Deletion of core-module records may leave dangling references from non-core modules

THIS DECISION HAS BEEN ARCHIVED and replaced by Data consistency and message driven approach. While the examples here may be illustrative and useful for gaining additional context, no further discussions or decisions should take place here.




Front-end and back-end devs of non-core modules that hold references to records in core-modules


UI modules   

Created date




This decision has been migrated to the Technical Council's Decision Log as part of a consolidation effort.  See:   DR-000024 - Deletion of core-module records may leave dangling references from non-core modules


  • Deletion of records by core UI modules is problematic because it may leave dangling references to deleted records in non-core modules. Core modules are at the bottom of the hierarchy, unaware of the modules that sit above them in the hierarchy; this prevents core modules from issuing queries to identify such references. This is succinctly, if frustratingly, captured in the PR discussion related to UITEN-128.
  • Even if we can resolve this in the UI (see notes, below) the possibility remains that direct API requests to delete records may leave dangling references in other parts of the system.


  • Yikes.


  • It may be possible to mitigate this in the UI by using the "handler" app-type to function as an event bus (since the UI bundle is deployed as a monolith, events published in one module could, potentially, be acted upon by another) but we don't actually have anything like this in production yet. We do have handler-modules, but don't have an established protocol for apps to issue their own events. 


Analysis and options

Basically, 2 main alternatives can be suggested for the provided context:

Alternative optionBrief descriptionPotential use cases
Cascade deletiondeleting a code-module record leads to all non-core-modules records referring to it must also be deleted
  • cascade deletion of outdated records
Soft deletiona core-module record is not being physically deleted but is being rather marked with a specific dedicated flag (e.g. is_deleted = true / false)
  • manual deletion made by end users

It looks that both options can be viable for FOLIO depending on particular use case.

It worth also noting that UICR-125 - Getting issue details... STATUS case is slightly different and is about dangling references while not deletion but moving of a core-module record; neither cascade nor soft deletion is applicable here. At the same time, this case and cascade deletion case have one great similarity - in both, non-core-modules are to be notified about a change in core-module. In this context, a robust notification channel with guaranteed delivery to transfer change events from one module (say, module-source) to another module (say, module-recipient) is required.  More details are on Data consistency and message driven approach # Notification channel.

Soft deletion option

More details regarding this option.

  • Q: It requires that every client understands that deleted records might be present and when the API will provide them and when it will not.
    • A: Sure, every client should know the rules of the game. Though once the rules will be agreed and shared, it's just a platform-wide knowledge
  • Q: Let's say a loan references an item, that item is then soft-deleted, when the loan is presented in the UI, would the item information be presented or not?
    • A: Yes, the loan is available, and the item information still can be retrieved by a single endpoint. At the same time, loan UI should be able to notify end user that the item has been deleted (via a warning message, or via a dedicated UI field, or via disabling of editing particular values received from the item

High level actions required for core / non-core modules are shown below:

Core moduleAnother module referencing core module
  • add an is_deleted flag to schema via Liquibase with false as a default value
  • Create - new records are to be created with is_deleted=false
  • Read
    • collection endpoint only returns not-deleted records
    • single endpoint can return both deleted and not-deleted records
  • Update - add a check for every update - update of a record with is_deleted=false is only allowed
  • Delete - implement soft-deletion with setting is_deleted to true
  • add an UI element showing if a record from code module is deleted or not, or disable editing of fields came from core module, or add a message to end user with the warning that a core module record this record is referencing to, is deleted