Introduction to WAMP programming

This guide gives an introduction to programming with WAMP in JavaScript using Autobahn|JS.

WAMP provides two communication patterns for application components to talk to each other

and we will cover all four interactions involved in above patterns

  1. Registering Procedures for remote calling
  2. Calling Procedures remotely
  3. Subscribing to Topics for receiving events
  4. Publishing Events to topics

Tip

If you are new to WAMP or want to learn more about the design principles behind WAMP, we have a longer text here.


Application Components

WAMP is all about creating systems from loosely coupled application components. It is these application components contain your application code. Your browser frontend and your NodeJS backend would each be an application component.

A WAMP based system consists of potentially many application components, which all connect to a WAMP router. The router is generic, which means, it does not run any application code, but only provides routing of events and calls.

Hence, to create a WAMP application, you

  1. write application components
  2. connect the components to a router

Including Autobahn

We need to include the Autobahn|JS library in our JavaScript. There are instructions for how to do this in the browser and in Node.js. This also links to available WAMP routers. In this documentation use of Crossbar.io is assumed, but examples should work with other routers as well.

Establishing a WAMP connection

Connections are handled via an Autobahn|JS connection object, which is created by

var connection = new autobahn.Connection({
   url: "ws://127.0.0.1:8080/ws",
   realm: "votesapp"
});
  • WAMP uses WebSocket as its standard transport - so the url uses the ws scheme for WebSocket instead of http (or wss for secure WebSocket connections). For using alternative transports see the API Reference for connection options.
  • Since we’re running our WAMP router locally, we use localhost (i.e. 127.0.0.1) as the IP.
  • The port (8080) and path (/ws) for the WebSocket endpoint that we’re connecting to can be configured in Crossbar.io, the WAMP router we are using. (This allows serving Web assets under different paths on the same IP.)
  • Each connection is connected to a Realm. A Realm is a routing namespace and an administrative domain for WAMP. For example, a single WAMP router can manage multiple Realms, and those realms are completely separate: an event published to topic T on a Realm R1 is NOT received by a subscribe to T on Realm R2.

The connection object has two hooks for callbacks:

  • onopen fires on successful establishment of the connection
  • onclose fires on the connection establishment failing or when the established connection closes

We define what happens in each case:

connection.onopen = function (session, details) {
   // Publish, Subscribe, Call and Register
};


connection.onclose = function (reason, details) {
   // handle connection lost
}

The onopen handler receives an Autobahn|JS session object and a dictionary of connection details. All subsequent WAMP PubSub and RPC interaction occurs using the session object.

The onclose handler receives a reason for closing as well as details.

You open the connection by doing:

connection.open();

Remote Procedure Calls

Remote Procedure Call (RPC) is a messaging pattern involving peers of three roles:

  • Caller
  • Callee
  • Dealer

A Caller issues calls to remote procedures by providing the procedure URI and any arguments for the call. The Callee executes the procedure using the supplied arguments to the call and return the result of the call to the Caller.

Callees register procedures they provide with Dealers. Callers initiate procedure calls first to Dealers. Dealers route calls incoming from Callers to Callees implementing the procedure called, and route call results back from Callees to Callers.

The Caller and Callee run application code, while the Dealer works as a generic router for remote procedure calls decoupling Callers and Callees.

Registering Procedures

To make a procedure available for remote calling, the procedure needs to be registered. Registering a procedure is done by calling the register method on the session object:

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
connection.onopen(session, details) {
   var add2 = function(args) {
      return args[0] + args[1];
   };

   session.register('com.myapp.add2', add2);
}

The procedure add2 is registered (line 6) under the URI 'com.myapp.add2' once the onopen callback fires (i.e. the session has connected to a Router and joined a Realm).

When the registration succeeds, authorized callers will immediately be able to call the procedure (see Calling Procedures) using the URI under which it was registered (com.myapp.add2).

A registration may also fail, e.g. when a procedure is already registered under the given URI or when the session is not authorized to register procedures.

Function registration needs to provide an indentifier which is used by the client when calling the function. For these WAMP uses URIs, (i.e. here 'com.myapp.add2'), in Java packet notation. URIs are an established, easy way for namespace management.

Calling Procedures

Calling a procedure (that has been previously registered) is done using the call method on the session object.

Here is how you call the procedure add2 that we registered above:

1
2
3
session.call('com.myapp.add2', [2, 3]).then(function showSum(res) {
   console.log('sum is', res);
}, session.log);

In the caller, on a successful return the success handler function is fired, i.e. the first function pass as an argument after then. The result (res) of the call is passed to it.

In case of failure of the call, the router returns an error object. This is passed as an argument to the second callback we define, our error handler. Here we use the log function on the session object to log both the error code and some additional information about the session.

Note

For calls, Autobahn|JS uses promises, not conventional callbacks. Promises offer powerful features for async programming, and allow you to do way more than is shown here. However, is used with the above pattern, you can think of them just like a different notation for callbacks. If you want to learn more about promises, this article is a good place to start. As a default, when.js is used for promises, but you can change this as part of the connecting options (see API Reference).

Publish & Subscribe

Publish & Subscribe (PubSub) is a messaging pattern involving peers of three roles:

  • Publisher
  • Subscriber
  • Broker

A Publishers publishes events to topics by providing the topic URI and any payload for the event. Subscribers of the topic will receive the event together with the event payload.

Subscribers subscribe to topics they are interested in with Brokers. Publishers initiate publication first at Brokers. Brokers route events incoming from Publishers to Subscribers that are subscribed to respective topics.

The Publisher and Subscriber will usually run application code, while the Broker works as a generic router for events decoupling Publishers from Subscribers.

Subscribing to Topics

To receive events published to a topic, a session needs to first subscribe to the topic.

Subscribing to a topic is done by calling the subscribe method on the session object:

1
2
3
4
5
var onCounter = function(args) {
   console.log('counter is', args[0]);
}

session.subscribe("com.myapp.oncounter", onCounter);

We define an event handler function onCounter which is called whenever an event for the topic is received.

To subscribe (line 5) we provide the event handler function (onCounter) and the URI of the topic to which we want to subscribe ('com.myapp.oncounter').

When the subscription succeeds, we will receive any events published to 'com.myapp.oncounter'. Note that we won’t receive events published before the subscription succeeds.

Publishing Events

Publishing an event to a topic is done by calling the publish method on the session object.

1
session.publish('com.myapp.oncounter', [1]);

Tip

By default, a publisher will not receive an event it publishes even when the publisher is itself subscribed to the topic subscribed to. This behavior can be overridden.

Tip

By default, publications are unacknowledged. This means, a publish() may fail silently (like when the session is not authorized to publish to the given topic). This behavior can be overridden.

Where to go from here

Reactive Manifesto: We are reactive banner