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One of the problems with using F#’s Discriminated Unions is that they are not extensible, in that all your union cases must be specified inside one Discriminated Union (abbreviated to DU from this point) type and you can’t inherit from an existing DU type to add additional union cases.
In most cases, having to specify all your union cases inside one DU type makes perfect sense and I’m sure there is a very good reason for the language designers to not allow inheritance with DU types.
However, sometimes I do find myself wishing for some extensibility so that I can keep using DU types instead of having to revert back to a complex class hierarchy.
Suppose you have a messaging application, you can define the different types of messages your system understands as a DU:
However, as the application grows you might want to add more specialized types of messages, and you don’t want to add them to MessageTypes to stop it from becoming bloated and to keep the specialized message types closer to code that actually understand them.
So what do you do in that case? Go back to using a class hierarchy? Sure, that’s one approach.
Another approach to this problem is to use marker interfaces, so the above code becomes:
The fact that DU types can implement interfaces is often overlooked but you can make good use of it here to enable some extensibility to your DU types.
Notice how the function f is changed from pattern matching the union cases to pattern matching against the type of the message (similar to how you can use pattern matching in a try-with block) before passing the massage to the appropriate handler function that understands that specific type.
Well, thank you for reading and hope this post proves to be helpful to you
Hi, I’m Yan. I’m an AWS Serverless Hero and I help companies go faster for less by adopting serverless technologies successfully.
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Check out my new podcast Real-World Serverless where I talk with engineers who are building amazing things with serverless technologies and discuss the real-world use cases and challenges they face. If you’re interested in what people are actually doing with serverless and what it’s really like to be working with serverless day-to-day, then this is the podcast for you.
Check out my new course, Learn you some Lambda best practice for great good! In this course, you will learn best practices for working with AWS Lambda in terms of performance, cost, security, scalability, resilience and observability. We will also cover latest features from re:Invent 2019 such as Provisioned Concurrency and Lambda Destinations. Enrol now and start learning!
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Here is a complete list of all my posts on serverless and AWS Lambda. In the meantime, here are a few of my most popular blog posts.
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- You are wrong about serverless and vendor lock-in
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- Check-list for going live with API Gateway and Lambda
- How to choose the right API Gateway auth method
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- AWS Lambda – should you have few monolithic functions or many single-purposed functions?
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