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README.md

Ember FastBoot

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An Ember CLI addon that allows you to render and serve Ember.js apps on the server. Using FastBoot, you can serve rendered HTML to browsers and other clients without requiring them to download JavaScript assets.

Currently, the set of Ember applications supported is extremely limited. As we fix more issues, we expect that set to grow rapidly. See Known Limitations below for a full-list.

The bottom line is that you should not (yet) expect to install this add-on in your production app and have FastBoot work.

Introduction Video

Introduction to Ember FastBoot

Installation

FastBoot requires Ember 2.3 or higher. It is also preferable that your app is running ember-cli 2.12.0 and higher.

From within your Ember CLI application, run the following command:

ember install ember-cli-fastboot

Running

If your app is running ember-cli 2.12.0-beta.1+ you can run as follows:

  • ember serve
  • Visit your app at http://localhost:4200

You may be shocked to learn that minified code runs faster in Node than non-minified code, so you will probably want to run the production environment build for anything "serious."

ember serve --environment production

You can also specify the port (default is 4200):

ember serve --port 8088

See ember help for more.

Disabling FastBoot with ember serve

Optionally you can even disable the fastboot serving at runtime using the fastboot query parameter. Example to turn off fastboot serving, visit your app at http://localhost:4200/?fastboot=false. If you want to turn on fastboot serving again, simply visit at http://localhost:4200/?fastboot=true or http://localhost:4200/.

You can even disable serving fastboot with ember serve using an environment flag: FASTBOOT_DISABLED=true ember serve. If you have disabled building fastboot assets using the same flag as described here, remember to also disable serving fastboot assets when using ember serve.

Using Node/npm Dependencies

Whitelisting Packages

When your app is running in FastBoot, it may need to use Node packages to replace features that are available only in the browser.

For security reasons, your Ember app running in FastBoot can only access packages that you have explicitly whitelisted.

To allow your app to require a package, add it to the fastbootDependencies array in your app's package.json:

{
  "name": "my-sweet-app",
  "version": "0.4.2",
  "devDependencies": {
    // ...
  },
  "dependencies": {
    // ...
  },
  "fastbootDependencies": [
    "rsvp",
    "path"
  ]
}

The fastbootDependencies in the above example means the only node modules your Ember app can use are rsvp and path.

If the package you are using is not built-in to Node, you must also specify the package and a version in the package.json dependencies hash. Built-in modules (path, fs, etc.) only need to be added to fastbootDependencies.

Using Dependencies

From your Ember.js app, you can run FastBoot.require() to require a package. This is identical to the CommonJS require except it checks all requests against the whitelist first.

let path = FastBoot.require('path');
let filePath = path.join('tmp', session.getID());

If you attempt to require a package that is not in the whitelist, FastBoot will raise an exception.

Note that the FastBoot global is only available when running in FastBoot mode. You should either guard against its presence or only use it in FastBoot-only initializers.

FastBoot Service

FastBoot registers the fastboot service. This service allows you to check if you are running within FastBoot by checking fastboot.isFastBoot. There is also a request object under fastboot.request which exposes details about the current request being handled by FastBoot

Delaying the server response

By default, FastBoot waits for the beforeModel, model, and afterModel hooks to resolve before sending the response back to the client. If you have asynchrony that runs outside of those contexts, your response may not reflect the state that you want.

To solve this, the fastboot service has deferRendering method that accepts a promise. It will chain all promises passed to it, and the FastBoot server will wait until all of these promises resolve before sending the response to the client. These promises must be chained before the rendering is complete after the model hooks. For example, if a component that is rendered into the page makes an async call for data, registering a promise to be resolved in its init hook would allow the component to defer the rendering of the page.

The following example demonstrates how the deferRendering method can be used to ensure posts data has been loaded asynchronously by a component before rendering the entire page. Note how the call should be wrapped in a fastboot.isFastboot check since the method will throw an exception outside of that context:

import Ember from 'ember';

export default Ember.Component.extend({
  fastboot: Ember.inject.service(),
  model: Ember.inject.service(),

  init() {
    this._super(...arguments);

    let promise = this.get('store').findAll('post').then((posts) => {
      this.set('posts', posts);
    });

    if (this.get('fastboot.isFastBoot')) {
      this.get('fastboot').deferRendering(promise);
    }
  }
});

Cookies

You can access cookies for the current request via fastboot.request in the fastboot service.

export default Ember.Route.extend({
  fastboot: Ember.inject.service(),

  model() {
    let authToken = this.get('fastboot.request.cookies.auth');
    // ...
  }
});

The service's cookies property is an object containing the request's cookies as key/value pairs.

