Node Lifecycle

  • Author: Cliff Brake, last updated: 2022-02-16
  • PR/Discussion:
  • Status: discussion


In the process of implementing a feature to duplicate a node tree, several problems have surfaced related to the lifecycle of creating and updating nodes.

Node creation (< 0.5.0)

  • if a point was sent and node did not exist, SIOT created a "device" node as a child of the root node with this point. This was based on this initial use of SIOT with 1-wire devices.
  • there is also a feature where if we send a point to a Device node that does not have an upstream path to root, or that path is tombstoned, we create this path. This ensures that we don't have orphaned device nodes in an upstream if they are still active. This happens to the root node on clear startup.
  • by the user in the UI -- Http API, /v1/nodes POST, accepts a NodeEdge struct and then sends out node points and then edge points via NATs to create the node.
  • node is sent first, then the edge

The creation process for a node involves:

  1. sending all the points of a node including a meta point with the node type.
  2. sending the edge points of a node to describe the upstream connection

There are two problems with this:

  1. When creating a node, we send all the node points, then the edge points. However this can create an issue in that an upstream edge for a device node does not exist yet, so in a multi-level upstream configuration A->B->C, if B is syncing to C for the first time, multiple instances of A will be created on C.
  2. If a point is sent for a node that does not exist, a new device node will be created.

An attempt was made to switch the sending edge points of new nodes before node points, however this created other issues (this was some time ago, so don't recall exactly what they were).

Node creation (>= 0.5.0)

With the swith to a SQLite store, a lot of code was rewritten, and in the process we changed the order of creating nodes to:

  1. send the edge points first
  2. then send node points

(See the SendNode() function).


Sending node and edge points separately for new nodes creates an issue in that these don't happen in one communication transaction, so there is a period of time between the two where the node state is indeterminate. Consideration was given to adding a NATS endpoint to create nodes where everything could be sent at once. However, this is problematic in that now there is another NATS subject for everyone to listen to and process, rather than just listening for new points. It seems less than ideal to have multiple subjects that can create/modify node points.

It seems at this point we can probably deprecate the feature to create new devices nodes based on a single point. This will force new nodes to be explicitly created. This is probably OK as new nodes are created in several ways:

  1. by the user in the UI
  2. by the upstream sync mechanism -- if the hash does match or a node does not exist upstream, it is sent. This is continuously checked so if a message does not succeed, it will eventually get resent.
  3. plug-n-play discovery mechanisms that detect new devices and automatically populate new nodes. Again, it is not a big deal if a message gets lost as the discovery mechanism will continue to try to create the new device if it does not find it.

Sending edge before parents can be problematic for things like the client manager that might be listening for tombstone points to detect node creation/deletion. (Why is this???)