A Key-Value Store Server

In this tutorial we develop a key-value store daemon that uses LMDB to store compressed binary objects associated with user keys. The daemon is part of the actor ensemble and can be used by any program through a programmatic API or through the command line.


This tutorial requires LMDB. You need to first install it, and then build the LMDB bindings in stdlib, as they are not built by default. You can do this during installation by running configure with the --enable-lmdb option.

The source code for the tutorial is available at src/tutorial/kvstore. You can build the kvstore tutorial code using the build script so that you can use the programs.

The kvstore protocol

The protocol for communicating with the kvstore server is defined in proto.ss:

(defmessage !get (key))
(defmessage !put (key val))
(defmessage !remove (key))

(defcall-actor (kvstore-put! key val (server-id 'kvstore))
  (->> (kvstore-handle server-id) (!put key val))
  error: "error putting key" key)

(defcall-actor (kvstore-get key (server-id 'kvstore))
  (->> (kvstore-handle server-id) (!get key))
  error: "error retrieving key" key)

(defcall-actor (kvstore-remove! key (server-id 'kvstore))
  (->> (kvstore-handle server-id) (!remove key))
  error: "error removing key" key)

(def (kvstore-put-object! key val (server-id 'kvstore))
  (kvstore-put! key (object->u8vector val) server-id))

(def (kvstore-get-object key (server-id 'kvstore))
  (u8vector->object (kvstore-get key server-id)))

(def (kvstore-handle (server-id 'kvstore))
  (make-handle (current-actor-server)
               (reference server-id 'kvstore))) ; 'kvstore here is the actor id

The module defines 3 messages which are all request messages, to which the server responds with a result.

The module also defines appropriate procedures for programmatically interacting with the server. The kvstorec command line program uses these to implement its functionality.

The server implementation

The server is implemented in server.ss. Here is the code:

(deflogger kvstore)

(def (run env)
  (def db (lmdb-open-db env "kvstore"))

  (def (get key)
    (let (txn (lmdb-txn-begin env))
       (let* ((bytes (lmdb-get txn db key))
              (val (if bytes
                     (uncompress bytes)
         (lmdb-txn-commit txn)
         (!ok val))
       (catch (e)
         (lmdb-txn-abort txn)
         (warnf "error getting ~a: ~a" key e)
         (!error (error-message e))))))

  (def (put! key bytes)
    (if (u8vector? bytes)
      (let* ((bytes (compress bytes))
             (txn (lmdb-txn-begin env)))
         (lmdb-put txn db key bytes)
         (lmdb-txn-commit txn)
         (!ok (u8vector-length bytes))
         (catch (e)
           (lmdb-txn-abort txn)
           (warnf "error putting ~a: ~a" key e)
           (!error (error-message e)))))
      (!error "bad value; expected u8vector")))

  (def (remove! key)
    (let (txn (lmdb-txn-begin env))
       (lmdb-del txn db key)
       (lmdb-txn-commit txn)
       (!ok (void))
       (catch (e)
         (lmdb-txn-abort txn)
         (warnf "error removing ~a: ~a" key e)
         (raise e)))))

  (register-actor! 'kvstore)
  (let/cc exit
    (while #t
      (<- ((!get key)
           (--> (get key)))

          ((!put key val)
           (--> (put! key val)))

          ((!remove key)
           (--> (remove! key)))

            (infof "kvstore shutting down")
            (exit 'shutdown))
          ,(@unexpected warnf)))))

The server is implemented as an actor, part of the ensemble; see the actor package documentation for details.

The server's entry point is run, which runs in a loop processing protocol messages. For each protocol message, there is an internal procedure which handles the request and provides the result. The loop also supports the standard actor management reaction rules, so that it can be managed with the gxensemble tool.

