Friday, March 31, 2017

Development tutorial: SysExtension framework with SysExtensionIAttribute and an Instantiation strategy

Problem statement

This post will continue from where we left off in my previous blog post about the SysExtension framework: Development tutorial: SysExtension framework in factory methods where the constructor requires one or more arguments

In the above blog post I described how to use the SysExtension framework in combination with an Instantiation strategy, which applies in many cases where the class being instantiated requires input arguments in the constructor.

At the end of the post, however, I mentioned there is one flaw with that implementation. That problem is performance.

If you remember a blog post by mfp from a while back (https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/mfp/2014/05/08/x-pedal-to-the-metal/), in it he describes the problems with the SysExtension framework in AX 2012 R2, where there were two main issues:
  • A heavy use of reflection to build the cacheKey used to look up the types
  • Interop impact when needing to make Native AOS calls instead of pure IL
The second problem is not really relevant in Dynamics 365 for Operations, as everything runs in IL now by default.

And the first problem was resolved through introduction of an interface, SysExtensionIAttribute, which would ensure the cache is built by the attribute itself and does not require reflection calls, which immediately improved the performance by more than 10x.

Well, if you were paying attention to the example in my previous blog post, you noticed that my attribute did not implement the above-mentioned interface. That is because using an instantiation strategy in combination with the SysExtensionIAttribute attribute was not supported.

It becomes obvious if you look at the comments in the below code snippet of the SysExtension framework:
public class SysExtensionAppClassFactory extends SysExtensionElementFactory
{
    ...
    public static Object getClassFromSysAttribute(
        ClassName       _baseClassName,
        SysAttribute    _sysAttribute,
        SysExtAppClassDefaultInstantiation  _defaultInstantiation = null
        )
    {
        SysExtensionISearchStrategy         searchStrategy;
        SysExtensionCacheValue              cachedResult;
        SysExtModelAttributeInstance        attributeInstance;
        Object                              classInstance;
        SysExtensionIAttribute              sysExtensionIAttribute = _sysAttribute as SysExtensionIAttribute;

        // The attribute implements SysExtensionIAttribute, and no instantiation strategy is specified
        // Use the much faster implementation in getClassFromSysExtAttribute().
        if (sysExtensionIAttribute && !_defaultInstantiation)
        {
            return SysExtensionAppClassFactory::getClassFromSysExtAttribute(_baseClassName, sysExtensionIAttribute);
        }
        ...
    }
    ...
}

So if we were to use an Instantiation strategy we would fall back to the "old" way that goes through reflection. Moreover, it would actually not work even then, as it would confuse the two ways of getting the cache key.

That left you with one of two options:

  • Not implement the SysExtensionIAttribute on the attribute and rip the benefits of using an instantiation strategy, but suffer the significant performance hit it brings with it, or
  • Use the SysExtensionIAttribute, but as a result not be able to use the instantiation strategy, which limited the places where it was applicable

No more! 

We have updated the SysExtension framework in Platform Update 5, so now you can rip the benefits of both worlds, using an instantiation strategy and implementing the SysExtensionIAttribute interface on the attribute.

Let us walk through the changes required to our project for that:

1.

First off, let's implement the interface on the attribute definition. We can now also get rid of the parm* method, which was only necessary when the "old" approach with reflection was used, as that was how the framework would retrieve the attribute value to build up the cache key. 

class NoYesUnchangedFactoryAttribute extends SysAttribute implements SysExtensionIAttribute
{
    NoYesUnchanged noYesUnchangedValue;

    public void new(NoYesUnchanged _noYesUnchangedValue)
    {
        noYesUnchangedValue = _noYesUnchangedValue;
    }

    public str parmCacheKey()
    {
        return classStr(NoYesUnchangedFactoryAttribute)+';'+int2str(enum2int(noYesUnchangedValue));
    }

    public boolean useSingleton()
    {
        return true;
    }

}

As part of implementing the interface we needed to provide the implementation of a parmCacheKey() method, which returns the cache key taking into account the attribute value. We also need to implement the useSingleton() method, which determines if the same instance should be returned by the extension framework for a given extension.

The framework will now rely on the parmCacheKey() method instead of needing to browse through the parm methods on the attribute class.

2.

Let's now also change the Instantiation strategy class we created, and implement the SysExtensionIInstantiationStrategy interface instead of extending from SysExtAppClassDefaultInstantiation. That is not necessary now and is cleaner this way.

public class InstantiationStrategyForClassWithArg implements SysExtensionIInstantiationStrategy
{
...
}

The implementation should stay the same.

3. 

Finally, let's change the construct() method on the base class to use the new API, by calling the getClassFromSysAttributeWithInstantiationStrategy() method instead of getClassFromSysAttribute() (which is still there for backward compatibility):

public class BaseClassWithArgInConstructor
{
...
    public static BaseClassWithArgInConstructor construct(NoYesUnchanged _factoryType, str _argument)
    {
        NoYesUnchangedFactoryAttribute attr = new NoYesUnchangedFactoryAttribute(_factoryType);
        BaseClassWithArgInConstructor inst = SysExtensionAppClassFactory::getClassFromSysAttributeWithInstantiationStrategy(
            classStr(BaseClassWithArgInConstructor), attr, InstantiationStrategyForClassWithArg::construct(_argument));
        
        return inst;
    }
}

Result

Running the test now will produce the following result in infolog:

The derived class was returned with the argument populated in

Download

You can download the full project for the updated example from my OneDrive.


Hope this helps!