XPages and Bluemix: Pushing out data changes through automated partialRefresh

In this article I will demonstrate how using targeted websockets messages we are able to refresh user data on pertinent screens within an application, and keep user’s data up to date.

Introduction

In previous articles I have discussed the creation of a nodejs websockets service within Bluemix and how we are able to send messages to specific web pages using the socket.io rooms capability. Both of those examples were proofs of concept and the messages were generated in the browser via firebug console commands. We are going to look at how we can automate these messages and begin to build a user case for using websockets within our applications.

Disclaimer: This idea for an example was the brainchild of David Leedy and in many ways it is a genius example to relate websockets to XPages functionality. And at the same time, I am absolutely disgusted that I am even talking about this because I would never dream of actually implementing this within an application. The fact that the page changes without the user’s knowledge is poor, and the fact that it refreshes the entire control when only a small piece of data changes is horrible. All that said however, this is still a demonstration of the capability and in future blog posts on the subject I will actually show example which I would be proud to actually put into one of my own applications 😉

Keeping data up to data on an XPage

Let’s say we have a sample application with a simple XPages viewPanel on it

b1

Somewhere within the application – someone else makes a change to the data

b2

The only way to see the change would be to refresh the page – and you the user would never know when.

b3

This can be pseudo-automated from a user experience perspective in a number of ways but they all involve periodic checking for updates on way or another. If you scale that over many users this is extremely inefficient.

That is where websockets comes in very nicely.

Pushing to specific rooms

In the previous article I demonstrated how to record an XPage as a “room” dynamically and in this example we will do the same thing.

  var temp = (location.href.indexOf('copper.xomino.com')>0) ? "http://localhost:3000" : 'http://xominosocket.mybluemix.net'
  var socket = io.connect(temp)

  // Send message to server that user has joined
  nickname=$('.username').text()
  var xpageName = location.href.split('.nsf/')[1]
  xpageName = xpageName.split('.xsp')[0]
  socket.emit('joinRoom', xpageName, nickname);

Automating a partialRefresh

In a similar manner to listening for a new chat message and then acting upon it, we are going to listen for a “refresh” socket event and then action it. In this case we are also going to pass in the id of the XSP control we want to refresh. For the sake of this example I am also using some CSS to make the element appear momentarily grey (see the video and all will be clear)

  // Function to add a message to the page
  var refreshControl = function(data) {
	  //Get the refreshId from the incoming data and color the control grey
	  //then get the id of the element via the is attribute
	  var temp = $('[id*='+data.refreshId+']').css({background: '#CCCCCC', color: 'white'}).attr('id')
	  //With the known id - trigger a XPages partial refresh of the control
	  XSP.partialRefreshGet(temp, {})
  };

  // When a refresh message is received from the server
  // action it by calling the refreshControl function
  socket.on('refresh', function(data) { refreshControl(data); });

Creating a new listener on the node.js server

I created a new route to post my refresh data to “xpagesRefresh”. When data is POSTed at xpagesRefresh it is parsed and send back out via websockets using the “refresh” socket event.

// Handle the form POST containing the name and , reply with the language
app.post('/xpagesRefresh', cors(corsOptions), function(req, res){
  var request_data = {};

  if (req.body){
    request_data = {
      'refreshId': req.body.refreshId,
      'nickname': req.body.nickname,
      'rt': 'text'
    };
  }

  var data = { refreshId: request_data.refreshId, nickname: request_data.nickname};
  console.log("POSTing at xpagesRrefresh")
  console.log(req.body)

  io.sockets.emit("refresh", data);
  res.send(data);
});

Automating the partial refresh via the user action

In a real application we are not going to have someone sitting on a browser pushing updates via firebug. We want to be able to create the update when the XPage is saved in the first place. To do this we transfer the code we saw in previous firebug blog example into the onComplete of a Save button. In this way when a document is updated within the application. A notification is sent out to all the people looking at the page, updating the data for them.

