About Me

Curriculum Vitae

A brief list of my current skill set

Bloggybits

Strange Windows Errors and a Bowser in My Event Log
Wednesday, 24th October 2012, 11:10

It's like my own DailyWTF round-up!

Why Do People Come Here?
Monday, 15th October 2012, 15:47

They come to look at porn!

Idiot thinks Raspberry Pi Unsuitable for Education
Tuesday, 2nd October 2012, 15:24

Dumbest thing I've read since...

Upgrading to PostgreSQL 9.2 on CentOS 5
Tuesday, 25th September 2012, 14:52

It's easy as PI!

Fare Ye Well Work Email You Have Served Me Well
Monday, 17th September 2012, 14:36

Cause of death too much spam

Forest Racer - A HTML5 Game in Under 13K
Tuesday, 11th September 2012, 20:46

Including all assets, but only when zipped

Entering a 13k HTML5 Game Competition
Tuesday, 4th September 2012, 16:31

I'm so tempted to have a go at this

Faster Loops and Faster Iterations in Node.js and V8
Wednesday, 29th August 2012, 13:16

Is Object.keys faster than For...In?

And the Fastworks.js framework is Born!
Wednesday, 22nd August 2012, 16:23

Well I'm excited, even if you aren't

Libxmljs Update on CentOS 3.8 throws an SELinux Wobbley Fit
Monday, 20th August 2012, 15:40

The right way to fix this sort of issue

TV Land Doesn't Understand Technology
Friday, 17th August 2012, 17:09

Or maybe it does and thinks we don't?

Yet More Benchmarking - Function Chains vs Object Chains
Wednesday, 15th August 2012, 13:34

Working towards a faster Node.js framework

More Benchmarking in Node.js and V8
Tuesday, 14th August 2012, 12:19

Working out the fastest way to route

MinnaHTML.js Benchmarking for Speed in Node.js
Monday, 13th August 2012, 17:55

Don't believe it, test it

Playing Around With HTML5's Canvas
Friday, 10th August 2012, 16:19

Speccy loading screens in a browser!

Projects and Sillyness

MAME Cabinet Diary

How I built my own arcade cabinet

Loading Screen Simulator

I don't miss the ZX Spectrum, I still use it!

The Little Guy Chat Room

It's a Pitfall inspired chat room

GPMad MP3

A fully featured MP3 player what I wrote

GP Space Invaders

My first little emulator

GP32 Development Page

Some info and links about this cute little handheld

Disney Nasties

Uncensored images, you must be 18 to view them

Minna's World

The cuttest fluffy puppy in the world

Diary of a Hamster

Learn about how hamsters think, first hand

Utilities

Time Calculator

A simple little online utility for working out how many hours to bill a client

A Few Links

And the Fastworks.js framework is Born!
Wednesday, 22nd August 2012, 16:23

After a week of labour, I think I'm ready to release the first version of my speed driven Node.js framework. If you use Connect but think it can go faster, then this is for you. If you are looking for a good starting point to develop Node applications, then this could be for you too.

If you like beta testing things, benchmarking things, etc, then this is definitely for you and your help would be most welcome. :)

Without further ado, let's just jump in and show you how to use the Fastworks.js middleware library.

Stacks and Routes

Rather than having a single stack which is full of things you don't need for many types of connections, Fastworks is designed around the idea of multiple stacks of middleware, letting you bind them to routes.

Let's create a simple stack for serving static assets!

var fw = require("fastworks");

var stackStatic = new fw.Stack();

stackStatic.append(new fw.CompressorLess({ staticDir: __dirname + "/static" }))
.append(new fw.CompressorJS({ staticDir: __dirname + "/static" }))
.append(new fw.StaticFile({ staticDir: __dirname + "/static" }));


Since the append() method returns this, you can chain using it like the above. But if you prefer, you can write it long hand.

Now, a few things. Firstly, a stack is pretty useless on its own, and secondly, a stack is processed in the order you append modules to it. So in the example above, CompressorLess is called first, and StaticFile is called last.

Often there are multiple modules which do very similar things, where one might be a tiny bit easier and less typing. But seriously, it's faster this way, gives you more control, and for very little more typing. If you want lazy slow crap, go play with .NET, you don't deserve to play with Node.js.

CompressorLess and CompressorJS are modules which compress *.less and *.jscript files into *.css and *.js files respectively, using the Less and Uglify-JS node modules respectively. StaticFile serves things like images, style sheets and javascript files, using the pretty nifty Lactate node module. According to the author's benchmarks, it can handle more than twice the requests per second that Connect's Send module can.

Now, let's create a more complicated stack!

var stackFull = new fw.Stack();

stackFull.append(new fw.ResponseTime())
.append(new fw.Profiler())
.append(new fw.FavIcon({ iconPath: __dirname + "/static/favicon.ico" }))
.append(new fw.ErrorHandler({ showError: true, stackTrace: true }))
.append(new fw.Limiter({ max: "10mb" }))
.append(new fw.Cookies())
.append(new fw.SignedCookies({ signKey: "its a secret" }))
.append(new fw.SignedSession({ signKey: "its a secret" }))
.append(new fw.Query())
.append(new fw.BodySimple())
.append(new fw.BodyJSON())
.append(new fw.BodyComplex());

This is a lot more full on. This stack is geared towards full blown webpages, definitely not static content. But here is one of the beautiful things about Fastworks, the first port of call is not the stack at all, it is the router!

