Guidelines and implementation notes

(work in progress)

If you want to contribute to Ocsimore and/or write your own extensions, we recommend to follow these guidelines. Have a look at the forum code for an example.

Generic advices:

  • Try to make things as generic and configurable as possible.
  • The use of classes allows to extend widgets or modify their behaviour. Decompose each of them into several methods, one for each subtask to perform (retrieve data, display ...) and for each widget kind.

The instantiation of classes must be done in a separate module, that can be rewritten by programmers who want to redefine some methods.

  • The creation and registration of services is also done in this separate module that can be loaded several times inside the <host> section of the configuration file.
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Usually, widgets depend on services, and service handlers depend on widgets. This means that there is an instance of classes for each site. For example, create services, then give them as parameters to the class constructor to create the object, then register services.

  • Use as much as possible the same naming scheme for methods. For example:
    • private retrieve_data or retrieve_...
    • private display or display_... for displaying the widget from retrieved data
  • Use as much as possible the same names for labels.

More specific instructions

Decomposing your extension

Decompose your extension X in 8 parts

X_createdb.sql
SQL creation of the tables related to your extension.
X_sql.ml
database requests, using lwt-pgocaml.
X_cache.ml
Cache on database requests, using the Cache module. For all cached SQL-related functions we use a name ending with _ in X_sql.ml and without the _ in X_cache.ml, to remember that we must not call the functions from X_sql.ml directly. (The SQL and Cache modules are merged for Wiki and User. However, the convention on the name of functions above is followed.)
X.ml
Higher level functions needed by the module. Also, creation of the groups specific to the extension, using the module Users, and of the inclusions between those groups.
X_data.ml
database access with cache and verification of permissions. It has almost the same interface as X_sql.ml and X_cache.ml, calls the cached function if authorized, then filters the result to remove forbidden content (if needed). They may fail with exception Ocsimore_common.Permission_denied.
X_services.ml
definition of the services needed by the extension. They may not be registered, as the content they send may depend on what is returned by X_widgets (see below).
X_widgets.ml
Widgets for generating the parts of the HTML-page defined by the extension. Those may call the services of the previous module for buttons and links. We typically use classes for this module. Each widget takes an optional ?classe label of type string list for the class HTML5 attribute. Each widget has its own attribute names.
X_wikiext.ml
The wiki syntax extensions you define for your module
X_site.ml
A separate module (not linked in ocsimore.cma) to be loaded dynamically from configuration file inside the <host> section. It will instantiate the widget classes, register the services and register the wiki extensions.
Data

Data is stored in Eliom references of a matching scope: (Persistent) session data is stored in (persistent) references of scope Eliom_common.session If you need a per-request cache for a certain function, you may use the module Ocsimore_lib.Request_cache

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Catching exceptions

To be sure that all exceptions occurring during a DB request are catched and result in an error message in the box, I use the method Widget.widget_with_error_box#bind_or_display_error

Creating new extensions for wikicreole

If you create a new box, you probably want to have a syntax to place it inside a wikibox. To so that, use the function Wiki_syntax.add_extension. If you want a preparsing (i.e. do some action before saving the wikibox in the database, like creating a new wikibox for ~<<wikibox box='new'>>), use the function Wiki_syntax.add_preparser_extension. See examples in Wiki_syntaxl and Wiki_widgets

Groups

Groups and users are the same notion. The only difference is that users have a password. A user can belong to a group that belongs to another group, etc. It is recommended to create groups for each task you want. For example readers and writers of wiki. Users are added to groups accordingly.

Predefined users/groups: - admin: a special user who belongs to all groups - anonymous: non authenticated user - users: group of authenticated users - nobody: a special user with no right at all (for example when the user does not exist)

You can also create generic groups, that are parameterized by an abstracted integer, using User_sql.new_parametrized_group. For example, there exists the group of the administrators of the wiki 3. Then you can add generic inclusions between generic groups, using User_sql.add_generic_inclusion. As an example the administrators of a given wiki are also readers of this wiki.

You may want to compute the permission for one user at the beginning of the request. To do that, you may create a record with boolean fields for each possible action (for one forum, one box in a wiki, one wiki, etc.). The function that will compute this can be memorised in a session cache to avoid to compute several times the same thing. See module Forum for an example. Notice however that group inclusion calls are automatically cached. Thus you may not need your own caching mechanism if you only do simple requests.

Warning: Even if two groups are equal, it is often more convenient to create both in order to avoid errors. For example if you have three possible actions : read, write, set permissions, and you want an "admin" group, meaning all three. And if you want the following generic inclusions: admin > set-perm > write > read Here, admin = set-perm, as admin is in no other group. But it is convenient to have both of them. Thus, you will not need to remember the group hierarchy when you want to test rights. If you want to test if a user has right to set permissions, just test whether he is in the group set-perm. If you want to give all rights to an user, put it in group admin. It is also more tolerant to changes in group hierarchy.