About a year ago, as part of the technical book club on the labs team at Flatiron School, we read the infamous Design Patterns - Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software by the Gang of Four. Perhaps tried to read is more accurate. As a beginner and Rubyist, I found that much of the original book went over my head, so I instead the updated, Ruby version of the patterns, Design Patterns in Ruby, by Russ Olsen.

Although a lot of that went over my head too, as a group, we decided that most of the design patterns boil down to the strategy pattern, so that’s the one that I’ve tried to focus on and incorporate into my applications as much as possible.

Strategy Pattern

According to OO Design.com, the intent of the strategy pattern is to “define a family of algorithms, encapsulate each one, and make them interchangeable.” The way I’ve interpreted this is that when a client (whatever’s going to be calling your code) needs to perform an operation that varies slightly based on the situation, whether that’s in response to input or based on different conditions that can be detected, you can use the strategy pattern to simplify the interface.

Strategy Pattern in Practice (A Use Case)

Recently, I was working on updating a script to batch update a bunch of curriculum used on Learn.co. Already in existence was a Learn Writer Script, which a colleague of mine wrote to open source our curriculum. This script essentially added the three files needed to make valid content for Learn, the .learn, CONTRIBUTING.md, and LICENSE.md. That was all well and good when that’s all we needed to do, but a new use case, the need to reformat a bunch of readmes that were incorrectly created as labs.

This to me sounded like a perfect use case for the strategy pattern because I wanted the client to be able to vary the algorithm such that it could still open source curriculum and also toggle labs to readmes. The easy patch, of course, would be to just add some janky code that would handle that, but I felt this would be an excellent excuse to make the script more flexible and enable additional strategies to be incorporated in the future.

Using the Strategy Pattern

After inspecting the existing code, I noticed that there was a class called RepoWriter that handled writing the three required files if they didn’t exist. This class both configured the GitHub client (using Octokit) and handled checking the GitHub repo for the files and writing them if they didn’t already exist. (We store our curriculum in GitHub repositories.)

In order to make this more flexible, I decided to turn this class into a strategy, OpenSource. Then I defined a Base Strategy, that would abstract away all the shared behavior among all strategies. Finally, I defined a new class, ToggleToReadme that would remove files such as index.html, index.js, and package.json, and recursively remove everything in a spec or test directory.

Prior to my refactor, the bin/run file would take an array of repos, and pass them into the RepoWriter, then call the method write_to_repo on it.


# /bin/run

#!/usr/bin/env ruby

require_relative "../config/environment"

# get the secret octo_token
secrets = YAML::load(File.open(Dir.pwd + '/config/application.yml'))

# take array of repo urls, collect names
repos = ["https://github.com/SophieDeBenedetto/test-writer", "https://github.com/SophieDeBenedetto/test-writer-2"]
repos = repos.map { |repo| Repo.new(repo) }

# write content for each repo
repos.each do |repo|
  RepoWriter.new(repo, secrets).write_to_repo
end

The RepoWriter class was defined as such:

#
class RepoWriter

  VALID_LICENSE = File.open(File.expand_path(File.dirname(__FILE__)) + '/fixtures/LICENSE.md')
  VALID_CONTRIBUTING = File.open(File.expand_path(File.dirname(__FILE__)) + '/fixtures/CONTRIBUTING.md')
  VALID_DOT_LEARN = File.open(File.expand_path(File.dirname(__FILE__)) + '/fixtures/VALID_DOT_LEARN.yml')
  APPLICATION_TOKENS_PATH = File.open(Dir.pwd + '/config/application.yml')

  
  attr_accessor :client, :repo_content, :repo_name, :owner_name, :secrets

  def initialize(repo, secrets)
    @secrets = secrets
    configure_client
    @repo_name = repo.name
    @owner_name = repo.owner
    @repo_content = {contributing: {sha: " ", present: false}, license: {sha: " ", present: false}, dot_learn: {sha: " ", present: false}}
  end

  def configure_client
    @client ||= Octokit::Client.new(:access_token => self.secrets["octo_token"])
  end

