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2015, Tuesday June 30

Faster String process using SSE 4.2 Text Processing Instructions STTNI

A lot of our code, and probably yours, is highly relying on text process.
In our mORMot framework, most of its features use JSON text, encoded as UTF-8.
Profiling shows that a lot of time is spent computing the end of a text buffer, or comparing text content.

You may know that In its SSE4.2 feature set, Intel added STTNI (String and Text New Instructions) opcodes.
They are several new instructions that perform character searches and comparison on two operands of 16 bytes at a time.

I've just committed optimized version of StrComp() and StrLen(), also used for our TDynArrayHashed wrapper.
The patch works from Delphi 5 up to XE8, and with FPC - unknown SSE4.2 opcodes have been entered as hexadecimal bytes, for compatibility with the last century compilers!
The resulting speed up may be worth it!

Next logical step would be to use those instruction in the JSON process itself.
It may speed up the parsing speed of our core functions (which is already very optimized, but written in a classical one-char-at-a-time reading).
Main benefit would be to read the incoming UTF-8 text buffer by blocks of 16 bytes, and performing several characters comparison in a few CPU cycles, with no branching.
Also JSON writing would benefit for it, since escaping could be speed up thanks to STTNI instructions.

Any feedback is welcome, as usual!

2015, Tuesday June 16

Handling Cross-Platform Time Zones

One common problem when handling dates and times, is that time is shown and entered as local, whereas the computer should better use non-geographic information - especially on a Client-Server architecture, where both ends may not be on the same physical region.

A time zone is a region that observes a uniform standard time for legal, commercial, and social purposes.
Time zones tend to follow the boundaries of countries and their subdivisions because it is convenient for areas in close commercial or other communication to keep the same time.
Most of the time zones on land are offset from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) by a whole number of hours, or minutes.
Even worse, some countries use daylight saving time for part of the year, typically by changing clocks by an hour, twice every year.

The main rule is that any date and time stored should be stored in UTC, or with an explicit Zone identifier (i.e. an explicit offset to the UTC value).
Our framework expects this behavior: every date/time value stored and handled by the ORM, SOA, or any other part of it, is expected to be UTC-encoded.
At presentation layer (e.g. the User Interface), conversion to/from local times should take place, so that the end-user is provided with friendly clock-wall compatible timing.

As you may guess, handling time zones is a complex task, which should be managed by the Operating System itself.
Since this cultural material is constantly involving, it is updated as part of the OS.

In practice, current local time could be converted from UTC from the current system-wide time zone. One of the only parameters you have to set when installing an Operating System is to pickup the keyboard layout... and the current time zone to be used. But in a client-server environment, you may have to manage several time zones on the server side: so you can't rely on this global setting.

One sad - but predictable - news is that there is no common way of encoding time zone information.
Under Windows, the registry contains a list of time zones, and the associated time bias data. Most POSIX systems (including Linux and Mac OSX) do rely on the IANA database, also called tzdata - you may have noticed that this particular package is often updated with your system.
Both zone identifiers do not map, so our framework needed something to be shared on all systems.

Continue reading...

2015, Monday June 1

Updated Slides about ORM SOA MVC SOLID DDD

One year ago, we published a set of slides about the main concepts implemented by our framework.
Mainly about ORM (and ODM), NoSQL, JSON, SOA, MVC (and MVVM), SOLID, DDD, CQRS and some patterns like Stubs, Mocks, Factory, Repository, Unit-Of-Work.
Worth a look, if you want to find out the benefits of the latest software development techniques.
They try to open the landscape of any Delphi developer (probably with a mostly RAD and OOP background) to some new areas.

I just updated the slides from our public GoogleDrive folder.
They now reflect the latest state of the framework (e.g. ORM real-time synchronization, asynchronous callbacks, DDD CQRS services...).
They have also been polished after several public presentations, since I used them as base for trainings I made for some European companies.

If you want to go further, or have some more enlightenment, ensure you took a look at our framework Documentation, which would detail all those patterns, and how mORMot may help implementing them for your projects!

Feedback is welcome on our forum, as usual!

2015, Thursday May 14

Using TSynLog with a lot of threads? PYou should better upgrade your source

We identified and fixed today several issues which may affect applications creating a lot of threads (i.e. not using a thread pool).
The symptom was an unexpected access violation, when you reach a multiple of 256 threads count.

You should better upgrade to at least revision 1.18.1351 if your application creates a lot of custom threads.
Note that a regular mORMot server, using http.sys and its thread pool won't be affected by this issue.

