The Shared object distribution architecture for Cloud Systems
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Sodacloud Documentation


The immense mobile application market and its rapid growth have resulted in numerous developers publishing thousands of innovative applications for mobile platforms. However, the communication architecture for mobile applications still echoes the tradition where HTTP communication is combined with object-oriented programming. The developers must consider data marshaling, threading, synchronization, and identity management which are all time-consuming and error-prone.

Take Android as an example, usually there are two ways to do network communication: use Handler or AsyncTask.

AsyncTask works like this:

public class AddReportTask extends AsyncTask<Void, Void, Void> {
	String fromServer = null;
	String content = null;

	public AddReportTask(String content){
		this.content = content;
	protected Void doInBackground(Void... params) {
		HttpClient httpclient = new DefaultHttpClient();
		HttpPost request = new HttpPost(Host.hostaddress + "addreport/");
			try {
				HttpEntity myEntity = new StringEntity(content);

				HttpResponse response = httpclient.execute(request);

				if (response.getStatusLine().getStatusCode() == HttpStatus.SC_OK) {
					BufferedReader rd = new BufferedReader(new InputStreamReader(response.getEntity().getContent()));
					while ((fromServer = rd.readLine()) != null) {
			} catch (IOException e) {

		return null;

	protected void onPostExecute(Void result) {

Handler works like this:

public Handler myHandler = new Handler() {
        public void handleMessage(Message msg) {
             switch (msg.what) {                	
                  case ADD_REPORT:
Button_.setOnClickListener(new View.OnClickListener() {
	public void onClick(View v) {	
		new Thread(new CheckUpdatesTask()).start();
public class CheckUpdatesTask implements Runnable {
        String fromServer = null;
	public CheckUpdatesTask() {

	public void run() {
	    HttpClient httpclient = new DefaultHttpClient();
	    HttpPost request = new HttpPost(HOST_ADDRESS);
            HttpEntity myEntity = new StringEntity(id);
            HttpResponse response = httpclient.execute(request);
	    if (response.getStatusLine().getStatusCode() == HttpStatus.SC_OK) {
			BufferedReader rd = new BufferedReader(newInputStreamReader(response.getEntity().getContent()));
			fromServer = rd.readLine();		
			Message message = new Message();
			message.what = MainActivity.ADD_REPORT;
			Bundle bundle = new Bundle();
			bundle.putString(HANDLER_TAG, fromServer);

The problem with above approach is:

  1. You cannot pass object through HTTP directly. Each time you want to send an object, you need to marshall the object to some separate primitive and when you receive it, you need to assemble them again.

  2. Each time you try to create a different kind of request, you need to create an AsyncTask or Handler for it. The lines of code increase rapidly as the program becomes complex.

  3. If you need to have multiple AsyncTask running at the same time and update the UI, you have to be cautious since the things will get complicated and error-prone. Actually the behavior of AsyncTask has changed several times during the revolution of Android. When first introduced, AsyncTask were executed serially on a single background thread. Starting with DONUT(1.6), this was changed to a pool of threads allowing multiple tasks to operate in parallel. Starting with HONEYCOMB(3.1), tasks are executed on a single thread to avoid common application errors caused by parallel execution. The inconsistency adds burdens to developers who wish to distribute their apps to multiple platforms.

We propose an object-oriented communication framework, SodaCloud, which hides the complexity of low-level network communication and allows developers to focus solely on business logic. We implement a distributed object middleware that supports 2-way object-oriented communication, eliminating the transition between object-oriented programming and non-OO, request-response style communication.

For a complete comparison, see the implementation of an observer pattern in HTTP(client,server) and SodaCloud (client,server)).

A simple example with the Observer pattern

Observer pattern is a design pattern that is widely used in mobile development because it describes the very behavior of a large proportion of mobile applications. We use the observer pattern to illustrate the convenience SodaCloud brings.

In the following example, “MaintenanceReports” is an observable object on the server and there is MaintenanceListener on the client as observer. In a simple user scenario, the user wants to add a new report in the client side and the server side needs to handle this.