Headers

You can access the headers for the current request via fastboot.request in the fastboot service. The headers object implements part of the Fetch API's Headers class, the functions available are has, get, and getAll.

export default Ember.Route.extend({
  fastboot: Ember.inject.service(),

  model() {
    let headers = this.get('fastboot.request.headers');
    let xRequestHeader = headers.get('X-Request');
    // ...
  }
});

Host

You can access the host of the request that the current FastBoot server is responding to via fastboot.request in the fastboot service. The host property will return the host (example.com or localhost:3000).

export default Ember.Route.extend({
  fastboot: Ember.inject.service(),

  model() {
    let host = this.get('fastboot.request.host');
    // ...
  }
});

To retrieve the host of the current request, you must specify a list of hosts that you expect in your config/environment.js:

module.exports = function(environment) {
  var ENV = {
    modulePrefix: 'host',
    environment: environment,
    baseURL: '/',
    locationType: 'auto',
    EmberENV: {
      // ...
    },
    APP: {
      // ...
    },

    fastboot: {
      hostWhitelist: ['example.com', 'subdomain.example.com', /^localhost:\d+$/]
    }
  };
  // ...
};

The hostWhitelist can be a string or RegExp to match multiple hosts. Care should be taken when using a RegExp, as the host function relies on the Host HTTP header, which can be forged. You could potentially allow a malicious request if your RegExp is too permissive when using the host when making subsequent requests.

Retrieving host will error on 2 conditions:

  1. you do not have a hostWhitelist defined
  2. the Host header does not match an entry in your hostWhitelist

Query Parameters

You can access query parameters for the current request via fastboot.request in the fastboot service.

export default Ember.Route.extend({
  fastboot: Ember.inject.service(),

  model() {
    let authToken = this.get('fastboot.request.queryParams.auth');
    // ...
  }
});

The service's queryParams property is an object containing the request's query parameters as key/value pairs.

Path

You can access the path (/ or /some-path) of the request that the current FastBoot server is responding to via fastboot.request in the fastboot service.

export default Ember.Route.extend({
  fastboot: Ember.inject.service(),

  model() {
    let path = this.get('fastboot.request.path');
    // ...
  }
});

Protocol

You can access the protocol (http: or https:) of the request that the current FastBoot server is responding to via fastboot.request in the fastboot service.

export default Ember.Route.extend({
  fastboot: Ember.inject.service(),

  model() {
    let protocol = this.get('fastboot.request.protocol');
    // ...
  }
});

The Shoebox

You can pass application state from the FastBoot rendered application to the browser rendered application using a feature called the "Shoebox". This allows you to leverage server API calls made by the FastBoot rendered application on the browser rendered application. Thus preventing you from duplicating work that the FastBoot application is performing. This should result in a performance benefit for your browser application, as it does not need to issue server API calls whose results are available from the Shoebox.

The contents of the Shoebox are written to the HTML as strings within <script> tags by the server rendered application, which are then consumed by the browser rendered application.

This looks like:

.
.
<script type="fastboot/shoebox" id="shoebox-main-store">
{"data":[{"attributes":{"name":"AEC Professionals"},"id":106,"type":"audience"},
{"attributes":{"name":"Components"},"id":111,"type":"audience"},
{"attributes":{"name":"Emerging Professionals"},"id":116,"type":"audience"},
{"attributes":{"name":"Independent Voters"},"id":2801,"type":"audience"},
{"attributes":{"name":"Staff"},"id":141,"type":"audience"},
{"attributes":{"name":"Students"},"id":146,"type":"audience"}]}
</script>
.
.

You can add items into the shoebox with shoebox.put, and you can retrieve items from the shoebox using shoebox.retrieve. In the example below we use an object, shoeboxStore, that acts as our store of objects that reside in the shoebox. We can then add/remove items from the shoeboxStore in the FastBoot rendered application as we see fit. Then in the browser rendered application, it will grab the shoeboxStore from the shoebox and retrieve the record necessary for rendering this route.

export default Ember.Route.extend({
  fastboot: Ember.inject.service(),

  model(params) {
    let shoebox = this.get('fastboot.shoebox');
    let shoeboxStore = shoebox.retrieve('my-store');

    if (this.get('fastboot.isFastBoot')) {
      return this.store.findRecord('post', params.post_id).then(post => {
        if (!shoeboxStore) {
          shoeboxStore = {};
          shoebox.put('my-store', shoeboxStore);
        }
        shoeboxStore[post.id] = post.toJSON();
      });
    } else {
      return shoeboxStore && shoeboxStore[params.post_id];
    }
  }
});

Think out of the Shoebox

Shoebox gives you great capabilities, but using it in the real app is pretty rough. Have you ever thought that such kind of logic should be done behind the scenes? In a large codebase, defining fastboot.isFastboot conditionals can be a daunting task. Furthermore, it generates a lot of boilerplate code, which obscures the solution. Sooner or later coupling with shoebox will spread over all routes.

