simple-scuttle

Replicate state across a network with the scuttlebutt protocol.

npm install simple-scuttle
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Simple-Scuttle

Replicate state across a network with the scuttlebutt protocol.

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Status

I recommend you at least skim the paper which describes the protocol before continuing too much further.

Overview

Simple-Scuttle exports a class - soit Gossip - whose instances are transform streams in objectMode. Gossip instances maintain several data structures with which they manages state (see Gossip.state) and the propagation of state changes (see Gossip.history).

Rather than implementing several parallel streams, Gossip instances choose logical branches based on the semantics of the objects written to them-- the shape of inputs to the stream determine the resulting action. These are documented in the Expected Objects section.

API

var deserializer = require('desrializer')
  , scuttle = require('simple-scuttle')
  , serializer = require('serializer')
  , fs = require('fs')

persist = fs.createWriteStream('/path/to/logs', {flag: 'a'})

var peer_io = // a stream which sends and receives messages from the peer.
  , config  = scuttle.base.config

config.resolve = base.resolution.strictly_order_values

var gossip = new scuttle.Gossip('id', config)

gossip.pipe(serializer).pipe(peer_io).pipe(deserializer).pipe(gossip)

gossip.history.on('update', function(update) {
  persist.write(serializer.serialize(update))
})

gossip.history.on('compaction', compact)

function compact(memory, history_instance)  {
  /* Resolve history to be more compact somehow */
}

Exports

require('simple-scuttle').base

  • base.config: The default config object, described in detail below.
  • base.resolution: Some sample conflict resolution functions.

This is a module, ./lib/base.js, with some sample defaults.

require('simple-scuttle').Gossip

Gossip(String id, Object config) -> gossip
  • id: The unique identifier for each Gossip instance.
  • config: an Object which must have the following properties:
    • config.mtu: Stands for Maximum Transmission Unit. Determines how many messages the network can handle at once-- this is used to set opts.highWaterMark.
    • config.max_history: How many updates to store before we begin to forget old ones. Such concerns are absent from the paper, but they seem important to me. Defaults to 10 if falsey.
    • config.resolve (gossip, update) -> Boolean: A function which determines whether or not a given update should be applied.
    • config.sort: A function which describes how to order updates. Has the same signature as javascripts Array.sort, and will be called by Array.sort under the hood. This function is used to order updates when another Gossip instance requests updates more recent than a given version number.

Admonition

The config.resolve function is one of the most consequential decisions you will make when constructing your distributed system. Please make an informed decision. Investigate:

You will encounter concurrent updates across your system, and how you manage them will determine the reliability and persistence of your data.

Note that regardless of this function, every valid update (updates to any value that is not on Object.prototype) will be written to history.

Expected Objects

Gossip instances expect objects written to them (with gossip.write) to either be digests or updatess.

digests

var digest

if(more_digest) {
   digest = {
        digest: true
      , source_id: source_id
      , version: last_seen_version_for_source_id
   }
 } else {
  digest = { 
      digest: true 
    , done: true
  }
}

The assumption is that a digest object is sent from one node to another, and specifies what information the receiver should send back to the sender (all updates the receiver has seen for the specified source node, with version number greater than digest.version). Upon receiving a digest, the receiver queues all such updates into its Readable buffer.

If !!digest.done is true, then the receiver will also send back updates on any peers it knows about that have version number greater than the version in the digest. They will be ordered according to config.sort, (updated each time history is updated).

updates

The other kind of object, the update, is an object that appears like the following:


var update = {
    key: 'age'
  , value: 100
  , source_id: '#A'
  , version: 10
}

This says: "source update.source_id thought update.key mapped to update.value at version update.version." The config.resolve is a function that takes an update and the gossip instance and determines whether the gossip instance should include the update.

Methods

Gossip instances are Transform Streams, so they implement all of the methods and events as described in the node core documentation. In addition, there are a few methods specific to this purpose:

Gossip.set(key, value) -> Boolean

This method applies a local update, simply setting the given key to the given value in the local instance, and tacking on the appropriate version number and source_id. It's return value indicates whether the underlying stream has hit its high water mark. If the return value is false, do not write until Gossip has emitted a "drain" event.

Gossip.get(key) -> {version: <version>, value: <obj>}

A method which provides convenient lookup for arbitrary keys. If Gossip.state has no entry for a given key, this method returns {version: -Infinity, value: null}. Otherwise it returns {version: version, value: value}

Gossip.gossip() -> null

Causes Gossip to queue a randomly sorted set of digest objects into its Readable buffer. If another Gossip stream reads these, it will respond with a series of update objects. See Expected Object for information on the shape of the objects.

.gossip will not write to the underlying stream past the highWaterMark, i.e. after gossip.push returns false.

Attributes

Gossip.state

As specified in the paper, state is a key-value map (modeled as a native javascript object), available in the .state attribute of a Gossip instance. Each key maps to a value and a version number, so state[key] -> {version: version, value: value}

Gossip.version

The highest version number the Gossip instance has seen (both locally and from other instances)

Gossip.history

An object for keeping track of updates, and replaying updates from a given peer on demand. update objects are transmitted individually via the Gossip's streaming methods.

Events

Gossip.history is an event emitter, which emits two events:

  • "update": Any time an update is applied, the "update" event is emitted, with the update to be applied.

  • "compaction": If the number of updates recorded in the history exceeds the max_history parameter, the "compaction" event is emitted prior to removing old updates from the history. This way the client can implement more dramatic compaction, making their own tradeoffs between performance, replayability, and speed.

Gossip.history.write(key, value, source_id, version)

Write a new update to the history. The update is recorded into Gossip.history.memory, an array of updates, which is then sorted via sort argument to the Gossip constructor. Next Gossip.history emits an "update" event is emitted with the update as its argument. This event is emitted to allow the client to take action prior to pruning the memory array to max_history's length.

Gossip.history.news(id, version) -> Array updates

Returns an array of updates which came from a source with unique identifier matching id, and which occurred after version.

TODO:

  • Investigate whether history's memory attribute should be an array that is .sort(fn)-ed, or a custom implementation, such as this one.
  • Find a way to safely delete keys from the state.
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