GWT as a CAL client

I’ve been interested in GWT as a way of building rich Internet applications since it appeared, and I’m very pleased to see it getting better and better.

So it’s natural that I’d want to try using it with CAL, a functional language quite similar to Haskell which runs on the JVM.

I used a similar approach to marshalling Javabeans to CAL algebraic types as I used before, but this time I haven’t used any bytecode manipulation — as the Java classes are needed at compile time for the GWT client there isn’t any point in generating them at runtime (although generating them as a separate build step might be useful). I’ve also extended the previous work to include mapping a Java 5 enum to a CAL algebraic type which has constructors with zero parameters.

So in our GWT client we can write:

CaltestServiceAsync service = GWT.create(CaltestService.class);
((ServiceDefTarget) service).setServiceEntryPoint(
    GWT.getModuleBaseURL() + "CaltestService");
    new Person(Salutation.MR, "Jim", "Earl", "Jones"), new MyAsyncCallback(...));

and call the CAL function:

public processPerson p =
    let Person s f m l = p; 
    in Person s (toUpperCase f) (lift toUpperCase m) (toUpperCase l);

where the types are:

data Salutation = MR | MRS deriving Inputable, Outputable;
data Person =
    Person salutation :: Salutation 
              firstName :: String 
              middleName :: (Maybe String) 
              lastName :: String 
    deriving Inputable, Outputable;

All this is done via three different annotations, and a special subclass of the GWT RemoteServiceServlet.

The first annotation, @Cal is applied to the GWT service interface, and indicates the CAL module to map the functions on the interface to:

@Cal(workspace = "myworkspace.cws", module = "TDavies.GwtTest")
public interface CaltestService extends RemoteService {
    Person processPerson(Person p);

The CAL types Person and Salutation need to be mapped to Java classes:

Person is a simple Javabean with getters and setters for each attribute:

@CalBean(workspace = "myworkspace.cws", module = "TDavies.GwtTest",
    constructorName = "Person")
public class Person implements IsSerializable {
    private Salutation salutation;
    private String firstName;
    private String lastName;
    private String middleName;

Note that middleName has the type Maybe String in the CAL type. A value of null maps to Nothing while a value of "x" maps to Just "x".

Salutation is an enum:

@CalEnum(workspace = "myworkspace.cws", module = "TDavies.GwtTest",
    type = "Salutation")
public enum Salutation {
    MR, MRS

The names of the enum’s values must be identical to the names of the CAL constructors.

A subclass of RemoteServiceServlet checks for the annotations and transforms the values in both directions.

The source code for this experiment is available via anonymous svn from Please note that this repository contains various other half-baked and half-finished experiments! Look at the build.xml file to see how to set up an environment — you’ll need to supply OpenQuark, GWT and Jetty.

In my next post I’ll describe how to persist information on the server.

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