse the to-one relationship from the MovieRole EO to the Talent EO. The problem however is similar to the one we discussed in the credit card example. When you deal with a situation where many roles are getting fetched individually on an application getting a million hits per day, you need to do something to minimize the number of round-trip fetches to the database.

Every time a fault is fired, a round trip to the database is made. If your Movies application had 1000 users, each one of which looked at about 10 movies per visit, and each movie had a cast of 20 actors, your application would face approximately 200,000 round trips to the database for the cast list alone. Batch faulting is a great way to rein in your application's demands, it can potentially reduce the number of round trips to 10,000. The more relationships hanging off, the bigger the bang for batch faulting. I'm sure that you'll agree that a twenty-fold reduction is nothing to sneeze at!

Prefetching

Prefetching is an alternative method for faulting. It is used specifically with an EOFetchSpecification, which we will discuss in more detail next month when we cover the EOEditingContext. Suffice to say, it is a pre-empting action to the faulting mechanism. Based upon the key paths you feed to a particular EOFetchSpecification, you will be be able to prefetch EOs based upon the relationships from a particular set of entities you are fetching.

A developer must take care when using prefetching because it is too easy to fetch unnecessary EOs without thinking about it. It is better to profile the kinds of fetching patterns that occur during use of the web application before setting prefetching key paths upon the EOFetchSpecification, the class used with the EOEditingContext to fetch objects explicitly.

The method on the EOFetchSpecification class for prefetching, setPrefetchingRelationshipKeyPaths(), (setPrefetchingRelationshipKeyPaths: in Objective C), takes an NSArray of relationship keys. For example, if you wanted to prefetch both the movieRoles and studio relationships, you can pass the strings "movieRoles" and "studio" in an NSArray (@"movieRoles" and @"studio" in Objective C).

One thing to keep in mind, if you set an EOFetchSpecification to refresh through the method setRefreshesRefetchedObjects() (setRefreshesRefetchedObjects: in Objective C), any refetches are propagated through the object graph (meaning that both studio and movieRoles would be refetched as well to update the current state of the object graph as reflected in the database).

One way to batch fault is to set the number of items you want faulted in a to-many relationship using EOModeler's Advanced Relationship Inspector. While a terribly convenient approach since this allows you to fault lists without writing code, it unfortunately won't help us in this particular example.

We need to programmatically fault a whole array of Talent relationships based upon the MovieRole entity all at once. To achieve this, we message the EODatabaseContext with the batchFetchRelationship() method (batchFetchRelationship:forSourceObjects:editingContext: in Objective C). It isn't always quite clear how to get the EODatabaseContext from the EOF stack for a given WebObjects application, worse yet, even after you retrieve it, there are still a number of other objects you must retrieve in order to send the message to the EODatabaseContext. Here is an example of how we batch faulted the Talent EOs as they were related to an NSArray of MovieRoles for a given movie:

Java

Be sure to import com.apple.yellow.eoaccess.* as one of your import statements

   protected NSArray movieRoles() {
    // An example of how to batch fault programmatically in Java...
      NSArray movieRoles = 
                              (NSArray)movie.valueForKey("movieRoles");
   
      EOEditingContext ec = session().defaultEditingContext();
      EODatabaseContext dc = 
            EOUtilities.databaseContextForModelNamed(ec, "Movies");
      EOModel moviesModel = 
                  EOModelGroup.defaultGroup().modelNamed("Movies");
      EOEntity movieRoleEntity = 
                                 moviesModel.entityNamed("MovieRole");
      EORelationship talentRelationship = 
                           movieRoleEntity.relationshipNamed("talent");

   movieRoles.count();   // Fires the array fault to be used for the second argument
   dc.batchFetchRelationship(talentRelationship, movieRoles, ec);

         return movieRoles;
      }

Objective-C

Be sure to declare #import <EOAccess/EOAccess.h> as one of your import statements

