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Coordination strategies

Orbit provides another layer of abstraction on top of direct event observation and handling: a Coordinator. A coordinator manages a set of sources to which it applies a set of coordination strategies.

Why use a coordinator?#

Since configuring event handlers is so straightforward, what's the point of using a coordinator? There are several benefits:

  • You can easily add preconfigured strategies, such as an event logging strategy and a log truncation strategy (to keep the size of in-memory logs to a minimum). You can also create your own strategies and share them across applications.

  • Strategies can be activated and deactivated all together by simply calling coordinator.activate() / coordinator.deactivate(). Deactivating event handlers directly requires careful tracking of handler functions, which can be tedious. However, it's important to do this to avoid leaking memory.

  • Coordinators can share a log-level across all strategies. Sometimes you want to see debug info and sometimes only errors.

Creating a coordinator#

A coordinator is typically shared across an application and manages all of the coordination strategies between sources.

A coordinator can be created with sources and strategies:

import Coordinator from "@orbit/coordinator";
const coordinator = new Coordinator({  sources: [memory, backup],  strategies: [backupMemorySync]});

Or sources and strategies can be added / removed any time the coordinator is inactive:

import Coordinator from "@orbit/coordinator";
const coordinator = new Coordinator();

Activating a coordinator#

A coordinator won't actually do anything until it's been "activated", which is an async process that activates all of the coordinator's strategies:

coordinator.activate().then(() => {  console.log("Coordinator is active");});

Note that you can assign a log-level when activating a coordinator, and it will be applied to all of the coordinator's strategies:

import { LogLevel } from "@orbit/coordinator";
coordinator.activate({ logLevel: LogLevel.Info }).then(() => {  console.log("Coordinator will be chatty");});

Possible log levels include None, Errors, Warnings, and Info.

Deactivating a coordinator#

If you want to temporarily disable a coordinator or change its settings, you can deactivate it:

coordinator.deactivate().then(() => {  console.log("Coordinator is inactive");});

At this point you can add/remove strategies and/or sources.

Coordination strategies#

Every Strategy has certain properties, including a name, the names of sources to which it applies, a log level, and a log prefix.

@orbit/coordinator ships with several standard strategies, which are discussed below. It's also straightforward to create your own custom strategies.

Request strategies#

Request strategies participate in the request flow. Every request strategy should be defined with:

  • source - the name of the observed source
  • on - the name of the event to observe
  • target - the name of the target source
  • action - the name of the action on target that should be invoked
  • blocking - a boolean indicating whether to block the completion of the observed event until the action on the target has been processed

Here are some example strategies that query / update a remote server pessimistically whenever a memory source is queried / updated:

import { RequestStrategy } from "@orbit/coordinator";
// Query the remote server whenever the memory source is queriedcoordinator.addStrategy(  new RequestStrategy({    source: "memory",    on: "beforeQuery",
    target: "remote",    action: "pull",
    blocking: true  }));
// Update the remote server whenever the memory source is updatedcoordinator.addStrategy(  new RequestStrategy({    source: "memory",    on: "beforeUpdate",
    target: "remote",    action: "push",
    blocking: true  }));

It's possible to apply a filter function to a strategy so that it only applies to certain data. For instance, the following filter limits which queries should be handled by a remote server:

import { RequestStrategy } from "@orbit/coordinator";
// Only forward requests for planets on to the remote servercoordinator.addStrategy(  new RequestStrategy({    source: "memory",    on: "beforeQuery",
    target: "remote",    action: "pull",
    blocking: true,
    filter(query) {      return (        query.expressions.op === "findRecords" &&        query.expressions.type === "planet"      );    }  }));

Sync strategies#

Sync strategies participate in the sync flow. Every sync strategy should be defined with:

  • source - the name of the observed source
  • target - the name of the target source
  • blocking - a boolean indicating whether to block the completion of the observed event until the action on the target has been processed

Sync strategies only observe the transform event and apply the sync method on the target.

The following strategy synchronizes any changes to the remote source with a memory source:

import { SyncStrategy } from "@orbit/coordinator";
// Sync all changes received from the remote server to the memory sourcecoordinator.addStrategy(  new SyncStrategy({    source: "remote",    target: "memory",    blocking: true  }));

As described above for request strategies, sync strategies can also accept a filter function to limit the applicability of a strategy. This can be useful to, say, only backup certain types of data to browser storage.

Event logging strategies#

An event logging strategy can be applied to log events on all sources to the console. By default, all events will be logged on all sources registered to a coordinator:

import { EventLoggingStrategy } from "@orbit/coordinator";
coordinator.addStrategy(new EventLoggingStrategy());

You may wish to only observe events on certain interfaces, which can be specified as follows:

coordinator.addStrategy(  new EventLoggingStrategy({    interfaces: ["updatable", "pushable", "syncable"]  }));

Valid interfaces include updatable, queryable, pushable, pullable, and syncable (note the lower case).

Furthermore, you may wish to only observe certain sources, which can be specified by name:

coordinator.addStrategy(  new EventLoggingStrategy({    sources: ["remote", "memory"]  }));

The event logging strategy will respect the log level that is specified when the coordinator is activated.

Log truncation strategies#

Sources have another kind of log as well: a transform log, which tracks transforms that are applied. As changes are applied to sources, their transform logs grow in size. A log truncation strategy will keep the size of transform logs in check. It observes the sources associated with the strategy and truncates their transform logs when a common transform has been applied to them all.

To add a log truncation strategy that applies to all sources:

import { LogTruncationStrategy } from "@orbit/coordinator";
coordinator.addStrategy(new LogTruncationStrategy());

To limit the strategy to apply to only specific sources:

coordinator.addStrategy(  new LogTruncationStrategy({    sources: ["backup", "memory"]  }));

Using hints#

Orbit v0.16 introduced the concept of "hints", which allow request listeners to influence the results that a source returns from that request.

Why use hints?#

The main reason to use hints is to allow sources to take into account outside information when processing a request. For instance, let's say that a user queries a memory source and wants records returned in the same order they're returned from the server. If the server is using a complex sorting algorithm, it may be impossible to recreate that same logic (and full dataset) on the client in the MemorySource.

How can you use hints?#

Hints are only available to methods that are part of the request flow, such as query and update. Hints are returned by listeners to before[X] events to aid in the fulfillment of [X] requests. They can only be applied in a blocking fashion - otherwise the request may be fulfilled prior to the hint being returned.

Let's work through an example using hints to influence the results of a MemorySource query based upon the records returned from the same query applied to a JSONAPISource.

You'll start by creating a new RequestStrategy that ensures that when the memory (MemorySource) is queried, the remote (JSONAPISource) source will be too:

coordinator.addStrategy(  new RequestStrategy({    source: "memory",    target: "remote",    on: "beforeQuery",    action: "query",    blocking: true,    passHints: true  }));

Several things to note here:

  • blocking: true is strictly required for hints to function.
  • The results of action will be sent as hints, so the method needs to return records as results. query will work, but pull will not.
  • passHints: true tells the strategy to actually pass the results of remote.query as hints.

You'll also want to create a blocking SyncStrategy that syncs any transforms applied to the remote source back to the memory source:

coordinator.addStrategy(  new SyncStrategy({    source: "remote",    target: "memory",    blocking: true  }));

The strategy will ensure that data will be populated in the memory source entirely before it attempts to fulfill the query result.

Now, when memory.query(q => q.findRecords('planet')) is issued, the records returned should still come from the memory source, but their identities and order should match the records returned from remote.query(q => q.findRecords('planet')).

Caveats to using hints#

Hints have only been fully tested with the query and update events and the standard sources.