2.1.4 Side-by-Side Application Model - Selection Model


An alternative approach to the previously described Application Model is to keep View state in a separate Model that is not wrapping the Domain Model, but is instead complementing it as an additional Model. The View depends and listens to both Models. This setup is commonly encountered when dealing with selection: the Domain Model may contain a list of items, with the View showing this list as selectable entities. Changing the selection will not modify the Domain Model, but will instead act on the Selection Model by including or removing items from the Selection Model.

Having a View dependent on two Models generally introduces no issues, provided that the two Models represent independent data. In the case of Selection Model, it is not the case, and particular care must be taken to handle proper synchronization and event handling. When the Domain Model changes, these changes can influence the validity of the Selection Model. For this reason, Model-to-Model communication from the Domain to the Selection Model to keep this validity.

Consider as an example the following scenario: a Domain model contains three items A, B, and C. The Selection Model might contain ordinal selection for the second element, that is, B. If however a new element A2 is inserted between A and B, the selection must be updated to refer to the third element. If selection was based on a unique identifier of the item, instead of a numeric position, the synchronization would not be needed. However, a similar problem would happen if item B is removed. The selection would now refer to an unexistent item, and must be removed. These scenarios require extensive discussion that will be presented later in this section.

The Selection Model can also be observed or modified by other Views or Controllers, granting a relevant amount of flexibility for complex selection scenarios. For example, a controller associated to a menu action may want to select all elements whose name matches a regular expression.


Obviously, the Application Model keeps registering itself on the Domain model

class DialViewModel(BaseModel):
  def __init__(self, engine):
  super(DialViewModel, self).__init__()
     self._dial_color = Qt.green
     self._engine = engine

  def color(self):
     return self._dial_color
  def notify(self):
     if self._engine.isOverRpmLimit():
        self._dial_color = Qt.red
        self._dial_color = Qt.green

The dial now registers to both Models, and listens to notifications from both.

class Dial(QtGui.QDial):
  # <....>
  def setModels(self, model, view_model):
     if self._model:
     if self._view_model:

     self._model = model
     self._view_model = view_model


  def notify(self):
     palette = QtGui.QPalette() 

Note how the Dial cannot differentiate which of the two Models is delivering the message, and how in particular it will be potentially notified twice: once by the change in the Domain model, and another time by the change in the Application Model, in itself triggered by the previous change in the Domain model. Particular care may be needed if the notify method is time consuming. Another case of Application Model usage is a plot with changing scale. The state of the View (its scale and positioning) is part of a “separate model” that is pertinent only to the View. The Domain model, which holds the plot data, should not be involved in the zoom factor or plot limits.

A side-by-side solution is frequently used to implement selection, a common GUI paradigm to operate on a data subset. Selected data normally have a different visual aspect, such as highlighting or a checkbox. This information is then used to drive operations on the specified subset. Selection has therefore a dualistic nature of holding state that is both visual and business related. A trivial strategy is to include selection state directly on the Domain Model, for example as a flag associated to the item. Depending on the application, this may or may not be an appropriate solution: if two Views observe the same Model, and an item is selected in one View, you might or might not want the other View to obtain this selection information. For example, a GUI allowing the user to select elements from a list, but also have a label saying “3 items selected” would work with selection on the Domain Model. If selection cannot be shared between Views, or we want to keep selection as an independent concern, a sensible strategy is to host it as a separate side-by-side Selection Model.

One problem with a Selection Model is that it must be tolerant to changes in the Domain Model. If a selected entity is removed from the Domain Model, the selection status must be cleared of that entity. This is important, because if the Selection Model is then used to perform collective operations (for example, change the color of all selected items) an operation will be attempted on an item no-longer existing in the Domain Model. Add operations are also not immune from problems: the Selection Model might have to resize itself to match the Domain Model, so that it does not go out of bounds when inquire is performed about the selection status of the new entries. Modifications may reorder and invalidate indexes in the Domain Model, making the selection outdated. Finally, when synchronization is achieved between the Domain Model and the Selection Model, the View will be notified twice: once by the change in the Domain Model, and again by the Selection Model.

invert selection, complex selections, select all, select none. If data is added, removed, or modified in the model, the Selection Model must respond accordingly. For example,

XXX : point out the importance of keeping the two states separate in the notification and the handling of the two notifications should not overlap. Otherwise you will have double execution of the same code which may be time consuming. Also note how the handling of the second notification must consider the possibility that the two notifications are in an invalid order, and that could introduce unexpected content matching in the View (e.g. model notifies view then selection vs. model notifies selection then view)

The selection model acts both as a View (for the other selectable model) and as a Model (for the view).

When the selection receives notification of change from its model, it needs to check if it’s still consistent against it. If not, it needs to recover by invalidating its state.

needs model to model communication to keep consistency, which becomes hard to maintain.

Point out what number of rpm is too high is domain logic, and what color it should be is view logic.