flow is a headers-only C++11 framework which provides the building blocks for streaming data packets through a graph of data-transforming nodes. Note that this library has nothing to do with computer networking. In the context of this framework, a data packet is a slice of a data stream. A flow::graph will typically be composed of producer nodes, transformer nodes and consumer nodes. A data packets is produced by a single producer node, can later go through any number of transformer nodes and is finally consumed by a single consumer node. Nodes are connected to one another by pipes attached to their input pins and output pins. The graph and base node classes already provide the necessary API to build a graph by connecting nodes together and to run the graph. As a library user, you are only expected to write concrete node classes that perform the tasks you require.
Here's an example of a simple graph. The two producers nodes could be capturing data from some hardware or be generating a steady stream of data on their own. The transformer node processes the data coming in from both producers. The transformer's output data finally goes to a consumer node.
Should we need to monitor the data coming in from
producer 2, we can tee it to another consumer node. This new consumer node could save all the data it receives to a file or log it in real-time without preserving it. The tee transformer node is an example of a concrete node that duplicates incoming data to all its outputs. It is provided in the framework and can be found in the flow::samples::generic namespace.
When flowing through the graph, data packets are wrapped in std::unique_ptr. This helps memory managment tremendously and enforces the idea that, at any point in time, only a single entity -pipe or node- is responsible for a data packet.
flow is multi-threaded in that the graph assigns a thread of execution to each of its nodes. The lifetime of these threads is taken care by graph. As a library user, the only mutli-threaded code you would write is whatever a node would require to perform its work.
A node can be in one of three states: paused, started or stopped. When instantiated, a node is in the paused state. When a node is in the started state, a thread of execution is created for it and it is actively consuming and/or producing packets. When a node is in the paused, it is no longer consuming and/or producing packets. If a concrete node class has internal state, that state should be frozen such that, when the node is re-started, packet processing will continue as if the node had not been paused. When a node is in the stopped state, it's thread of execution is joined. If a concrete node class has internal state, that state should be reset.
Before a node can transition to a new state, it must be added to a graph. Transitioning between these states is done by calling a corresponding member function of the graph class. For this relase, all nodes in a graph are always in the same state. Regardless of the nodes' state, nodes can be added to and removed from a graph at any time and can be connected to and disconnected from another node at any time.
Consumption time is the time at which a data packet can be set to be consumed by a consumer node. When a data packet with an assigned consumption time arrives at a consumer node and the consumption time is:
Node that consumption time is optional. Data packets with no consumption time are consumed as soon as they reach a consumer node.
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