AppBase: The next step forward for the Steem blockchain (let the testing begin)

in #steem6 years ago

Today we have some exciting news to share: AppBase is ready, and we would like everyone to help with testing. Although, please note that third-party developers may need to make some minor changes to adapt to the new platform.

AppBase release candidate is now ready

Back in August we shared with you news of some of the exciting updates being made to the Steem blockchain. One of those updates is AppBase, which will create distinct “modules” that will dramatically improve Steem’s ability to scale.

AppBase is the first step in creating a multi-chain FABRIC. AppBase enables many components of the Steem blockchain to become modular by creating additional non-consensus blockchains as dedicated plugins. These plugins can be updated much more rapidly because they do not require replaying the entire blockchain.

We are finally ready to test AppBase on a large scale!

If you’re just a regular steemit.com user, you can help too. Head on over to steemitstage.com and use the site like you normally would.

Our staging environment includes the same security measures taken for steemit.com, and is considered pre-production. It's designed to be as close to the 'real' steemit.com as possible, in order to fully vet new code before it makes it to steemit.com. If you're still worried about using your keys, you're welcome to just use your posting key. Even if you don't login at all, just browsing the site and providing feedback to us is still useful.

For Developers

If you run or maintain a Steem service, there are a couple of steps you will need to take to ensure your service will continue to operate as expected. Details are in the sections below.

steemd node changes

If you run a steemd node, you can check out the tag v0.19.4rc1 from GitHub or Docker Hub.

API changes

We restructured our APIs to allow greater flexibility for future upgrading and maintaining. The APIs now take in a single object as an argument and return a single object as a return type. All the existing APIs have been updated to match this standard.

Because we no longer need to stick to C++ style parameter semantics, we can use more varied default argument types as well as variadic parameters. We can also extend the functionality of a call without impacting the existing apps by extending the returned object.

The database_api has undergone significant changes to allow the querying of all consensus objects with any ordering that steemd uses already. This will provide more flexibility for services to find the objects they need.

New condenser_api

To help with this transition, we created condenser_api, which contains all of the API methods that currently exist and uses the existing argument formatting. The easiest way to get your app to work with Appbase is to change the api to condenser_api.

APIs must be called by name

If you are used to calling an API using the API id, that method of invocation is no longer supported. All the APIs must now be called by name.

Removed login_api

The login_api was designed as a way to map the API names to numeric ids. Because the APIs are no longer called via id, there is now no need for the login_api, and so it has been removed.

API methods list

If you call jsonrpc.get_methods, a list of all available API methods will be returned.

Argument and return object prototypes

If you call jsonrpc.get_signature passing an API method name, it will return the argument and return the object prototypes.

For example,

{"jsonrpc":"2.0", "method":"jsonrpc.get_signature", "params":{"method":"database_api.get_active_witnessess"}, "id":1}

returns
{"jsonrpc":"2.0","result":{"args":{},"ret":{"witnesses":[]}},"id":1}

{} is the void type argument and it returns a list in the witnesses field.

Using condenser_api

All calls in condenser_api will return [] as the argument, as the array argument passing is opaque and implemented in the API calls themselves. They follow the current argument formatting. Existing apps should only need to skip using login_api and send all of their calls to condenser_api without any other changes required to use Appbase.

For example, calling get_dynamic_global_properties with condenser_api vs database_api:

{"jsonrpc":"2.0", "method":"condenser_api.get_dynamic_global_properties", "params":[], "id":1}

{"jsonrpc":"2.0", "method":"database_api.get_dynamic_global_properties", "id":1}

Because the method has no arguments, the params field can be omitted when not using condenser_api. However, it can optionally be included as the void type (e.g. "params":{}) but it is not required.

Streamlined syntax

You might have noticed that the previous examples used a different format to call the API. Previously, there was an outdated call syntax that looked like this:

{"jsonrpc":"2.0", "id":0, "method":"call", "params":["api","function",[ARGS]]}.

However, we now support a more streamlined call syntax:

{"jsonrpc":"2.0", "id":0, "method":"api.function", "params":[ARGS]}

Both formats work, but with the new format being preferred for readability.

Enhanced JSON-RPC compliance

Some other changes were made to make steemd more compliant with the widely-used JSON-RPC specification. This is still new. Please help us test our json-rpc implementation to ensure that it is spec compliant.

Backward compatibility

Our reverse proxy service, jussi, handles the method translation. This means that even after deploying Appbase to our production environment, the old API calls should still work.

Future updates required

Note that the new APIs introduced in this release are still Work in Progress. There are a number of serialization changes that are still being made to them and hence they are in various states of completeness. We will post again in the near future explaining the nature of those changes. Feel free to play around with those APIs, but know that they will be changed. Once we finalize those APIs, we will deprecate condenser_api and begin migration to the new APIs.

