Envío is kinda GenEvent², the modern idiomatic pub-sub implementation of event passing.

In version 1.4, Elixir core team deprecated GenEvent and introduced Registry. The reason behind that is GenEvent is unable to exploit concurrency out of the box and processes multiple handlers serially. This was done on purpose because GenEvent was mainly used for logging stuff and one probably wants the log entries to appear in order as they were emitted. This is not the case for most event applications, though.

While José Valim suggests using a simple approach involving a Supervisor with many instances of GenServer acting as subscribers (this is how it was done in ExUnit,) this way requires a load of redundant boilerplate and it is not as transparent for the developer as it could be.

That all forced me to introduce Envío package. It is a drop-in replacement for GenEvent‘like functionality, built on top of Registry and supporting both synchronous and asychronous subscriptions (called :dispatch and pub_sub respectively, with names gracefully stolen from Registry vocabulary.)

With this in mind, the main goal was to drastically simplify creation of both publishers and subscribers, hide the boilerplate and make things work out of the box with a minimal amount of additional code required.

Envío also manages it’s own registry, Envio.Registry to deliberately relieve the amount of code you need to create as a boilerplate.

Application example

One of most typical examples of how Envío is supposed to be used, would be asynchronous publishing notifications to Slack. Here is the whole code needed to provide this functionality in your application:

# lib/slack_publisher.ex
defmodule SlackPublisher do
  # use SlackPublisher.broadcast(term()) anywhere to publish
  use Envio.Publisher, channel: :main
end

# config/prod.exs
config :envio, :backends, %{
  Envio.Slack => %{
    {SlackPublisher, :main} => [
      hook_url: {:system, "SLACK_ENVIO_HOOK_URL"}
    ]
  }
}

That’s it. Once environment variable SLACK_ENVIO_HOOK_URL is setup to point to any Slack application enabled for your team, you are all set. Do anywhere in your code:

SlackPublisher.broadcast(%{
  title: "Foo changed",
  level: :info,
  foo: %{bar: [baz: [42, 3.1415]]}})

And receive a notification in your slack channel.

Complicated workflows

Envío simplifies the creation of both publishers and subscribers hiding all the boilerplate behind use Envio.Publisher and use Envio.Subscriber. The syntax of Envio.Publisher is shown above in the Slack example; for subscriber it’s nearly the same:

defmodule MySubscriber do
  use Envio.Subscriber, channels: [{MyPublisher, :featured}]

  def handle_envio(message, state) do
    {:noreply, state} = super(message, state)
    IO.inspect({message, state}, label: "Received")
    {:noreply, state}
  end
end

handle_envio/2 is the only callback defined for this behaviour. Implement it to whatever you need and all the messages sent to :featured channel by MyPublisher will now be handled.

For :dispatch type of the subscription, it’s even easier: just put

Envio.register(
  {MySubscriber, :on_envio}, # the function of arity 2 must exist
  dispatch: %Envio.Channel{source: Publisher, name: :featured}
)

anywhere in your code and start receiving messages synchronously.

Backends

Envío introduces a concept of backends. Slack mentioned above would be one of them, shipped with a package itself. Backends are supposed to implement Envio.Backend behaviour currently consisting of the only function on_envio/2. The backend, once specified in the configuration file, will be automatically plugged into the internally managed Registry and subscribed to the channel set in config.

config :envio, :backends, %{
  Envio.MyBackend => %{
    {MyPublisher, :featured} => [
      callback_url: {:system, "SLACK_ENVIO_HOOK_URL"},
      callback_headers: %{"X-Envio-From" => "MyPublisher"}
    ]
  }
}

Envio.MyBackend is expected to exist and impelement Envio.Backend. The options from the config file will be passed alongside message/payload as a second parameter. For instance, the Slack implementation does literally the following:

  @impl true
  def on_envio(message, meta) do
    case meta do
      %{hook_url: hook_url} ->
        HTTPoison.post(
          hook_url,
          format(message),
          [{"Content-Type", "application/json"}]
        )
      _ -> {:error, :no_hook_url_in_envio}
    end
  end

That’s it. ¡Envíos feliz!




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