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Encrypted JSON Transport Protocol library for Python 2.6-3.3.

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README.md

EJTP Logo

EJTP-lib-python

Build Status

Encrypted JSON Transport Protocol library for Python 2.6-3.3.

EJTP is a data transfer protocol that allows JSON exchange over a very wide and infinitely extensible set of underlying transports. UDP, TCP, IRC, email, XMPP, HTTP, Telnet, Carrier pigeons, web forums, Twitter, Socket.IO... almost any protocol you could name can be engineered to carry EJTP frames.

The project's mascot is a charming, many-tentacled younger god who goes by the name of Bluethulu.

Bluethulu

Latest version

The latest stable version (and the first community-developed stable version yet available) is Version 0.9.7, which has a feature list here. You can see a history of releases here.

Installation

Easy way (via pip)

You can easily install the stable version of EJTP with just a few commands, now that it's available on PyPI.

Make sure you have the headers for Python/C binding compilation:

$ sudo apt-get install python-dev

For platforms other than Ubuntu/Debian, replace with the appropriate package manager invocation as necessary. This is necessary because of our dependency on PyCrypto, which will automatically install with EJTP, but only if it can compile.

After that finishes, install via pip.

$ sudo pip install ejtp

You'll probably need to run that as sudo to install systemwide, but should not use sudo when installing EJTP into a virtualenv environment.

You won't need to manually install any mandatory dependencies, but still need to manually install any optional ones you want, like PyECC.

Less easy way (via git)

Download, clone, or transmodulate the source code to your computer, go into the uncompressed directory, and run "./setup.py install" as an administrator account. This is standard procedure for most Python libraries, and is how this one works as well.

If you have issues, be sure to submit the issue and, ideally, send patches. These don't have to fix the underlying problem, as long as they expose it to the unit testing mechanism, which allows me to hammer at the code until it works again.

Dependencies

Usage

You can try out the EJTP demo client by running ejtp-console. For demo code you can look inside that file, but basically, all you need is a Router object, and to create Clients as necessary, setting their rcv_callback property to your own preferred callback.

Testing

People who installed via pip

To test EJTP, just run the following commands from any location.

$ doctestall ejtp
$ python -m ejtp.tests.runner

If you run into import errors, it means you need to install some things to make tests work (the PyPI package only installs the requirements you need to use EJTP, not test it). Depending on your platform and Python version, this is usually unittest2 and DoctestAll. Install whatever's missing, until you don't have import errors in your output:

$ sudo pip install doctestall unittest2

If you still have errors, see the paragraph a few down from this one.

Normal users

Run ./install_and_test.sh. This installs (or reinstalls) EJTP according to the current contents of the repository, then runs DoctestAll and the unittest suite on the installed module.

The only extra software you need to install for this is PyCrypto and DoctestAll. Everything else will work with your Python installation and standard library.

Developers

Install the software needed for testing (see Dependencies section above), including Python versions 2.6-3.3, then simply run the tox command.

name@machine$ tox
(a bunch of output ...)
____________ summary ______________
  py26: commands succeeded
  py27: commands succeeded
  py32: commands succeeded
  py33: commands succeeded
  congratulations :)

If you don't want to install any extra Python versions, run a command like tox -e py26,py27 for each version you have installed. It's fine, you can leave it up to Travis-CI to do the full test suite.

I got errors! What do?

Any errors should be reported in a Github Issue so I can have a look at it. I may reply with questions in response to that, but filing a test failure takes less than 5 minutes of your time and is really appreciated.

EJTP Theory

Program structure

An EJTP program is composed of a few parts at minimum. At its heart is the Router, which takes addressed messages from any source and tries to pass them off to the appropriate jack or client.

Jacks are the Router's connections to the outside world, allowing EJTP frames to run on top of other protocols. Each of these needs a thread or a greenlet or some way to poll its network mechanics for incoming messages.

Finally, clients are objects that have properties like encryption prototype, EJTP address with callsign, and methods to send and receive encrypted frames through the Router. When created, they register themselves with the Router so that messages to their location will be forwarded properly.

Generally an application will consist of a Router, one or more clients, a jack for every transport, with a thread for every jack plus one or two for the GUI. The jack threads drive incoming events, the GUI thread drives any outbound ones that aren't called from a jack thread syncronously (such as asyncronous responses or user-driven events).

How EJTP works

An EJTP address is a JSON list with 2 or 3 elements.

[ addrtype, addrdetails, callsign (optional) ]

Clients have callsigns, jacks do not. The addrtype determines which jack type to use to send frames to this address (for example "udp4" or "smtp"), addrdetails provide the protocol-specific parameters necessary to send frames across the network (such as IP address and port). The callsign is used to indicate a specific client listening on that jack.

Different transport protocols will have their own standards on how to carry EJTP frames (also, the addrtype for the protocol, and the structure of the addrdetails for that addrtype). Generally this is pretty straight- forward in connectionless protocols, or any protocol that provides a built-in way to distinguish datagrams.

For two remote clients to communicate, Client A must be able to send frames to Client B's jack, and vice versa. But that's not as limiting as it sounds, you don't have to support every obscure jack type. You can set up the Router with a default route function for undeliverable messages, so that the frame is wrapped in a bigger frame addressed to your default route. In other words, you can configure so that your simplistic program pipes its undeliverable frames to a more capable server, which in turn can bounce the message around according to its default routes, et cetera, until the message is delivered. The default route feature is not yet built in, and will require safeguards to drop frames when a routing loop occurs.

EJTP is an "unreliable" protocol, that is to say, no guarantees are made that your frame will reach its destination in a timely fashion, if at all. With certain jacks and network conditions that's not much of a worry, since the probabilities are vastly in your favor, but any protocol built on EJTP has to consider that, much like UDP, verifying delivery is left up to you, and not inherently provided by EJTP.

Frame format

A frame is composed of a single-character "typecode", an address (as JSON), a nullbyte for a separator, and the message body. It's left up to the underlying transport to specify the frame size.

A frame type of "j" should have a blank address (any address given will be ignored, and is thus a waste of bandwidth), and a payload of unencrypted JSON data, such that deserializing the payload results in exactly one JSON object of any type (hash, list, bool, even null). All other frame types are "nesting frames", and their payloads should be processed as frames.

To get across the network, a J frame has to be wrapped inside an S frame, to indicate the Sender, which is then wrapped in an R frame, which indicates the Recipient (or, in the case of nested R frames, "Relay"). S frames have an encrypted signature that ensures that the sender is who she says she is. Its address is that of the sending client. An R frame's payload is encrypted such that only the client given in the address can open it.

If you decrypt a frame only to find that its payload is another R frame, you must send that frame back out to the Router for further processing. This nesting feature allows a client to securely bounce a message around across the network with onion encryption, as only the final recipient will even know they ARE the final recipient. For everyone else in the chain, all they know is who sent it to them (not necessarily the original sender), and that its final destination is probably elsewhere, unless the chain loops back to them.

There are further complexities involving maximum frame size (which is the same across all underlying transports), but I'm going to hold off on formalizing those rules for awhile. Currently, frame splitting has been removed from the codebase since it was not being used (or rather, split messages could be sent but not decoded) and it seemed better to temporarily remove the functionality entirely, rather than have it break in edge cases where you send a message long enough to split.

EJTP Ecosystem

EJTP boasts a fair number of projects that are based on it. Many of these are micro-libraries and micro-protocols that serve higher-level systems, following the maxim "Do one thing and do it well."

The following is an attempt to graph those relationships:

EJTP
|
|- EJIdent   \
|- EJForward --|- EJMail
               |- DEJE
               |- MCP
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