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2015, Tuesday November 17

Benefits of interface callbacks instead of class messages

If you compare with existing client/server SOA solutions (in Delphi, Java, C# or even in Go or other frameworks), mORMot's interface-based callback mechanism sounds pretty unique and easy to work with.

Most Events Oriented solutions do use a set of dedicated messages to propagate the events, with a centralized Message Bus (like MSMQ or JMS), or a P2P/decentralized approach (see e.g. ZeroMQ or NanoMsg). In practice, you are expected to define one class per message, the class fields being the message values. You would define e.g. one class to notify a successful process, and another class to notify an error. SOA services would eventually tend to be defined by a huge number of individual classes, with the temptation of re-using existing classes in several contexts.

Our interface-based approach allows to gather all events:

  • In a single interface type per notification, i.e. probably per service operation;
  • With one method per event;
  • Using method parameters defining the event values.

Since asynchronous notifications are needed most of the time, method parameters would be one-way, i.e. defined only as const - in such case, an evolved algorithm would transparently gather those outgoing messages, to enhance scalability when processing such asynchronous events. Blocking request may also be defined as var/out, as we will see below, inWorkflow adaptation.

Behind the scene, the framework would still transmit raw messages over IP sockets (currently over a WebSockets connection), like other systems, but events notification would benefit from using interfaces, on both server and client sides.
We will now see how...

Continue reading...

2015, Saturday August 15

Breaking Change in mORMot WebSockets binary protocol

Among all its means of transmission, our mORMot framework features WebSockets, allowing bidirectional communications, and interface-based callbacks for real time notification of SOA events.
After several months of use in production, we identified some needed changes for this just emerged feature.

We committed today a breaking change of the data layout used for our proprietary WebSockets binary protocol.
From our tests, it would increase the performance and decrease the resource consumption, especially in case of high number of messages.

Continue reading...

2015, Monday May 18

CQRS Persistence Service of any DDD object with mORMot

We introduced DDD concepts some time ago, in a series of articles in this blog.
At that time, we proposed a simple way of using mORMot types to implement DDD in your applications.
But all Domain Entitities being tied to the framework TSQLRecord class did appear as a limitation, breaking the Persistence Ignorance principle, since it couples the DDD objects to the framework implementation details.

We introduced a new mORMotDDD.pas unit, which is able to easily create CQRS Persistence services for any plain Delphi class (the famous PODOs - Plain Old Delphi Objects).
No need to inherit from TSQLRecord, or pollute your class definition with attributes!

For instance, a TUser class may be persisted via such a service:

type
  IDomUserCommand = interface(IDomUserQuery)
    ['{D345854F-7337-4006-B324-5D635FBED312}']
    function Add(const aAggregate: TUser): TCQRSResult;
    function Update(const aUpdatedAggregate: TUser): TCQRSResult;
    function Delete: TCQRSResult;
    function Commit: TCQRSResult;
  end;

Here, the write operations are defined in a IDomUserCommand service, which is separated (but inherits) from IDomUserQuery, which is used for read operations.
Separating reads and writes is a powerful pattern also known as CQRS, i.e. Command Query Responsibility Segregation, which we followed when defining our persistence services.
The framework make it pretty easy to create such services for storing any kind of class type in any SQL or NoSQL engine, with almost no code to write.
Last but not least, using such interface-based services for data persistence will allow to stub or mock the data access layer, making unit testing straightforward: you would not fear to write TDD code any more!

Please refer to our updated documentation for this unique and powerful feature.
You may take a look at the corresponding dddDomUserTypes.pas, dddDomUserCQRS.pas, and dddInfraRepoUser.pas units, detailed as sample reference.
Feedback is welcome in our forum, as usual!

2015, Sunday May 3

SOLID Design Principles

I've just updated the documentation part about the SOLID Design Principles.
The former blog article (almost 4 years old!) sounds like a bit deprecated now...
This is why I would extract here an updated version of this material.

Ensure you checked the corresponding part of the mORMot documentation, which is the updated reference, and probably the easiest to read - including links to all the other documentation.