   - (NSArray *)movieRoles
   {
      // Batch faulting example in Objective-C
      NSArray *movieRoles = 
                              [movie valueForKey:@"movieRoles"];
      EOEditingContext *ec = 
                        [[self session] defaultEditingContext];
      EODatabaseContext *dc = 
               [ec databaseContextForModelNamed:@"Movies"];
      EOModel *moviesModel = 
      [[EOModelGroup defaultGroup] modelNamed:@"Movies"];
      EOEntity *movieRoleEntity = 
                        [moviesModel entityNamed:@"MovieRole"];
      EORelationship *talentRelationship = 
               [movieRoleEntity relationshipNamed:@"talent"];
   
      [movieRoles count];   
            // Fires the array fault to be used for the forSourceObjects: argument
      [dc batchFetchRelationship:talentRelationship 
               forSourceObjects:movieRoles editingContext:ec];
      
      return movieRoles;
   }

There are quite a few objects to message as part of the EOF stack particularly the various elements of an EOModel. However this sample code yields the desired result which is a batch fault that fetches all the related TalentEOs simultaneously in a single round trip to the database. We decided to batch fault the talent relationship in this method for demo purposes only, in a professional development context, it would make more sense to refactor the batch faulting code into a separate method.

Deferred Faulting

New to WebObjects 4.5 is deferred faulting, a performance-focused approach to dealing with faults. While incredibly interesting, we aren't going to be able to do it justice within the confines of this more general article. Since WO4.5, all EOGenericRecords automatically do deferred faulting so you will definitely be hearing much more about it.

What to look for in code

A method will distinguish itself as a fault-firing method pretty quickly in a generated EO class file. In Java, all accessor methods will have the willRead() method in it. In Objective-C, you will see an accessor that reads [self storedValueForKey:@"someKey"]. Remember that all accessors in a generated EO class are fault-firing methods. If a fault cannot respond natively to a method without firing, it will fire and fetch the real object in order to fulfil the response.

For array faults, the easiest way to cause the fault to fire is by sending the count() message to it (count in Objective C); this will fire any to-many relationship-based faults. If you need to fire a to-one fault, you can either send it a message that you know the original object will respond to, or you can send the fault a willRead() message. In Objective-C, you can send any variety of messages that the original class should respond to, or you can simply use the EOFault class object to fire the fault by sending the [EOFault clearFault:aFault] message. Almost any message that the original class will respond to should do the trick.

Reverting an object back into a fault

If you need to convert an object that was faulted back into its original fault (for example to redisplay the state of a relationship after recent editing), there are a few more hoops to jump through. You need to get the EOGlobalID for an EO, stuff the EOGlobalID into an NSArray, and send a message to the EOEditingContext telling it to invalidate the objects with that particular global ID.

Here is some sample code to refault the MovieRole objects that have been fetched:

Java

   public void refaultMovieRoles() {
   
      // Assume movieRoles is an ivar
      EOGlobalID gid = null;
      int i = -1;
      EOEnterpriseObject eo = null;
      NSMutableArray gids = new NSMutableArray();
      EOEditingContext ec = null;
      
      for (i = 0; i < movieRoles.count(); i++) {
         eo = movieRoles.objectAtIndex(i);
         ec = eo.editingContext();
         gid = ec.globalIDForObject(eo);
         gids.addObject(gid);
      }
      
      session().defaultEditingContext()
                              .invalidateObjectsWithGlobalIDs(gids);
      return;
   }

Objective C

  - (void)refaultMovieRoles
  {
      // Assume movieRoles is an ivar
      EOGlobalID *gid = nil;
      int i = -1;
      id eo = nil;
      NSMutableArray *gids = [NSMutableArray array];
      EOEditingContext *ec = nil;
      
      for (i = 0; i < [movieRoles count]; i++) {
         eo = [movieRoles objectAtIndex:i];
         ec = [eo editingContext];
         gid = [ec globalIDForObject:eo];
         [gids addObject:gid];
      }
      
      [[[self session] defaultEditingContext] 
                                 invalidateObjectsWithGlobalIDs:gids];
      return;
   }

The invalidateObjectsWithGlobalIDs() method (invalidateObjectsWithGlobalIDs: in Objective C) is very powerful. It invalidates the entire undo stack for those particular objects with the editing context. It also signals the underlying object stores that the objects will need to be refetched the next time those particular objects are accessed (just like what would happen for a pure fault).