  def write_license
    license_content = File.read(VALID_LICENSE)
    client.create_contents("#{owner_name}/#{repo_name}", "LICENSE.md", "create license", license_content)
  end

  def write_contributing
    contributing_content = File.read(VALID_CONTRIBUTING)
    client.create_contents("#{owner_name}/#{repo_name}", "CONTRIBUTING.md", "create contributing", contributing_content)
  end

  def write_dot_learn
    dot_learn_content = File.read(VALID_DOT_LEARN)
    client.create_contents("#{owner_name}/#{repo_name}", ".learn", "create dot_learn", dot_learn_content)
  end

  def check_for_file_presence
    files = client.contents("#{owner_name}/#{repo_name}", path: "")
    files.each do |file|
      if file[:name] == "CONTRIBUTING.md"
        self.repo_content[:contributing][:sha] = file[:sha]
        self.repo_content[:contributing][:present] = true
      elsif file[:name] == "LICENSE.md"
        self.repo_content[:license][:sha] = file[:sha]
        self.repo_content[:license][:present] = true
      elsif file[:name] == ".learn"
        self.repo_content[:dot_learn][:sha] = file[:sha]
        self.repo_content[:dot_learn][:present] = true
      end
    end
  end

  def find_or_create(type)
    unless self.repo_content[type.to_sym][:present]
      send("write_#{type}")
    end
  end

  def write_to_repo
    check_for_file_presence
    ["license", "dot_learn", "contributing"].each do |type|
      find_or_create(type)
    end
  end
end

After a bunch of refactoring, I decided that I’d rewrite the bin/run as follows:

# bin/run

#!/usr/bin/env ruby

require_relative "../config/environment"

# get the secret octo_token
secrets = YAML::load(File.open(Dir.pwd + '/config/application.yml'))

#parse strategy from command line
strategy = ARGV.first
raise "Strategy undefined" unless BaseStrategy::VALID_STRATEGIES.include?(strategy)

# parse CSV of repo urls
csv_path = ARGV[1]
raise "Must provide path to CSV" if csv_path.empty?

repos = []
CSV.foreach(csv_path) do |row|
  repos << Repo.new(row.first)
end

repos.each do |repo|
  Object.const_get(strategy).new(repo, secrets).execute
end

So here, I’m allowing the user to pass in a strategy from the command line. That strategy is then validated. I also did a little refactor to allow the program to accept a path to a CSV, which I would then parse.

What’s really interesting for me is turning the strategy passed from the command line a class, creating an instance of that class, and then calling execute on it, service-object style. This bit of metaprogramming allows us to dynamically execute the correct strategy based on the user’s input.

Then, as I mentioned before, I encapsulated each “algorithm” into a separate class. Within a lib/strategies directory, I placed the BaseStrategy, OpenSource, and ToggleToReadme classes.

In the new paradigm, BaseStrategy, handled configuring the client and generating a hash of relevant files.

# lib/strategies/base_strategy.rb

class BaseStrategy
  VALID_STRATEGIES = ["OpenSource", "ToggleToReadme"]

  def initialize(repo, secrets)
    @secrets = secrets
    configure_client
    @repo_name = repo.name
    @owner_name = repo.owner
    @repo_content = generate_repo_content_hash
  end

  def configure_client
    @client ||= Octokit::Client.new(:access_token => self.secrets["octo_token"])
  end

  def generate_repo_content_hash
    relevant_files.each_with_object({}) do |file, hash|
      hash[filename_to_sym(file)] = {sha: " ", present: false}
    end
  end

  def filename_to_sym(filename)
    filename.gsub(".", "_").to_sym
  end

end

OpenSource and ToggleToReadme both inherit from BaseStrategy, but are specialized to handle their specific operations.