 

<xp:button value="Save" id="button1" rendered="#{javascript:document1.isEditable()}">
	<xp:eventHandler event="onclick" submit="true" refreshMode="partial"
		save="true" refreshId="blank">
		<xp:this.onComplete>
		<![CDATA[
			var socketServerURL = (location.href.indexOf('copper.xomino.com')>0) ? "http://copper.xomino.com:3000" : 'http://xominosocket.mybluemix.net'

			var data = {
			  refreshId: 'wrapper',
			  nickname: 'automated'
			   };

			  console.log(data)
			  $.ajax({ url:
			          socketServerURL+"/xpagesRefresh",
			      type: "POST",
			      data: data
			  }).done(function( msg ) {
			      console.log( msg);
			  });
			]]>
			</xp:this.onComplete>
	</xp:eventHandler>
	</xp:button>

Demonstration

The video below shows how we are able to trigger a partial refresh after updating a document within the application. Note the screen flickers grey as the CSS change happens before the partial refresh. It is so quick it is almost instant.

Pushing to Bluemix

As before, pushing my new code to Bluemix is as simple as checking it in to the jazz hub repository and redeploying. In the picture below we can see that we are using marky.psclistens.com as the application domain and not copper.xomino.com. As we showed before, if not copper then use Bluemix.

b6

 

We create the capability locally, tested it, proved it and deployed it seamlessly to Bluemix with a “Commit and Push” – and that is *so* cool 🙂

Conclusion
In this article we saw how to trigger core XPages functionality automatically without the user having to interact with the application. In the next article we will look at how to improve on this, frankly horrible, user experience.

Thanks Dave 🙂

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XPages and Bluemix: Sending a targeted Websockets message to specific XPages

In this article I will demonstrate how the use of socket.io “rooms” enables us to send message to users who are only accessing specific pages within our application, rather than blanket messages to all users.

Introduction

In the previous article I demonstrated how to use a message POST to the node.js server which could then be turned into a chat message and sent out to all users. While this is a nice example it only serves as such and does not have significant business value. In this article I will begin the peel back the potential for much greater application flexibility through the controlled use of targeted Websockets messages to users of an application.

Most applications have more than one “page” within it and we may wish to send a message to users of one page rather than all pages. Conversely we may want to only send messages to users who are viewing certain types of information wherever they are within the application.

In this article we are still going to use the chat example but this will be the last time we use “chat” as the use case. In future articles I will look into more practical applications of Websockets messaging within an application.

Using rooms within socket.io

Looking at the socket.io documentation for rooms and namespaces you can see that the API exposes the ability to create individual communication channels between the server and the application users.

How this translates to our application on the node.js server looks like this:

  socket.on('joinRoom', function(room, name){
    socket.join(room);
    io.sockets.in(room).emit('notice', name+" has joined");
    console.log(name+" has joined room "+room)
  })

When the “joinRoom” event is registered on the server then the socket is joined to the room name which is passed in. A message is the broadcast specifically out to all the existing room members that the new user has joined. Note that this message is room specific because of the io.sockets.in(room) rather than a blanket message to all users.

With this code in place on any page we can register our application page (chat room in this case) with the socket server. In my case I created a generic function to take the name of the “room” from the XPage URL. The following client side JavaScript sends the “joinRoom” request to the server.

  nickname=$('.username').text()
  // Send message to server that user has joined WinX.nsf/xRoom1.xsp?open&login
  var xpageName = location.href.split('.nsf/')[1] //xRoom1.xsp?open&login
  xpageName = xpageName.split('.xsp')[0] //xRoom1
  socket.emit('joinRoom', xpageName, nickname);

On the server we can then see the console.log as someone joins the room:

s1
We can then have multiple users in individual “rooms” which are in this case 3 separate xPages xRoom1.xsp, xRoom2.xsp, xRoom3.xsp From the original chat room I am able to sen all three rooms a blanket message because they are all “listening” for “msg” as in the previous articles

 socket.on('msg', function(data) {
    console.log('msg here')
    console.log(data)
    redisClient.lpush('messages', JSON.stringify(data));
    redisClient.ltrim('messages', 0, 99);
    socket.broadcast.emit('msg', data);        //broadcast to all users indiscriminately
  });

s2

Sending a message to a specific room

Modifying the original POST code which was shown in the previous article I was then able to create an XPage which will send a targetted message to a specific room. To do this, all I had to do was pass in an additional POST parameter of the room I wanted to send a message to.

