Persisting Child Objects when the Parent is incomplete in a web application

I am trying to establish the best practice for handling the creation of child objects when the parent object is incomplete or doesn't yet exist in a web application. I want to handle this in a stateless way so in memory objects are out.

For example, say we have a bug tracking application.

A Bug has a title and a description (both required) and any number of attachments. So the "Bug" is the parent object with a list of "Attachment" children.

So you present a page with a title input, a description input, and a file input to add an attachment. People then add the attachments but we haven't created the Parent Bug as yet.

How do you handle persisting the added attachments ?

Obviously we have to keep track of the attachments added, but at this point we haven't persisted the parent "Bug" object to attach the "Attachment" to.


Create the incomplete bug and define a process for handling incompleteness. (Wait X minutes/hours/days, then delete it/email someone/accept it as it is.) Even without a title or description, knowing that a problem occurred and the information in the attachment is potentially useful. The attachment may include a full description, but the user just put it somewhere other than you'd attended. Or it may only contain scattered data points which are meaningless on their own - but could corroborate another user's report.

I would normally just create the Bug object and its child, the Attachment object, within the same HTTP response after the user has submitted the form.

If I'm reading you right, the user input consists of a single form with the aforementioned fields for bug title, description, and the attached file. After the user fills out these fields (including the selection of a file to upload), then clicks on Submit, your application receives all three of these pieces of data simultaneously, as POST variables in the HTTP request. (The attachment is just another bit of POST data, as described in RFC 1867.)

From your application's end, depending on what kind of framework you are using, you will probably be given a filename pointing to the location of the uploaded file in some suitable temporary directory. E.g., with Perl's CGI module, you can do:

use CGI qw(:standard);
my $query = CGI->new;
print "Bug title: " . $query->param("title") . "\n";
print "Description: " . $query->param("description"). "\n";
print "Path to uploaded attachment: " . $query->param("attachment") . "\n";

to obtain the name of the uploaded file (the file data sent through the form by your user is automatically saved in a temporary file for your convenience), along with its metadata. Since you have access to both the textual field data and the file attachment simultaneously, you can create your Bug and Attachment objects in whatever order you please, without needing to persist any incomplete data across HTTP responses.

Or am I not understanding you here?

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