~ $ Working with SQL Relations in Go - Part 5

Posted on Mon 13 2020 to Programming

Over these series of posts I have been exploring an approach that could be taken when working with SQL relationships in Go. The precursor to all of this was the initial ORMs and Query Building in Go. This explored one aspect of ORMs, the query building, but it didn’t address how relationships could also be handled in an idiomatic way. So before I wrap up this series in this final post, let us address the code we have currently.

Note: If you’re interested in taking a look at the code I put together for this example application I put together, then take a look at it online here: https://github.com/andrewpillar/blogger.

Finishing up the Application

Previously, we successfully implemented the Index, and Show methods for the Post entity. However, for the Category entity we need to update the Show method so that we return a list of posts for that category. This can be done by utilising the model.Binder interface we implemented on the post.Store struct.

// category/handler.go
package category

import (
...
    "blogger/post"
...
)
...
func (h Handler) Show(w http.ResponseWriter, r *http.Request) {
...
    pp, paginator, err := post.NewStore(h.DB, c).Index(r.URL.Query())

    if err != nil {
        // handle error
    }

    data := struct{
        Category *Category
        Prev     string
        Next     string
        Posts    []*post.Post
    }{
        Category: c,
        Prev:     fmt.Sprintf("/category/%d?page=%d", c.ID, paginator.Prev),
        Next:     fmt.Sprintf("/category/%d?page=%d", c.ID, paginator.Next),
        Posts:    pp,
    }
    w.Header().Set("Content-Type", "application/json; charset=utf-8")
    json.NewEncoder(w).Encode(data)
}

You’ll notice here, that we imported the blogger/post package which will result in an import cycle. This can be easily fixed by creating a third sub-package in the post and category packaged called web to hold the web handler implementations.

The application at this point is mostly finished, if you wish to see a complete example of this then take a look at the repository in GitHub, https://github.com/andrewpillar/blogger.

Now let me go about trying to justify the approach I took to this problem.

Callbacks and Interfaces

When it comes to working with SQL relationships in Go there is going to be similarities between how things are done. For example, we want to load relationships, as well as bind them. Not to mention that obvious similarities between the entities we have, they all have 64-bit integer primary keys, and they each have differen relations.

Because of these similarities it is only natural to look to an interface to implement what we need when it comes to relationship loading. So when it comes to writing the actual code we can just take the interface we have, and tell it “load in the relationships I want”, without necessarily caring how they’re loaded in. Furthermore, we also implemented a light interface to represent our entity models.

The actual logic for binding the models to one another is deferred to a function callback. This makes sense to do, since different models could be bound in different ways. However, with the implementation of the model.Model interface we were able to implement the model.Bind function to have a generic way of binding our models together, assuming that the models have 64-bit integer keys.

We take these function callbacks a step further, and allow for the description of how these models are bound together via the model.Relation function and model.RelationFunc type.

As you can see, when coupled together, callbacks and interfaces can achieve what we went in a way that is fairly idiomatic. And we managed to do this without having to dip into the reflect package.

A Note on Generics

I touched on generic behaviour briefly, so I may aswell add my two cents on the whole generic situation in Go.

When I first approached Go I rather liked the lack of supports for generics, and wouldn’t have minded if the language continued without generics. This belief mainly arose from the fear of people abusing generics to write god code (code that is so generic and arbirtrary it could do anything, and yet is hard to understand). However, I think my fears in this regard are unfounded, mainly because some people like abusing interface{} and reflect to achieve this instead.

That being said, I cannot deny that certain things would be easier with generics in Go. It is comforting to see some of the performance gains that can be made via the use of generics in Go.

So I would welcome generics in Go, and hope that people use them responsibly.

Why Not Make this a Library

One final thing I should address before wrapping this up, is why didn’t I take what I have written and turn it into a library? Well, I didn’t turn this into a library for a platitude of reasons.

The first being that I don’t want to make any assumptions about how people went about modelling their data. For example, you may use something other than an integer for your primary key, perhaps a string, a byte array. And I think this is another thing where ORMs fall short, and that is making assumptions about the data being worked with.

Second of all, this implementation only contains a handful of functions and interfaces. And because of what I mentioned in the first post, it makes a number of assumptions about the data.

Finally, since the implementation is only a handful of functions and interfaces, I don’t think this would make for a very substantial library. Also, I would defer to one of the Go proverbs here too, “A little copying is better than a little dependency”.

Conclusion

I hope the ideas presented throughout this series of posts will help you when it comes to working with SQL relationships in Go. This is something I have struggled with, especially since the solutions out there for modelling data are lacking, perhaps due to the points I made earlier. I also want to say, that these ideas are not gospel, just an approach that I have found that works for me. As always feel free to contact me to discuss this further.