So let's make a simple router! But before we do that, we need some functions to act as destinations for our routes.

function notfoundPage(request, response)
{
response.writeHead(404, { "Content-Type": "text/plain" });
response.end("File not found!");
}

function normalPage(request, response)
{
response.writeHead(200, { "Content-Type": "text/plain" });
response.end("Woop! Stuff is happening!");
}

Yes, I know, painfully simple, but these are examples! Anyway, now for the route.

var router = new fw.SimpleRouter();

router.addRoute("/images", stackStatic, notfoundPage);
router.addRoute("/styles", stackStatic, notfoundPage);
router.addRoute("/scripts", stackStatic, notfoundPage);
router.addRoute("/", stackFull, normalPage);

router.listen(true, 8080);

As you can see, we create a router, you can only have one per http/https server, and then we add some routes to it.

These are simple routes which match from top to bottom, but they are quick, however if you prefer to use regular expressions instead, then there is a router for those called RegExRouter. And I hope to add another option later, and include ways to sort them.

Anyway, here we add three routes for our static content, all of which sit in our web directory under /static and get sent through our very small static stack! This is more efficient than the alternative of one big stack which becomes inefficient for certain connections.

The destination for our static routes is a 404 function, because if our static files are not served by the StaticFile module then it must be a 404!

We then have one final generic route which goes through our full stack that includes a very good error handler that will catch any error at all which occurs relating to that connection and because we set it to, show a full stack trace and error where possible.

It also has a profiler, which spams some useful profiling information to the console (I wouldn't recommend using this on a production server, it would fill log files quickly if you are redirecting the console to one), limits uploads to 10 megabytes, serves a favourite icon (yes this is probably better off in the static stack), copies cookies into the request.cookie object, any query options to request.query, and form fields to request.body.

In addition to that it validates signed cookies, and maintains a session object (request.session) any changes to which are updated live across the session.

Supported Modules

As a first release, I made a list of the sort of modules I deemed essential from working with Connect. And then I looked at how Connect did them, and decided if it was good I'd do it the same (or similar) way, but if it was bad then I'd do it differently.

Here are those that made it into the first release:

ResponseTime

Adds a X-Response-time header to the client output which times how long it takes to generate the page.

ErrorHandler

A catch-all error handler that optionally shows the error and a stack trace to the client, and can either display a built in error page or call a provided function if you wish to do something yourself instead.

StaticFile

Fast static file serving module, using Lactate, resulting in it supporting gzipping and memory caching. You can of course disable the memory caching and alter the expiry time.

CompressorLess

Automatically compiles less files into css, using the Less compiler. You can specify how often it checks to see if the css file has changed, because let's face it, doing that is faster than checking every single time! You can also choose just to compile and not compress the css.

I personally tend to have two settings, when I pass "debug" on the command-line I disable the compression of both css and client side javascript, because it makes debugging a lot easier!

CompressorJS

This is like the other compressor, but for client side Javascript files! It also supports an option not to compress files and the check interval, and as an added bonus you can enable support for the same @import "filename"; syntax that less uses, to include files before you compress!

One thing to note about this and the Less module, they do not check date stamps on included files, so if you change an included file they will both not re-compile unless the primary file is modified.

Cookies

Using the cookie module, this takes the cookies sent from the client, and whacks them into a request.cookies object for easy access.

SignedCookies

This must be included after Cookies for it to work, but once you've done that, any cookie values which are signed get put into a request.signedcookies object. How is a cookie value signed? Well there is a duplicate value which is prefixed with "sig." and contains an sha1 hash of the value.

I'll probably add an easy way to sign them yourself at a later point, but since for now no part of Fastworks deals with the writing of cookies (session ones aside), this is on the back burner.

Anyway, cookies are signed with a key, just so you know.

Session

A simple cookie based session object! Just check the request.session object and use it however you want! Everything is handled automatically, and changes are live so multiple connections of the same session have access to the same object.

I might at some point add the option to have sessions in URLs, personally I find this thought disgusting, but maybe someone is using legacy applications that Node must sit alongside.

SignedSession

Just like Session, but uses signed cookies to validate the session, and obviously requires the SignedCookies module to work properly. Every new session is created with a guid much like with Session, but this time that guid is signed with an sha1 hash using the provided key.

This makes sessions more secure to simple hijacking techniques, though quite how much more secure is open for debate. Still, it's there as a comfort blanket for you.

Query

Splits up the query string and places it into a request.query object for easy access. That simple! After all, request.query.page is much easier to use than parsing the whole URL yourself, isn't it?

Limiter

Want to limit the size of uploads? Now you can! If the client provides the size of the upload, it can terminate the connection immediately if too big, otherwise it can terminate it once the limit is reached.

Profiler

This spams stuff to the log, including the requested URL, response time, and memory usage before and after the request. Guaranteed to fill your console with spam!

BodySimple

A form submission parser that puts simple form fields submitted into a request.body object.

BodyJSON

Just like BodySimple, but for submitted JSON data!

BodyComplex

Just like the other two, but uses formidable to handle much more complicated form submissions, like file uploads.

FavIcon

A very simple favicon.ico server, which after the first read caches it in memory indefinitely. So it's fast!

Connect

Just in case there is a favourite Connect module that you can't live without, there is even a Connect module which lets you use pretty much any module designed for that as part of Fastworks. Just until a faster Fastworks specific one becomes available anyway!

If for connect you used it like this:

app.use(connect.logger('dev'));

Then in Fastworks you can use it like this:

stack.append({ module: connect.logger('dev') });

Bonus Feature

Providing you have Fuser as part of your Unix/Linux distribution, or can install it, you can take advantage of the graceful restarting feature built into Fastworks.

Put simply, if you want your Node.js app to continue serving connections whilst you restart it, providing you set the graceful option, it will send a TERM signal to the other node process, and grab the port as soon as it is available, then begin serving connections to it.

Meanwhile, the node application that receives the TERM signal will stop listening to the port, wait until it has finished serving any existing connections, and then close gracefully.

Yup, it's built in!

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