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Software Development Kit and Command Line Interface for spawning streaming HTTP microservices in multiple programming languages.

At it's core, stack maps HTTP request/response streams to the STDIN/STDOUT streams of any programming language binary.

If you are using Amazon Lambda or other cloud function hosting services like Google Functions or, you might find stack a very interesting option to remove your dependency on third-party cloud providers. stack allows for local deployment of enterprise ready microservices. stack has few dependencies and will run anywhere Node.js can run.


This project is the component which several production services, including, use to spawn real-time arbitrary streaming microservices in response to streaming HTTP requests. It's been battle-hardened with over two years of development and it's largest installation is now managing 8000+ microservices.

You are encouraged to use this module as-is, or modify it to suite your needs. If you are interested in contributing please let us know by opening a Pull Request.


  • Creates HTTP microservices in multiple Programming Languages
  • Ships with stack binary for starting HTTP microservice servers
  • Plugin System based on standard node.js HTTP middlewares
  • Maps HTTP request / response to STDIN / STDOUT of spawned child processes
  • Uses a "system process per microservice request" design
  • Isolates state of microservice per system process and request ( stateless service requests )
  • Microservice error handling and custom timeouts
  • Can parse any kind of request data
    • Query
    • JSON
    • Form
    • Multipart
    • Streaming
    • Binary


npm install -g stackvana

This will install the stack binary globally on your system.


  Usage: stack [command] [options]
    help  Display help
    -t, --timeout <number>  Sets max timeout of service in milliseconds
    -h, --host <value>      Host to listen on
    -p, --port <number>     Port to listen on
    -l, --language <value>  Target programming languages
    -w, --watch <bool>      Reloads source files on every request ( dev only )
    -v, --version           Output the version number

By default, stack will attempt to start a listening HTTP server based on a microservice file path.

As Command Line Interface

stack ./path/to/

## Plugins

stack can be optionally extended through a simple app.use() based plugin architecture. Plugins are standard Node.js Express.js middlewares. This means you can use any existing Node.js middleware as a stack plugin, or re-use any stack plugin as a middleware in any existing Node application.

Available Plugins

  • logger - Basic extendable request / response logger function
  • mschema - Adds mschema validation to incoming request parameters
  • bodyParser - Intelligent streaming body parser ( JSON / form / multipart / binary )
  • rateLimiter - Extendable request rate limiter. Holds rate limits in-memory or in Redis.

For Express based plugins example, see: ./examples/express-plugins.js

Since plugins are standard Node.js middlewares, writing custom plugins is very easy.

50+ Microservice Examples

You can find many example microservices which can be run with stack here:

CLI Examples

stack ./examples/services/echo/echo.js
stack -l babel ./examples/services/echo/echo-es6-async.js
stack ./examples/services/echo/
stack ./examples/services/echo/echo.lua
stack ./examples/services/echo/echo.php
stack ./examples/services/echo/
stack ./examples/services/echo/
stack -l python3 ./examples/services/echo/
stack ./examples/services/echo/echo.rb
stack ./examples/services/echo/
stack ./examples/services/echo/
stack ./examples/services/echo/
stack ./examples/services/echo/echo.tcl

Each call to stack will automatically start a listening HTTP server on port 3000, additional instances of stack will auto-increment the port to 3001, 3002, etc.

Service target language is automatically detected based on the file extension of the service. This can be overridden using the --language option.

Note: For certain languages ( such as Babel ), the first microservice request to stack may take additional time as it will perform an initial compile and cache step.