The acronym SOLID is derived from the following OOP principles (quoted from the corresponding Wikipedia article):

  • Single responsibility principle: the notion that an object should have only a single responsibility;
  • Open/closed principle: the notion that "software entities ... should be open for extension, but closed for modification";
  • Liskov substitution principle: the notion that "objects in a program should be replaceable with instances of their subtypes without altering the correctness of that program” - also named as "design by contract";
  • Interface segregation principle: the notion that "many client specific interfaces are better than one general purpose interface.";
  • Dependency inversion principle: the notion that one should "Depend upon Abstractions. Do not depend upon concretions.". Dependency injection is one method of following this principle, which is also called Inversion Of Control (aka IoC).

If you have some programming skills, those principles are general statements you may already found out by yourself. If you start doing serious object-oriented coding, those principles are best-practice guidelines you would gain following.

They certainly help to fight the three main code weaknesses:

  • Rigidity: Hard to change something because every change affects too many other parts of the system;
  • Fragility: When you make a change, unexpected parts of the system break;
  • Immobility: Hard to reuse in another application because it cannot be disentangled from the current application.

Continue reading...

2015, Monday April 6

Asynchronous Service - WebSockets, Callbacks and Publish-Subscribe

When publishing SOA services, most of them are defined as stateless, in a typical query/answer pattern - see Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA).
This fits exactly with the RESTful approach of Client-Server services via interfaces, as proposed by the framework.

But it may happen that a client application (or service) needs to know the state of a given service. In a pure stateless implementation, it will have to query the server for any state change, i.e. for any pending notification - this is called polling.

Polling may take place for instance:

  • When a time consuming work is to be processed on the server side. In this case, the client could not wait for it to be finished, without raising a timeout on the HTTP connection: as a workaround, the client may start the work, then ask for its progress status regularly using a timer and a dedicated method call;
  • When an unpredictable event is to be notified from the server side. In this case, the client should ask regularly (using a timer, e.g. every second), for any pending event, then react on purpose.

It may therefore sounds preferred, and in some case necessary, to have the ability to let the server notify one or several clients without any prior query, nor having the requirement of a client-side timer:

  • Polling may be pretty resource consuming on both client and server sides, and add some unwanted latency;
  • If immediate notification is needed, some kind of "long polling" algorithm may take place, i.e. the server will wait for a long time before returning the notification state if no event did happen: in this case, a dedicated connection is required, in addition to the REST one;
  • In an event-driven systems, a lot of messages are sent to the clients: a proper publish/subscribe mechanism is preferred, otherwise the complexity of polling methods may increase and become inefficient and unmaintainable;
  • Explicit push notifications may be necessary, e.g. when a lot of potential events, associated with a complex set of parameters, are likely to be sent by the client.

Our mORMot framework is therefore able to easily implement asynchronous callbacks over WebSockets, defining the callbacks as interface parameters in service method definitions - see Available types for methods parameters.

Continue reading...

Real-Time ORM Master/Slave Replication via WebSockets

In a previous article, we presented how Master/Slave replication may be easily implemented in mORMot's RESTful ORM.
Do not forget to visit the corresponding paragraphs of our online documentation, which has been updated, and is more accurate!

Sometimes, the on-demand synchronization is not enough.
So we have just introduced real-time replication via WebSockets.
For instance, you may need to:

  • Synchronize a short list of always evolving items which should be reflected as soon as possible;
  • Involve some kind of ACID-like behavior (e.g. handle money!) in your replicated data;
  • Replicate not from a GUI application, but from a service, so use of a TTimer is not an option;
  • Combine REST requests (for ORM or services) and master/slave ORM replication on the same wire, e.g. in a multi-threaded application.

In this case, the framework is able to use WebSockets and asynchronous callbacks to let the master/slave replication - see Asynchronous callbacks - take place without the need to ask explicitly for pending data.
You would need to use TSQLRestServer.RecordVersionSynchronizeMasterStart, TSQLRestServer.RecordVersionSynchronizeSlaveStart and TSQLRestServer.RecordVersionSynchronizeSlaveStop methods over the proper kind of bidirectional connection.

Continue reading...

