Bluish Coder

Programming Languages, Martials Arts and Computers. The Weblog of Chris Double.


Factor web framework

I'm working on a new web framework for Factor. My plan is to have web applications built as a collection of concurrent processes running on the server and the client browser. Processes on the server can send messages to the browser (using a 'comet' style connection) and vice versa.

Client processes are implemented using the lightweight concurrency system I built using Narrative Javascript. An example process that runs on the browser looks like:

function alerter() {
  while(true) { 
    var msg = receive->();
    document.getElementById("messages").value += (msg + "\n")
register_process("p1", spawn(alerter));

This spawns a process named in the registry as 'p1'. It blocks waiting for a message. When one is received it will add the message string to an text area with the Id 'messages' and then resume waiting.

The message can come from other client side processes or from the server if a comet connection is established. From the Factor server you can get access to the client side process with 'get-process-on-page'. Each page connected to the server has an 'id'. 'get-process-on-page' takes this id and returns a process which can be used to send messages to the client process:

"1234" "p1" get-process-on-page "Hello" over send "World" over send

This example gets the 'p1' process on the client with the id '1234' and sends it two messages. One 'hello' and then 'world'. These will result in the 'p1' process shown above running on the browser waking up and adding the text to the textarea.

Most Factor objects can be sent as messages and they are serialised to JSON when sent to the client. I'm currently writing a JSON parser for Factor which will allow client processes to send messages to server processes.

The framework so far works up to this point and runs on Opera, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer. Once the JSON parser is written and working I'll make the code available.

I'm keen to see how this style of web programming compares to continuation based web servers, and how they can be combined (using cont-responder in Factor). I hope to also write other back ends (Scala, Erlang, etc) to compare the different technologies.


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