EMF-IncQuery Pattern Matcher API Documentation

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There are two ways you can use the EMF-IncQuery Pattern Matcher in your application. Either you can use the generic pattern matcher components, or the pattern-specific generated components. In most cases you won’t need the generic pattern matcher, which is much more complex to use. However they conform to the same reflective interfaces, and there is no performance difference between the two. Here we will present a simple introduction to the generated components, which contains many features to help you to integrate it into your java application.

Most important classes and relationships

For every pattern a Match, a Matcher, a MatcherFactory, a Processor and optionally several Evaluator classes are generated. Let’s look into what these classes are responsible for:

  • Match: This represents a match of the pattern. Basically it is used to transfer data to and from the pattern matcher. The generated variables represent the pattern header parameters. You can use it to specify fixed input parameters to a query, and the results of you queries will be instances of this class. Note, that in each case the pattern parameters can be partially filled. It can be used in conjunction with the Matcher class.
  • Matcher: This is the main entry point in our API, with pattern-specific query methods. First of all it provides means to initialize a pattern matcher for a given EMF instance model which can either be a Resource, a ResourceSet, or an EObject (in this latter case, the scope of the matching will be the containment tree under the passed EObject). We recommend the use of ResourceSets if possible to avoid cross-reference related issues. After the initialization of the engine the Matcher provides getter methods to retrieve the contents of the match set anytime. For easy iteration over the match set it provides a convenience method (forEachMatch) as well, as this is the most frequent use case in our observation. Of course it contains other handy features (e.g.: countMatches, hasMatch) to help integration. Finally, it provides a DeltaMonitor which can be used to track the changes in the match set in an efficient, event-driven fashion.
  • MatcherFactory: A pattern-specific factory that can instantiate a Matcher class in a type-safe way. You can get an instance of it via the Matcher class’s factory() method. There are two ways to instantiate a Matcher, with a Notifier (e.g.: Resource, ResourceSet and EObject) as we mentioned already, or with an IncQueryEngine. In both cases if the pattern is already registered (with the same root in the case of the Notifier method) then only a lightweight reference is created which points to the existing engine.
  • Processor: The Matcher provides a function to iterate over the match set and invoke the process() method of the IMatchProcessor interface with every match. To help with the processing an abstract processor class is generated, which you can override to implement the logic you would like to use. The abstract class unpacks the match variables so it can be used directly in the process() method.
  • Evaluator: If your pattern contains check expressions an evaluator java code is generated from it. It is used by the engine during a query to evaluate the expression’s result. In most cases you don’t need to deal with these classes.

Lifecycle management

We have an EngineManager singleton class to orchestrate the lifecycle of the IncQueryEngines. There are two types of engines: managed and unmanaged. We recommend the use of managed engines, this is the default behavior, as these engines can share common indices and caches to save memory and cpu time. The EngineManager ensures that there will be no duplicated engine for the same root object. The managed engines can be disposed from the manager if needed. On the other hand creating an unmanaged engine will give you the power and responsibility to use it correctly. It will have no common part with other engines.

The IncQueryEngine is attached to an EMF resource (Resource, ResourceSet or EObject) and hosts the pattern matchers. It will listen on EMF update notifications stemming from the given model in order to maintain live results. Pattern matchers can be registered in the following ways:

  • Instantiate the specific matcher class generated for the pattern, by passing to the constructor either this engine or the EMF model root.
  • Use the matcher factory associated with the generated matcher class to achieve the same.
  • Use the GenericPatternMatcher or the GenericMatcherFactory instead of the various generated classes.

If you want to remove the matchers from the engine you can call the wipe() method on it. It discards any pattern matcher caches and forgets the known patterns. The base index built directly on the underlying EMF model, however, is kept in memory to allow reuse when new pattern matchers are built. If you don’t want to use it anymore call the dispose() instead, to completely disconnect and dismantle the engine.

Typical programming patterns

We recommend trying out the @Handler annotation first, if you’re unfamiliar with the use of the EMF-IncQuery! It generates a sample code with a handler and a dialog that shows the matches of the query in a selected file resource. However you will only need to write just a few lines of code to start working with the pattern matcher:

Using the MatchProcessor

With the MatchProcessor you can iterate over the matches of a pattern quite easily:

Using the DeltaMonitor

There are some usecases where you don’t want to follow every change of a pattern’s match, just gather them together and process them when you’re ready. The DeltaMonitor can do this for you in a convenient way. It is a monitoring object that connects to the rete network as a receiver to reflect changes since an arbitrary state acknowledged by the client.

If a new matching is found, it appears in the matchFoundEvents collection, and disappears when that particular matching cannot be found anymore. If the event of finding a match has been processed by the client, it can be removed manually. In this case, when a previously found matching is lost, the Tuple will appear in the matchLostEvents collection, and disappear upon finding the same matching again. "Matching lost" events can also be acknowledged by removing a Tuple from the collection. If the matching is found once again, it will return to matchFoundEvents.