I create a new Master XPage which had 3 fields on it – one for each room. Each of the individual fields had a “room” attribute which allows me to pick up a value to specify which room to send it to.

<div id="msgRoom1" class="msgCenter">
	<input placeholder="Send a message to Room1" room="xRoom1" autocomplete="off" autofocus="autofocus" />
	<button type="button">Send</button>
</div>
<br/><br/>
<div id="msgRoom2" class="msgCenter">
	<input placeholder="Send a message to Room2"  room="xRoom2" autocomplete="off"  />
	<button type="button">Send</button>
</div>
<br/><br/>
<div id="msgRoom3" class="msgCenter">
	<input placeholder="Send a message to Room3"  room="xRoom3" autocomplete="off" />
	<button type="button">Send</button>
</div>

s3

In the following code we bind to each of the buttons so that when the are clicked they:

  • set msgField to be the jQuery object representing the pertinent field
  • create the data object to send to the socket server
  • create the newMessage passing in data

The new message function then:

  • POSTs the data object at the “/roomPost” path on the server
  var socketServerURL = (location.href.indexOf('copper.xomino.com')>0) ? "http://copper.xomino.com:3000" : 'http://xominosocket.mybluemix.net'
  var socket = io.connect(socketServerURL)

$('.msgCenter Button').on('click', function(){
  	var msgField = $(this).prev('INPUT')
	var data = { text: msgField.val(), nickname: nickname, when: new Date(), room: msgField.attr("room") };
	sendMessageToRoom(data)
	newMessage(data);
	// Clear the message field
	msgField.val('');
})

var sendMessageToRoom = function(data){
	console.log(data)
	$.ajax({ url:
	        socketServerURL+"/roomPost",
		type: "POST",
		data: data
	}).done(function( msg ) {
		console.log( msg);
	});
}

We can see the message come through on the server

s4

You can also see from the log that I was able to join 3 rooms from the Message Center page – this is as simple as creating three requests to join:

  //client side JavaScript
  socket.emit('joinRoom', 'xRoom1', nickname);
  socket.emit('joinRoom', 'xRoom2', nickname);
  socket.emit('joinRoom', 'xRoom3', nickname);

Site in action
The best way to see all this is to see it in action – as you can see from the video below.

Moving the application to Bluemix

Working locally I used to following code to determine if I was on copper.xomino.com or another server (demo.xomino.com or different again)

  var socketServerURL = (location.href.indexOf('copper.xomino.com')>0) ? "http://copper.xomino.com:3000" : 'http://xominosocket.mybluemix.net'
  var socket = io.connect(socketServerURL)

I had to make a slight change to my cors code in the local node server setup. I looked at the cors npm site to see how to dynamically add cors support and found the answer and modified my code accordingly. So you need to make sure you

//Marky adding CORS from copper
//app.use(cors()); //not used for whitelists

var whitelist = ['http://copper.xomino.com', 'http://demo.xomino.com', 'http://marky.psclistens.com'];
var corsOptions = {
  origin: function(origin, callback){
    var originIsWhitelisted = whitelist.indexOf(origin) !== -1;
    callback(null, originIsWhitelisted);
  }
};

marky.psclistens.com is the same local server as copper.xomino.com (I use a hosts file to make them both look at localhost). But this allows me to play with cors and in this case talk to the local or bluemix node server without needing another “Domino” server.

s6

Because the site running locally is already connected to the Jazz Hub Git repository, as with the previous examples all I have to do is commit the changes locally, push to the Jazz Hub repository, the application will then be re-built and re-deployed to Bluemix.

It’s really about as simple as that. Because the code is already primed to check to see if we are looking locally or at Bluemix, a new URL for the application now looks at Bluemix.

s5

 

So why do we need Bluemix again?

While the development was performed locally, the intention is to be able to create a capability which does not require the user to have a locally running node.js server. That is where Bluemix comes in. In essence what we are creating is a cloud hosted Websockets service which can be integrated into existing applications.

 

Conclusion

In this article we have seen that with a little creativity we are able to register different chat rooms within the same application. There are other ways to do this of course but the point of this example was to demonstrate the ability to send a specific message to specific users looking at an individual XPage.

In the next article we will take a look at the practical implications of this within an XPages application.