A Paperclip Refactoring Tale: Part One: Dependency Injection

A Paperclip Refactoring Tale: Part One: Dependency Injection

The Beginnings

Good refactoring has a goal. The goal of this refactoring is to make it easier for people to hook into Paperclip.

To start I surveyed existing gems, plugins, and apps that hook into Paperclip. I took a quick glance through Github and found that delayed_paperclip, mongoid-paperclip, papermill, paperclip-extended, and paperclip-facecrop all served as good sample gems that change Paperclip in unique ways. My end desire was to remove the need for monkey patching, and if I could go one further to remove the need for subclassing that’d be even better.

Papermill is a sample Rails app that uses Paperclip, extending it with watermarking, copyrighting, and a custom geometry string. It does this by extending the existing thumbnail Paperclip processor, overriding two methods: the constructor and transformation_command. The new constructor does a ton of parsing: the geometry string is parsed for options indicating a desire to add a copyright or watermark, the copyright or watermark string is extracted from the options, and cropping offsets are parsed out too. It uses all of this to manipulate the transformation_command, like this: it invokes the super’s transformation_command, which produces a string. It then subs the string, sticking various bits set from the constructor into the middle of the command. The watermarking aspect is particularly tricky, since it must change the convert command to a convert ... | composite command, using string manipulation.

This will not do.

The Abstractions

The first change I made was to parameterize the geometry parsing (3f7aee3 and eebc7d9). Now if you want a Thumbnail-based processor but with a custom geometry parser you can do that right from has_attached_file:

has_attached_file :avatar,
  :styles => {:medium => {
    :geometry => '80x60#10x5:2x1',
    :string_geometry_parser => CroppingGeometryCommandParser.new
  }}

This change looks a little like this. Before:

module Paperclip
  class Thumbnail < Processor
    def initialize(file, options = {}, attachment = nil)
      super

      geometry             = options[:geometry] # this is not an option
      @file                = file
      @target_geometry     = Geometry.parse(geometry)
      @current_geometry    = Geometry.from_file(@file)
    end
  end
end

After:

module Paperclip
  class Thumbnail < Processor
    def initialize(file, options = {}, attachment = nil)
      super

      geometry             = options[:geometry] # this is not an option
      @file                = file
      @target_geometry     = (options[:string_geometry_parser] || Geometry).parse(geometry)
      @current_geometry    = (options[:file_geometry_parser] || Geometry).from_file(@file)
    end
  end
end

The change? Instead of hardcoding the Geometry class it instead takes it as an argument. The geometry parsing can now be replaced by any arbitrary object. In the tests, for example, instead of creating files that parse to the proper size or instead of stubbing, you can just pass an object that has a #from_file method and produces the correct object. The Geometry class is still the default for legacy reasons.

I split these into the string_geometry_parser and file_geometry_parser because they do different tasks: one takes a file and produces an object that knows how to produce the desired scaling and cropping arguments (lets call this the transformation), and another produces an object that is passed to the transformation.

With that small but powerful change out of the way I took a look at paperclip-extended. This is an old gem; many of these extensions have been rolled into Paperclip by now. The only thing that was impossible without monkey patching was the extended interpolations. For example, normally you can have a file path like /system/images/:rails_env/:id/i:basename.:extension and the :rails_env, :id, :basename, and :extension will be replaced with proper values—but it was impossible to add new interpolation values, such as :normalized_basename (removing non-alphanumerics).

The fix for this (7478455) is similar to that for geometry parsing: pass a custom interpolator to the Attachment through has_attached_file:

has_attached_file :avatar,
  :interpolator => InterpolatorWithNormalization.new

This change takes place in the Attachment class. Before:

module Paperclip
  class Attachment
    def interpolate(pattern, style_name = default_style)
      Paperclip::Interpolations.interpolate(pattern, self, style_name)
    end
  end
end

After:

module Paperclip
  class Attachment
    def initialize(name, instance, options = {})
      @interpolator = (options[:interpolator] || Paperclip::Interpolations)
    end

    def interpolate(pattern, style_name = default_style)
      @interpolator.interpolate(pattern, self, style_name)
    end
  end
end

Again, a straight-forward change that makes this class easier to test and also adds more extensibility.

The Reasonings

This is dependency injection. It is a very boring and simple principle that goes like this: abstract out class names where possible. This gains you both ease of testing and straight-forward hooks for extensibility.

You just saw two examples of it from a real project, so I’ll follow it up with an example from nothing:

Before:

class Car
  def gas
    puts "Vroom putter putter putter"
  end

  def brake
    puts "screeeetch!"
  end
end

After:

class Car
  attr_accessor :engine

  def initialize(engine)
    @engine = engine
  end

  def gas
    engine.go!
  end

  def brake
    engine.stop!
  end
end

This gains you testing ease:

describe Car do
  let(:engine) do
    Class.new do

      def go!
        @has_gone = true
      end

      def stop!
        @has_stopped = true
      end

      def has_gone?
        @has_gone
      end

      def has_stopped?
        @has_stopped
      end

    end.new
  end

  subject { Car.new(engine) }

  it "goes" do
    car.gas
    engine.should have_gone
  end

  it "stops" do
    car.brake
    engine.should have_stopped
  end
end

… and flexibility:

yuppie = Person.new(:car => Car.new(HybridEngine.new(:diesel => 40, :electricity => 60))
bro = Person.new(:car => Car.new(V12Engine.new(:mpg => 2))

Y'all

Now you get to use this. Things you can do:

  • Write a Gem that provides a custom Paperclip interpolator. Encrypt file names, handle uppercase/lowercase issues, offer the time of day, offer a random number, and so on—anything you need!
  • Write a gem that provides a custom Paperclip geometry sizer. It scales and crops images differently. For example, pick out people’s faces, crop from the center, measure hard-to-measure images, and so on.
  • While refactoring your code use a dependency injection principle somewhere. Instead of Net::HTTP use a passed-in object; same for any credit card processing, Tweeting, file-writing, logging, and so on.
Mike Burns Developer