Getting started with Kodein-DI

Kodein-DI is a Dependency Injection library. It allows you to bind your business unit interfaces with their implementation and thus having each business unit being independent.

This guide assumes a JVM target. Kodein-DI works exactly the same on all targets that are supported by Kotlin (JVM, Android, JS, Native).

Choose & Install

Flavour

From 6.3.0 On the JVM, you must be targeting JDK 1.8 minimum!

Kodein-DI is compatible with all platforms that the Kotlin language compiles to: JVM & compatible (Android), Javascript and all the Kotlin/Native targets.

Since 7.0.0, a new type system has been designed and included to Kodein-DI. Thus, it appears to the developer that there is no more obvious differences between platforms, you no longer have to choose between erased or generic dependencies. Starting from 7.0.0, Kodein-DI is using the generic version of the type system, meaning you should be able to bind generics easily for Kotlin/Multiplatform projects. So, whatever platform you are targeting, bind<List<String>>() and bind<List<Int>>() will represent two different bindings.
Similarly, di.instance<List<String>>() and di.instance<List<Int>>() will yield two different list.

Since 7.0, Kodein-DI can use generic for non JVM platforms, thus it is now the default implementation. However, you still can force the use of erased with the generic and erased function forms!

Keep in mind that it should be quite rare for DI to be performance critical. DI happens only once per injected object, so to measure how critical DI is, ask yourself how much time injected objects will be created, and if these creations are themselves performance critical.

Install

Add the dependency:

<dependencies>
    <dependency>
        <groupId>org.kodein.di</groupId>
        <artifactId>kodein-di-jvm</artifactId>
        <version>7.9.0</version>
    </dependency>
</dependencies>

With Gradle

Add the MavenCentral repository:

buildscript {
    repositories {
        mavenCentral()
    }
}

Then add the dependency:

  • Using Gradle 6+

dependencies {
    implementation 'org.kodein.di:kodein-di:7.9.0'
}
  • Using Gradle 5.x

build.gradle.kts
dependencies {
    implementation("org.kodein.di:kodein-di:7.9.0")
}

You need to activate the preview feature GRADLE_METADATA in your .setings.gradle.kts file.

setings.gradle.kts
enableFeaturePreview("GRADLE_METADATA")
  • Using Gradle 4.x

build.gradle.kts
dependencies {
    implementation("org.kodein.di:kodein-di-jvm:7.9.0")
}

Bindings

Definition

In DI, each business unit will have dependencies. Those dependencies should (nearly almost) always be interfaces. This allows:

  • Loose coupling: the business unit knows what it needs, not how those needs are fulfilled.

  • Unit testing: You can unit test the business unit by mocking its dependencies.

  • Separation: Different people can work on different units / dependencies.

Business units are very often themselves dependencies to other business units.

Each business unit and dependency need to be managed. Some dependencies need to be created on demand, while other will need to exist only once. For example, a Random object may need to be re-created every time one is needed, while a Database object should exist only once in the application.

Have a look at these two sentences:

  • "I want to bind the Random type to a provider that creates a SecureRandom implementation.

  • "I want to bind the Database type to a singleton that contains a SQLiteDatabase implementation.

In DI, you bind a type (often an interface) to a binding that manages an implementation. A binding is responsible for returning the implementation when asked. In this example, we have seen two different bindings:

  • The provider always returns a new implementation instance.

  • The singleton creates only one implementation instance, and always returns that same instance.

Declaration

In Kodein-DI, bindings are declared in a DI Block. The syntax is quite simple:

Example: initialization of a DI container
val kodein = DI {
    bindProvider<Random> { SecureRandom() }
    bindSingleton<Database> { SQLiteDatabase() }
}

As you can see, Kodein-DI offers a DSL (Domain Specific Language) that allows to very easily declare a binding. Kodein-DI offers many bindings that can manage implementations: provider, singleton, factory, multiton, instance, and more, which you can read about in the bindings section of the core documentation.

Most of the time, the type of the interface of the dependency is enough to identify it. There is only one Database in the application, so if I’m asking for a Database, there is no question of which Database I need: I need the database.
Same goes for Random. There is only one Random implementation that I am going to use. If I am asking for a Random implementation, I always want the same type of random: SecureRandom.
There are times, however, where the type of the dependency is not enough to identify it. For example, you may have two Database in a mobile application: one being local, and another being a proxy to a distant Database. For cases like this, Kodein-DI allows you to "tag" a binding: add an additional information to tag it.

