Fantom

 

1. Structure

Overview

Fantom software is structured using three primary abstractions:

  • Pods: modules of deployment and versioning
  • Types: basic units of object oriented type system
  • Slots: fields and methods

These abstractions are organized into a three level namespace which uses the following syntax for qualified names:

  • pod
  • pod::Type
  • pod::Type.slot

Pods

Pods are the top of Fantom's namespace as well as the unit of deployment. A pod's name is globally unique and is used to organize the top level of Fantom's namespace. Pod names are similar to Java packages or C# namespaces. To guarantee uniqueness, try use a naming convention which won't produce conflicts (see conventions).

Pods are also the fundamental unit of deployment, versioning, and dependency management. In this role pods are like Java JAR files or .NET DLLs. A pod is a standard zip file which bundles the Fantom code for the pod's types, metadata, plus any associated file resources.

The Pod type is the reflection API for working with pods installed in a given Fantom installation. Code examples for common pod operations:

Pod.list                       // list the pods installed
Pod.find("acmeFoo")            // find a pod (throws exception if not found)
Pod.find("acmeFoo", false)     // find a pod (returns null if not found)
myPod.file(`/img/icon.png`)    // lookup a resource file in myPod
`fan://myPod/img/icon.png`.get // lookup a resource file in myPod
someObj.typeof.pod             // get the pod of an object/type
Pod.of(someObj)                // get the pod of an object

See Pods chapter for more details.

Types

A Type is an object oriented class which encapsulates state and behavior. Types are contained within pods and identified by a name unique within that pod. The :: double colon is used to combine the pod name with the type name to create the qualified name or qname. Because pod names are globally unique, a type's qname is also globally unique. For example sys::Str is the qname of the Str type which is contained by the sys pod.

There are two variations of Types in Fantom: classes and mixins.

The Type type is the reflection API for working with types at runtime. Code snippets for common type operations:

someObj.typeof            // get the type of the an object
myPod.types               // list the types in myPod
myPod.findType("Foo")     // find a type within myPod by its simple name
Type.find("myPod::Foo")   // lookup a type by its qualified name
Int#                      // type literal for sys::Int
someType.fits(Num#)       // reflective version of is/instanceof operator

Slots

Types encapsulate state and behavior as a collection of slots. Slots are named uniquely within a given type. The . dot is used to combine the parent type's qname to create the slot's qname. For example sys::DateTime.now is the globally unique qualified name which identifies the now method within the DateTime type within the sys pod.

There are two types of slots:

The Slot type is the reflection API for working with slots at runtime. Code examples for commonly used slot operations:

someType.slot("xyz")         // lookup the slot called xyz on someType
Slot.find("myPod::Foo.xyz")  // looukp a slot by its qualified name
method.call([arg0, arg1])    // invoke method using reflection
method.func                  // the function which implements the method
field.get(instance)          // get a field using reflection
SomeType#xyx                 // slot literal for slot on SomeType
#xyx                         // slot literal current type

All slots are keyed by a unique name. This means Fantom does not support methods overloaded by parameter type like Java or C#. Although you may find this to be a drag on occasion, there are a couple features in Fantom that make this restriction quite palatable. First method parameters may have defaults - this eliminates the convenience methods commonly used in Java or C# APIs. Second all types subclass from Obj - this eliminates the API bloat required to support all the primitives in an API like java.io.PrintWriter. Lastly, constructors in Fantom are named which eliminates another common requirement for parameter based overloading. The benefit of this restriction is the really cool ability to lookup methods simply by name or qname making reflective programming and dynamic invocation a zillion times simpler.

Methods

Methods are the basic unit for encapsulating behavior in Fantom. Methods are really just slot wrappers for a function. Every method has a return type and zero or more typed parameters. Methods which don't return an object have a return type of Void.

The Method API is used to work with methods reflectively at runtime.

Methods are discussed in depth in the Methods chapter.

Fields

Fields are used to model state in a given type. Fields in Fantom are composed of three concepts:

  • Getter: a method used to access the current value of the field;
  • Setter: a method used to change the current value of the field;
  • Storage: a storage location in memory for the current value;

Most fields have all three components, but typically the getter and setter is auto-generated by the compiler. Const fields have only storage and no getter or setter. Fantom also allows abstract and calculated fields which have a getter and setter, but no storage.

The Field API is used to work with fields reflectively at runtime.

We'll take a deep dive into fields later in the Fields chapter.