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  • Codec and CodecRegistry

Codec and CodecRegistry

In the last section we saw how to use the BsonReader and BsonWriter API to read and write BSON documents. But writing code at that low a level is tedious and error-prone, so in practice these algorithms are packaged in implementations of the Codec interface.

Codec

The Codec interface abstracts the processes of decoding a BSON value into a Java object using a BsonReader and encoding a Java object into a BSON value using a BsonWriter. The BSON value can be as simple as a boolean or as complex as a document or array.

Let’s look at a simple Codec implementation that encodes a Java Integer to a BSON Int32, and vice versa:

public class IntegerCodec implements Codec<Integer> {
    @Override
    public void encode(final BsonWriter writer, final Integer value, final EncoderContext encoderContext) {
        writer.writeInt32(value);
    }

    @Override
    public Integer decode(final BsonReader reader, final DecoderContext decoderContext) {
        return reader.readInt32();
    }

    @Override
    public Class<Integer> getEncoderClass() {
        return Integer.class;
    }
}

The encode method takes a BsonWriter and an Integer and calls the writeInt32 method on the BsonWriter with the value of the Integer, while the decode method takes a BsonReader and calls the readInt32 method on the BsonReader, returning the value as an Integer.

A Codec implementation than encodes to and decodes from a BSON document or array is more complicated, and would typically rely on a set of simpler Codec implementations for the basic BSON value types. For this, it can rely on a CodecRegistry.

CodecRegistry

A CodecRegistry contains a set of Codec instances that are accessed according to the Java classes that they encode from and decode to. Instances of CodecRegistry are generally created via static factory methods on the CodecRegistries class. Consider the simplest of these methods, one that takes a list of Codecs:

CodecRegistry registry = CodecRegistries.fromCodecs(new IntegerCodec(), new LongCodec(), ...);

This returns an immutable CodecRegistry instance containing all the Codec instances passed to the fromCodecs method. They can be accessed like this:

Codec<Integer> integerCodec = codecRegistry.get(Integer.class);
Codec<Long> longCodec = codecRegistry.get(Long.class);

Now consider a Codec for the Document class. This Codec implementation, in order to decode and encode the values for each field in the document, must be constructed with a CodecRegistry to look up the Codec instances for each type of value. But how could one construct an instance of that Codec? You would have to pass an instance to the CodecRegistries.fromCodecs method, but you don’t have a CodecRegistry yet to pass to the constructor. You need some way to delay the construction of the Document Codec until after the CodecRegistry has been constructed. For that we use a CodecProvider.

CodecProvider

A CodecProvider is a factory for Codec instances. Unlike CodecRegistry, its get method takes not only a Class, but also a CodecRegistry, allowing a CodecProvider implementation to construct Codec instances that require a CodecRegistry to look up Codec instances for the values contained within it. Consider a CodecProvider for the Document class:

public class DocumentCodecProvider implements CodecProvider {
    @Override                                                                                          
    public <T> Codec<T> get(final Class<T> clazz, final CodecRegistry registry) {                      
        if (clazz == Document.class) {                      
            // construct DocumentCodec with a CodecRegistry
            return (Codec<T>) new DocumentCodec(registry);           
        }                                                                                              
                                                                                                       
        // CodecProvider returns null if it's not a provider for the requresed Class 
        return null;                                          
    }                                                                                                  
}

The DocumentCodec, because it is constructed with a CodecRegistry, can now use that registry to look up Codec instances for the values contained in each Document that it encodes.

One more problem remains, however. Consider the problem of encoding values to a BSON DateTime. An application may want to encode to a BSON DateTime instances of both the original Java Date class as well as the Instant class. It’s easy to create implemenations of Codec<Date> and Codec<Instant>, and either one can be used for encoding. But when decoding, a Document Codec also has to choose which Java type to decode a BSON DateTime to. Rather than hard-coding it in the DocumentCodec, the decision is abstracted via the BsonTypeClassMap class.

BsonTypeClassMap

The BsonTypeClassMap class simply maps each value in the BsonType enumeration to a Java class. It contains a sensible set of default mappings that can easily be changed by passing an a Map<BsonType, Class<?>> instance to the constructor with any replacement mappings to apply. Consider the case where an application wants to decode all BSON DateTime values to an Instant instead of the default Date:

Map<BsonType, Class<?>> replacements = new HashMap<BsonType, Class<?>>();
replacements.put(BsonType.DATE_TIME, Instant.class);
BsonTypeClassMap bsonTypeClassMap = new BsonTypeClassMap(replacements);

This will replace the default mapping of BSON DateTime to Date to one from BSON DateTime to Instant.

Putting it all together, we can added a BsonTypeClassMap to the DocumentCodecProvider shown above:

public class DocumentCodecProvider implements CodecProvider {
    private final BsonTypeClassMap bsonTypeClassMap;
    
    public DocumentCodecProvider(final BsonTypeClassMap bsonTypeClassMap) { 
        this.bsonTypeClassMap = bsonTypeClassMap;                                       
    }                                                                       
    
    @Override                                                                                          
    public <T> Codec<T> get(final Class<T> clazz, final CodecRegistry registry) {                      
        if (clazz == Document.class) {                      
            // construct DocumentCodec with a CodecRegistry and a BsonTypeClassMap
            return (Codec<T>) new DocumentCodec(registry, bsonTypeClassMap);           
        }                                                                                              
                                                                                                       
        return null;                                                                                   
    }                                                                                                  
}

The DocumentCodec, because it is constructed with both a BsonTypeClassMap and a CodecRegistry, can first use the BsonTypeClassMap to determine with type to decode each BSON value to, then use the CodecRegistry to look up the Codec for that Java type.

Finally, we create a CodecRegistry instance

CodecRegistry defaultCodecRegistry = ... 
DocumentCodecProvider documentCodecProvider = ... 
Codec<Instant> instantCodec = ...   
codecRegistry = CodecRegistries.fromRegistries(CodecRegistries.fromCodecs(instantCodec),
                                               CodecRegistries.fromProviders(documentCodecProvider),
                                               defaultCodecRegistry);

using two additional static factory methods from the CodecRegistries class: one that takes a list of CodecProviders and one which takes a list of CodecRegistrys.