Concepts



hof was designed from first principles to enable compounding accelerations when developing software and applications. This section introduces these core concepts. Subsequent sections dive deeper and provide examples.

Single Source of Truth

Most of what we write as developers is largely redundent. From frontend forms, to api handlers, to database tables, there are many things that are very similar even with the fantastic libraries out there today.

Imagine when you need to add a field to a user’s profile. You need to alter the data model and code base in many places. The database, server code, and frontend forms are just three posible areas likely involving multiple files, tests, and devops for each.

With hof we write down the conceptual data model once using Cuelang, purpose built for configuration. We call this the “design” and it is combined with parameterized modules, which have schemas, extensions, and code generators. You can leverage existing modules, create your own, or even combine and extend both.

We say “Single Source of Truth” because we only want to express ourselves once, in one place. From here we can create all the things and write our own code intermixed with the generated code. We can be iterative as well, hof understands the changes and updates it’s part to not only update schemes, but also write code which manages rolling updates gracefully across the application technology stack.

Designs and Data Models++

The data model is core to any application. In hof we write data models using CUE and enrich them with extra context and options. These are what we call the “design” for your application. It’s very similar to types or classes with annotations as in other languages, written as configuration in CUE, which has many nice properties purpose built for this task.

Your designs conform to the schemas of the modules you use. Schemas define the context, options, and configuration for a module. As you incorporate more modules, you will add to your designs. This is where the enrichment on the data model largely comes from.

Some common enrichments on the data model:

  • relationship between data models
  • restricted and / or combined data views
  • who can access or modify the data
  • what technologies to use and their details when needed

Designs are merged with modules and code generators when you run the hof CLI tool. The modules and code generators will use your designs to generate applications and their pieces.

Code (re)Generation

hof was born from the dream that we ought to be able to write our idea down once and have a tool to generate a complete application from that. Not only the application, but much of the process and life cycle components of real production software.

So in hof, the companion to designs are code generators. These read in your designs, have logic to condition output, and uses text interpolation to generate files for just about anything. While most users may only write designs, code generators are where the schema and template files define what is possible. Typically these are grouped in a module.

Polyglot Modules

Modules in hof are a flexible version of the Minium Version Selcetion (MVS) dependency managment algorithm popularized by Golang. They are polyglot because they can contain any of:

  • technolgy choices
  • code generators
  • sub-modules and dependencies

A common workflow for using a module is:

  1. add a module as a dependency
  2. import that module’s schema and generator
  3. setup the generator and update design for the schema
  4. run hof to generate code and use the module

Customization

hof’s core is designed to enable customization and enhancement in all concepts. The most important is we understand that complete applications cannot be generated and that they themselves will need custom code and integrations. With hof you can write your code within the generated code. Care is taken to keep everything intact through design updates, regeneration of code, and your own coding no matter the order.

You can also customize and extend any of the designs, code generators, and modules you use and create. This was another core tenament of hof’s design, how to have another order or two of code reuse. With the shared designs and code generators we are already improving code reuse drastically. When you customize or extend other modules, you can keep the base you build on up-to-date. With granular customization and the dependency system you can fine tune modules and ensure correctness.

Last modified November 26, 2020: initial import / setup (07f0cc0)

2020 Hofstadter, Inc