We also refactored the whole threading process in TSynLog, so that:

  • The thread numbers in the .log file would be re-used;
  • The memory resources associated with each thread would be released and re-used;
  • It would handle an infinite number of thread creation (previous implementation did have a hard limit of 32,768 created threads during a process lifetime);
  • Exception would never be intercepted during logging process;
  • Made code stronger, and re-entrant in case of concurrent TSynLog classes in the same process;
  • Of course, this works also under Linux, via FPC or (Cross)Kylix.

See our Source Code Repository TimeLine.

Feedback is welcome on our forum, as usual!

2015, Sunday April 12

Why Transmitting Exceptions in SOA services is not a good idea

Usually, in Delphi application (like in most high-level languages), errors are handled via exceptions. By default, any Exception raised on the server side, within an interface-based service method, will be intercepted, and transmitted as an error to the client side, then a safe but somewhat obfuscated EInterfaceFactoryException will be raised on the client side, containing additional information serialized as JSON.

You may wonder why exceptions are not transmitted and raised directly on the client side, with our mORMot framework interface-based services, as if they were executed locally.

We will now detail some arguments, and patterns to be followed.

Continue reading...

2015, Tuesday March 17

Framework Documentation Enhanced By Links

The mORMot framework documentation, in its HTML online form, has been enhanced to include links to almost of the code symbols.

In fact, the latest version of our SynProject tool will search for code symbols (types, methods, constants, functions): 

Some minor cosmetic changes did also occur, especially in the API Reference.
We hope it would help you discover and work with out little mORMot!

2015, Sunday February 1

Benchmarking QDAC3 JSON parser

Do you know QDAC3 ?
This is an open source project, from China (with Chinese comments and exception errors messages, but the methods and variables are in English).
It is cross-platform, and told to be very fast about JSON process.

You can download this Open Source project code from http://sourceforge.net/projects/qdac3
And their blog - in Chinese - is at http://blog.qdac.cc/

So I included QDAC3 in our "25 - JSON performance" sample.
Numbers are talking, now.

Continue reading...

2014, Friday November 28

ODM magic: complex queries over NoSQL / MongoDB

You know that our mORMot is able to access directly any MongoDB database engine, allowing its ORM to become an ODM, and using NoSQL instead of SQL for the query languages.

But at mORMot level, you could share the same code between your RDBMS and NoSQL databases.
The ORM/ODM is able to do all the conversions by itself!
Since we have just improved this feature, it is time to enlighten its current status.

Continue reading...

2014, Thursday November 20

BeDelphi 2014 Slides

We just finished our Be-Delphi 2014 sessions and drank our last beers, so here we are.

I published some slides for this great event.

Continue reading...

2014, Friday November 14

Automatic TSQLRecord memory handling

Working with objects is pretty powerful, but requires to handle manually the created instances life time, via try .. finally blocks. Most of the time, the TSQLRecord life time would be very short: we allocate one instance on a local variable, then release it when it goes out of scope.

If we take again the TSQLBaby sample, we may write:

function NewMaleBaby(Client: TSQLRest; const Name,Address: RawUTF8): TID;
var Baby: TSQLBaby;   // store a record
begin
  Baby := TSQLBaby.Create;
  try
    Baby.Name := Name;
    Baby.Address := Address;
    Baby.BirthDate := Date;
    Baby.Sex := sMale;
    result := Client.Add(Baby);
  finally
    Baby.Free;
  end;
end;

To ease this pretty usual pattern, the framework offers some kind of automatic memory management at TSQLRecord level:

function NewMaleBaby(Client: TSQLRest; const Name,Address: RawUTF8): TID;
var Baby: TSQLBaby;   // store a record
begin
  TSQLBaby.AutoFree(Baby);  // no try..finally needed!
  Baby.Name := Name;
  Baby.Address := Address;
  Baby.BirthDate := Date;
  Baby.Sex := sMale;
  result := Client.Add(Baby);
end; // local Baby instance will be released here

Continue reading...

2014, Wednesday November 5

mORMot documentation as web

We have enhanced our SynProject Open Source tool, so that it is now able to generate its documentation as HTML, in addition to doc/pdf documents.

You can take a look at this web page.
It contains the whole SAD 1.18 content.
The pdf is more than 16 MB, whereas this html page is only 6MB.

Note that all diagrams were embedded as SVG within the page content: resulting file will be much faster to browse and download.
But it would require a modern Browser. For instance, older Internet Explorer revisions do not support SVG, but latest IE 11 does (as Chrome, FireFox, Opera or Safari).
We tried to implement some basic responsive design layout, for tablets or phones.

I hope this would help accessing the right information.
Do not forget there is the Table of Contents, and an index of KeyWords!

Feel free to give your feedback on our forum.

2014, Saturday October 25

Are "Micro Services" the proper way of writing SOA?