The ensemble service

The entry point for the server is invoked by the service front end in kvstore-svc.ss:

(def (main (path #f))
  (let* ((path
          (if path
            (path-expand path)
             (path-expand "kvstore.db"
                          (ensemble-server-path (actor-server-identifier))))))
         (env (lmdb-open path)))
    (thread-join! (spawn/name 'kvstore run env))))

The service is normally invoked with gxensemble run as we will se below.

The command-line client

A command line client for interacting with the kvstore server is provided in kvstorec.ss. Here is the code:

(def (main . args)
  (def server-option
    (option 'server #f "--server"
      help: "the kvstore server-id"
      value: string->symbol
      default: 'kvstore))

  (def output-option
    (option 'output "-o" "--output"
      help: "where to output the result; - for stdout, otherwise a file path"
      default: "-"))

  (def input-option
    (option 'input "-i" "--input"
      help: "where to read input from; - for stdin, otherwise a file path"
      default: "-"))

  (def key-argument
    (argument 'key help: "object key"))

  (def get-cmd
    (command 'get
      help: "get data from the store"

  (def get-object-cmd
    (command 'get-object
      help: "get a serialized object fromt he store"

  (def put-cmd
    (command 'put
      help: "put data to the store"

  (def put-object-cmd
    (command 'put-object
      help: "put a serialized object to the store"

  (def remove-cmd
    (command 'remove help: "remove a key from the store"

  (def help-cmd
    (command 'help help: "display help"
             (optional-argument 'command value: string->symbol)))

  (def gopt
    (getopt get-cmd

   (let ((values cmd opt) (getopt-parse gopt args))
     (let-hash opt
       (case cmd
          (write-output (kvstore-get .key .server) .output))
          (write-object (kvstore-get-object .key .server) .output))
          (kvstore-put! .key (read-input .input) .server))
          (kvstore-put-object! .key (read-object .input) .server))
          (kvstore-remove! .key .server))
          (getopt-display-help-topic gopt .?command "kvstorec")))))
   (catch (getopt-error? exn)
     (getopt-display-help exn "kvstorec" (current-error-port))
     (exit 1))
   (catch (exn)
     (display-exception exn (current-error-port))
     (exit 2))))

(def (write-output val output)
  (when (u8vector? val)
    (if (equal? output "-")
      (write-subu8vector val 0 (u8vector-length val) (current-output-port))
      (call-with-output-file output
        (cut write-subu8vector val 0 (u8vector-length val) <>)))))

(def (write-object val output)
  (if (equal? output "-")
    (write val)
    (call-with-output-file output
      (cut write val <>))))

(def (read-input input)
  (if (equal? input "-")
    (read-all-as-u8vector (current-input-port))
    (read-file-u8vector input)))

(def (read-object input)
  (if (equal? input "-")
    (call-with-input-file input read)))

The client uses getopt to parse the command line arguments, and interacts with the kvstore server using the methods defined in proto.ss.

Example interaction

Here we use gxensemble to run our service; see the ensemble tutorial for more information about working with actor ensembles.

First let's ensure our ensemble has a cookie and start the actor ensemble:

$ gxensemble cookie
$ gxensemble registry

And then let's run our kvstore server:

$ gxensemble run --roles "(kvstore)" kvstore :tutorial/kvstore/kvstore-svc

At this point we are ready to interact with the server using the kvstorec cli tool:

# a file to put to the server
$ cat > /tmp/foo.json
 "head": "I am a walrus~",
 "body": {
   "value": "and this is my body"
$ kvstorec put --input /tmp/foo.json foo.json

# let's retrieve it
$ kvstorec get foo.json
 "head": "I am a walrus~",
 "body": {
   "value": "and this is my body"

# let's put a serialized object:
$ kvstorec put-object my-alist
((a . 1) (b . 2) (c . 3))

# and let's retrieve it
$ kvstorec get-object my-alist
((a . 1) (b . 2) (c . 3))

# or we can see the binary representation:
$ kvstorec get my-alist | base64

And that's it! You can continue interacting with the kvstore or just shutdown your ensemble:

$ gxensemble shutdown -f
... shutting down kvstore
... shutting down registry