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In this file you'll find technical overview of how the liveblog works.

Goal: a plugin, which allows you to quickly post entries, delivers them almost instantly to users, and scales.

Glossary

  • Entry – a single piece of text, which an author posts to the liveblog.
  • Liveblog post – a WordPress post, which has the liveblog checkbox checked, shows the liveblog entries in real time, and offers authorized users to insert new entries.
  • Refresh interval – how often the client side checks for entries' updates.
  • Nag – when there's a new update, we show the nag to the users, instead of loading the new entries directly. The nag contains a link to load the new entries.
  • Modifying Entry – an entry, which updates or deletes (replaces) an existing entry.

Major Design Decisions

  • Each entry is a comment – adding a lot of posts quickly leads to too much cache invalidations. Comments don't have cache entry per comment, so it's much easier to create a scalable liveblog.
  • The front-end polls for new comments – even though long-polling or pushing data to the browser is better and faster it requires much different infrastructure, which few people have or are ready to invest in.
  • The URLs of the polling endpoints are in the form /liveblog/<start-timestamp>/<end-timestamp>/ – it gives you all entries between those two timestamps. By having both timestamps, instead of just the start we can cache the result indefinitely and don't bother with cache invalidations.
  • Each entry change is a new entry – because of the previous decision, we can't allow changing an entry. Instead, we insert a new entry and mark it that it replaces the older entry.

Code Organization

Pretty straight-forward:

  • Most of the code is in liveblog.php with the intention of moving more and more to classes/.
  • HTML templates are in templates/.
  • CSS is in css/.
  • JavaScript is in js/.
  • Translations are in languages/.
  • Tests are in t/.

Backend

  • The god class is WPCOM_Liveblog. Its members are used only as static. It's responsible for almost the whole backend. We should slowly split out parts of it.
  • <permalink>/liveblog URLs are handled by handle_ajax_request().
  • The methods responsible for responding to AJAX requests are prefixed with ajax_. There's most of the action.
  • WPCOM_Liveblog_Entry_Query is responsible for searching for entries by different criteria. Its methods usually return arrays of instances of WPCOM_Liveblog_Entry.
  • WPCOM_Liveblog_Entry represents a liveblog entry. It contains all the comment data and some functionality, mostly around rendering it in different contexts.
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