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Actors / Roles

Roles are like classes in object oriented programming. They have states and actions. But here, they may represent a participant in a system. It could be,

  • microservice
  • process
  • thread
  • just a role (Eg. coordinator, participant in 2-Phase Commit)
  • database

If you are writing a design doc, and created a block diagram with it, they most likely represent a role in the system.

Roles can have state, actions, functions and even assertions like a top level spec. So basically, roles just provide a way to organize the code.

Role

Role is just a collection of states, actions and functions.

The syntax should be familiar to most python programmers. The state variables will be initialized in the Init action, and the variables can be accessed using self reference. (Java and other languages use this instead of self)

To initialize, just call the constructor with the role name.

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Status = enum('INIT', 'DONE')

role Node:

  action Init:
    self.status = Status.INIT

  action Done:
    self.status = Status.DONE

action Init:
  n = Node()

Run it in the FizzBee playground, you can see the two possible states, and the graph.

Parameters

You can pass in parameters to the role constructor as named parameters. The parameters will be automatically assigned to the role variables.

For example, you can assign a unique id to a role instance.

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Status = enum('INIT', 'DONE')

role Node:

  action Init:
    self.status = Status.INIT

  atomic action Done:
    self.status = Status.DONE
    done.add(self.ID)

action Init:
  n1 = Node(ID=1)
  n2 = Node(ID=2)
  done = set()

Now, notice the ID is available as self.ID. You can set multiple parameters as needed.

Functions

Again, like in the top level spec, you can define functions in the role.

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Status = enum('INIT', 'DONE')

role Node:

  action Init:
    self.status = Status.INIT

  atomic action Done:
    self.done()

  atomic func done():
    self.status = Status.DONE
    done.add(self.ID)

action Init:
  n1 = Node(ID=1)
  n2 = Node(ID=2)
  done = set()

Dynamic Role Creation and Deletion

You can create and delete roles dynamically. When a role is created, from the next yield point on, the actions would be automatically scheduled.

Similarly, when a role is deleted, the actions would be removed from the scheduler.

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MIN_NODES=1
MAX_NODES=2

Status = enum('INIT', 'DONE')

role Node:

  action Init:
    self.status = Status.INIT

  atomic action Done:
    self.status = Status.DONE
    done.add(self.ID)


action Init:
  nodes = []
  for i in range(0, MIN_NODES):
      n = Node(ID=i)
      nodes.append(n)
  done = set()

atomic action AddNode:
  if len(nodes) < MAX_NODES:
    n = Node(ID=len(nodes))
    nodes.append(n)

atomic action RemoveNode:
  nodes = nodes[0:len(nodes)-1]

Role Communication

Read more about Role Communication

Example: Two Phase Commit with actor style

Take a look at the 2-Phase Commit example for a more complex example of roles in action.