That's why ember-cached-shoe was born.

After installing and applying it, your routes can look like this:

app/routes/my-route.js:

import Ember from 'ember'

export default  Ember.Route.extend({
  model() {
    // first call in a server makes actual ajax request.
    // second call in a browser serves cached response
    return this.store.findAll('posts')
  }
})

And they still take advantage of caching in the shoebox. No more redundant AJAX for already acquired data. Installation details are available in the addon README.

Rehydration

What is Rehydration?

The rehydration feature means that the Glimmer VM can take a DOM tree created using Server Side Rendering (SSR) and use it as the starting point for the append pass.

See details here:

https://github.com/glimmerjs/glimmer-vm/commit/316805b9175e01698120b9566ec51c88d075026a

In order to utilize rehydration in Ember.js applications we need to ensure that both server side renderers (like fastboot) properly encode the DOM they send to the browser with the serialization format (introduced in the commit above) AND that the browser instantiated Ember.js application knows to use the rehydration builder to consume that DOM.

Rehydration is 100% opt-in, if you do not specify the environment flag your application will behave as it did before!

We can opt-in to the rehydration filter by setting the following environment flag:

EXPERIMENTAL_RENDER_MODE_SERIALIZE=true

This flag is read by Ember CLI Fastboot's dependency; fastboot to alert it to produce DOM with the glimmer-vm's serialization element builder. This addon (Ember CLI Fastboot) then uses a utility function from glimmer-vm that allows it to know whether or not the DOM it received in the browser side was generated by the serialization builder. If it was, it tells the Ember.js Application to use the rehydration builder and your application will be using rehydration.

Rehydration is only compatible with fastboot > 1.1.4-beta.1, and Ember.js > 3.2.

Build Hooks for FastBoot

Disabling incompatible dependencies

There are two places where the inclusion of incompatible JavaScript libraries could occur:

app.import in the application's ember-cli-build.js

If your Ember application is importing an incompatible Javascript library,you can use app.import with the using API.

app.import('vendor/fastboot-incompatible.js', {
  using: [
    {
      transformation: 'fastbootShim'
    }
  ]
});

app.import in an addon's included hook

You can include the incompatible Javascript libraries by wrapping them with a FastBoot variable check. In the browser, FastBoot global variable is not defined.

var map = require('broccoli-stew').map;

treeForVendor(defaultTree) {
  var browserVendorLib = new Funnel(...);

  browserVendorLib = map(browserVendorLib, (content) => `if (typeof FastBoot === 'undefined') { ${content} }`);

  return new mergeTrees([defaultTree, browserVendorLib]);
}

included() {
  // this file will be loaded in FastBoot but will not be eval'd
  app.import('vendor/<browserLibName>.js');
}

Note: ember-cli-fastboot will no longer provide the EMBER_CLI_FASTBOOT environment variable to differentiate browser and fastboot builds with rc builds and FastBoot 1.0 and above.

Loading additional assets in FastBoot environment

Often addons require to load libraries that are specific to the FastBoot environment and only need to be loaded on the server side. This can include loading libraries before or after the vendor file is loaded in the sandbox and/or before or after the app file is loaded in the sandbox. Since the FastBoot manifest defines an array of vendor and app files to load in the sandbox, an addon can define additional vendor/app files to load in the sandbox as well.

If your addon requires to load something in the sandbox: you can define the updateFastBootManifest hook from your addon (in index.js):

updateFastBootManifest(manifest) {
  /**
   * manifest is an object containing:
   * {
   *    vendorFiles: [<path of the vendor file to load>, ...],
   *    appFiles: [<path of the app file to load>, ...],
   *    htmlFile: '<path of the base page that should be served by FastBoot>'
   * }
   */

   // This will load the foo.js before vendor.js is loaded in sandbox
   manifest.vendorFiles.unshift('<path to foo.js under dist>');
   // This will load bar.js after app.js is loaded in the sandbox
   manifest.appFiles.push('<path to bar.js under dist>');

   // remember to return the updated manifest, otherwise your build will fail.
   return manifest;
}

Note: process.env.EMBER_CLI_FASTBOOT will be removed in RC builds and FastBoot 1.0. Therefore, if you are relying on this environment variable to import something in the fastboot environment, you should instead use updateFastBootManifest hook.

