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README.md

Talkyard

Create a place to talk, where your audience find answers to their questions, and discuss ideas.
Place it at talkyard.Your-Website.org.

  • Get unstuck by finding solutions in Question-Answers topics, like at StackOverflow.
  • Discuss ideas in open-ended topics, like at Reddit and Hacker News.
  • Collaborate in real time chat, like Slack. (There's a live updates bug though [NGXSEGFBUG])
  • Talk with your blog visitors in embedded comments, like Disqus.

Support forum here, at Talkyard.io — and report bugs there too.

We'd like to build a tool that people who change the world or their neighborhood can use to solve problems and pick the right things to do. That's why we have find-solutions Question-Answers topics, and HackerNews & Reddit type topics where good ideas rise to the top.

Screenshots a bit below.
See it live: https://www.talkyard.io/forum/latest
Read about it, and demo forums: https://www.talkyard.io

How install?

This repository is for writing Talkyard source code, and building Docker images (docker build files are in ./images/image-name/). To install Talkyard, instead go to: https://github.com/debiki/talkyard-prod-one ("-prod-one" means "production installation on one server").

Docker based installation. Automatic upgrades. One installation can host many sites. There's hosting, if you don't want to install it yourself.

This is beta software; there might be bugs.

Screenshots

Topic list:

ed-demo-forum-index


Question-Answers:

how-work-from-home-vpn-broken-borders


Chat:

Currently, Talkyard is a mobile friendly web app. Within half a year or a year (today is August 2018), the plan is that there'll be a white labelled mobile app. Meaning, people will be able to install your community, on their mobile phones, as a separate app with your custom icon. Push notifications for Android (however, initially not for iPhone — iPhone currently cannot do PWA mobile app push notifications).

ed-e2e-chat-owen-maria


Admin-getting-started guide:

ed-admin-intro-guide


Users online:

ed-online-users


Contributing

Want to contribute? Feel free to say hello in our community: https://www.talkyard.io/forum/. Good for you if you ask the people there what is currently being worked on, so you won't accidentally re-implement something that's almost done already — people might be working in their own work-in-progress topic branches that you don't know about.

Here's how to translate to a new language: i18n-README (step 1 and 2 only).

You need to read and agree to our Contributor License Agreement. You do that by reading it (please do — there's a human friendly intro) and appending a single line paragraph with your real name (no pseudonyms) and the following text, to all your commit messages:

I, Your Full Name <your@email.address>, agree to the Contributor License Agreement, docs/CLA-v2.txt.

Please squash your commits to just one (unless you're doing something complicated that's easier to review in separate commits).

Getting Started

Before you start

You need about 4 GB RAM for the development environment (whereas the production environment needs about 2 GB). And a somewhat fast internet connection — you'll be downloading perhaps 0.5 (?) GB Docker images.

Install Docker-Compose, version 1.7.0+: https://docs.docker.com/compose/install/, or simply, on Linux: (maybe a 'sudo' is missing on the 1st line?)

wget -qO- https://get.docker.com/ | sh
sudo curl -L https://github.com/docker/compose/releases/download/1.21.2/docker-compose-$(uname -s)-$(uname -m) -o /usr/local/bin/docker-compose
sudo chmod +x /usr/local/bin/docker-compose
docker-compose --version  # should print "docker-compose version ... build ..."

Read A brief intro to Docker-Compose — unless you know how to use docker-compose already.

The instructions

  1. Append some settings to the system config so that ElasticSearch will work: (run this as one single command, not one line at a time)

    sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf <<EOF
    
    ###################################################################
    # Talkyard settings
    #
    # Up the max backlog queue size (num connections per port), default = 128
    net.core.somaxconn=8192
    # ElasticSearch requires (at least) this, default = 65530
    # Docs: https://www.kernel.org/doc/Documentation/sysctl/vm.txt
    vm.max_map_count=262144
    EOF
    

    Reload the system config:

    sudo sysctl --system
    
  2. Clone the repository, and type make up: (you need GNU Make installed)

    git clone https://github.com/debiki/talkyard.git talkyard
    cd talkyard
    make up  # GNU Make
    