  • In Java server-side:

Class “MaintenanceReports” is declared. It stores the reports and listeners for the reports in lists. When a new report is uploaded, it will be added to the list of reports and all the listeners will be notified.

public class MaintenanceReportsImpl implements MaintenanceReports {
	private List<MaintenanceListener> listeners_ = new LinkedList<MaintenanceListener>();
	private List<MaintenanceReport> reports_ = new LinkedList<MaintenanceReport>();
	public void addReport(MaintenanceReport r) {
		for (MaintenanceListener l : listeners_) {
	public void addListener(MaintenanceListener l) {
  • In Java client-side (Android), a MaintenancesListener interface is declared. Two method is defined for the interface to handle the add and change event of th report.
public interface MaintenanceListener {
	public void reportAdded(MaintenanceReport r);
	public void reportchanged(MaintenanceReport r);

AndroidSoda.async() is the method to call when you need to invoke network connection with server. A new thread will be created. The reportHandle is fetched from server using SVC naming service. A listener is implemented and then added to the handle. Remember to annotate with @SodaInvokeInUi if you try to make any changes to UI elements. In the end, addReport() method is called to add the new report to the server.

AndroidSoda.async(new Runnable() {
	public void run() {
		MaintenanceReports reportHandle = as.get(MaintenanceReports.class, MaintenanceReports.SVC_NAME);
		reportHandle.addListener(new MaintenanceListener() {
			public void reportAdded(final MaintenanceReport r) {
				Toast.makeText(CreateReportFragment.this.getActivity(),"New report:" + r.getContents(),
			public void reportchanged(final MaintenanceReport r) {

Introduction of SodaCloud

SodaCloud is a shared object distribution architecture for cloud systems. SodaCloud provides a platform that automatically creates mobile/cloud applications with optimized communications, cloud-based data sharding, cyber-physical information usage (e.g. geo-located data), and code generation / testing methods for ensuring platform correctness.

Using SodaCloud, the developer will be able to build a model of the client/server services, data, and security requirements and automatically generate an entire system backbone. The backbone will allow developers to enter key system logic manually, while the backbone will take care of client/cloud communications, automatic platform instrumentation and replay of request data for QA, data marshaling infrastructure, and capture of key performance / cloud resource sizing data to aid in resource allocation decisions and operations cost optimization.

Soda L

SodaCloud supports automatic creation of mobile client to server communication infrastructure, including data marshaling mechanisms, that alleviate the need for developers to hand-code complex asynchronous communication pathways and optimize underlying protocols for the target API.

SodaCloud is built on top of an HTTP + push messaging communication system. A key challenge with HTTP-based communication from apps is the API-boundaries that transition from traditional OO-based programming to high-latency, non-OO, request-response style communication. SodaCloud builds an OO-based abstraction on top of this communication pathway to hide these complexities from developers and simplify testing.

Moreover, when using HTTP-based communication approaches, they are biased towards client-initiated communication and make server-to-device pushing of data challenging. Other mechanisms for pushing data to devices, such as Android’s C2DM push messaging are available, but they required complex authentication and negotiation between both the client and server and the server and third-party messaging servers. Further, these push notification systems have multiple asynchronous operations that must complete and state management requirements that add another layer of complexity on communications. SodaCloud provides a seamless abstraction on top of both HTTP and these push messaging mechanisms to provide simplified two-way client/server interaction initiation.

Soda L

  • Javascript client-side

Overview of supported platforms

Android, Javascript, iOS.

Setting up a Java server-side project

1.Download SodaCloud and SodaCloudJetty project. SodaCloud is the fundamental library project for all the marshalling and abstraction logic. SodaCloudJetty is a built upon Jetty which provides HTTP server and servlet container.

2.Create a new Java project in eclipse. Right click on the project and click on the properites. Select Java Build Path -> Projects and add SodaCloud and SodaCloudJetty to the build path.

3.To create a basic server with Jetty. Create the main class implements ServerSodaListener interface. The started() will be called when the server is launched.

   public class Server implements ServerSodaListener {
    	public static void main(String[] args) {
		      ServerSodaLauncher launcher = new ServerSodaLauncher();
		      launcher.launch(new NativeJavaProtocol(), 8081, new Server());
    	public void started(Soda soda) {

4.Defining interfaces for remoteable objects

Here we define the manage interface “MaintenanceReports”. A unique string(SVC_NAME) needs to be defined for the object. It can be used later for looking up objects with naming service.

public interface MaintenanceReports {
		public static final String SVC_NAME = "maintenance";
		public void addReport(MaintenanceReport r);
		public void modifyReport(MaintenanceReport r);
	  	public void deleteReport(UUID id);

5.How to bind objects

To support reference of objects between client and server, a unique identity of the object is needed for looking up. In SodaCloud, this is achieved by a naming service mechanism where an object is bind to SVC_NAME.

To bind an object, call the function soda.bind(object, SVC_NAME); Where the first parameter is the object to be bind and the second parameter is the String of its SVC name.

soda.bind(reports, MaintenanceReports.SVC_NAME);

6.Java implementation limitations

a. In Java, only parameters that are of an interface type can be passed by reference.

b. In Java, generic collections are not supported for incoming pass by value types because Java does not have reified generic types.

