Richard's February UpdateFeb 29, 2020
The Lesser HTTP Refactor
Aside from the normal answering of queries and issues, February has been a
month dominated by the difference between the
As I understand things, both Beast and Asio libraries developed the idea of the
DynamicBuffer concept (or more
correctly, Named Type Requirement [NTR]) at roughly the same time, but with slightly different needs.
The original Asio
DyanmicBuffer describes a move-only type, designed to be a short-lived wrapper over storage which
would allow a composed operation to easily manage data insertions or retrievals from that storage through models of the
In Beast, it was found that
DynamicBuffer objects being move-only caused a difficultly, because the necessarily
complex composed operations in Beast need to create a
DynamicBuffer, perform operations on it, pass it to a
sub-operation for further manipulation and then continue performing operations on the same buffer.
DynamicBuffer as been passed by move to a sub operation, then before the buffer can be used again, it will
have to be moved back to the caller by the callee.
Rather than complicate algorithms, Beast’s authors took a slightly different track - Beast
DynamicBuffers were specified
to be pass-by-reference. That is, the caller is responsible for the lifetime of the
DynamicBuffer and the callee is
passed a reference.
This satisfied Beast’s needs but created an incompatibility with Asio and Net.TS.
Vinnie Falco wrote a paper on the problem
offering a solution to enabling complex composed operations involving
DynamicBuffers. On reflection, LEWG took a
different view and solved the problem by
The result is that Boost.Beast objects are now likely to encounter three versions of
DynamicBuffer objects in the wild
and needs to be able to cope gracefully.
Boost.Asio now has the NTRs
DynamicBuffer_v2, with the NTR
DynamicBuffer being a synonym for
either depending on configuration flags (defaulting to
We have had to go a little further and add a new NTR in Beast,
DynamicBuffer_v0. The meanings of these NTRs are:
|NTR||Mapping in Asio||Mapping in previous Beast||Overview|
|DynamicBuffer_v0||none||DynamicBuffer||A dynamic buffer with a version 1 interface which must be passed by reference|
|DynamicBuffer_v1||DynamicBuffer_v1||Asio DynamicBuffer (v1)||A dynamic buffer with a version 1 interface which must be passed by move|
|DynamicBuffer_v2||DynamicBuffer_v2||none||A dynamic buffer with a version 2 interface which is passed by copy|
My intention this month was to migrate the entire Beast code base to use Asio’s (and current net.ts’s)
concepts while still remaining fully compatible with
DynamicBuffer_v0 objects (which will be in existing user code).
The first attempt sought to change as little of the Beast code as possible, by writing
DynamicBuffer_v0 wrappers for
DynamicBuffer_v[1|2] objects, with those wrappers automatically created on demand in the initiating function of Beast IO
operations. The problem with this approach is that it penalised the use of DynamicBuffer_v2 with an additional memory
allocation (in order to manage a proxy of DynamicBuffer_v1’s input and output regions). On reflection, it became
apparent that in the future, use of
DynamicBuffer_v2 will be the norm, so it would be inappropriate for Beast to
punish its use.
Therefore, we have chosen to take the harder road of refactoring Beast to use
DynamicBuffer_v2 in all composed
operations involving dynamic buffers, and refactor the existing
DynamicBuffer_v0 types in order to allow them to
act as storage providers for
DynamicBuffer_v2 proxies while still retaining their
I had hoped to get all this done during February, but alas - in terms of released code - I only got as far as the refactoring of existing types.
The refactor of HTTP operations and Websocket Streams in terms of
DynamicBuffer_v2 is underway and indeed mostly
complete, but there was not sufficient time to release a sufficiently robust, reviewed and tested version this month.
I plan to finish off this work in the first part of March, which will hopefully leave time for more interesting challenges ahead.
Well, the Beast Issue Tracker is far from clear, so there is plenty of work to do.
At some point though, I’d like to make a start on a fully featured higher level HTTP client library built on Boost.Beast.
We’ll have to see what unfolds.