There are several key design patterns when utilizing logic. It is important that each team member be conversant in these.
Forward Chaining: constraining chained derivations
Probably the most common pattern is defining a constraint that requires a series dependent derivations to produce the data used in the constraint. The most familiar example is Check Credit
, where the Customer's balance is derived by a series of derivations over 3 Domain Objects.
Business Logic services enable you to access data from related
- Sum and Count rules enable Parent objects to aggregate related child data
Automatic Cascade processing occurs when the parent row's reference data is changed
Counts for Existence Checks
The count derivation can produce a count of related child rows, optionally qualified by a condition. In many cases, the objective is to know whether the count is 0 or non-zero - that is, are there any [qualified] children. For example:
- the No Empty Orders requirement is implemented by a countItems, which is then checked in a constraint
- the Bill of Materials Explosion (see rules 1 and 2) requires identifying whether a Product is a kit - has any components
You introduce Junction Objects
for many-to-many relationships between 2 end-point objects. It is often a requirement that an end-point object needs to sum/count an attribute from the other end-point. Since sums/count operate on 1:n relationships - and not n:m relationships, you will need to replicated the summed attribute into the Junction.
The replicate can take two forms, depending on whether the sum should reflect changes in the summed attribute. The Tutorial
illustrates both, as discussed in the sub-sections below.
Do reflect summed changes into sum: use Parent Reference
The Bill of Materials Price Rollup example illustrates is a many to many relationship between Product objects, informally referred to as Kits and Components.
ProductBillofmaterials is the Junction Entity implementing the many to many relationship. A Kit needs to sum its components price to determine its own price.
Since the Business Requirement is that Component price changes be reflected in the Kit Price. The Logicdoc illustrates that we define
kitNumberRequired * product.price. We can then sum this result into the Kit.
This Formula contains a Parent Reference to the
product.price. Formula parent references reflect changes, unlike @copy logic as shown in the next example.
Do not reflect summed changes into sum: use @ParentCopy
The Place Order
example illustrates a many to many relationship between Purchaseorders and Products, where Lineitem is the Junction entity.
Our business requirement is that we do not wish to change Purchaseorder amountTotals for subsequent Product price changes. We therefore define Lineitem.amountTotal as an @Copy
The classic request pattern is to invoke behavior from the construction of Command Objects. Such objects can be maintained in a list and used for undo, for example.
The same pattern can be used in data processing applications. The request object is inserted, representing a transaction requesting some behavior such as a Credit Request
, or an Employee raise. Instead of code, you declare logic to implement the desired behavior.
Form Flow based on Derivation Results
It is a very common requirement to drive Form flow based on derivation results. For example, you might define a Wizard for Document Processing, with tab sheets enabled/activated on the basis of whether restricted Products are ordered, or the customers credit history. Derivations are excellent mechanisms to compute the data used to drive such conditional transitions.
Recall that derivations fire only when a transaction is saved. We therefore recommend using the Read Pattern, as described below.
Direct Logic Invocation (without updates)
Business Logic executes in response to an insert, update or delete of a Domain Object. ABL also provides support for Direct Logic Execution
without first requiring an update.
Imagine an interactive transaction where the End User proceeds through a set of screens. When screen-1 is complete:
- Business Logic derives various data
- These derivations are then used by the Presentation Layer:
- For display
- For conditional processing (eg, a conditional transition, or to cause hiding of not-relevant portions of the screen)
Of course, it is highly undesirable to hold an open database
transaction (and blocking locks) over screen transitions. Given that
you need the Business Logic derivation results as noted above, this
suggests that you should submit - and commit - changes at the completion
But this presents a problem: it might not be appropriate to
"post" this incomplete transaction (e.g., adjust General Ledger, the
Customer Balance, Product stock) until all the screens are complete.
- We have all seen such an example in on-line shopping. We can
fill our cart, and see how much things cost (a derivation), as we shop.
It is only when we checkout that our account is charged.