There are other methods, such as invalidateAllObjects() (invalidateAllObjects in Objective C), which will completely discard all EOs in the editing context as well as dump the snapshots at the EODatabaseContext level. This is a massive snapshot dumping operation in a traditional session-based editing context application and should be used very sparingly.

Things to Look for

If you have an object model where important entities have many relationships hanging off of them, you will want to look for opportunities to create a batch fault and optimize the performance of your application. If you have an array of objects that also have important individual to-one relationship targets, think seriously about creating a batch fault for those as well.

Faulting is a very cool mechanism that significantly simplifies the problem of whether or not to fetch the entire object graph based upon an entity. If you don't need to fault an EO into memory, then it is best to leave it alone; however, if you do need an EO on the other side of a relationship, then just reach out and fault it.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Spotify 1.0.44.100. - Stream music, crea...
Spotify is a streaming music service that gives you on-demand access to millions of songs. Whether you like driving rock, silky R&B, or grandiose classical music, Spotify's massive catalogue puts... Read more
Microsoft OneNote 15.29 - Free digital n...
OneNote is your very own digital notebook. With OneNote, you can capture that flash of genius, that moment of inspiration, or that list of errands that's too important to forget. Whether you're at... Read more
WALTR 2 2.0.8 - $39.95
WALTR 2 helps you wirelessly drag-and-drop any music, ringtones, videos, PDF, and ePub files onto your iPhone, iPad, or iPod without iTunes. It is the second major version of Softorino's critically-... Read more
Dropbox 16.3.27 - Cloud backup and synch...
Dropbox is an application that creates a special Finder folder that automatically syncs online and between your computers. It allows you to both backup files and keep them up-to-date between systems... Read more
EtreCheck 3.1.5 - For troubleshooting yo...
EtreCheck is an app that displays the important details of your system configuration and allow you to copy that information to the Clipboard. It is meant to be used with Apple Support Communities to... Read more
Carbon Copy Cloner 4.1.12 - Easy-to-use...
Carbon Copy Cloner backups are better than ordinary backups. Suppose the unthinkable happens while you're under deadline to finish a project: your Mac is unresponsive and all you hear is an ominous,... Read more
VueScan 9.5.62 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
SpamSieve 2.9.27 - Robust spam filter fo...
SpamSieve is a robust spam filter for major email clients that uses powerful Bayesian spam filtering. SpamSieve understands what your spam looks like in order to block it all, but also learns what... Read more
Fantastical 2.3.2 - Create calendar even...
Fantastical 2 is the Mac calendar you'll actually enjoy using. Creating an event with Fantastical is quick, easy, and fun: Open Fantastical with a single click or keystroke Type in your event... Read more
PCalc 4.4.4 - Full-featured scientific c...
PCalc is a full-featured, scriptable scientific calculator with support for hexadecimal, octal, and binary calculations, as well as an RPN mode, programmable functions, and an extensive set of unit... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Track Santa with these three festive app...
Christmas is fast approaching and that means it's time to prepare for Santa's yearly pilgrimage around the globe. Christmas Eve is an exciting time as parents help their kids get ready to welcome Santa. You've got the cookies and milk all planned... | Read more »
Galaxy on Fire 3 and four other fantasti...
Galaxy on Fire 3 - Manticore brings the series back for another round of daring space battles. It's familiar territory for folks who are familiar with the franchise. If you've beaten the game and are looking to broaden your horizons, might we... | Read more »
The best apps for your holiday gift exch...
What's that, you say? You still haven't started your holiday shopping? Don't beat yourself up over it -- a lot of people have been putting it off, too. It's become easier and easier to procrastinate gift shopping thanks to a number of apps that... | Read more »
Toca Hair Salon 3 (Education)
Toca Hair Salon 3 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Winter comes to Darkwood as Seekers Note...
MyTona, based in the chilly Siberian city of Yakutsk, has brought a little festive fun to its hidden object game Seekers Notes: Hidden Mystery. The Christmas update introduces some new inhabitants to players, and with them a chance to win plenty of... | Read more »
