[erlang-questions] Parameterized module initialization

Steve Davis steven.charles.davis@REDACTED
Thu Jun 28 01:49:25 CEST 2012

Hi Richard,

Accepted and thanks for taking the time to write the explanation for me 
(and hopefully it will clarify that question for others too).

...so this is more like currying than state. 

Thanks again,

On Wednesday, June 27, 2012 7:35:14 AM UTC-5, Richard Carlsson wrote:
> On 06/27/2012 03:15 AM, Steve Davis wrote: 
> > Is it just me, or is hidden state in a function that appears to the 
> > client as stateless always bad news... eventually? 
> Yes, but this isn't about state. That's what makes it different from 
> object oriented programming. Once you create M=mymodule:new(42), 
> M is always the same M. Nothing that anybody else does can change the 
> module instance behind your back. This is just as referentially 
> transparent as the following: 
>    make_adder(X) -> fun (Y) -> Y+X end. 
>    add(A,B) -> 
>        F = make_adder(B), 
>        F(A). 
> Using parameterized modules, this could be written 
>    -module(adder, [X]). 
>    -export([add/1]). 
>    add(Y) -> Y+X. 
>    -module(foo). 
>    add(A,B) -> 
>        Adder=adder:new(B), 
>        Adder:add(A). 
> The main difference between funs and parameterized modules are that 
> modules allow you to have several differently named entry points with 
> possibly different arities. But you can do that with funs as well if you 
> want; it's just more clumsy: 
>     make_stepper(C) -> fun ({forward, N})  -> C*N; 
>                            ({backward, N}) -> -C*N 
>                        end. 
> compare: 
>     -module(stepper, [C]). 
>     -export([forward/1,backward/1]). 
>     forward(N) -> C*N. 
>     backward(N) -> -C*N. 
> Also important is that parameterized modules are by design not tied to a 
> particular version of the code (they always call the latest version of 
> the module). Funs don't survive reloading the code for the module twice, 
> but a module instance can be kept around for a long time. 
> A caveat is that (just like funs) existing instances stop working if you 
> change the interface and reload the code - for example, changing 
> -module(foo, [X]) to -module([X,Y]). That's why I recommend that client 
> code should probably never call your_module:new(...) directly, but 
> always via some kind of facade, so clients don't know the actual names 
> of the modules they instantiate and thus you can update the module name 
> along with the interface if you need to to that sort of incompatible 
> change: e.g., "make_mod(X) -> mod_v1:new(X)." becomes "make_mod(X,Y) -> 
> mod_v2:new(X,Y)." 
>      /Richard 
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