2015, Saturday January 10

mORMot under Linux thanks to FPC

You can use the FreePascal Compiler (FPC) to compile the mORMot framework source code, targetting Windows and Linux.

Linux is a premium target for cheap and efficient server Hosting. Since mORMot has no dependency, installing a new mORMot server is as easy as copying its executable on a blank Linux host, then run it. No need to install any framework nor runtime. You could even use diverse operating systems (several Linux or Windows Server versions) in your mORMot servers farm, with minimal system requirements, and updates.

We will now see how to write your software with Linux-compiling in mind, and also give some notes about how to install a Linux Virtual Machine with Lazarus on your Windows computer, compiling both FPC and Lazarus from their SVN latest sources!

Continue reading...

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 September 13

Some thoughts about "modern" pascal, generics, code and data structures

In a comment of a Google+ announcement about new C# features, Stephan did react about my naive enthusiasm about SmartPascal.

Apart from the fact that he did miss the numerous ways of creating Windows executable in this dialect (I quoted at least 5 diverse ways), he was chocked by the fact that the SmartPascal syntax, in its actual idiom, does not support generics.

But are generics mandatory?
I'm not speaking about any drug identified by its chemical name rather than its brand name (Wikipedia).
I would neither comment on the current Delphi implementation of generics (which may appear not so polished, nor very widely used, even in the Delphi RTL/FMX, but for TList<T> TDictionary<>).
Just share some thoughts about what is, to my opinion - which may be wrong and biased! - the most important part of today's programming.

Continue reading...

2014, Tuesday August 5

Returning content as XML

By default, interface-based services of a mORMot server will always return a JSON array (or a JSON object, if TServiceFactoryServer.ResultAsJSONObject is true).
With some kind of clients (e.g. if they are made by a third party), it could be useful to return XML content instead.

Your mORMot server is able to let its interface-based services return XML context instead, or in addition to the default JSON format.

Continue reading...

2014, Saturday July 12

Static class variables are just global variables in disguise

Cape Cod Gunny just wrote a blog article about how to replace a global variable by a static class instance.

But I had to react!
Using such static declaration is just another way of creating a global variable.
This is just a global variable in disguise.
In fact, the generated asm will be just like a global variable!

It encapsulates the global declaration within a class name space, but it is still IMHO a very wrong design.
I've seen so many C# or Java code which used such a pattern (there is no global variable in those languages), and it has the same disadvantages as global variables.
Just like the singleton syndrome
Code is just not re-entrant nor thread-safe.
Nightmare to debug and let evolve.

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, Monday April 28

Mustache Logic-less templates for Delphi - part 3

Mustache is a well-known logic-less template engine.
There is plenty of Open Source implementations around (including in JavaScript, which can be very convenient for AJAX applications on client side, for instance).
For mORMot, we created the first pure Delphi implementation of it, with a perfect integration with other bricks of the framework.

In last part of this series of blog articles, we will introduce the Mustache library included within mORMot source code tree.
You can download this documentation as one single pdf file.

Continue reading...

Mustache Logic-less templates for Delphi - part 2

Mustache is a well-known logic-less template engine.
There is plenty of Open Source implementations around (including in JavaScript, which can be very convenient for AJAX applications on client side, for instance).
For mORMot, we created the first pure Delphi implementation of it, with a perfect integration with other bricks of the framework.

In this second part of this series of blog articles, we will introduce the Mustache syntax.
You can download this documentation as one single pdf file.

Continue reading...

Mustache Logic-less templates for Delphi - part 1

Mustache is a well-known logic-less template engine.
There is plenty of Open Source implementations around (including in JavaScript, which can be very convenient for AJAX applications on client side, for instance).
For mORMot, we created the first pure Delphi implementation of it, with a perfect integration with other bricks of the framework.

In this first part of this series of blog articles, we will introduce the Mustache design.
You can download this documentation as one single pdf file.

Continue reading...

2014, Friday April 18

Introducing mORMot's architecture and design principles

We have just released a set of slides introducing 

  • ORM, SOA, REST, JSON, MVC, MVVM, SOLID, Mocks/Stubs, Domain-Driven Design concepts with Delphi, 
  • and showing some sample code using our Open Source mORMot framework.

