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The FSM boilerplate based on callbacks




Bird View

Finitomata provides a boilerplate for FSM implementation, allowing to concentrate on the business logic rather than on the process management and transitions/events consistency tweaking.

It reads a description of the FSM from a string in PlantUML, Mermaid, or even custom format. Basically, it looks more or less like this


[*] --> s1 : to_s1
s1 --> s2 : to_s2
s1 --> s3 : to_s3
s2 --> [*] : ok
s3 --> [*] : ok


s1 --> |to_s2| s2
s1 --> |to_s3| s3


mermaid does not allow to explicitly specify transitions (and hence event names) from the starting state and to the end state(s), these states names are implicitly set to :* and events to :__start__ and :__end__ respectively.

Finitomata validates the FSM is consistent, namely it has a single initial state, one or more final states, and no orphan states. If everything is OK, it generates a GenServer that could be used both alone, and with provided supervision tree. This GenServer requires to implement three callbacks

  • on_transition/4 — mandatory
  • on_failure/3 — optional
  • on_enter/2 — optional
  • on_exit/2 — optional
  • on_terminate/1 — optional

All the callbacks do have a default implementation, that would perfectly handle transitions having a single to state and not requiring any additional business logic attached.

Upon start, it moves to the next to initial state and sits there awaiting for the transition request. Then it would call an on_transition/4 callback and move to the next state, or remain in the current one, according to the response.

Upon reachiung a final state, it would terminate itself. The process keeps all the history of states it went through, and might have a payload in its state.



Let’s define the FSM instance

defmodule MyFSM do
  @fsm """
  [*] --> s1 : to_s1
  s1 --> s2 : to_s2
  s1 --> s3 : to_s3
  s2 --> [*] : ok
  s3 --> [*] : ok

  use Finitomata, @fsm

  def on_transition(:s1, :to_s2, event_payload, state_payload),
    do: {:ok, :s2, state_payload}

Now we can play with it a bit.

children = [Finitomata.child_spec()]
Supervisor.start_link(children, strategy: :one_for_one)

Finitomata.start_fsm MyFSM, "My first FSM", %{foo: :bar}
Finitomata.transition "My first FSM", {:to_s2, nil}
Finitomata.state "My first FSM"                    
#⇒ %Finitomata.State{current: :s2, history: [:s1], payload: %{foo: :bar}}

Finitomata.allowed? "My first FSM", :* # state
#⇒ true
Finitomata.responds? "My first FSM", :to_s2 # event
#⇒ false

Finitomata.transition "My first FSM", {:ok, nil} # to final state
#⇒ [info]  [◉ ⇄] [state: %Finitomata.State{current: :s2, history: [:s1], payload: %{foo: :bar}}]

Finitomata.alive? "My first FSM"
#⇒ false

Typically, one would implement all the on_transition/4 handlers, pattern matching on the state/event.



def deps do
    {:finitomata, "~> 0.1"}



  • 0.5.0 — all callbacks but on_transition/4 are optional, accept impl_for: param to use Finitomata
  • 0.4.0 — allow anonymous FSM instances
  • 0.3.0en_entry/2 and on_exit/2 optional callbacks
  • 0.2.0Mermaid support