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How to implement a notification system?

The easiest way for the server to send notifications to the client is to use module Os_notif from Ocsigen-start (OS), but it requires to use OS's user management system. If you are not using OS, we recommend to get inspiration from the code of this module, to implement your notification system conveniently and without memory leak.

With Os_notif

For each type of data on which you want to receive updates, instanciate functor Os_notif.Make_Simple on server side:

module My_notif = Os_notif.Make_Simple (struct
  type key = ... (* The type of the identifier of the data we want listen on. *)
  type notification = ... (* The type of the notifications that will be sent *)

To declare that you are listening on one piece of data i, call My_notif.listen i.

To notify all the clients listening on data i, call My_notif.notify i (fun userid_o -> Lwt.return (Some notif)). userid_o is the id of the user who will be notified, if he is connected (None otherwise). This make possible to customize the notifications. Return None if you don't want him to be notified.

For more information, have a look at the tutorial about client-server reactive applications.

Without Os_notif (manual implementation)

If you want the user to receive notifications from the server (for example: "you have a new message"), first create a channel, and register it in an Eliom reference of scope `Client_process:

let channel_ref =
    (fun () ->
       let (s, notify) = Lwt_stream.create () in
       let c = Eliom_comet.Channel.create s in
       (c, notify)

On client side, listen on this channel. To do that, execute this code (on server side) during the service that will start the client process:

let (channel, _) = Eliom_reference.Volatile.get channel_ref in
let _ =
    (Lwt.async (fun () ->
       (fun v -> (* do something *))
    : unit)

And call function notify on the channel (from server side) when you want to notify the client.

To get back the notify functions for one user, you may want to iterate on all client process states. To do that, create a session group for each user (see How to register session data). Here we suppose that the session group name is the user_id, as a string. Then iterate on all sessions from this group, and on all client processes for each session.

For example:

let notify user_id v =
  (* We get the session group state for this user: *)
  let state =
      ~scope:Eliom_common.default_group_scope (Int64.to_string user_id)
  (* We iterate on all sessions from the group: *)
    (fun state ->
      (* We iterate on all client process states in the session: *)
        (fun state ->
          let (_, notify) = Eliom_reference.Volatile.Ext.get state channel_ref in
          notify (Some v)))

Warning: If you do not call the iterators during a request or during the initialisation phase of the Eliom module, you must provide the extra parameter ?sitedata, that you can get by calling Eliom_request_info.get_sitedata during the initialisation phase of the Eliom module.

Have a look at the implementation of Os_notif for more details.