Posted tagged ‘smalltalk’

CloudforkSSO – OpenID and OAuth support for Smalltalk

February 15, 2011

With the CloudforkSSO library you can let the users of your Seaside web application login using their Google or Yahoo accounts. This works using the OpenID2 protocol. CloudforkSSO also contains OAuth support. With this protocol you can ask users for permission to access their data on other websites.

Some providers that you can integrate with:

Google – Google supports OpenID2 and OAuth1. You can use them separately or together. With OpenID2 users can identify themselves using their Google accounts. It is also possible to get some information about the user. For example the user’s name and email address.

Google’s OAuth1 support is really powerful. With it you can access and modify (if the user agrees!) a users calendar, contact, documents and a lot more.

Twitter – Twitter supports OAuth1. You can ask a user for read-only or full permission.

Facebook – Facebook supports OAuth2. You can access the social graph of a user.

A demo of this library runs at

OpenID2 and OAuth1 are pretty complex protocols. CloudforkSSO implements part of the protocol, enough to support the major providers like Google, Yahoo and Twitter. OAuth2 is a simple protocol. If OAuth2 is all you need CloudforkSSO is probably overkill. A HTTP Client with ssl support is enough.

I developed CloudforkSSO in Pharo Smalltalk. Most providers require secure communication via https. As far as I know, the only HTTP Client for Squeak and Pharo that supports https is WebClient with SqueakSSL. This works fine on Windows but on Ubuntu Linux the SqueakSSL plugin doesn’t work with some providers, for example Twitter and Yahoo. Hopefully this will be fixed soon.

There is also a VA Smalltalk port on which does work on Windows and Linux.

The package Cloudfork-SSO-Seaside contains a demo component that shows how you can use the functionality. Note that for OAuth you need an API key and secret for the provider you want to use. For OpenID it is important to set the correct realm. This is the host and port where your app is running. You can set these configuration properties using the Seaside configuration app:

Amazon AWS Region Endpoints in Europe

June 1, 2010

To use the Cloudfork classes for services located in Europe (Ireland), you need to change the serviceUrl property such as:

sdb := CFSimpleDB new.
sdb serviceUrl: ''
Service URL
S3 Set Bucket location constraint to EU

A comprehensive list can be found over at Elastician

Testing Cloudfork AWS SimpleDB based classes

September 20, 2009

The Cloudfork framework includes an alternate implementation of CFSimpleBase that stores all items in memory. The CFSimpleDBEmulator was initially created to support the unit testing of the ActiveItem framework. With the exception of some query constructs, it implements the complete api and therefore is suitable for unit testing your own applications as well.

| emulator domain item |
emulator := CFSimpleDBEmulator new.
domain := (emulator createDomain: 'myapp.development') result. 
item := CFSimpleDBItem newNamed: 'user.dennis'.
item valueAt: 'birthday' put: '20060916'  ;valueAt: 'hobby' put: 'soccer'.
domain putItem: item.

After running the tests, you can inspect the emulator to see what items have been stored in which domains and what attributes they have. If you store the emulator in some class var then you can keep the data around for development too.

Because the ActiveItem framework is build on top of SimpleDB, the same emulator class can be used to unit test those applications. ActiveItem uses a globally shared CFSimpleDB instance so you only need to replace that with an emulated instance.

CFActiveItem activateWithSimpleDB: CFSimpleDBEmulator new.

Using the CFActiveItemSerializer you can even dump the items to a local Filesystem for development convenience.

HTTP Clients for Squeak

May 25, 2009

Cloudfork-AWS makes the Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3, SQS and SimpleDB easily accessible from Smalltalk. All the communication between the Smalltalk image and AWS is done via HTTP. So a HTTP Client is an important requirement for Cloudfork-AWS.