Config file changes

The logging config has always been a sore spot in the config file because of the number of options available. It was so complex that it required a different parser. We have changed to using a json format, which allows us to use only one parser. The default logging config is the following:

# Console appender definition json: {"appender", "stream"}
log-console-appender = {"appender":"stderr","stream":"std_error"}

# File appender definition json:  {"appender", "file"}
log-file-appender = {"appender":"p2p","file":"logs/p2p/p2p.log"}

# Logger definition json: {"name", "level", "appender"}
log-logger = {"name":"default","level":"debug","appender":"stderr"}
log-logger = {"name":"p2p","level":"debug","appender":"p2p"}

Plugins

Plugins are enabled via the plugin option. There is no more public-api option and all the APIs are now enabled via plugin as well.

Most config options are now namespaced by the plugin they belong to. Config options that were not namespaced are still supported but will now log a deprecation warning when used. contrib/config-for-docker.ini and contrib/fullnode.config.ini are example configs that are used in the Docker images. You can use these as example config files. As usual, we strongly recommend using the Docker images to deploy your node.

Conclusions

These changes have been in the works for many months, and represent a major step forward for Steem. AppBase provides a robust foundation for meeting all of our future scaling needs, and will allow us to grow the platform while at the same time managing the resource requirements for third-party application developers, witnesses, and exchanges to grow along with it.

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I am a regular user, I tried posting from steemitSTAGE.com on iOS 9 (I cannot afford to update, LOL) it works fine but am lost in "Vote for Witnesses" page (^_^). I logged in using my generated password. Will try from Chrome on android too.

Thanks - it looks like you spotted a bug, actually.

You're welcome and thanks a lot too!

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Just tried it from chrome on android using my posting key and works just the same. 👍

Hi @justinw! I always forgot this. I hope the preview when creating a post at steemit/steemitstage can be fixed too (^_^)
image.png

The PREVIEW is fixed. Thank You! ❤️

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So you're not using proxy voter anymore? Haha.

What you see is what you see. LOL

you are genius Mam <3

Hi. Im new to steemit. What does "Votes for Witness" mean?

Click MENU and you can find it there. Just click the arrow up beside their names i.e. blocktrades, steempty, etc. or if you want to vote for bue, zappl, etc. who are not on the top 50 just type bue then zappl, etc. in the box provided and click VOTE. You can view the list of 100 Witnesses here: https://steemd.com/witnesses




Or if you want me (or someone) to vote on your behalf just type pinay and click SET PROXY :)

READ THIS: https://steemit.com/steem/@steemitguide/steemitguide-what-is-a-exactly-is-a-steem-witness-and-why-every-user-should-vote

Thank you, appreciated.

I used my posting key

If you’re just a regular steemit.com user, you can help too. Head on over to steemitstage.com and use the site like you normally would.

Your testing module felt the same as the steemit I know and love.

Does it mean someday we'll all move to steemitstage?

No, we won't move to Stage, Stage will come to us!

Stage is just on of the phases that a product goes through from development to production:

Dev -> Test -> Stage -> Prod.

If everything goes well with testing of Steemitstage, Steemit will be replaced by the one on stage testing phase, but we will not move to another page, we will use and go to https://steemit.com as we currently do.

No, I believe that is only a test environment.

I stand corrected, I love poking and prodding around to see if I can break something...Thank you @orbitalqq.

I am pretty sure that is the idea @goal300, I am as thick as a brick when it comes to technical articles ....hehehe

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Is there a difference because I don't see it. It looks exactly like the steemit.com interface

If everything is working the same as before, then that is good in this case. These changes are all “under the hood” to make the underlying blockchain run more efficiently.

I get it now. Thanks for explaining.

Less bandwidth problems i hope.

No changes to the bandwidth formula, as far as I know.

One, can only hope. L

If you want to see a difference, look at the witnesses to vote for.

Will check that out asap

You were right. The difference is pretty noticeable when voting for witnesses. Its so amazing that the entire feel is exactly like steemit.com though...incredible work

You are absolutely right @kwakumax. It looks and feels exactly the same as Steemit.I guess its just a more efficient future oriented version

It is great to see this amazing progress. Improving scalability is always the way to go! :) Lets scale it to the moon. I am really excited. And I hope that in the future maybe I will do some development on Steem. :D What a bright future we have in the cryptocurrency world.

Writing this from steemitstage.com :) , everything seems to be working fine for me in Chrome (Version 64.0.3282.167).

And this change certainly indicates the readiness for the next big thing - SMT.

This is a fabulous update, congrats to the team and all contributors. I will do my testing on staging and try to spin a new instance with this new version.

One question: the upgrade is stable enough for witness nodes as well, or should we wait until the official hf 0.20?

Again, chapeau, guys!

LE: upvoted for visibility

It is really a great step and achievement. My heartedly congratulations to entire team of developers!

This is great news. Keep up the great work.

Very exciting to see! Side chains appear to have the potential to bring in the classic (owner controlled - centralized) business models and allow them to coexist on top of the STEEM ecosystem! They can pick from the underlying layers of STEEM they want to adopt, then create what ever controls they want from there. Let me know where I'm wrong with this view! Thanks! Great work!

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