Dependency injection and how I use it in Vaccination iOS app

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In programming, dependency injection is a technique where one object serves dependencies to another object. The concept is that instead of the client object to decide what kind of service it will use, another object tells to the client what service he has to use.

We can see the dependency injection as a software pattern. The fundament of this pattern is passing the service or object to the client, instead of allowing the client to find or to build the service on his own. What is the advantage of using this pattern? The main pros of this pattern are the readability of the code and code reusability.

Dependency injection – Injector example

Dependency injection is one form of the broader technique of inversion of control. The client delegates the responsibility of providing dependencies to external code (the injector) (Figure 1). The client is not allowed to call the injector code; it is injecting code that constructs the services and calls the client to inject them. This means the client code does not need to know about the injecting code, how to construct the services or even which actual services it is using; the client only needs to know about the intrinsic interfaces of the services because these define how the client may use the services. This separates the responsibilities of use and construction.

Types of DI

There are 3 types of dependency injection:

  1. Constructor injection: the dependencies are provided through a class constructor
  2. Setter injection: the client exposes a setter method that the injector uses to inject the dependency
  3. Interface injection: the dependency provides an injector method that will inject the dependency into any client passed to it. Clients must implement an interface that exposes a setter method that accepts the dependency

Vaccination app example

In the iOS world, the constructor injection is known as an initializer-based injection. This concept is realized with injecting the dependency object (or service) during initialization of the client class and this dependency is consistent/unchangeable during the life cycle of the client object.

In the previous few months, I’ve worked on the vaccination iOS application for N47 and I’ve decided to use the popular MVVM pattern inside. In the core of this pattern is the dependency injection. The components of the pattern are Model, View, and ViewModel, and each component is responsible for a different thing in the app. The point is to make the code more modular and easy to test.

The ViewModel (VM) component is a structure that contains only the data needed by the View component. The View component is presenting the data injected by the ViewModel. The ViewModel at other side is created by injecting dependency from the Model component. The main advantage of the MVVM is that we are creating views that have only one goal – presenting data. The view itself is not aware of the other task like fetching, persisting, etc.

We can see the initializer-based injection in action with the real example used in the Vaccination Demo App of N47. Let’s see first how the Details ViewModel looks like:

struct VaccineDetailsViewModel {
    let title: String
    let description: String
    let date: String?
}

The vaccine details view only needs title, description, and date for the vaccine. It doesn’t need more information. On the other hand, the vaccine model can contain more details about the vaccine, but this information is useless for the View. Inside the view controller (View component) we define view model property and set it via controller initializer. We can see this in the code snippet below:

 var vacineViewModel: VaccineDetailsViewModel?

class func createController(viewModel: VaccineDetailsViewModel?) -> VaccinesDetailViewController {
     
        let controller = VaccinesDetailViewController(nibName: "VaccinesDetailViewController", bundle: nil)
        controller.vacineViewModel = viewModel

        return controller
    }

This type of injection is preferable because it keeps us the safety of creating incomplete objects and with that, we will avoid coding mistakes.
So when I want to create a controller that will present the details for the vaccines and the scheduled vaccines I’m using injection via initializer in this way:

let details = VaccinesDetailViewController.createController(model: vaccination.createModel())

Other DI types in action…

In the Vaccination App, I’m also using Dependency Injection via setter creating the UITableView cells.

var vaccinationData: Vaccination? = nil {
        didSet {
            guard let vaccineId = vaccinationData?.vaccineId else { return }
            guard let vaccine = VaccineManager.sharedInstance.getVaccineById(vaccineId: vaccineId) else { return }
            let language = ModuleSharedPreferences.shared.language.rawValue
            let translation = vaccine.translations[language]
            
            vaccineTitleLabel.text = translation?.name
            vaccineApplyDateLabel.text = vaccinationData?.date
        }
    }

The code snippet above shows the vaccination data object that should be set with setter if we want the cell to be populated with data. Here is the code that will do the magic:

        let cell = tableView.dequeueReusableCell(withIdentifier: VaccinesTableViewCell.cellIdentifier, for: indexPath) as! VaccinesTableViewCell
        
        let vaccination = vaccinationList[indexPath.row]
        
        cell.vaccinationData = vaccination

Conclusion

Dependency injection is a powerful technique. Our code becomes more readable, reusable and easy for testing. We were able to see this technique in action in a real project and it was used within the popular design patterns MVVM. Using this technique we become sure that our components/services are completed, fully created before we start to use it.