Bully: Anniversary Edition (Games)
Bully: Anniversary Edition 1.03.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $6.99, Version: 1.03.1 (iTunes) Description: *** PLEASE NOTE: This game is officially supported on the following devices: iPhone 5 and newer, iPod Touch... | Read more »
PINE GROVE (Games)
PINE GROVE 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A pine grove where there are no footsteps of people due to continuous missing cases. The case is still unsolved and nothing has... | Read more »
Niantic teases new Pokémon announcement...
After rumors started swirling yesterday, it turns out there is an official Pokémon GO update on its way. We’ll find out what’s in store for us and our growing Pokémon collections tomorrow during the Starbucks event, but Niantic will be revealing... | Read more »
3 reasons why Nicki Minaj: The Empire is...
Nicki Minaj is as business-savvy as she is musically talented and she’s proved that by launching her own game. Designed by Glu, purveyors of other fine celebrity games like cult favorite Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, Nicki Minaj: The Empire launched... | Read more »
Clash of Clans is getting its own animat...
Riding on its unending wave of fame and success, Clash of Clans is getting an animated web series based on its Clash-A-Rama animated shorts.As opposed to the current shorts' 60 second run time, the new and improved Clash-A-Rama will be comprised of... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Never Settle for Low Performing Wifi With iOS...
AppYogi Software has announced the release of WiFi Signal Strength Status App 1.0, the company’s new utility developed exclusively for macOS. WiFi Signal Strength Status App features a unique, single... Read more
New 2016 13-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros in st...
B&H Photo has stock of new 2016 Apple 13″ Touch Bar MacBook Pro models, each including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB Touch Bar MacBook Pro Space Gray: $1999 - 13″ 2.... Read more
New 2016 15″ Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock...
B&H Photo has new 2016 Apple 15″ Touch Bar MacBook Pro models in stock today including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro Space Gray: $2799 - 15″ 2.7GHz... Read more
DietSensor App Targeting Diabetes and Obesity...
DietSensor, Inc., a developer of smart food and nutrition applications designed to fight diabetes and obesity and help improve overall fitness, has announced the launch of its DietSensor app for... Read more
Holiday 2016 13-inch 2.0GHz MacBook Pro sales...
B&H has the non-Touch Bar 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today for $50-$100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MLL42LL/A): $1449 $... Read more
Holiday sale: Apple TVs for $51-$40 off MSRP,...
Best Buy has dropped their price on the 64GB Apple TV to $159.99 including free shipping. That’s $40 off MSRP. 32GB Apple TVs are on sale right now for $98 on Sams Club’s online store. That’s $51 off... Read more
12-inch Retina MacBooks, Apple refurbished, n...
Apple has restocked a full line of Certified Refurbished 2016 12″ Retina MacBooks, now available for $200-$260 off MSRP. Refurbished 2015 models are available starting at $929. Apple will include a... Read more
Holiday sale: 12-inch Retina MacBook for $100...
B&H has 12″ Retina MacBooks on sale for $100 off MSRP as part of their Holiday sale. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 12″ 1.1GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook: $1199 $100... Read more
Apple refurbished 13-inch MacBook Airs availa...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $849. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 13″ 1.6GHz/8GB/128GB MacBook Air: $849 $... Read more
Apple refurbished iMacs available for up to $...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 21″ & 27″ iMacs available for up to $350 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are available: - 21″ 3.... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Trumbul...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
US- *Apple* Store Leader Program - Apple (Un...
…Summary Learn and grow as you explore the art of leadership at the Apple Store. You'll master our retail business inside and out through training, hands-on Read more
Automotive Detailer - *Apple* Used Autos -...
We are currently conductinginterviews and will be accepting applications for a part-time detailer. Apple Used Autos is a great place to work andstart a career. We Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.