Pebble is a tool for publishing real time event streams from sources such as IRC, Twitter and the like.
CoffeeScript JavaScript
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Pebble is real time event streams / pub sub done simply.

  • Cleaner in terms of code
  • Simpler to run (One process, versus many)
  • Easy to extend (based on a simple publisher model)

With the whole goal of making real time event streams (pulling events from external sources) as simple as possible.

Originally built for Rails Rumble 2010 like I built prior versions for earlier rumbles.

Getting Started

First, make sure you have node.js and npm installed.

Next, install the package and then you can do the following:

config = path.normalize("#{__dirname}/config.json")

MyCustomPublisher = require 'my_customer_publisher'

runner = config, (runner) ->
  # Defines a given runner, by default these are irc and
  # twitter
  runner.addBuiltin 'twitter'
  runner.add MyCustomPublisher
puts "App is now running on on #{runner.visitableURL()}"

Writing a Publisher

Publishers are just the general idea of a configurable item which can push things to the notifications list. For example, to implement a simple publisher, you can do (in CoffeeScript):

Base = require('pebble').Base

class MyPublisher extends Base
  name: "my-publisher"
  setup: ->
    # Called automatically.
    stored_name = @get "name" # gets name in the my-publisher key in the configuration
      @emit some: "data"
    ), 10000)
module.exports = MyPublisher

You define a setup method that starts doing processing, configure a name (and optionally, namespace for events and configNamespace for the configuration json namespace). This simple yet flexible architecture makes it possible to build a wide variety of publishers.

To use a publisher in your app, just require the file and use:

runner_instance.add YourPublisher

Like is seen above.

Different Modes & Broadcasters

Pebble can be run in two modes (client (the default) and server, set via pebble.mode) as well as with two different broadcaster options (pubsub or direct, the default).

In direct broadcaster mode, everything will be run in process where as in the pubsub mode, you typically run and a front end in the client and any publishers (e.g. twitter) in the server process, allowing 1 publisher setup broadcasting to many clients. One key thing of this approach is that it allows some flexibility in regards to dealing with apps, ultimately making it simpler to build out (e.g. not running everything in a single process).

By default, any add-ed publishers are only run when the app is using the direct broadcaster or is running in server mode. This can be changed on a per-publisher based by overriding the shouldBeRun function on your publisher, allowing conditional logic.

E.g. to run something on whatever app runs the web server, one would replace it with:

class MyPublisher extends Base
  shouldBeRun: -> @runner.shouldRunWeb


Pebble uses a standard config.json file which uses nested keys according to:

  • Pebble Settings (pebble)
  • Redis settings (redis)
  • Publisher settings (either the publisher name or the configNamespace value on a given publisher).

An example of this can be seen in the config.example.json file which contains all options. Please note that most options are optional.

Likewise, if you pass a second parameter before the callback to with a value of true, you can pass command line arguments to your program - e.g.: config, true, (runner) ->
  runner.addBuiltin 'twitter'

And then invoke your program with --help. This lets you set mode, broadcaster, host and port for the app in a content-sensitive manner.

Lastly, in the case of the following, they can also be overridden by an environment variable:

  • (by HOST)
  • pebble.listen.port (by PORT)
  • (by REDIS_HOST)
  • pebble.redis.port (by REDIS_HOST)
  • pebble.redis.password (by REDIS_PASSWORD)
  • pebble.redis.maxHistory (by REDIS_MAXHISTORY)
  • pebble.broadcaster (by PEBBLE_BROADCASTER)
  • pebble.mode (by PEBBLE_MODE)

The Public JavaScript Portion

Please note the public portion can be found in public/ and that your application uses Pebble. It'd be pretty simple to port it to use something other than jQuery but that is left as an exercise for the reader.

Developing Pebble

To develop pebble, you'll also need to install coffee-script via:

npm install coffee-script

Next, to compile the javascript, you can run:

cake build