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Well, perhaps it's a goal too ambitious to reach 100% but, exploring this idea, and starting with JSON, I've developed a bunch of classes that I thought it was good to share. If you want to test, change, modify or improve the code, or just take a look at it, you can do it. In GitHub repository you can get the code and will find a more detailed explanation.

What's new in this version

Initial Release


Serialization Project

This project is just an attempt to implement a feature to serialize objects (persistent or just registered) with two main goals in mind :

  1. Avoid the need of changing the class definition if there are changes in the names of serialized properties or even in the criteria to serialize the object
  2. Being able to serialize/deserialize to/from multiple formats (JSON, CSV, XML, custom,…), also without touching the class definition itself.

WARNING: This code it’s not supported in any way. It’s been developed as a proof of concept for myself and because there is no JSON.Adaptor yet (coming soon!). Be careful and count on that can (likely will) fail if you even consider using it in some kind of production environments. Use it, play with it, change it or improve it at your own discretion.
This said and understood, you can follow on… ;-)

How to get universal serialization feature in your classes

To get the full features, you just have to import in your system 4 classes (1) : OPNLib.Serialize.Adaptor, OPNLib.Serialize.Util, OPNLib.Serialize.TemplateOPNLib.Serialize.Template and OPNLib.Serialize.TemplateOPNLib.Serialize.TemplateCSV (this last one it’s not yet finished in Release 1/2018-04).

(1) Actually you would just need OPNLib.Serialize.Adaptor if you just need JSON serialization

Start Serializing

To enable this feature for a class, that class has to extend from OPNLib.Serialize.Adaptor. That’ll be the only time that you’ll have to touch your class for this feature. After that moment your class will be able to export/import JSON objects and it will accept future serialization mechanisms that you decide to implement without having to make more changes to class definition.

(Example assumes that your classname is SampleApps.Serialize.MapTesting, that is a persistent class and that you already extended it to inherit from OPNLib.Serialize.Adaptor)

From the terminal,in the name space where your class exists :

     Set obj = ##class(SampleApps.Serialize.MapTesting).%OpenId(1)
     Set objJSON = obj.Export()
     Do objJSON.%ToJSON()
 Set newObj = ##class(SampleApps.Serialize.MapTesting).%New()
 Do newObj.Import(objJSON)
 set tSC = newObj.%Save()
 write newOBJ.%Id()

We will have a new instance of SampleApps.Serialize.MapTesting object, a clone of the one with ID=1. This was the example, we can modify it before saving or just discarding.

What OPNLib.Serialize.Adaptor provides?

Basically when we compile a class that inherits from our Adaptor, the class will have 4 new generic instance methods: Export and Import (that will act as dispatchers), and exportStd and importStd (that implements the default logic to serialize/deserialize in/from JSON format). Also, and very important, it will be created a generic mapping between each of the properties in the Caché object and its equivalent serialized. That class mapping will be stored in 2 internal globals: ^MAPS and ^MAPSREV (Globals structure is explained in more detail in class documentation).

How is the mapping built at first place?

We can have several maps for a particular class (for example to exchange data from an object with different systems or organizations, we might need to export or import some properties but not others, or apply different conversions to some values, or name the properties differently , etc…).

By default, all classes that inherit from OPNLib.Serialize.Adaptor will have an associated default map: MAP0, that will make a direct mapping regarding property names (same name for target an source property).

Each property will be categorized in group types, numbered from 1 to 6. Currently these are the group types supported :

Code Category Description
1 Basic type It’ll include %String, %Integer, %Date, %Datetime,%Timestamp,%Decimal,%Float,… and most of the basic types defined in the %Library package
2 List collection It’ll include collections of datatypes of type %Collection.ListOfDT
3 Array collection It’ll include collections of datatypes of type %Collection.ArrayOfDT
4 Object Reference A property that reference a custom object not in %* libraries
5 Array of objects and Relationship objects A property of type %Collection.ArrayOfObject or a property of type %RelationshipObject with cardinality many or children
6 List of Objects A property of type %Collection.ListOfObject
7 Stream Properties of type %Stream.*, %CSP.stream,…

During map generation, by default, the Adaptor sets export and import conversion methods for dates, datetimes, timestamps and streams (which are exported as a stream in base64).

