Version 38 (modified by Dominic König, 8 years ago) ( diff )


Component Resources

Component resources are an S3 framework concept to simplify the implementation of and access to aggregation models, which is the most common type of data models used in Sahana-Eden.

Typically, such an aggregation model has a master entity and a number of associated (sub-)entities ("have"-relationships):

  • organisations = have => offices, projects, teams
  • persons = have => addresses, identities
  • groups = have => members, tasks

Each of these relationships can be represented as a join between the respective tables.

The "Component Resource" extension provides the functionality to pre-configure and re-use these joins as pseudo-attributes ("components") of the master entity, thereby replacing the joins by simple identifiers (aliases) which can be used to construct queries, e.g. in URLs:

    # Join "office": org_organisation <-- id/organisation_id --> org_office



    # Join "contact": pr_person <-- pe_id/pe_id --> pr_contact


The "Component Resource" extension is one of the fundamental RAD concepts of the S3 framework.

Besides simplified construction of queries and views, it also facilitates keyless (=implicit) constraints e.g. in CRUD forms and XML imports:

    <!-- an organisation record -->
    <resource name="org_organisation">

        <!-- an office "of this organisation" (=keyless constraint) -->
        <resource name="org_office">



The following diagram describes the joins which are currently supported:

Note that, for efficiency reasons, "components" can not be nested in queries.

Component Definition

Components are defined using the s3db.add_component method.

s3db.add_component(<component_name>, <master_name>=<join>, <master_name>=<join>, ...)

IMPORTANT: Component definitions in dynamically loaded models must be in the class which defines the master table! (because otherwise the component definition would not be found when the model is loaded).

For simple components, it is sufficient to specify the foreign key as join:

s3db.add_component("org_office", org_organisation="organisation_id")

This assumes that the component alias is the same as the name of the component table without prefix, e.g. tablename = "org_office" => component alias = "office". If you want set the alias explicitly, you can instead describe the join in a dict:

s3db.add_component("org_office", org_organisation={
                                        "name": "headquarter",          # the component alias
                                        "joinby": "organisation_id"     # the foreign key

Component joins can be filtered, so that only a subset of the records in the component table forms the actual component:

s3db.add_component("org_office", org_organisation={
                                        "name": "headquarter",          # the component alias
                                        "joinby": "organisation_id"     # the foreign key
                                        "filterby": "office_type_id",   # the name of the field in the component table to filter by
                                        "filterfor": 4,                 # the value(s) to filter for

Currently only inclusive filters are supported.

It is possible to link the same component table to the same master table more than once using different joins and/or filters.

Sometimes it may be necessary to move fields out of the master table into a component in order to have better control over access permissions to these fields, or to hold the same fields for multiple master tables in a single table. In these cases the a record in the master table can only have exactly one corresponding record in the component.

This requirement is often called "singe-record component" or "subtable", and can be defined in the join dict:

s3db.add_component("org_office", org_organisation={
                                        "name": "headquarter",          # the component alias
                                        "joinby": "organisation_id"     # the foreign key
                                        "filterby": "office_type_id",   # the name of the field in the component table to filter by
                                        "filterfor": 4,                 # the value(s) to filter for
                                        "multiple": False               # there can be only one component record per master record

Most Eden modules respect the multiple-setting and enforce a single component record per master record.

IMPORTANT: Note that it is possible, but not recommendable, to change the multiple-setting dynamically in the controller environment: setting multiple=False does not allow to choose a particular component record, but simply selects the first (by ID) that matches the query. Thus, where the query can change (e.g. due to different authorization levels), then it is difficult to predict which record that would be, and different users may see different records despite multiple=False (which can be deliberate at times, though).

Components can be bound to their master records via link-tables. In such cases, the foreign key constraints for the component link are all in a separate link-table, whereas both the master table and the component table are completely independent:

  master (primary key) <==== (foreign key) link table (foreign key) ====> (primary key) component

Link-table component links have some advantages over simple foreign key constraints:

  • they can carry attributes of their own (attributed link)
  • they provide the option to bind the same component record to multiple master records (many-to-many)
  • there are several different ways to actuate such links
  • link-table links work both ways (i.e. with master/component exchanged, can be declared both ways at the same time)

However, they do have disadvantages too:

  • overhead to maintain a separate database table (processing time, migration issues etc.)
  • increased complexity to access and query resources (3 tables instead of 2)
  • increased complexity to handle such links in CRUD and XML/XSLT

Link Actuation Options

The RESTful methods can handle the link-table in a number of different ways, depending on the CRUD method and the configured option:

  • replace: hides the link table and always operates on the component table
  • hide: hides the component table and always operates on the link table
  • link: operates on the component table for single-record requests, and on the link table for summary requests (=without record ID) and delete
  • embed: operates on the link table, embeds the component record in single-record requests

The following table gives an overview of link actuation in S3CRUD:

CRUD Method Link Actuation Option
create create-form for component create-form for link create-form for link create-form for link with component embedded
read read-view of component read-view of link read-view of component read-view of link (with component embedded2)
update update-form for component update-form for link update-form for component update-form for link with component embedded
delete deletes both, component and link deletes the link deletes the link1 deletes the link1
list list view of component list view of link list view of link list view of link (with component embedded2)
  • 1 = deletes the component together with the last link if autodelete option is set
  • 2 = not implemented yet

Other RESTful methods such as S3Search or S3Report may have their own definitions.


The basic syntax of a link-table component link declaration is:

s3db.add_component("my_component",               # Tablename of the component
                   my_master=dict(               # Tablename of the master table
                       name="alias",             # Use this 'alias' as the component name
                       link="my_linktable",      # Tablename of the link table
                       joinby="fieldname",       # FK of the master table (=left key constraint)
                       key="fieldname",          # FK of the component table (=right key constraint)
                       actuate="replace",        # Actuation option (see above, optional, defaults to "link")
                       autodelete=False          # Delete the component record together with the last link (optional, default is False)
                       widget=Widget,            # Widget to use for embedding (optional, defaults to S3EmbedComponentWidget)
                       autocomplete="fieldname", # Field in the component to use for autocomplete when embedding the component

If no field is defined for autocomplete, then no autocomplete-widget will be used, but a standard SELECT of options for key (default behavior).

Important: if you specify a widget for embedding (e.g. S3AddPersonWidget), then you must ensure that the foreign key in the link-table doesn't also use either this widget or any other widget validator!


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