Impressions from UIKonf Berlin 2019

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With little doubts in the beginning, big uncertainty and the questions in my head “Is this the right conference?”, “Should I’ve chosen another conference?”… But it happened and I’m satisfied at the end of the day with my choice. Some of my colleagues were surprised of my choice (Berlin), but yes, I can definetly say “It was not a mistake”.

So how was it?

Day 1: Social events

I’ve chosen to be with the walking tour group. There were possibilities to be in different groups like Bicycle group, Boat trip group… But this was my choice. We were split into two groups by 12 people and a local tour guide. We visited different spots, like the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the popular Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin French Cathedral, the Brandenburg Gate, etc…

The day finished in a big restaurant where we received our conference badges and promo materials of the conference. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and new chance to meet and introduce yourself to new developers. Some of the participants were professionally oriented and immediately started to talk about iOS topics. Some were on their way to the bar ordering german beers and the popular “wursts”. There also was a small group that played some kind of table tennis game. I’ve attended in all of these social activities.

Day 2: Opening day of the UIKonf 2019

After the opening words and the short introduction, the conference officially started. The first day consisted of 9 presentations. The strongest impression of the day was the presentation of Ellie Shin about Mock Generator for Swift and how they at Uber solved the problem of mocking. They optimized the app to build the mocks in around 10 seconds instead of the previous time needed; it was more than 1 hour.

One of the best presentations of the day was from the lovely Julietta Yaunches. She talked about consistency principles in programming, how to keep the coding style consistent and not make big changes every day, how to decide when to introduce something new in your code, etc.

It were good presentations from Kristina Fox about Internationalization of the iOS applications, and the opening presentation from Kaya Tomas about Accessibility and Inclusion in the apps. A topic I wasn’t aware before this conference.

I also have to mention the presentation of Glenna Buford about how to organize the network stack of your iOS application.

The day finished with a social event named Ambassador’s dinner. The local participants of the conference had the task to show the other participants (foreigners, including me) the typical restaurants and bars in Berlin. I was in a group that visited Hofbrau Munich Restaurant in Berlin. We had some good discussions with colleagues from all over the World. Throughout the evening we enojyed some tasty good german beer and pork meat.

Day 3: 2nd day of UIKonf 2019

The second day had 9 new presentations and 9 new speakers.

The best of the day in my opinion was the presentation of Kate Castellano. She talked about applications with backend driven UI.

Among the better presentations was of Neha Kulkarni about Advanced Colors in Swift.

I will also mention Erica Sadun. She talked about Swift Strings. In her presentation she showed best practices about using strings in Swift, interpolation of strings, etc.

Also there was a choice to visit 2 workshops on MyTaxi boat stage near the conference hall. I visited this stage and it was about the management process, recruiting and organizing the teams in MyTaxi company. The 2nd presentation was about Tips and Tricks they are using for testing their apps.

The day finished with a big party in a local restaurant near the river Spree. It was another good party. A lot of talks with colleagues, a lot of drinks, good atmosphere. All finished at 1:00 am.

Recap

I can freely say it was a good conference, perfectly organized… I didn’t regret in any moment that I’ve chosen this one in a bunch of other conferences. First of all, I’ve learned a lot of new things, I’ve heard about topics I wasn’t aware before, I saw how it would be to talk infront of 500 people.

Maybe in these events the most important thing is the social component. New faces, positive people, talks, sharing experiences, enlarge your professional contact list.

All 18 speakers

I’m not sure what was the intention of the organizers to have only women speakers. 18 speakers – 18 women. It was not explained, but we cannot complain because the speakers dealt with the challenge perfectly.

Worth the money, worth spending my time at UIKonf in Berlin. I have a feeling I will visit it for sure again in the future.