Posts Tagged ‘ajax’

The Architecture of a New Project

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Yesterday I started working with Ajax Push, wrote a quick demo for a friend, and then stripped that and wrote a functional demo project with documentation. I did this to test if Ajax Push worked well enough for another concept project. As it turns out, using APE does work, but, it leaves a little to be desired.

While I was working with APE and tweaking the documentation and demo, a problem I had faced a few weeks back popped into my mind. Using Ajax Push for this application was perfect, it was all server push rather than client communication and the concept would work wonderfully.

What now?

We’re faced with a few dilemmas. This problem is 99% Ajax/Long Polling and 1% frontend. An Android and IOS app need to be developed to interface with the system, but, that is the simple part of the project.


At first I considered Python/Pyramid as the frontend, Varnish for caching content and APE for handling the Ajax Push/Long Polling. I’ll need to write an API to handle the Android and IOS Authenticating and communicating with the system. I suspect my app will become an OAuth2 endpoint for the apps which I’ll explain in a moment.

It was at this point that I realized, I could use node.js and to handle the long polling, but, the frontend requirements are so lightweight, I could do most of the web app in Node.js. Since I’m using node.js quite heavily, I’ll probably use Redis and CouchDB to do my storage – just in case.


Now, I had an epiphany. While I don’t really intend to open the API for the project initially, there’s a certain logic to making your own project utilize the same API that you will later make public. If anything, it makes designing your IOS and Android app easier since they utilize an API rather than relying on separate methods for communications with the webapp. One single interface rather than two and later if Windows Mobile gets an app, we’ve already got the API designed. Since we’re an OAuth2 endpoint, our mobile apps can take advantage of numerous existing libraries – saving quite a bit of time.

Later, if the API is made public, we’re not facing a new engineering challenge and we’ve had some first-hand experience with the API.

Recently there has been a lot of discussion about using ‘the right tool for the job’ and why that is wrong. ‘Use the same language for every part of the project’ is the other school of thought. There are things I know Python does well, there are things I know it doesn’t do well. There are things Erlang can handle, and things it shouldn’t. While I’m not a fan of Javascript, for this project, it really does seem like the right tool for the job. The difference between APE and node.js was Spidermonkey versus V8. In both cases, I’m writing Javascript, so, why not choose the option that has a much larger installed base – and a demo that has a use case very similar to my final app.

Now what?

While I’ve not used node.js, I’m expecting the next few days to be a rapid iteration of development and testing.

…and I’ll be using git. :)

git init

Ajax Push Engine, Pyramid and a quick demo application

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Earlier today I was debating Ajax Push and Pyramid for a project I had in mind. I ended up spending about 45 minutes writing a quick proof of concept, then, decided that perhaps something a bit more detailed with some documentation would be helpful for others.

I used Pyramid and APE and wrote a quick demo app. All of the code for the demo app can be downloaded from

In the html/ directory, the files, graphics and javascript files required to run the client side of the app are included. In the ape_server/ directory, the javascript that needs to be installed in the Ape Server scripts/ directory is present. You’ll want to modify the password. Also included in the html/ directory is a python script called which allows you to use urllib2.urlopen to communicate with the server directly. And finally, in the ape/ directory is a very minimal Pyramid application. pyramidape.wsgi is also included as a starting point to get the site set up.

In the demo, the left hand Coke can is controlled completely by the Ape Javascript Client code. Communications between the browser and Ape server are not processed by anything but Ape. On the right hand side, the Coke can is controlled by a json post to Pyramid and then Pyramid uses urllib2.urlopen to communicate with Ape which then updates the page.

Changes made on the page are reflected among all of the other people that are currently viewing the page in realtime. Since we’re using Ajax push, the page doesn’t need to be reloaded to show those changes. In this example, an img src and the alt text is changed along with a button. You can write your script to modify any html on the page – changing the colors of the page, elements, etc.

Using Ajax push and long polling with Pyramid isn’t difficult and this simple demo and example code should be a good starting point.

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