MAPS / MAPSREV globals’ structure

^MAP(”classname”,”mapname”,GroupType[1..6],”Source Property Name”) = List Element

List Element:

[1] Target Property Name

[2] Convert Method

[3] Drill down

[4] Class of referenced object(s)

[5] Template Class that implement export/import logic

[6] Method Class to dispatch for export/import

This is an example of two nodes in global ^MAPS and their counterpart in ^MAPSREV:


How could we configure our mapping for serialization?

We can have as much mapping definitions for a class as we need. An easy way to start to define our customized maps is exporting the default MAP0 and importing it again with a different name, then we can make changes in the map regarding the properties that should be exported /imported, names, conversor methods to apply. To do this, we can modify directly in the global, or do it programatically (See OPNLib.Serialize.Util class for tools to export/import maps, get / set property mappings,etc…)


 set tClassName = "SampleApps.Serialize.MapTesting"
 ;Assuming the class has only 1 map: MAP0, used in ^MAPS and ^MAPSREV
 set json = ##class(OPNLib.Serialize.Util).ExportMapsToJSON(tClassName)

;change name of map from MAP0 to MAP1
set json.maps.%Get(0).map = "MAP1" //change mapname entry in corresponding to ^MAPS
set json.maps.%Get(1).map = "MAP1" //change mapname entry corresponding to ^MAPSREV

;Overwrite map (2) of SampleApps.Serialize.MapTesting with map in object:json
set tSC = ##class(OPNLib.Serialize.Util).ImportMapsFromJSON(json,2,tClassName)

;Get settings of one of the properties. They are returned in a json object
set propExprt = ##class(SampleApps.Serialize.MapTesting).GetMappedPropSettings("code","MAP1",tClassName,1)

;We change the targetPropertyName setting
set $ListUpdate(propExprt.settings,1) = "codeAccepted"
do ##class(SampleApps.Serialize.MapTesting).SetMappedPropSettings("code",propExprt,"MAP1",tClassName,1)

;Now we open and object and export it using new mapping
set obj = ##class(SampleApps.Serialize.MapTesting).%OpenId(1)
set objJSON = obj.Export(,,,,"MAP1")
do objJSON.%ToJSON()

We also have the possibility of changing a bit the way in which default map MAP0 is generated :

  • Change the name of default map.
    • Use parameter EXPTDEFAULTMAP to indicate a name for default map before compiling the class
  • Excluding properties
    • if we don’t want to export some properties, we should include them (comma separated list) in the parameter : EXPTEXCLUDEPROP before compiling the class
  • Include object references
    • Even when we decide not to drill down through referenced objects, we still have the chance to export the object reference itself if we set the parameter EXPTINCLUDEOREF to 1.
  • Drill down levels
    • Use EXPTDRILLDOWNTo indicate up to what number of levels that the export/import logic should follow through object references. 0 means no drill down. A positive number(n) means to drill down n times through the chain of references.

How did it work the default mechanism?

Both methods, Export and Import will call the generated methods: exportStd and importStd respectively. These two methods will go through the global ^MAPS and ^MAPSREV respectively, looking for the properties to export /import and applying the required conversions.
Both methods work over an already instantiated method. This is particularly interesting for import, as we can have an object in memory with some data already and import the rest of the data from a serialized object. The import mechanism will replace with the new content the properties contained in the serialization but will preserve other properties already set in the instance that are not included in the serialization that we import.

This way of working give us the flexibility of using different mappings using the same autogenerated code but it can have a penalty in performance if we use it massively in loops or in very high concurrency use cases. Anyway, better test in such scenarios.

Some considerations about performance

As it was already mentioned, the default mechanism resolve the mapping sets at real time, trasversing a global to set the properties to export/import targets. That means that this mechanism will always be slower than if we already had that settings resolved at compile time. In order to provide that functionality, we can use the Template classes.

What are the template classes for?

The templates classes allow us to generate the logic to export/import at compile time.
This have benefits over performance but comes at the price of having to use a different class for each type of serialization format and mapping.

Anyway, the primary class is not affected and doesn’t have to be changed no matter how many templates define to handle the serialization of its objects.