  3. Wait. make up takes a while: Git submodules and Node.js packages will get downloaded, Typescript, Stylus and Scala code gets compiled and packaged, Docker images get built. You can tail the log messages, by typing make tail, or sudo s/d logs -f. (s/d means "scripts" and "docker-compose")

    The following log message might take 10 - 20 minutes: (to download things)

    Loading project definition from /opt/talkyard/app/project
    

    Wait for these "Server started" log messages to appear:

    app_1     |
    app_1     | --- (Running the application, auto-reloading is enabled) ---
    app_1     |
    app_1     | [info] p.c.s.NettyServer - Listening for HTTP on /0:0:0:0:0:0:0:0:9000
    app_1     | [info] p.c.s.NettyServer - Listening for HTTPS on /0:0:0:0:0:0:0:0:9443
    app_1     |
    app_1     | (Server started, use Ctrl+D to stop and go back to the console...)
    app_1     |
    
  4. Point your browser to http://localhost/. This sends a request to the Docker container named 'web', in which Nginx listens on port 80. Nginx sends the request to Play Framework in the 'app' container, port 9000. Play Framework then starts compiling more Scala files — this take a little while; the browser might show a 502 Bad Gateway error message.

    Soon, when done compiling, Play Framework will start. Then this gets logged:

    app_1  | [info] application - Starting... [TyMHELLO]
    ...
    ...
    app_1  | [info] application - Started. [TyMSTARTED]
    

    If you don't see these messages (maybe they scroll past too fast), you can continue with the next step just below anyway — just keep reloading the browser page until any "is starting" message in the browser window disappears.

  5. Create a forum

    Reload the browser at http://localhost/. A page with a button should appear. Sign up as admin with this email: admin@example.com (must be that email). As username and password you can type admin and public1234.

Shut down everything like so: make dead.

Editing source code

If you edit some code and reload the page in the browser, your changes will appear automatically: there's a Docker container, named Gulp, with Node.js installed, which recompile Typescript and Stylus CSS. And a container, named App, which runs the Play Framework application server, and looks for changes to Scala files, recompiles and reloads.

If you edit Typescript, wait two seconds before you reload the page in the browser, otherwise the Typescript code might not yet have been transpiled. It might take 5 or 10 seconds for the page to reload, once you've changed something.

If you keep editing and reloading Scala files many many times, then eventually Play Framework runs out of memory. Restart it like so: make restart.

Troubleshooting

See tips.md.

Tests

End-to-end tests

The end-to-end tests are written in TypeScript and uses Selenium and Webdriver.io. See the end-to-end tests readme. And, if you want to test in a browser other than Chrome, see Making *.localhost addresses work.

Security tests

The security tests are written in TypeScript and use Tape = test-anything-protocol for Node.js. See the security tests readme.

Unit tests

Stop everything: sudo docker-compose down and then: s/cli then type test + hit Enter.

Performance tests

Install Scala SBT, see http://www.scala-sbt.org/download.html. On Linux:

echo "deb https://dl.bintray.com/sbt/debian /" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/sbt.list
sudo apt-key adv --keyserver hkp://keyserver.ubuntu.com:80 --recv 2EE0EA64E40A89B84B2DF73499E82A75642AC823
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install sbt

Append to /etc/security/limits.conf ... hmm but now with Docker-Compose, which container?

your_login_name hard nofile 65535
your_login_name soft nofile 65535

Configure very high max-requests-per-ip-per-second etc Nginx limits — otherwise during the performance test Nginx will start to rate limit stuff and reply 503 Service Not Available:

sudo docker-compose  -f docker-compose.yml  -f docker-compose-no-limits.yml  up -d

Technology

  • Client: React.js, TypeScript, Webdriver.io.
  • Server: Scala and Play Framework. Nginx, Nchan, some Lua. React.js in Java's Nashorn Javascript engine.
  • Databases: PostgreSQL, Redis, ElasticSearch.

