- Maintainable - Modular, clear and clean functional code as close to business terms as possible. Domain Specific Language.
- Testable - Full test coverage. Exploit test driven development and let the business make test cases as spread sheets.
- Performance - Liner scalable. Cost of HW determine speed, not development time. Too often you start out with nice modules but end up cross cutting the functionality, and chopping up transactions into something that is far from the business terms. That makes a hard system to maintain. We will achieve high performance without rewriting.
We will release the Java Source for this, and I expect that our contractors (Ergo/Bekk) to blogg and talk about the implementation. They too are eager on this subject and will focus in this direction of software design.
Tax Assessment Module
|Selvangivelse (Tax form) Module|
There is also a vertical line and it illustrates that usage of the Selvangivelse (the assessment form) must be deployed separately from producing it (This "read only stack" has been discussed previously, but it is to provide better up-time and to be able to migrate in Assessment forms from the Mainframe without converting the logic.)
Most of the business logic in 'SelvangivelseService' is static (Java construct), so that is does not need any object allocation (it is faster). Object creation is mostly limited to the Entities present in the Aggregates. Limiting the amount of functionality present in the Aggregates that go in the cache, makes the cache more robust as to software upgrades. This may be in conflict with good object orientation, but our findings show a good balance. The though business logic is actually not a concern to the cache-able objects, but is a concern of the Service. In other words a good match for DDD and a high performance system!
Domain Specific Language
We see that maintenance is enhanced by having clear and functional code as close to business terms as possible. Good class names and methods has been used and we believe that this is the right direction. We do not try to foresee changes to the business logic that may appear in the future, risking only to bloat down the business code with some generics we may not need and that hinders understanding. And acknowledge that things have to be rewritten now and then, and must re-factor in the future without affecting historic information or code. (see deployment further down). Note that we have already in the design separated functional areas into Modules, meaning that one years tax assessment handling may be completely different from another.
Our DSL have been demonstrated for business people, and the terms relate to existing literature ("Tax-ABC" is a nasty beast of 1100 pages ;-) ). Business confirm that they can read and understand the code, but we do not expect them to program. We expect them to give us test cases. Close communication is vital, and anyone can define test cases as columns in a spreadsheets (there are worse test scenarios that is not able to be represented as a table, but at least they are a good start and actually covers most of what we have seen in this domain so far.)
|Example DSL for summarizing fields in the Tax form|
The DSL approach is more feasible for us than using a Rule Engine. Partly because there are not really that many rules, but data composition, validation and calculations which a normal programming language is so good at. Also by having a clear validation layer/component, the class names and the freedom to program Java actually makes the rule-set more understandable, it does not get so fragmented. The information model is central, that to has to be maintained and flexible. And last but mot least; because of lifetime requirements and other support such as source-handling (eg. github), refactoring and code quality (eg. sonar) is so much more mature and well known in the Java world, that any Rule Engine vendor just cant compete. (Now there certainly are domains where Rule Engine is a good fit, but for our domain, we can wait.)
|Logical design of the xml super-document|
All aggregates are stored in a super-document structure consisting of sections. The content of these sections are generic, except the head. (see Aggregate Store For the Enterprise Application)
The aggregate has a head that is common for all document types in the TaxInfo database. It defines the main keys and the protocol for exchanging them. It pretty much resembles the header of a message or the key-object of the Aggregate in Domain Driven Design. The main aggregate boundary is defined by who it concerns, who reported the data, the schema type and the legitimate period. In either case it is there as the static long lasting properties of an aggregate in the domain of the CAH. We do not expect the ability to change here, without rebuilding the whole CAH. 'State' is the protocol and as long as the 'state' is 'private', no other module can use it.
The other sections of the document are owned exclusively by the module that produce such content, and belong to the domain the module implements. 'Case' is the state and process information that the module mandates, in the example the document may be 'public' in any of the different phases that tax handling goes through. For example: for a typical tax payer (identified by 'concerns') when an income year is finished there will exist 4 document of this type, each representing phases in the tax process (prognosis, prefilled, delivered and assessed).
The Aggregate section is where the main business information is. All content that is relevant is stored here (also copied, even though is may be present in other supporting documents). This makes the document valid on its own, and must not be put together at query time or for later archiving. Any field may either be registered uniquely in this aggregate, or it may be copied and reference some other document as its master. This is referenced by 'ref GUID' and is used by the business logic in 'SelvangivelseServce' to sew objects in the supporting aggregates together, and create the domain object model of the Module.
The Anomalies section contains validation errors and other defects in the Aggregate, and only concerns this occurrence. We may assess such a document even though it has anomalies, and information here is relevant to the tax payer to give more insight.
The Audit section contain all changes to the aggregate, also automatic handling, to provide insight into what the system has done during assessment. This log contains all changes from the first action in first phase of assessment, not just the present document.
Both Anomalies and Audit can reference any field in the Aggregate.
Aggregates are not stored all of the time, only at specific steps in the business process are things stored as xml. Mostly when legislation state that we must have an official record. For example when we send the pre-filled form to the Tax -payer. The rest of the time the business logic run - either automatic because of events or manual case handling - and update the objects without any persistence at all. Sweet!
|Logical deployment view|
This illustration show how the different types of aggregates are partitioned between the different nodes, where the distribution key is to co-locate all aggregates that belong to the same "tax-family". This is transparent for the business logic, and the grid software makes sure that partitioning, jobs, indexes, failover, etc. are handled. By co-locating we know that all data access is local to the VM. This gives high performance. The business logic function even if we have a different distribution key, it only takes more time to complete. Some jobs will span VM's and they will use more time, but Map-Reduce makes sure that most of the work is handled within one VM.
We have learned that memory usage is pretty linear with time usage, and that the business logic is not the main driver. The difference in 10 or 100 rules is much less than 2 or 3 Kb of aggregate size. So fight for effective aggregates, and build clear java business logic!
Module and Aggregate design in the CAH by Tormod Varhaugvik is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.