Cloudfork-AWS needs more than just handling simple HTTP GET and POST requests, the following features are also needed:

  • Setting custom request headers – S3 uses custom headers for authentication and for attaching meta-data to S3 objects. We need to be able to set these headers. This feature is also required for range requests, with these requests you can download a part of a S3 object instead of downloading the entire object.
  • Access to the response headers – So we can read the meta-data of S3 objects.
  • Support for PUT, HEAD and DELETE requests – Also required for S3. PUT is required for storing objects and creating buckets. DELETE is required for removing objects and HEAD for getting the object meta-data without downloading the object itself.
  • HTTPS support – The AWS services can be accessed via plain HTTP or via secure HTTPS. The choice is up to the client. But the release notes of the latest releases of SimpleDB mention that HTTP support will be deprecated and that future versions will require HTTPS.
  • HTTP/1.1 support – Not a must have feature but version 1.1 requests can be more efficient than version 1.0 requests because of the keep-alive feature of version 1.1. With this feature socket connections can be reused between requests.
  • Streaming uploads and downloads – Also not a must have feature for most use cases. Only when large s3 objects need to be handled.
  • Proxy support – Not a requirement of one of the AWS services but a feature that is often required by client configurations.

Note that most of these features are only required for S3 and not for SQS and SimpleDB. SQS and SimpleDB only use GET and POST requests and the authentication is done in the URL and not through HTTP header fields. The HTTP responses of SQS and SimpleDB always contain XML and the maximum size is about 8KB for SQS and 1MB for a SimpleDB resultset so streaming support is not required.

As far as I know there are three HTTP clients available for Squeak:

  • The HTTPSocket class – This class is part of the Network-Protocols package and is part of the standard images of the latest Squeak and Pharo versions.
  • SWHTTPClient – This is an extensive HTTP client library. It was originally developed for Dolphin Smalltalk and was ported to Squeak. The latest release is not fully compatible with the latest Squeak release. There are a number of class extension collisions.
  • CurlPlugin – This is a Squeak plugin that uses the libcurl C library, libcurl is a well-known and powerful open source “URL transfer library” with support for HTTP, FTP and many other protocols.


This is a very simple implementation of a HTTP client in a single class. HTTP GET and POST requests are supported, access to the headers is also possible and simple proxy configurations are also supported. HTTP version 1.1 is not supported, HTTPS is also not possible.

The current version of Cloudfork-AWS does not work with HTTPSocket as a HTTP client. With the provided functionality it should be possible to support the SQS and SimpleDB API’s. But when I use HTTPSocket I get an AWS error telling me that the signature calculated is wrong. I think this is because HTTPSocket always adds the port number to the host header field. Cloudfork doesn’t do this when it calculates the signature so you get a mismatch. It is on my todo list to fix this.


SWHTTPClient is a full featured HTTP client library. It supports HTTP/1.1, access to the header fields and the PUT, HEAD and DELETE methods. Streaming uploads and downloads are also possible. The one thing that is not supported or that I couldn’t get working is HTTPS. Perhaps it’s possible to get this working by plugging in the Cryptography package but I have no idea how.

Another issue is that SWHTTPClient is not fully compatible with the latest Squeak and Pharo releases. The package contains some class extensions that override exiting methods with different behavior. For example the String>>subStrings: method.

Cloudfork-AWS can use SWHTTPClient, all AWS features work except HTTPS. I have fixed all the incompatibilities I bumped into. The patched version of SWHTTPClient is available from the Cloudfork project page on SqueakSource.


The installation of this library is a bit more work. You need the place the correct binaries for your platform in the Squeak installation directory and load the CurlPlugin package from SqueakSource. If you load the package you may get a warning that the class CurlPlugin cannot be loaded. This is no problem, you can still use the plugin through the Curl class. The CurlPlugin class is only needed if you want to create a new version of the plugin or support a new platform.

The libcurl library that the CurlPlugin uses supports all the HTTP features we need and many more. It is one of the bests HTTP client libraries around. And it’s open source. It has an optional integration with openssl which provides the functions required for HTTPS.

The current version of the CurlPlugin doesn’t expose all the features of libcurl. Currently HEAD and DELETE requests are not supported. It is also not yet possible to set the header fields for a requests. The other methods work very well and HTTPS also works fine.