Directories

This project looks like so:

server/
 |
 +-Makefile             <-- You can build Talkyard, using GNU Make
 |                          (work in progress, as of Nov 2018)
 |
 +-docker-compose.yml   <-- Tells Docker how to run Talkyard
 |
 +-client/         <-- Javascript, CSS, React.js components
 | +-app/          <-- Client side code
 | +-server/       <-- React.js components rendered server side,
 | :                   usually softlinks to ../app/
 | :
 |
 +-app/            <-- Scala code — a Play Framework 2 application
 |
 +-tests/
 | +-app/          <-- Unit tests and functional tests, for the app server
 | +-e2e/          <-- End-to-end tests
 | +-security/     <-- Security tests
 |
 +-modules/
 | +-ty-dao-rdb/        <-- A database access object (DAO), for PostgreSQL
 | +-ed-core/           <-- Code shared by the DAO and by the ./app/ code
 | +-ed-prod-one-test/  <-- A production installation, for automatic tests
 | |
 | ...Third party modules
 |
 +-public/         <-- Some images and libs, plus JS and CSS that Gulp
 |                     has bundled and minified from the client/ dir above.
 |
 +-images/
 | +-web/          <-- For building the 'web' Docker image, runs Nginx
 | | +-Dockerfile
 | | +-modules/    <-- Nginx modules
 | |   +-nchan/    <-- WebSocket and PubSub for Nginx (a Git submodule)
 | |   +-luajit/   <-- Lua
 | |   ...
 | |
 | +-gulp/         <-- An image that runs Node.js and bundles JS and CSS
 | |
 | +-...           <-- More images...
 |
 +-volumes/
 | +-rdb-data      <-- Mounted as a volume in the Postgres container
 | +-gulp-home/    <-- Gulp container home-dir = disk cache
 | +-uploads       <-- Mounted read-write in the Play container, but
 | |                 read-only in Nginx (to serve static files)
 | ...
 |
 +-s/         <-- Utility scripts (typing "scripts/" is so long)
 |
 +-conf/      <-- App server (Play Framework) config files
 | +-my.conf  <-- You can add your localhost config here. Ignored by Git.

Naming style, tags and a new word

CSS classes and ids

Example: s_P_By_FN-Gst. Here, s_ is a prefix used for all classes, and it means "some". For ids we use t_ instead, means "the". P means Post. By means who-was-it-written-By. FN means Full Name. Gst means Guest.

So, this is BEM (Block Element Modifier) with a few tweaks: Blocks/elements are separated with only one underscore, and modifiers with only one dash. Blocks, elems and modifiers always start with uppercase — because then it's easy to tell if we're dealing with an abbreviation or not. For example, FN (full name) is an abbreviation. But By is not (since it continues with lowercase letters).

Another example: s_Dfs_Df_Ttl — this means the title (Ttl), of a draft (Df), in a list of drafts (Dfs). You'll find abbreviations like Ttl and Df, in bem-blocks.txt.

For stuff with otherwise no class or id, and that should be clicked in end-to-end tests, we use classes only, and the prefix e_ (instead of s_ or t_).

Single and double quotes

In Typescript (and any Javascript), use single quotes for strings the computer cares about, like CSS classes or ids, e.g. className: 's_P' or reactRenderMethod = 'hydrate', or React component display names. For texts that humans read, instead use double quotes, like: Button({ ...}, "Undo"). When doing this, you can be fairly certain that if you edit a single quote string, without knowing what you're doing, something will break. Whilst if you edit a double quoted string and fix e.g. a spelling errors: the computer won't care, but humans like it.

Tag the code

Some parts of a software system, knows how other parts of the software system works, sometimes in not-obvious ways. Make such otherwise hidden duplicated knowledge visible, by tagging the code with tags like: [1ABCDE2]. Example: // Also done here: [4JKAM7] when deleting pages.. Or there's a 3rd partly lib bug workaround in one source code file, for a problem that happens in a different file, and an end-to-end test that got affected, example: [5QKBRQ]. Tag those three places with the same tag. Just type a number, random uppercase letters, and another number, to create a tag. And copy-paste it to where the related code is.