Example: tagged bindings
val kodein = DI {
    bindSingleton<Database>(tag = "local") { SQLiteDatabase() }
    bindProvider<Database>(tag = "remote") { DatabaseProxy() }
}

Separation

When building large applications, there are often different modules, built by their own team, each defining their own business units.

Kodein-DI allows you to define binding modules that can later be imported in a DI container:

Example: A DI module
val module = DI.Module {
    bindSingleton<Database>(tag = "local") { SQLiteDatabase() }
    bindProvider<Database>(tag = "remote") { DatabaseProxy() }
}
Example: Importing a DI module
val di = DI {
    import(module)
}

Injection & Retrieval

The container

All declarations are made in the constructor of a DI container. Think of the DI container as the glue that allows you to ask for dependency. Whatever dependency you need, if it was declared in the DI container constructor, you can get it by asking DI. This means that you always need to be within reach of the DI object. There are multiple ways of doing so:

  • You can pass the DI object around, as a parameter to created objects.

  • You can have the DI object being statically available (in Android, for example, it is common to use a property of the Application object)

Injection vs Retrieval

Kodein-DI supports two different methods to allow a business unit to access its dependencies: injection and retrieval.

  • When dependencies are injected, the class is provided its dependencies at construction.

  • When dependencies are retrieved, the class is responsible for getting its own dependencies.

Dependency injection is more pure in the sense that an injected class will have its dependency passed at construction and therefore not know anything about DI. It is however more cumbersome, and does not provide a lot of features.
At contrario, dependency retrieval is easier and feature full, but it requires the class to know about DI.

In the end, it boils down to that question: Do you need this class to be DI independent? If you are building a library that will be used in multiple architecture, you probably do. If you are building an application, you probably don’t.

Injection

If you want your class to be injected, then you need to declare its dependencies at construction:

Example: a class with dependencies at construction
class Presenter(private val db: Database, private val rnd: Random) {
}

Now you need to be able to create a new instance of this Presenter class. With Kodein-DI, this is very easy:

Example: creating an object of an injected class
val presenter by di.newInstance { Presenter(instance(), instance()) }

For each argument of the Presenter constructor, you can simply use the instance() function, and Kodein-DI will actually pass the correct dependency.

Retrieval

When using retrieval, the class needs to be available to access a DI instance, either statically or by argument. In these examples, we’ll use the argument.

Example: a class which retrieves its own dependencies
class Presenter(val di: DI) {
    private val db: Database by di.instance()
    private val rnd: Random by di.instance()
}

Note the usage of the by keyword. When using dependency retrieval, properties are retrieved lazily.

You can go a bit further and use the KodeinAware interface, which unlocks a lot of features:

Example: a KodeinAware class
class Presenter(override val di: DI): KodeinAware {
    private val db: Database by instance()
    private val rnd: Random by instance()
}

Note that because everything is lazy by default, the access to the DI object in a KodeinAware class can itself be lazy:

Example: a KodeinAware class with lazy DI
class Presenter(): KodeinAware {
    override val di by lazy { getApplicationContext().di }

    private val db: Database by instance()
    private val rnd: Random by instance()
}

Direct

If you don’t want everything to be lazy (as it is by default), DI has you covered. Head to the Retrieval: Direct section of the core documentation.

Transitive dependencies

Let’s say we want to declare the Provider in a binding. It has its own dependencies. Dependencies of dependencies are transitive dependencies. Handling those dependencies is actually very easy.

If you are using injection, you can pass the argument the exact same way:

Example: binding the Presenter class with injection
val di = DI {
    bindSingleton<Presenter> { Presenter(instance(), instance()) }
}

If you are using retrieval, simply pass the di property:

Example: binding the Presenter class with injection
val di = DI {
    bindSingleton<Presenter> { Presenter(di) }
}

Where to go next

Kodein-DI offers a lot of features. All of them are documented, you can find them here: xref:core:install.adoc

If you are using Kodein-DI on Android, you should read the Kodein on Android documentation.