# lib/strategies/open_source.rb
class OpenSource < BaseStrategy

  VALID_LICENSE      = File.open(File.expand_path(File.dirname(File.dirname(__FILE__))) + '/fixtures/LICENSE.md')
  VALID_CONTRIBUTING = File.open(File.expand_path(File.dirname(File.dirname(__FILE__))) + '/fixtures/CONTRIBUTING.md')
  VALID_DOT_LEARN    = File.open(File.expand_path(File.dirname(File.dirname(__FILE__))) + '/fixtures/VALID_DOT_LEARN.yml')
  APPLICATION_TOKENS_PATH = File.open(Dir.pwd + '/config/application.yml')

  attr_accessor :client, :repo_content, :repo_name, :owner_name, :secrets

  def execute
    check_for_file_presence
    write_to_repo
  end

  private

  def relevant_files
    ["LICENSE.md", "CONTRIBUTING.md", ".learn"]
  end

  def write_licensemd
    license_content = File.read(VALID_LICENSE)
    client.create_contents("#{owner_name}/#{repo_name}", "LICENSE.md", "create license", license_content)
  end

  def write_contributingmd
    contributing_content = File.read(VALID_CONTRIBUTING)
    client.create_contents("#{owner_name}/#{repo_name}", "CONTRIBUTING.md", "create contributing", contributing_content)
  end

  def write_learn
    dot_learn_content = File.read(VALID_DOT_LEARN)
    client.create_contents("#{owner_name}/#{repo_name}", ".learn", "create dot_learn", dot_learn_content)
  end

  def check_for_file_presence
    files = client.contents("#{owner_name}/#{repo_name}", path: "")
    files.each do |file|
      if relevant_files.include?(file[:name])
        self.repo_content[filename_to_sym(file[:name])][:sha] = file[:sha]
        self.repo_content[filename_to_sym(file[:name])][:present] = true
      end
    end
  end

  def find_or_create(file)
    unless self.repo_content[filename_to_sym(file)][:present]
      send("write_#{file.gsub(".", "").downcase}")
    end
  end

  def write_to_repo
    relevant_files.each do |file|
      find_or_create(file)
    end
  end
end

And finally, ToggleToReadme uses Octokit slightly differently so that it can recursively remove the test or spec directory.

# lib/strategies/toggle_to_readme.rb

class ToggleToReadme < BaseStrategy
  attr_reader :client, :repo_name, :owner_name, :secrets, :repo_content, :files, :spec_files

  def initialize(repo, secrets)
    super(repo, secrets) 
    @spec_files = []
  end
 
  def execute
    get_files
    check_for_file_presence
    delete_files
    check_for_spec_directory
    delete_specs
  end

  private

  def relevant_files
    [ "index.html", "index.js", "package.json"]
  end

  def delete_files
    relevant_files.each do |file|
      file_hash = repo_content[filename_to_sym(file)]
      if file_hash[:present]
        delete(file, file_hash[:sha])
      end
    end
  end

  def delete_specs
    spec_files.each do |file|
      delete(file[:path], file[:sha])
    end
  end

  def delete(filename, sha)
    unless filename == "spec" || filename == "test"
      client.delete_contents("#{owner_name}/#{repo_name}", "#{filename}", "deleting #{filename}", sha)
    end
  end

  def get_files
    sha = client.ref("#{owner_name}/#{repo_name}", "heads/master").object.sha
    sha_base_tree = client.commit("#{owner_name}/#{repo_name}", sha).commit.tree.sha
    @files = client.tree("#{owner_name}/#{repo_name}", sha_base_tree, :recursive => true).tree
  end

  def check_for_file_presence
    files.each do |file|
      if relevant_files.include?(file[:path])
        self.repo_content[filename_to_sym(file[:path])][:sha] = file[:sha]
        self.repo_content[filename_to_sym(file[:path])][:present] = true
      end
    end
  end

  def check_for_spec_directory
    files.each do |file|
      if file.path.include?("test") || file.path.include?("spec")
        spec_files << { path: file.path, sha: file.sha }
      end
    end
  end

end

There’s of course still room to improve this script, but refactoring has been super fun! Now, if we ever need to batch update curriculum again in a slightly different way, we could just define a new strategy in lib/strategies, whitelist it within BaseStrategy, and then just run the script. Whoot! Hooray for the strategy pattern.

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