I just wanted to share a great article by Martin Fowler, about Micro Services.

IMHO such "Micro Services" are the proper way of defining a SOA project, following SOLID principles.
If we follow the "Single Responsibility" principle, we will define small uncoupled services, which do one single task. This will fulfill the "Interface Segregation" principle, and since we rely on abstractions, the "Liskov Substitution" will also apply. By definition, the SOA catalog/publish mechanism will perform "Dependency Inversion".
All this sounds just like the definition of "Micro Services".

Worth reading, and a nice illustration of how to build mORMot applications!

2014, Friday October 24

MVC/MVVM Web Applications

We almost finished implementing a long-standing feature request, introducing MVC / MVVM for Web Applications (like RubyOnRails) in mORMot.
This is a huge step forward, opening new perspectives not only to our framework, but for the Delphi community.
In respect to the existing MVC frameworks for Delphi, our  solution is closer to Delphi On Rails (by the convention-over-configuration pattern) than the Delphi MVC Framework or XMM.
The mORMot point of view is unique, and quite powerful, since it is integrated with other parts of our framework, as its ORM/ODM or interface-based services.
Of course, this is a work in progress, so you are welcome to put your feedback, patches or new features!

We will now explain how to build a MVC/MVVM web application using mORMot, starting from the "30 - MVC Server" sample.
First of all, check the source in our GitHub repository: two .pas files, and a set of minimalist Mustache views.

This little web application publishes a simple BLOG, not fully finished yet (this is a Sample, remember!).
But you can still execute it in your desktop browser, or any mobile device (thanks to a simple Bootstrap-based responsive design), and see the articles list, view one article and its comments, view the author information, log in and out.

This sample is implemented as such:

MVVM Source mORMot
Model MVCModel.pas TSQLRestServerDB ORM over a SQlite3 database
View *.html Mustache template engine in the Views sub-folder
ViewModel MVCViewModel.pas Defined as one IBlogApplication interface

For the sake of the simplicity, the sample will create some fake data in its own local SQlite3 database, the first time it is executed.

Continue reading...

2014, Saturday August 16

Will WebSocket replace HTTP? Does it scale?

You certainly noticed that WebSocket is the current trendy flavor for any modern web framework.
But does it scale? Would it replace HTTP/REST?
There is a feature request ticket about them for mORMot, so here are some thoughts - matter of debate, of course!
I started all this by answering a StackOverflow question, in which the actual answers were not accurate enough, to my opinion.

From my point of view, Websocket - as a protocol - is some kind of monster.

You start a HTTP stateless connection, then switch to WebSocket mode which releases the TCP/IP dual-direction layer, then you may switch later on back to HTTP...
It reminds me some kind of monstrosity, just like encapsulating everything over HTTP, using XML messages... Just to bypass the security barriers... Just breaking the OSI layered model...
It reminds me the fact that our mobile phone data providers do not use broadcasting for streaming audio and video, but regular Internet HTTP servers, so the mobile phone data bandwidth is just wasted when a sport event occurs: every single smart phone has its own connection to the server, and the same video is transmitted in parallel, saturating the single communication channel... Smart phones are not so smart, aren't they?

WebSocket sounds like a clever way to circumvent a limitation...
But why not use a dedicated layer?
I hope HTTP 2.0 would allow pushing information from the server, as part of the standard... and in one decade, we probably will see WebSocket as a deprecated technology.
You have been warned. Do not invest too much in WebSockets..

OK. Back to our existential questions...
First of all, does the WebSocket protocol scale?
Today, any modern single server is able to server millions of clients at once.
Its HTTP server software has just to be is Event-Driven (IOCP) oriented (we are not in the old Apache's one connection = one thread/process equation any more).
Even the HTTP server built in Windows (http.sys - which is used in mORMot) is IOCP oriented and very efficient (running in kernel mode).
From this point of view, there won't be a lot of difference at scaling between WebSocket and a regular HTTP connection. One TCP/IP connection uses a little resource (much less than a thread), and modern OS are optimized for handling a lot of concurrent connections: WebSocket and HTTP are just OSI 7 application layer protocols, inheriting from this TCP/IP specifications.

But, from experiment, I've seen two main problems with WebSocket:

  1. It does not support CDN;
  2. It has potential security issues.

Continue reading...

2014, Friday August 15

Background Backup of a SQLite3 Database

The primary purpose of any software Backup is to recover data after its loss, be it by data deletion or corruption.
Data loss can be a common experience of computer users. A 2008 survey found that 66% of respondents had lost files on their home PC, as Wikipedia quotes.

As a consequence, for any professional use of data, like in our mORMot server, a backup policy is mandatory.

