0.2.0 • Public • Published


    This module has two primary goals:

    1. To add the node-local-context namespace API to a Node process at runtime.
    2. To rebuild the built-in Node domains behavior to use the namespace system.

    Doing this requires some fairly invasive modification of the main Node event loop. While the Node event loop's external behavior has remained relatively stable over time (barring the odd addition like setImmediate()), the internal implementation has been reworked considerably between major versions of Node. In particular, while the domains module was introduced in Node 0.8, the core team put considerable attention into making the performance impact of domains as small as possible in 0.10.

    Because this module is intended as a prototype for changes to be made to Node core itself, and because of the differences between these implementations, this module is only intended for use with Node 0.10.x (no earlier, no later). It's possible that it could be made to work with 0.8, and it's also possible that it could be made to work with even earlier versions. A lot of things are possible. However, you're on your own.

    node.js monkeypatching notes

    In Node 0.10, for sound performance-related reasons, Trevor Norris split apart the way the event loops works for cases in which domains are or are not in use. This split extends all the way from the JavaScript side through to the C++ bindings for Node in V8-land. The changes mostly affect how callbacks are set up to be evaluated in subsequent turns of the event loop when using process.nextTick.

    This process is bootstrapped in node.js (from now on, assume that when I mention node.js, I'm referring to the file, not the platform as a whole). node.js handles the bootstrapping process of connecting native (C++) bits of Node functionality to the JS module system, as well as esentially monkeypatching the Node runtime into existence – setting up the process global, starting the event loop, and defining how the event loop is run.

    Fortunately for readability (and comprehensibility) the bootstrap process is broken down into functions, and everything we care about is in startup.processNextTick().

    Unfortunately, there's still a lot to take in in this function, and still more unfortunately, it creates a closure around most of the state that its enclosed functions use, which means that modifying small aspects of the system's behavior is difficult (if not impossible? figuring this out is WIP) without completely replacing the whole shebang. Just to be explicit, this essentially implies that node-local-context might end up replacing the entire JS side of the event loop -- minimizing the footprint of the module is one of the current major goals.

    Here are the functions that are most important to understanding what's going on:

    There is a buuuuunch of stuff to be understood about what's going on with these functions, but until I have all the details straight for this module, I'm going to leave it at saying there's a considerable degree of complexity around dealing with the "infobox", a cute hack that Trevor added to make getting at the current state of the event loop as fast as possible from both the JS and C++ sides of Node. This state exists mostly to make dealing with process.nextTick as simple and fast as possible, but as a consequence of its design, the infobox makes it very difficult to selectively monkeypatch any of the bits of Node event loop behavior. To be fair, nobody would have guessed that anyone would be crazy enough to want to do this back when Trevor was originally doing this work.

    This gets a lot of documentation because process.nextTick gets used everywhere and is on a very hot path. Breaking it breaks pretty much all of Node. Minimizing the footprint here is important not just for this module, but for the eventual changes to Node itself.

    timers.js notes

    The other primary mechanism for propagating state across turns of the event loop are the functions defined in timers.js. Each one of these deals with domains presently, so each needs to be modified to work with namespaces instead of domains. They're relatively straightforward (at least compared to process.nextTick), but there are weird subtleties (i.e. it's not sufficient to just monkeypatch one of the module functions or the version defined on the global object, you have to do both -- considering that almost nothing uses the timers module directly, I don't know why this is. Again, this stuff wasn't meant to be modified at runtime). Also, there's a bunch of linked lists and other state that's local to the timers module, so monkeypatching these functions is again tantamount to replacing them.

    EventEmitter / stream / I/O notes

    The final case in which domains need to be propagated is in the case of EventEmitters. If an EE is created on (or added to) a domain, it has a property containing that domain. So those prototypal methods need to be overwritten. There's probably some post-bootstrap cleanup to be done on e.g. stdio, but I haven't gotten around to cleaning that up yet, and I'm not sure how many of these corner cases need to be handled for a POC.

    reading as opposed to setting / manipulating domains

    There's a whole bunch of places where everything expects to see a domain exposed:

    • process.domain
    • on EEs

    Contexts (as created by node-local-context) look roughly like domains, but they have different behavior in certain circumstances, and they need to be shimmed to behave the same way -- the semantics of domains must not change as a side effect of this module. This is all TODO once the basic APIs are working and the best way to modularize the way e.g. nesting behavior has been prototyped a little more extensively.




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