Category: "portability"

Alchemy: BitField

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This is an entry for the continuing series of blog entries that documents the design and implementation process of a library. This library is called, Network Alchemy[^]. Alchemy performs data serialization and it is written in C++.

After I had proven to myself that serializing data with a template meta-program was feasible, I started to research what features would be required to make this a useful library. After the fundamental data types, I noticed that sub-byte access of bits appeared quite often in network packet formats, bit-fields. I have also worked in my share of code that implemented these packet formats using the bit-field feature in C/C++.

I decided support for accessing values at the bit-level needed to be a feature of Alchemy. I will explain why, as well as show my first attempt to make this work.

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Are You Mocking Me?!

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It seems that every developer has their own way of doing things. I know I have my own methodologies, and some probably are not the simplest or the best (that I am aware of). I have continued to refine me design, development, test and software support skills through my career.

I recognize that everyone has their own experiences, so I usually do not question or try to change someone else's process. I will attempt to suggest if I think it might help. However, sometimes I just have to ask, "are you sure you know what you are doing?" For this entry I want to focus on unit testing, specifically with Mock Objects.

  

Are you sure you know what you are doing?

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Alchemy: Message Serialization

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This is an entry for the continuing series of blog entries that documents the design and implementation process of a library. This library is called, Network Alchemy[^]. Alchemy performs data serialization and it is written in C++. This is an Open Source project and can be found at GitHub.

If you have read the previous Alchemy entries you know that I have now shown the structure of the Message host. I have also demonstrated how the different fields are pragmatically processed to convert the byte-order of the message. In the previous Alchemy post I put together the internal memory management object. All of the pieces are in place to demonstrate the final component to the core of Alchemy, serialization.

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Alchemy: Message Buffer

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This is an entry for the continuing series of blog entries that documents the design and implementation process of a library. This library is called, Network Alchemy[^]. Alchemy performs data serialization and it is written in C++. This is an Open Source project and can be found at GitHub.

Previously I posted the first prototype that demonstrates that the concept of Alchemy is both feasible and useful. However, the article ended up being much longer than I had anticipated and was unable to cover serializing the user object to and from a data stream. This entry will finish the prototype by adding serialization capabilities to the prototype for the basic datum fields that have already been specified.

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Alchemy: Data

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This is an entry for the continuing series of blog entries that documents the design and implementation process of a library. This library is called, Network Alchemy[^]. Alchemy performs data serialization and it is written in C++.

By using the template construct, Typelist, I have implemented a basis for navigating the individual data fields in an Alchemy message definition. The Typelist contains no data. This entry describes the foundation and concepts to manage and provide the user access to data in a natural and expressive way.

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The Singleton Induced Epiphany

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I am not aware of a software design pattern that has been vilified more than The Singleton. Just as every other design pattern, the singleton has its merits. Given the right situation, it provides a simple a clean solution, and just as every other design pattern, it can be misused.

I have always had a hard time understanding why everyone was so quick to criticize the singleton. Recently, this cognitive dissonance has forced me on a journey that led to an epiphany I would like to share. This post focuses on the singleton, its valid criticisms, misplaced criticisms, and guidelines for how it can be used appropriately.

Oh! and my epiphany.

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Alchemy: Message Interface

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This is an entry for the continuing series of blog entries that documents the design and implementation process of a library. This library is called, Network Alchemy[^]. Alchemy performs data serialization and it is written in C++.

I presented the design and initial implementation of the Datum[^] object in my previous Alchemy post. A Datum object provides the user with a natural interface to access each data field. This entry focuses on the message body that will contain the Datum objects, as well as a message buffer to store the data. I prefer to get a basis prototype up and running as soon as possible in early design & development in order to observe potential design issues that were not initially considered. In fact, with a first pass implementation that has had relatively little time invested, I am more willing to throw away work if it will lead to a better solution.

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Desired Alchemy Syntax

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When I create a new library, I like to approach the design from two different directions. The first is the traditional route, analyzing the functionality that I need and designing a suitable interface to access those features. I also may write a set of pseudo-code that demonstrates what it would look like to use the library. Generally with writing unit tests I get to cover this second option. It is all the better if I write the tests while developing the interface. Then I discover if the interface is a clunky collection of garbage or an joy to work with.

Alchemy is a unique API, in that I don't actually want there to appear to be a library at work. One goal that I set for alchemy is to facilitate the proper handling of network data without requiring much work on the users part. In this sense, I need to work backwards. I would like to take the proposed syntax, and attempt to design my library API to meet the target syntax. The expressive ability of C++ is one of the things that I really like at the language.

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Byte Sex

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Byte-gender; not, "Yes! Please!"
Good! Now that I have your attention let's solve a relatively simple problem, byte sex. A less sensational name for this concept is byte endianess. This is one of those concepts that you should at least be aware of, even if you don't have to pay much attention to it in your day-to-day work. Each CPU architecture has it's own definition for memory. One of these properties is the endianess format of data registers. This is the first issue that I address for Network Alchemy.

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Introduction to Network Alchemy

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While many of the principles of developing robust software are easy to explain, it is much more difficult to know how and when to apply these principles. Practice and learning from mistakes is generally the most productive way to understand these principles. However, it is much more desirable to understand the principles before a flawed system is built; an example from the physical world is the Tacoma Narrows bridge. Therefore I am starting a journey to demonstrate how to create robust software. This is not a simple task that can be summarized in a magazine article, a chapter in a book or a reference application with full source code.

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