We just introduced officially the SQLite3 Backup API to our low-level SynSQLite3.pas unit, and wrote dedicated methods to make background backup of a running mORMot server easy and safe, without any noticeable performance penalty.

Continue reading...

2014, Monday August 11

Cross-Platform mORMot Clients - Smart Mobile Studio

Current version of the main framework units target only Win32 and Win64 systems.

It allows to make easy self-hosting of mORMot servers for local business applications in any corporation, or pay cheap hosting in the Cloud, since mORMot CPU and RAM expectations are much lower than a regular IIS-WCF-MSSQL-.Net stack.
But in a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), you would probably need to create clients for platforms outside the Windows world, especially mobile devices.

A set of cross-platform client units is therefore available in the CrossPlatform sub-folder of the source code repository. It allows writing any client in modern object pascal language, for:

  • Any version of Delphi, on any platform (Mac OSX, or any mobile supported devices);
  • FreePascal Compiler 2.7.1;
  • Smart Mobile Studio 2.1, to create AJAX or mobile applications (via PhoneGap, if needed).

This series of articles will introduce you to mORMot's Cross-Platform abilities:

Any feedback is welcome in our forum, as usual!

Continue reading...

Cross-Platform mORMot Clients - Delphi / FreePascal

Current version of the main framework units target only Win32 and Win64 systems.

It allows to make easy self-hosting of mORMot servers for local business applications in any corporation, or pay cheap hosting in the Cloud, since mORMot CPU and RAM expectations are much lower than a regular IIS-WCF-MSSQL-.Net stack.
But in a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), you would probably need to create clients for platforms outside the Windows world, especially mobile devices.

A set of cross-platform client units is therefore available in the CrossPlatform sub-folder of the source code repository. It allows writing any client in modern object pascal language, for:

  • Any version of Delphi, on any platform (Mac OSX, or any mobile supported devices);
  • FreePascal Compiler 2.7.1;
  • Smart Mobile Studio 2.1, to create AJAX or mobile applications (via PhoneGap, if needed).

This series of articles will introduce you to mORMot's Cross-Platform abilities:

Any feedback is welcome in our forum, as usual!

Continue reading...

2014, Friday May 30

Software Design, Brook, mORMot, RAD, SOLID and OOP

We got a very instructive discussion in our forums, with Silvio, the maintainer of the Brook Framework.
Brook is a nice framework for writing web applications using Free Pascal.

It comes to my mind what mORMot can offer.
We did not want to compare the features or say that one framework is better than the other, but it appeared to me that a lot of object pascal programmers are tied to 20th century programming model.

In fact, to embrace the potentials of mORMot, you need to switch your mind, and enhanced your RAD and OOP background, into 21th century SOLID model.

Continue reading...

2014, Sunday May 25

New crc32c() function using optimized asm and SSE 4.2 instruction

Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC) codes are widely used for integrity checking of data in fields such as storage and networking.
There is an ever-increasing need for very high-speed CRC computations on processors for end-to-end integrity checks.

We just introduced to mORMot's core unit (SynCommons.pas) a fast and efficient crc32c() function.

It will use either:

  • Optimized x86 asm code, with unrolled loops;
  • SSE 4.2 hardware crc32 instruction, if available.

Resulting speed is very good.
This is for sure the fastest CRC function available in Delphi.
Note that there is a version dedicated to each Win32 and Win64 platform - both performs at the same speed!

In fact, most popular file formats and protocols (Ethernet, MPEG-2, ZIP, RAR, 7-Zip, GZip, and PNG) use the polynomial $04C11DB7, while Intel's hardware implementation is based on another polynomial, $1EDC6F41 (used in iSCSI and Btrfs).
So you would not use this new crc32c() function to replace the zlib's crc32() function, but as a convenient very fast hashing function at application level.
For instance, our TDynArray wrapper will use it for fast items hashing.

Continue reading...

2014, Sunday May 18

Automatic JSON serialization of record or dynamic arrays via Enhanced RTTI

Since Delphi 2010, the compiler generates additional RTTI at compilation, so that all record fields are described, and available at runtime.
By the way, this enhanced RTTI is one of the reasons why executables did grow so much in newer versions of the compiler.

Our SynCommons.pas unit is now able to use this enhanced information, and let any record be serialized via RecordLoad() and RecordSave() functions, and all internal JSON marshalling process.

In short, you have nothing to do.
Just use your record as parameters, and, with Delphi 2010 and up, they will be serialized as valid JSON objects.

Of course, text-based definition or callback-based registration are still at hand, and will be used with older versions of Delphi.
But you could be used to by-pass or extend the enhanced-RTTI serialization, even on newer versions of the compiler.

Continue reading...

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