For the SimpleDB and SQS services the CurlPlugin is the best HTTP client. All the required features are there and the performance is very good. SimpleDB and SQS also work with the SWHTTPClient, only without HTTPS support. If the Curl class is present in your image Cloudfork-AWS will use this class for all SimpleDB and SQS service calls, otherwise the SWHTTPClient is used.

The current CurlPlugin doesn’t support all the features required by the S3 service. For this reason the Cloudfork S3 functionality requires the SWHTTPClient.

Future work

I think the CurlPlugin has the potential to become a very good HTTP client library for Squeak and Pharo. It will also be relatively easy to maintain this library because all of the complex work of supporting the different protocols is implemented in libcurl. This C library has a very large community and is well maintained. I will try to extend the plugin and add the missing features.

I will also try to make Cloudfork-AWS compatible with HTTPSocket. This will not be the best performing solution but it can be an easy starting point.

Composition relations in Cloudfork-ActiveItem

April 20, 2009

In UML, the composition relation between objects is a special association that is used to model a “private-container” relationship. The typical class-room example is the Car object having 4 Wheel objects. Although you can replace wheels on a car, one particular Wheel object is never shared with other Car objects.

In Amazon SimpleDB there is no concept of relations ; it is a simple storage of items having attributes (key-value pairs). The Cloudfork-ActiveItem framework can map these relations to foreignkey-like attributes but that should be used with care. Because SimpleDB is not a relational database, operations such as Joins are simply not possible. However, mapping the composition relation fits much better in the SimpleDB storage model. The notion of a SimpleDB item being a container of information is just what it is meant to be.

To illustrate how ActiveItem supports this design construct, I will give an example that models multiple-choice questions for an exam training application. A Question is a composition of 4 Choices ; one of them is the correct answer to that question.

Question class>>describe: aQuestion

    hasString: #code ;
    hasText: #text ;
    ownsMany: #choices
Choice class>>describe: aChoice

    hasText: #text ;
    hasBoolean: #isAnswer

When saving a Question, ActiveItem will create one SimpleDB item with both the attributes of the Question and the attributes of each Choice:

code -> '010-0001'
text -> 'What language is best for writing Web applications?'
choices.1.text -> 'Java'
choices.1.isAnswer -> 'false'
choices.2.text -> 'Ruby'
choices.2.isAnswer -> 'false'
choices.3.text -> 'PHP'
choices.3.isAnswer -> 'false'
choices.4.text -> 'Smalltalk'
choices.4.isAnswer -> 'true'

By supporting composition, class Choice can be a normal ActiveItem subclass with its own attribute description. However, as you can see in the example, Choice objects do not need an id (actually the collection index is the id).

Because of limitations to the number of attributes per item (currently 256), this composition solution is not suitable for arbitrary large collections. If you expect this for your model then I suggest you use the normal hasMany: method that maps associations using “foreign-key” attributes.

VisualWorks version of Cloudfork is ready for use

March 28, 2009

All the functionality of Cloudfork-AWS is now also available for Cincom VisualWorks 7.6. With Cloudfork-AWS you can access the Amazon S3, SQS and SimpleDB services from a simple to use Smalltalk interface. The code is available on the Cincom Public Repository.

Cloudfork has been designed and implemented with portability in mind. Early in the development, we refactored classes and methods such that a large portion of the packages were platform (Squeak,VA Smalltalk, VisualWorks) independent. In addition, we paid a lot of attention to avoid indirect dependencies with other open-source projects such as Seaside. Therefore our implementation should work in “clean images” with minimal dependencies (some packages are required such as SHA and Http client).

In case of the VisualWorks port, I spent most of the time getting all the Date codecs working (RFC822, RFC3339, ISO8601) and the Http requests (all the Http verbs). In particular getting streaming support for GET and PUT turned out to be quite an investigation into the inner workings of the standard HttpClient. There are also some issues with the appearant auto-inclusion of Http headers and the case-sensitivity of headers keys.  Both the streaming support and Http headers will require some rework. Uploading and downloading of large S3 Objects is not very efficient at the moment.

For installation instructions and for reporting issues, you can use our project page on Google code: InstallingForVisualWorks

BTW: my VW tests are green too:-)


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