Conditionally include assets in FastBoot asset

Often your addon may need to conditionally include additional app trees based on ember version. Example, Ember changed an API and in order to have your addon be backward compatible for the API changes you want to include an asset when the ember version is x. For such usecases you could define the treeForFastBoot hook in your addon's index.js as below:

treeForFastBoot: function(tree) {
  let fastbootHtmlBarsTree;

  // check the ember version and conditionally patch the DOM api
  if (this._getEmberVersion().lt('2.10.0-alpha.1')) {
    fastbootHtmlBarsTree = this.treeGenerator(path.resolve(__dirname, 'fastboot-app-lt-2-9'));
    return tree ? new MergeTrees([tree, fastbootHtmlBarsTree]) : fastbootHtmlBarsTree;
  }

  return tree;
},

The tree is the additional fastboot asset that gets generated and contains the fastboot overrides.

Providing additional config

By default ember-cli-fastboot reads the app's config and provides it in the FastBoot sandbox as a JSON object. For the app in browser, it respects storeConfigInMeta and either reads it from the config meta tag or inlines it as JSON object in the app-name/config/environment AMD module.

Addons like ember-engines may split the app in different bundles that are loaded asynchronously. Since each bundle is loaded asynchronously, it can have its own configuration as well. In order to allow FastBoot to provide this config in the sandbox, it exposes a fastbootConfigTree build hook.

Addons wishing to use this hook simply need to return a unique identifier for the configuration with the configuration.

fastbootConfigTree() {
  return {
    '<engine-name>': {
      'foo': 'bar'
    }
  }
}

The above configuration will be available in Node via the FastBoot.config() function. Therefore, in order to get the above config, the addon/app can call FastBoot.config('<engine-name>').

Known Limitations

While FastBoot is under active development, there are several major restrictions you should be aware of. Only the most brave should even consider deploying this to production.

No didInsertElement

Since didInsertElement hooks are designed to let your component directly manipulate the DOM, and that doesn't make sense on the server where there is no DOM, we do not invoke either didInsertElement or willInsertElement hooks. The only component lifecycle hooks called in FastBoot are init, didReceiveAttrs, didUpdateAttrs, willRender, didRender, and willDestroy.

No jQuery

Running most of jQuery requires a full DOM. Most of jQuery will just not be supported when running in FastBoot mode. One exception is network code for fetching models, which we intended to support, but doesn't work at present.

Prototype extensions

Prototype extensions do not currently work across node "realms." Fastboot applications operate in two realms, a normal node environment and a virtual machine. Passing objects that originated from the normal realm will not contain the extension methods inside of the sandbox environment. For this reason, it's encouraged to disable prototype extensions.

Troubleshooting

Because your app is now running in Node.js, not the browser, you'll need a new set of tools to diagnose problems when things go wrong. Here are some tips and tricks we use for debugging our own apps.

Verbose Logging

Enable verbose logging by running the FastBoot server with the following environment variables set:

DEBUG=ember-cli-fastboot:* ember serve

PRs adding or improving logging facilities are very welcome.

Developer Tools

Thanks to recent improvements in NodeJS it is now possible to get a debugging environment that you can connect to with Chrome DevTools (version 55+). You can find more information on the new debugging method on Node's official documentation but here is a quick-start guide:

First let's start up the FastBoot server with Node in debug mode. One thing about debug mode: it makes everything much slower.

node --inspect-brk ./node_modules/.bin/ember serve

This starts the FastBoot server in debug mode. Note that the --inspect-brk flag will cause your app to start paused to give you a chance to open the debugger.

Once you see the output Debugger listening on ws://127.0.0.1:<port>/<guid>, open Chrome and visit chrome://inspect. Once it loads you should see an Ember target with a link "inspect" underneath. Click inspect and it should pop up a Chrome inspector window and you can click the ▶︎ icon to let FastBoot continue loading.

Assuming your app loads without an exception, after a few seconds you will see a message that FastBoot is listening on port 3000. Once you see that, you can open a connection; any exceptions should be logged in the console, and you can use the tools you'd expect such as console.log, debugger statements, etc.

Note Regarding Node Versions

The above method only started working for the v8.x track of Node after version v8.4.0, which has a fix to this issue. If you are using any versions between v8.0 and v8.4 we would recommend upgrading to at least v8.4.0

For any versions prior to 6.4 the previous version of this documentation is still valid. Please follow those instructions here

Tests

Run the automated tests by running npm test.

Note that the integration tests create new Ember applications via ember new and thus have to run an npm install, which can take several minutes, particularly on slow connections.

To speed up test runs you can run npm run test:precook to "precook" a node_modules directory that will be reused across test runs.

Debugging Integration Tests

Run the tests with the DEBUG environment variable set to fastboot-test to see verbose debugging output.

DEBUG=fastboot-test npm test

Questions

Reach out to us in Ember community slack in the #-fastboot channel.