Choosing Akka as a tool is often – if not always – driven by the need for good performance. Surely, the actor model itself is appealing as a means for organizing and reasoning about code, but this isn’t in itself a good reason enough to use the Akka toolkit.
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Admittedly I’ve seen this one in use only one time, but it was one time too many. For some reason I keep seeing clients come up with this during design discussions and reviews, therefore it makes it into the list of Akka anti-patterns.
When working with actors, you should always respect the following guideline: Do not, under any circumstances, close over mutable state. Since the actor model is a model, not a framework, it is up to you to make sure that you do, indeed, follow this guideline. Akka will not magically warn you if you misstep; however, your application will begin to act weirdly. In this article, Manuel Bernhardt explores a few ways in which you could misstep.
One of the fundamental ideas built into Akka is the one of failure handling through parental supervision. In other words, this means agencing actors in such a way that parent actors that depend upon the correct execution of a child to perform their work are also responsible for deciding what to do when one child actor crashes.
When I work with clients on designing actor systems there are a few anti-patterns that seem to make it into initial, non-reviewed designs no matter what. In this series of short articles I would like to cover a few of those.
Akka is in many ways a very innovative and yet robust technology. Now that it has become generally accepted that microservice-oriented architectures are a good idea, Akka will play an even more important role in the reactive system at large and already serves as a foundation for other reactive technologies such as the Play Framework and Lagom.