The Best Practice approach is to:
- define a
isReady attribute (e.g., in Purchaseorder)
- its value is false until the checkout screen, at which point it is set to true
- when defining rules, predicate the rules on
isReady == true as in Place Order
Derive Customer.balance as Sum (purchaseorders.amountUnPaid where isReady=true)
This of course requires that you provide a Make Ready
(aka "checkout") transaction to activate the remaining logic.
Commit Time Logic: Constraints, Actions
Be aware that logic processing occurs in two phases: logic phase (initial row processing), and commit phase (after all rows are processed). Counts of inserted child rows are always 0 during the logic phase, so requirements such as No Empty Order (which depend on the count value) need to use Commit Constraints.
It is often necessary to enable Business Users to alter data used in formulas. For example, you might apply a
discountAmount to a Purchase Order.
You can achieve this easily as follows:
1 - Create a 1 row Domain Object (e.g.,
Create a "scalar" Domain Object (e.g.,
Parameters), with attributes you want authorized Business Users to change, such as
discountAmount. Provide access to this object in your applications' user interface.
2 - Provide
getParameters() in superclass of Logic Classes
Define your Logic Classes to extend 3 - Use LogicBase in formulas
LogicBase (see BusLogicIntro), where
LogicBase implements the method to return the single
getParameters() can be used in formulas (just as Parent references), e.g.,
The following sections describe patterns implemented by the extension package provided with the product. These are critically important, both for use (they are very common patterns), and as illustrations of how to provide logic extensions.
The allocation pattern can be summarized as follows:
Put differently, the system receives a quantity of things (money, goods), and allocates them to a set of recipients. Some examples:
- Allocate a Payment to set of Purchase Orders
provider Payment.amount to designated
recipient Purchase Orders
allocation Payment Purchaseorder Allocation objects (a Provider/Recipient Junction) for each such allocation.
- Allocate a Department Bonus to a set of Employees
- Allocate an expenditure to a set of General Ledger accounts
- Allocate a sum to a set of organizations (who, via chained allocations, allocate their allotment to designated General Ledger accounts)
Business Logic supplies allocation as an extension
It is a very common requirement to copy one or more source rows to target rows. A corollary requirement is that the created target rows are usually children of the source rows, and require proper initialization of their attributes. The general concept is loosely analogous to the SQL
Insert Into Select From command.
This is simply a copy of the current row, under the proper conditions. We illustrate a common example in Salary Auditing
It is a common requirement to "clone" a Business Object, meaning a "master" and its related objects. For example, a customer might like to create a new order by copying an old one
- Bill of Materials explosion
This is widely regarded as a particularly tough pattern. We shall see it is, in fact, a variant of a deep copy, and can be solved with just a few rules.
Click the title link for further information.
Inclusion / Exclusion logic - Find Where (search collection)
It is common for logic to require searching lists to verify whether or not objects are present, for example:
- Inclusion - assure a row is included
For example, an Employee might have 2 child collections of languages: spokenLanguage and translatesLanguage. It is reasonable to ensure that each spoken language has a row for that user / language in spokenLanguage.
- Exclusion - assure a row is excluded
We therefore provide a set of logic services for FindWhere, that enable you to search through a list to find rows that match a specified criteria. You can search for the first row that matches, or the only row (which throws an exception if there are multiple matches).
For example, in a Bill of Materials
definition, it is desirable to ensure that a component is not also the containing part.
Document processing are business activities that involve filling out multiple forms. Together, these forms might comprise an application, for example an insurance application. Common characteristics of Document Processing include:
- Form Generation: questions on an initial "cover" document might engage logic to determine which detail forms are required. For example, you might need to complete special forms if you are applying for insurance and engage in high-risk hobbies, to determine the actual risks you are undertaking. Or, you might be required to complete special forms if you attempt to purchase controlled substances.
- Multiple Sessions: the Business User may need to do research / consulting to respond to all the questions. Since this may require days, it is not practical to hold locks open, so there is typically a series of database transactions to complete a Document Processing activity, possibly engaging multiple users in a workflow.
Business Logic can help in such cases. You can handle Multiple Sessions by using the Ready Flag, described above. Form Generation can be automated with Insert From logic as described in this Document Processing