3. Connecting to a Database

Alright, let’s get going.

In this chapter we start from the beginning. First we write a program that connects to a database and returns a value, and then we run that program in the REPL. We also touch on composing small programs to construct larger ones.

Our First Program

Before we can use doobie we need to import some symbols. We will use the doobie.imports module here as a convenience; it exposes the most commonly-used symbols when working with the high-level API. We will also import the scalaz core, as well as Task from scalaz-concurrent.

import doobie.imports._
import scalaz._, Scalaz._

In the doobie high level API the most common types we will deal with have the form ConnectionIO[A], specifying computations that take place in a context where a java.sql.Connection is available, ultimately producing a value of type A.

So let’s start with a ConnectionIO program that simply returns a constant.

scala> val program1 = 42.pure[ConnectionIO]
program1: doobie.imports.ConnectionIO[Int] = Return(42)

This is a perfectly respectable doobie program, but we can’t run it as-is; we need a Connection first. There are several ways to do this, but here let’s use a Transactor.

val xa = DriverManagerTransactor[IOLite](
  "org.postgresql.Driver", "jdbc:postgresql:world", "postgres", ""

A Transactor is simply a structure that knows how to connect to a database, hand out connections, and clean them up; and with this knowledge it can transform ConnectionIO ~> IOLite, which gives us something we can run. Specifically it gives us an IOLIte that, when run, will connect to the database and run our program in a single transaction.

Scala does not have a standard IO, so the examples in this book use the simple IOLite data type provided by doobie. This type is not very feature-rich but is safe and performant and fine to use. Similar types like scalaz.effect.IO, scalaz.concurrent.Task, fs2.Task, and monix.Task also work fine.

The DriverManagerTransactor simply delegates to the java.sql.DriverManager to allocate connections, which is fine for development but inefficient for production use. In a later chapter we discuss other approaches for connection management.

Right, so let’s do this.

scala> val task = program1.transact(xa)
task: doobie.imports.IOLite[Int] = doobie.util.iolite$IOLite$$anon$2@69db89ce

scala> task.unsafePerformIO
res0: Int = 42

Hooray! We have computed a constant. It’s not very interesting because we never ask the database to perform any work, but it’s a first step.

Keep in mind that all the code in this book is pure except the calls to IOLite.unsafePerformIO, which is the “end of the world” operation that typically appears only at your application’s entry points. In the REPL we use it to force a computation to “happen”.

Right. Now let’s try something more interesting.

Our Second Program

Let’s use the sql string interpolator to construct a query that asks the database to compute a constant. We will cover this construction in great detail later on, but the meaning of program2 is “run the query, interpret the resultset as a stream of Int values, and yield its one and only element.”

scala> val program2 = sql"select 42".query[Int].unique
program2: doobie.free.connection.ConnectionIO[Int] = Gosub(Gosub(Suspend(PrepareStatement(select 42)),doobie.hi.connection$$$Lambda$1977/1048965800@292bba6b),scalaz.Free$$Lambda$1687/1873966560@ffe7fe2)

scala> val task2 = program2.transact(xa)
task2: doobie.imports.IOLite[Int] = doobie.util.iolite$IOLite$$anon$2@5b38dedf

scala> task2.unsafePerformIO
res1: Int = 42

Ok! We have now connected to a database to compute a constant. Considerably more impressive.

Our Third Program

What if we want to do more than one thing in a transaction? Easy! ConnectionIO is a monad, so we can use a for comprehension to compose two smaller programs into one larger program.

val program3 = 
  for {
    a <- sql"select 42".query[Int].unique
    b <- sql"select random()".query[Double].unique
  } yield (a, b)

And behold!

scala> program3.transact(xa).unsafePerformIO
res2: (Int, Double) = (42,0.8580462667159736)

The astute among you will note that we don’t actually need a monad to do this; an applicative functor is all we need here. So we could also write program3 as:

val program3a = {
  val a = sql"select 42".query[Int].unique
  val b = sql"select random()".query[Double].unique
  (a |@| b).tupled

And lo, it was good:

scala> program3a.transact(xa).unsafePerformIO
res3: (Int, Double) = (42,0.8678193888626993)

And of course this composition can continue indefinitely.

scala> program3a.replicateM(5).transact(xa).unsafePerformIO.foreach(println)

Diving Deeper

You do not need to know this, but if you’re a scalaz user you might find it helpful.

All of the doobie monads are implemented via Free and have no operational semantics; we can only “run” a doobie program by transforming FooIO (for some carrier type java.sql.Foo) to a monad that actually has some meaning.

Out of the box all of the doobie free monads provide a transformation to Kleisli[M, Foo, ?] given Monad[M], Catchable[M], and Capture[M] (we will discuss Capture shortly, standby). The transK method gives quick access to this transformation.

scala> val kleisli = program1.transK[IOLite] 
kleisli: scalaz.Kleisli[doobie.imports.IOLite,java.sql.Connection,Int] = Kleisli(scalaz.KleisliApplicative$$Lambda$1889/377099329@7b6f45c9)

scala> val task = IOLite.primitive(null: java.sql.Connection) >>= kleisli.run
task: doobie.util.iolite.IOLite[Int] = doobie.util.iolite$IOLite$$anon$4@5e0102e7

scala> task.unsafePerformIO // sneaky; program1 never looks at the connection
res5: Int = 42

So the Transactor above simply knows how to construct an IOLite[Connection], which it can bind through the Kleisli, yielding our IOLite[Int].

There is a bit more going on (we add commit/rollback handling and ensure that the connection is closed in all cases) but fundamentally it’s just a natural transformation and a bind.

In addition to the transK syntax above, doobie provides natural transformations on each algebra’s module. For example doobie.free.connection (aliased as FC in doobie.imports) provides:

And analogously for other modules in doobie.free.

The Capture Typeclass

Currently scalaz has no typeclass for monads with effect-capturing unit, so that’s all Capture does; it’s simply (=> A) => M[A] that is referentially transparent for all expressions, even those with side-effects. This allows us to sequence the same effect multiple times in the same program. This is exactly the behavior you expect from IO for example.

doobie provides instances for Task and IO, and the implementations are simply delay and apply, respectively.

Note that scala.concurrent.Future does not have an effect-capturing constructor and thus cannot be used as a target type for doobie programs. Although Future is very commonly used for side-effecting operations, doing so is not referentially transparent. Future has nothing at all to say about side-effects. It is well-behaved in a functional sense only for pure computations.