Setting up an Android project

1.Create a new Android project in eclipse. Right click on the project and click on the properites. Select Java Build Path -> Projects and add project SodaCloud to the build path. Select Android to add SodaCloudAndroid to library.

2.Add "android.permission.INTERNET" as user permission in AndroidManifest.xml file.

3.Initializing AndroidSoda and connecting

a)Instead of sending HTTP request every time, SodaCloud uses object AndroidSoda to manage the connection with the server. The activity will need to implement AndroidSodaListener interface and override the connected() method. Then AndroidSoda.init() will call the connected() method and return the AndroidSoda object. After that, you can use AndroidSoda for any connection with the server.

   public class MainActivity extends Activity implements AndroidSodaListener {
      private AndroidSoda as_;
      private AndroidSodaListener asl_;
      protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
	   asl_ = this;
           AndroidSoda.init(ctx_, mHost, 8081, asl_);
      public void connected(AndroidSoda s) {
	   this.as_ = s;

4.Looking up objects on the server with the naming service

To start a query without blocking the UI, call AndroidSoda.async() method. It will start a new thread for the network connection. The lookup is by calling the get() method of AndroidSoda. It will return the objects in server with the SVC_NAME you have bind previously.

 		AndroidSoda.async(new Runnable() {
		  public void run() {
			    reports_ = as.get(MaintenanceReports.class,MaintenanceReports.SVC_NAME);

5.Defining interfaces for remote objects

6.Soda threading architecture

When the AndroidSoda is initialized, a new thread is created. The network operation is conducted in the new thread. A callback is passed as parameter which handles the result of the network communication. The update of UI after network communication is always done on UI thread of Android. his is ensured by using @SodaInvokeInUi annotation.

7.Use of the Soda annotations for interactions with the UI thread

@SodaInvokeInUi This annotation marks methods that should always be invoked by Soda in the context of the UI thread on Android. If you apply this annotation, you cannot invoke any blocking Soda methods (e.g. any Soda methods that are not void and annotated with @SodaAsync) inside of the method or Android will freak out for doing network ops in the gui thread.

8.Use of the Soda annotations for pass by reference and pass by value

@SodaByValue This annotation marks classes that should be passed by value rather than object reference.

9.Sharing object references via QR code

To share an object via QR code, you need to bind the QR code context to the object. SodaQR is created from a QR image and bind to Soda object.

public void bindQRContext(Soda s, MaintenanceReport r) {
		SodaQR qr = SodaQR.create(r.getContents());

To lookup object based on QR code, first build the SodaQR object from the image byte[] with fromImageData() method. Then use soda.find() method where the first parameter is the class type and second parameter is SodaContext. The returned SodaQuery is passed in to callback for asynchronized running.

SodaQR _objQR = SodaQR.fromImageData(captured_image);
SodaQuery<MaintenanceReport> _objSQ = s.find(MaintenanceReport.class,_objQR);

Setting up a Javascript project

1.Importing soda.js

2.Connecting to the server

3.Looking up objects on the server with the naming service

4.Constructing objects that are remoteable

5.How remote object proxies are created

6.Invoking remote methods and transparent creation of object references for local objects

7.Rules for pass by value vs. pass by reference (e.g. it has a function as a attribute)

8.Javascript implementation limitations

a) In Javascript, all objects with a function are automatically passed by reference.

b) In Javascript, pass by reference is only supported for top-level method parameters. If a pass by value object is provided to a method, deep introspection will NOT be used to find and convert embedded objects to ObjRefs.

Setting up an Objective-C project

1.Adding SodaCloud to your XCode project and other build settings with cocoapods

3.Initializing Soda

    Soda* soda = [[Soda alloc]init];
    [soda connect:host withListener:self];

4.Defining interfaces for remotable objects with SODA_METHODS macros

Obj-C doesn't support runtime introspection of method parameter types, so several macros are created to capture this info: This defines a remote object's methods and says it has one method with a void return type, called addListener, that takes an ObjRef to a MaintenanceListener.

@interface MaintenanceReports : NSObject<SodaObject>
@implementation MaintenanceReports

5.Rules for pass by reference vs pass by value with REF(...)

6.Looking up remote objects with the naming service

id obj = [soda.namingService get:@"maintenance" asType:[MaintenanceReports class]];

7.Soda threading architecture with Grand Central Dispatch

8.How NSProxies are created

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