Component Interaction

Docspell Documentation

Context and Problem Statement🔗

There are multiple web applications with their rest servers and there are multiple document processors. These processes must communicate:

  • once a new job is added to the queue the rest server must somehow notify processors to wake up
  • once a processor takes a job, it must propagate the progress and outcome to all rest servers only that the rest server can notify the user that is currently logged in. Since it's not known which rest-server the user is using right now, all must be notified.

Considered Options🔗

  1. JMS (ActiveMQ or similiar): Message Broker as another active component
  2. Akka: using a cluster
  3. DB: Register with "call back urls"

Decision Outcome🔗

Choosing option 3: DB as central synchronisation point.

The reason is that this is the simplest solution and doesn't require external libraries or more processes. The other options seem too big of a weapon for the task at hand. They are both large components itself and require more knowledge to use them efficiently.

It works roughly like this:

  • rest servers and processors register at the database on startup each with a unique call-back url
  • and deregister on shutdown
  • each component has db access
  • rest servers can list all processors and vice versa

Positive Consequences🔗

  • complexity of the whole application is not touched
  • since a lot of data must be transferred to the document processors, this is solved by simply accessing the db. So the protocol for data exchange is set. There is no need for other protocols that handle large data (http chunking etc)
  • uses the already exsting db as synchronisation point
  • no additional knowledge required
  • simple to understand and so not hard to debug

Negative Consequences🔗

  • all components must have db access. this also is a security con, because if one of those processes is hacked, db access is possible. and it simply is another dependency that is not really required for the joex component
  • the joex component cannot be in an untrusted environment (untrusted from the db's point of view). For example, it is not possible to create "personal joex" that only receive your own jobs…
  • in order to know if a component is really active, one must run a ping against the call-back url