Note: Please see Babel Support for additional Babel configuration

Programmatically Inside Node.js

Node API
spawn(opts, req, res)
   opts.code      - source code of microservice
   opts.language  - target programming language
   opts.log       - optional custom logging handler function ( defaults to `console.log` )
   opts.env       - environment variables which populates `service.env` ( defaults to `process.env` )
   req - http request stream
   res - http response stream
Hook Object API
   Every service is populated with an object named "hook"
   Note: This API may differ slightly per language implementation, see ./examples/services
   service.params - combined scope of all incoming HTTP request variables
   service.env    - environment variables of service ( defaults to `process.env`)
   service.req    - HTTP Request stream
   service.res    - HTTP Response stream

Example services

see: ./examples/services for more examples see: microservice-examples for 50+ examples


var stack = require('stackvana');
var express = require('express');
var app = express();
var nodeService = function testService (opts) {
  var res = opts.res;
  console.log('logging to console');
var handler = stack.spawn({
  code: nodeService,
  language: "javascript"
app.listen(3000, function () {
  console.log('server started on port 3000');

Multiple Microservices Per Server Instance

In some configurations you may want to safely run multiple kinds of microservices on one server instance ( a small monolith ). stack is designed exactly for this use case.

Since every incoming service request will spawn a separate process, stack can safely and easily handle spawning multiple types of microservices at once without affecting the state of other services.

If you look at the ./examples/http-server-simple.js file, you will see that spawn() can be used as a standard Node.js or Express HTTP middleware. For multiple services per server, simply map the spawn() method to any custom routes you may want to define.

You can also stack multiple express apps together for multiple microservices with separate routes. see: ./examples/express-multi-language.js

Supports Microservices In Many Languages

  • javascript
  • babel ( ES6 / ES7 / etc ... )
  • coffee-script
  • bash
  • lua
  • perl
  • php
  • python
  • python3
  • ruby
  • scheme
  • smalltalk
  • tcl

Additional language support is both planned and welcomed. Please open a Pull Request if you wish to see a specific language added

Creating a custom plugin

Creating a custom plugin is very simple. Just code the stack plugin the same you would any other Node.js middleware. Feel free to use any of the other existing HTTP middlewares in the Node.js ecosystem.


module.exports = function loggerMiddleware (config) {
  // here the function handler can be configured based on a `config` object 
  return function loggerHandler (req, res, next) {
    console.log('running service ' + req.url);

Once you've created a new plugin, simply require() it, and call app.use(customLogger({})). That's it! There are no magic or surprises with how plugins work in stack.

See: ./examples/express-plugins.js for more details.


Running untrusted microservice code in a safe way is a complex problem. The stack module is only intended to isolate a small part of the entire untrusted source code execution chain.

If you intend to use this module to run untrusted source code please consider the following:

What this module does isolate

  • Microservice state
  • Microservice errors
  • Stream / Socket errors
  • HTTP Request state

Every incoming HTTP request will spawn a new system process to run the microservice instance, which then sends data to the HTTP response. Every microservice execution will happen in a fresh systems process.

All errors that can possibly happen during the execution of a microservice should be trapped and isolated to not affect any other microservices.

What this mode does NOT isolate

  • Server Memory
  • Server CPU
  • Server file-system
  • Process CPU
  • Process Memory

stack cannot make any guarantees about the isolation of the server or spawned processes. All microservices will have default access to the server's file-system and child processes.

To ensure isolation of the server file-system, you would want to use the stack binary in a chroot jail, or another similar container solution.

To ensure isolation of the server memory and cpu, you will want to use the stack binary in a virtualized environment capable of monitoring and managing resource usage per process.


In order to Coffee-Script based microservices, you must install the following packages:

npm install coffee-script


In order to run Babel / ES6 / ES7 microservices, you must install the following packages:

npm install babel-core@6.16.0
npm install babel-plugin-syntax-async-functions@6.13.0
npm install babel-plugin-transform-regenerator@6.16.1
npm install babel-polyfill@6.16.0
npm install babel-preset-es2015@6.16.0
npm install babel-preset-stage-3@6.16.0

Who is Using Stack

Is your business using Stack in production? Let us know by opening a pull request with your company's logo and website.



Special thanks to:

for their feedback in helping review early versions of this project.