Message codes and magic underscores

Log messages, and plain text messages sent back to the browser, start with TyM if it's an info message, and TyE if it's an error. Like, "Started. [TyMSTARTED]" (a log message).

These messsage codes helps you instantly find the relevat source code, if there's an error message anywhere. Otherwise, it can be terribly annoying, when the browser says "Not found", and you have no idea where that message comes from. For example, Nginx didn't find a location handler? Or a user is missing? Or a page? Or a post? Or a client side route is missing? Or the hostname is wrong? Or ...? And you search for "Not found" and find 1 000 matches. Now, instead, you'll see "Not found [TyE123ABC]" — and you then search for "TyE123ABC" and find the relevant source code.

Some message codes sent to the browser are checked for in end to end tests. They shall have an underscore _ at the end (because it's called end to end tests). So, if you see a message code like: "TyM0APPR_" and you change it, you need to search for it everywhere and update some end-to-end tests too.

Some message codes are checked for by production code Typescript, i.e. frontend code. They shall have a _ at the beginnign (front) of the error code, and here's how they can be used server side: throwForbidden("_TyE403BPWD", "Bad username or password") and client side: if (xhr.responseText.indexOf('_TyE403BPWD') .... — So, when you're looking at the server side code the _ tells you that the error code is used in the frontend Typescript code, so you cannot just change it.

Hen and henbirds

Source code comments should be concise, but writing "he or she" everywhere, when referring to e.g. a user, becomes a bit verbose (because "he or she" is three words). There's a short Swedish word that means "he or she", namely "hen". Let's start using it in English.

So: "hen" = either "he or she", or "him or her", depending on context. And "hens" = "his or her", and "hen's" = "he or she is".

To refer to many hen = many-he-or-she, write "people". "Hens" however means "his or her", just like "its" means, well, "its" (but not "things").

What about the bird previously called "hen"? Let's call it "henbird" instead.

So, hereafter, the word "hen" means "he or she". And the henbird, which I cannot remember having mentioned or even thought about the past year, no longer gets to occupy the short and useful word "hen".

Custom third party builds

We're building & using a smaller version of Lodash, like so: (this makes slim-bundle.min.js.gz 8kb = 4% smaller, as of September 2016)

node_modules/lodash-cli/bin/lodash  include=assign,assignIn,before,bind,chain,clone,compact,concat,create,debounce,defaults,defer,delay,each,escape,every,filter,find,findLast,flatten,flattenDeep,forEach,forOwn,has,head,includes,identity,indexOf,isArguments,isArray,isBoolean,isDate,isEmpty,isEqual,isFinite,isFunction,isNaN,isNull,isNumber,isObject,isRegExp,isString,isUndefined,iteratee,keys,last,map,matches,max,min,mixin,negate,noConflict,noop,once,pick,reduce,remove,result,size,slice,some,sortBy,sumBy,take,tap,throttle,thru,toArray,uniq,uniqBy,uniqueId,value,values \
  --output client/third-party/lodash-custom.js
  • For security reasons, we checkin only the resulting .js file (but not the .min.js) file into source control (so that you can read the source code and see what it does).
  • There are some Gulp plugins that builds Lodash but one seems abandonend (gulp-lodash-builder) and the other (gulp-lodash-custom) analyzes all .js files, I guess that'd slow down the build rather much + won't immediately work with Typescript?

Old Code

In January 2015 I squashed all old 4300+ commits into one single commit, because in the past I did some mistakes, so it feels better to start over again from commit number 1. The old commit history is available here: https://github.com/debiki/debiki-server-old

Credits

I sometimes copy ideas from Discourse, and look at its database structure, HTTP requests, and avatar pixel width. Discourse is forum software.

License

Currently AGPL — please let me know if you want me to change to GPL, contact info here: https://www.talkyard.io/contact

Copyright (c) 2010-2018  Kaj Magnus Lindberg and Debiki AB

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
it under the terms of the GNU Affero General Public License as
published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the
License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  See the
GNU Affero General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU Affero General Public License
along with this program.  If not, see <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/>.

vim: list et ts=2 sw=2 tw=0 fo=r