I anticipation I would address article that declared my acquaintance implementing an avant-garde abstracts concern accent in Hypernumbers (a abutting bearing spreadsheet) which I advised with some advice from Phil Wadler who was on our advising board.
This architecture abundantly afflicted my compassionate of how to use CRDTs in a concern accent architecture at Basho — the concern accent actuality a sub-set of accepted SQL.
I won’t accord you the accomplished history of Hypernumbers, alone those $.25 accordant to the abstracts concern language.
Primarily we capital to accomplish the internet programmable by acceptance bodies to put functions into URLs, functions that could absorb added URLs.
You could PUT a action into a URL and the GET the URL and it would be the aftereffect of evaluating that function:
This can be continued to functions:
But alarmingly the action could booty arguments which could in about-face be added URLs — voila the user-programmable internet.
Conventionally the URLs were organised in sets like:
Doing a PUT with =sum(A1:A2) into the URL http://example.com/some/page/A3 would be agnate to =sum(http://example.com/some/page/A1, http://example.com/some/page/A2 or application a URL that represents an arrangement of URLs http://example.com/some/page/A1:A2.
Permissions were commonly activated at the accumulating URL (or in spreadsheet chat the folio akin not the corpuscle level) eg http://example.com/some/page/
In this apple a URL again can be fabricated to represent an arbritary n-dimensional hypercube of abstracts and we bare a apparatus to concern that hypercube — and means to administer anatomy to it, to accomplish it alike queryable in any astute sense. Which is area the abstracts concern accent comes in.
Hypernumbers was not a spreadsheet like any you know — it had some abnormal behaviour — which I won’t labour here. If you are absorbed actuality is a video of me architecture a alarm centre application the create.phone(…) action to actualize a softphone in the spreadsheet.
(If you are actual absorbed you could apprehend the chiral but I don’t anticipate you are maybe?)
Spreadsheets are a come-from expression-based anatomic programming language.
A ‘cell’ contains an announcement like so:
This announcement will apprehend the accepted amount of the corpuscle A1 and account its accepted value. Spreadsheets are body of chains of expressions that depend on anniversary other — and back a accurate corpuscle changes all the beef that depend on that will accept a change notification (which comes from the afflicted cell) and will amend themselves.
VisiCalc invented the archetypal and Lotus-1–2–3 blanket the business from them by artful the affection set absolutely and account VisiCalc book natively. Back Excel pulled the aforementioned ambush on Lotus-1–2–3 they absitively to accomplish their artefact harder to copy. By introducing Visual Basic scripting they ensured that any Excel adversary would charge to carbon the internals of Excel in adjustment to be compatible — and that would be actual hard, so adamantine that OpenOffice still has not managed to replicated Excel 97 scripting to an adapted degree.
Once we realised that scripting was a arresting admeasurement we switched to a authentic anatomic access in Hypernumbers — everything was a function.
As a aftereffect we bare to architecture a abstracts concern accent and access that could amount an approximate set of hierarchical spreadsheets with the constraints that is could be acclimated in spreadsheet functions.
I will acquaint the account in the acceptable beeline way but be acquainted that I am lying to you…
We about had to break three problems afore we could body the abstracts concern language:
Spreadsheets are untyped structures and the assorted ‘database’ functions are bizarre as a consequence, to put it mildly.
You can call a spreadsheet with an absolute action (well in our case bound by the best breadth of URLs):
The botheration for spreadsheet programming, of course, is that they blazon any includes functions for acquired columns =sum(A1:B3) because any = cord | accumulation | float | boolean | absurdity | arrangement | function.
The way we activated schemas was by banishment pages to accomplish as forms and extenuative those as templates:
In accession to akin the user to be able to adapt some beef alone we additionally belted the blazon of entry. There were three mechanisms for this.
For accepted editable fields you could alone access astring | accumulation | float | boolean finer the accustomed access was aciculate quoted in Excel terms. The cord =sum(1,2,3) has to be entered as ‘=sum(1,2,3) if it is not be taken as a action in a accustomed spreadsheet.
The added apparatus was to acknowledge a corpuscle a drop-down — the agnate of an abundant abstracts type.
The third apparatus was to acknowledge a corpuscle a tick-box — a base anatomy of abundant abstracts type — where the acceptable ethics are booleans.
When you save a folio created like this as a arrangement you can attention it as agnate to:
where amount = cord | accumulation | float | boolean
By abacus functions and ethics to the spreadsheet you can actualize acquired and connected columns. Note that I accept referred to the fields by their labels on the form — programmatically they would charge to be referred to by their corpuscle addresses.
This is a slight simplification — you can apprehend the documentation.
Thirdly we bare to represent relationship. Users commonly represent relationships in desktop spreadsheets via the book system:
In this archetype the aggregation has a one-to-many accord with barter and barter accept a one-to-many accord with invoices and payments.
So in accustomed spreadsheet agreement the claiming was to address a concern that would say “show me all the invoices for all the barter that are added than 30 canicule backward and area the outstanding antithesis is over £300”.
In Hypernumbers we would archetypal this central the URL heirarchy. An balance would accept a URL which would attending article like this:
You end up with a alternation of projected table joins:
We now charge to acquisition a way to affix the aggregation pagescompany_0099 to the balance pages company_0099/invoice_000000n in a reliable, safe and defended way.
We now accept a schema — but how to accomplish it.
Having advised a page, for instance an invoice, we would save a archetype of that as a template.
Because all things are functions we can actualize a action which allotment not a amount as a response, but a anatomy element.
These two things, templates and buttons, can be accumulated to actualize a button which back you bang it makes a new instance of a template, like so:
=create_button(“My Button Title”, “./[new_invoice, auto, incr, invoice_]/”)
This action says:
(The abounding account of options can be apparent actuality with added abundant instructions here).
These three elements, based on user-existing assignment patterns with desktop spreadsheets, acquiesce you to brand out analogously structured forms in an arbritrarily n-dimentional hypercube that can be represented as projected table joins with blended keys.
So how to concern it?
The archetype we operated in was acutely constrained — the user could PUT an announcement into a URL — and that announcement could be a action that operated on URLs or collections of URLs.
We developed a arrangement analogous representation of sets of URLs that could be acclimated by concern languages, and that representation was in about-face programmable application absolute spreadsheet functions.
The architecture we can up with looks like this:
=zsum(path_selector) area the path_selector is a URL operator.
Just say I was aggravating to sum the invoices on a accurate aggregation in the archetype aloft I could use a path_selector like ./[TRUE]/b9.
That would say add all the b9 beef on all pages beneath the accepted one. The anatomy of a path_selector is /segment_expression/segment_expression/…/segement_expression/.
The action zsum(…) walks bottomward the URL evaluating anniversary segment_expression. If evaluates to TRUE that folio (and the pages beneath it) are included. (If it evaluates to FALSE the folio is excluded, if it evaluates to annihilation abroad an absurdity is thrown).
The action back walks to the abutting set of sub-pages in the URL and evaluates the abutting segment_expression adjoin them and so on, afore catastrophe at the blade and accession the beef (or ranges) from the pages what akin all the way bottomward and administer the action to them.
The segment_expression is aloof a spreadsheet announcement that evaluates to TRUE or FALSE and you can body busy queries like:
You can apprehend about these functions (including the concern debugger, which is a action alleged debugz of course) in added detail here.
Our centralized affection appraisal was whether the biz guy (who was not a programmer) could body a baby retail mortgage coffer in Hypernumbers after any added advice (except for bite out functions to get things like acclaim array from alien bodies).
It angry out that he could do that with the afterward components:
When we came to Riak Time Alternation at Basho these insights would appear in actual handy.
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