Using these classes is very easy. Let’s see an example:


We want to be able to export SampleApps.Serialize.PersistObject to JSON, but just some of the properties: cod, description and start. We want to project those properties, for example, in Spanish, as: codigo, descripcion and inicio respectively.

We design the required map, that we call MAP2 and load it:

do ##class(SampleApps.Serialize.HandleMaps).SetPersistObjectMAP2()

Then, we create a new class that we can call SampleApps.Serialize.PersistObject.generatedMAP2 that extends OPNLib.Serialize.Template and change the required parameters. This would be the class definition:

Class SampleApps.Serialize.PersistObject.generatedMAP2 Extends OPNLib.Serialize.Template
Parameter EXPTASSOCIATEDCLASS = "SampleApps.Serialize.PersistObject";
Parameter EXPTMAP = "MAP2";

We have just set the associated class and the MAP to apply. Then, we will have 2 methods auto-generated: Export and Import with the code required to export/import from/to JSON format objects of type PersistObject following the MAP2 designed.
The disadvantage with this approach is that we will have to recompile each time the mapping changes. The advantage is that it will be a bit quicker than the standard approach as all the property sets are static as have been resolved at compile time.

As you can see, the class that stores the PersistObject objects, is not aware of these export/import classes and methods and it doesn’t require any modification.

This way, once our template class is compiled, we could do:

 set cMAP1 = "SampleApps.Serialize.PersistObject.generatedMAP1"
 set mObject = ##class(SampleApps.Serialize.PersistObject).%OpenId(1)
 set json = mObject.Export(cMAP,"Export")
 do json.%ToJSON()
           "fechaHora":"1956-07-25 04:52:33",

Sample Application

There are some classes that I used to build some of the examples. There are others testing other features. You can take a look at them in the package SampleApps.Serialize

REST Services

Just a bunch of REST services to make use and test this functionality. You can find them in SampleApps.Serialize.RESTclass:

Service Path HTTP Method
Get an object up to a drilldown level in JSON format following a particular map especification /object/json/:class/:id/:ddlevel/:map GET
Get an object up to a drilldown level in JSON format following the default map /object/json/:class/:id/:ddlevel GET
Get an object in JSON format following the default map and default drilldown especs /object/json/:class/:id” GET
Load an object from JSON using a particular map and drilldown especifications /object/json/:class/:ddlevel/:map POST
Load an object from JSON using its default map and a particular drilldown especifications /object/json/:class/:ddlevel POST
Load an object from JSON using its default map /object/json/:class POST
Load an object from JSON using its default map and which class is included in classname property of the JSON document /object/json POST
Get a serialized object in format especified by serialization method and with a especified drilldown level /object/serial/:templateclass/:serializationmethod/:class/:id/:ddlevel GET
Get a serialized object in format especified by serialization method /object/serial/:templateclass/:serializationmethod/:class/:id GET
Load object from a particular class, and with an especified drilldown level, from a serialized stream /object/serial/:templateclass/:serializationmethod/:class/:ddlevel POST
Load object from a particular class from a serialized stream /object/serial/:templateclass/:serializationmethod/:class POST
Update an object from JSON input /object/json/:class/:id PUT
Delete an object with certain ID NOT YET IMPLEMENTED DELETE
Update an object from serialized input (NOT YET IMPLEMENTED) /object/serial/:templateclass/:serializationmethod/:class/:id PUT
Get a JSON document that contains certain type of MAPS (export or import) for a particular class /map/:class/:map/:type GET
Get a JSON document that contains export and import definition of a MAP name associated with a particular class /map/:class/:map GET
Get a JSON document that contains all the maps’ definitions for a class /map/:class GET
Set export/import MAPS (all or those comma-separated especified in Filter) from a JSON document /map/:override/:filter POST
Set export/import MAPS from a JSON document (overriding the existing ones if any) /map” POST
Set the export/import MAPS from a JSON document to a different target class (all or those especificied in filter) /map/chgclass/:targetclass/:override/:filter POST
Set the export/import MAPS from a JSON document to a different target class /map/chgclass/:targetclass POST


I hope this code can help you in any way.

Jose-Tomas Salvador

1.0.018 Mar, 2020
Developer Environment
Works with
CachéEnsembleInterSystems IRIS
First published
18 Mar, 2020