You can follow the public link on Google Drive!

This is a great opportunity to discovers some patterns you may not be familiar with, and find out how mORMot try to implement them.
This set of slides may be less intimidating than our huge documentation - do not be terrified by our Online Documentation!
The first set of pages (presenting architecture and design principles) is worth reading.

Feedback is welcome on our forum, as usual.

2014, Monday April 7

JavaScript support in mORMot via SpiderMonkey

As we already stated, we finished the first step of integration of the SpiderMonkey engine to our mORMot framework.
Version 1.8.5 of the library is already integrated, and latest official revision will be soon merged, thanks to mpv's great contribution.
It can be seen as stable, since it is already used on production site to serve more than 1,000,000 requests per day.

You can now easily uses JavaScript on both client and server side.
On server side, mORMot's implementation offers an unique concept, i.e. true multi-threading, which is IMHO a huge enhancement when compared to the regular node.js mono-threaded implementation, and its callback hell.
In fact, node.js official marketing states its non-blocking scheme is a plus. It allows to define a HTTP server in a few lines, but huge server applications need JavaScript experts not to sink into a state a disgrace.

Continue reading...

2013, Friday June 7

Authentication and Authorization

Our mORMot framework tries to implement security via:
- Process safety;
- Authentication;
- Authorization.

Process safety is implemented at every n-Tier level:
- Atomicity of the SQLite3 database core;
- RESTful architecture to avoid most synchronization issues;
- ORM associated to the Object pascal strong type syntax;
- Extended test coverage of the framework core.

Authentication allows user identification:
- Build-in optional authentication mechanism, implementing both per-user sessions and individual REST Query Authentication;
- Authentication groups are used for proper authorization;
- Several authentication schemes, from very secure SHA-256 based challenging to weak but simple authentication;
- Class-based architecture, allowing custom extension.

Authorization of a given process is based on the group policy, after proper authentication:
- Per-table access right functionalities built-in at lowest level of the framework;
- Per-method execution policy for interface-based services;
- General high-level security attributes, for SQL or Service remote execution.

We will now give general information about both authentication and authorization in the framework.

In particular, authentication is now implemented via a set of classes.

Continue reading...

2013, Saturday May 11

Delphi XE4 NextGen compiler: using byte instead of ansichar?

When I first read the technical white paper covering all of the language changes in XE4 for mobile development (tied to the new ARM LLVM-based Delphi compiler), I have to confess I was pretty much confused.

Two great mORMot users just asked for XE4/iOS support of mORMot.

Win32/Win64 support for XE4 will be done as soon as we got a copy of it.
I suspect the code already works, since it was working as expected with XE3, and we rely on our own set of low-level functions for most internal work.

But iOS-targetting is more complex, due to the NextGen compiler, mainly.

Continue reading...

2013, Thursday March 7

64 bit compatibility of mORMot units

I'm happy to announce that mORMot units are now compiling and working great in 64 bit mode, under Windows.
Need a Delphi XE2/XE3 compiler, of course!

ORM and services are now available in Win64, on both client and server sides.
Low-level x64 assembler stubs have been created, tested and optimized.
UI part is also available... that is grid display, reporting (with pdf export and display anti-aliasing), ribbon auto-generation, SynTaskDialog, i18n... the main SynFile demo just works great!

Overall impression is very positive, and speed is comparable to 32 bit version (only 10-15% slower).

Speed decrease seems to be mostly due to doubled pointer size, and some less optimized part of the official Delphi RTL.
But since mORMot core uses its own set of functions (e.g. for JSON serialization, RTTI support or interface calls or stubbing), we were able to release the whole 64 bit power of your hardware.

Delphi 64 bit compiler sounds stable and efficient. Even when working at low level, with assembler stubs.
Generated code sounds more optimized than the one emitted by FreePascalCompiler - and RTL is very close to 32 bit mode.
Overall, VCL conversion worked as easily than a simple re-build.
Embarcadero's people did a great job for VCL Win64 support, here!

Continue reading...

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