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README.md

NAME

OmniTool - Build web application suites very quickly and with minimal code.

END-OF-LIFE / DEPRECATION

This system is no longer under active development. OmniTool should not be used for any new projects.

This repo contains some interesting ideas and perhaps a few solutions, so this repo will remain online for archive purposes. If you are interested in taking over this project, please let me know.

SYNOPSIS

use omnitool;

$luggage = omnitool->pack_luggage(
	'username' => 'someones_username',
	'hostname' => 'hostname-to-an-omnitool.application.your-domain.com',
);

# %$luggage now contains a user session, utility belt, object factory, and
# more goodies used to write a program to operate on your application.

# The rest is OO, like so:

$dogs = $$luggage{object_factory}->omniclass_object( 'dt' => 'dogs' );

$dogs->search(
	'search_options' => [
		{ 'name' => 'Ginger' },
		{ 'age' => 17, 'operator' => '>' },
	],
	'auto_load' => 1,
);

if ($dog->{search_results_found}) {

	print "The first dog I found is ."$dogs->{data}{name}."\n";

	$dogs->perform_trick('roll-over');

}

This is an example of what a test script might look like. The vast majority of your real-world use will be run via the included main.psgi and background_tasks.pl.

SUMMARY / DESCRIPTION

OmniTool is a comprehensive platform for the rapid development of web application suites. It is designed to simplify and speed up the development process, reducing code requirements to only the specific features and logic for the target application. The resulting applications are mobile-responsive and API-enabled with no extra work by the developers.

The OmniTool Administration UI allows developers to design object models (datatypes), specify the behavior of controllers (tools), manage display views (templates), import custom code (sub-classes), and configure the authentication and authorization logic. These actions are all completed via straight-forward and well-documented web forms. Most changes to application behavior are implemented without code changes and can be deployed instantly.

The configurations of tools, datatypes, templates, and custom sub-classes combine to form OmniTool Applications, which are put into use via separate Application Instances. Each Application Instance may (often will) have a separate database, will use separate logic to authorize users, and can have a separate application server. This allows for horizontal scaling as well as single-tenancy for each organization making use of a given Application.

A key differentiator for OmniTool is the inclusion of a complete mobile-responsive User Interface. This UI kit provides a login form, all navigation, view bookmarking, and all search controls. For most applications, there will be no need to develop HTML templates or JavaScript for new applications, as the standard view mode templates are capable to handle search results, record-details display, forms inputs, modal views, pop-up messages, and more.

Every application developed with OmniTool is automatically equipped with a client API without any special code. Users are able to provision API keys that can be used to access their tools to submit requests to OmniTool. These keys are tied to IP addresses and require periodic renewal (which can be indefinitely extended by the administrators). Because all OmniTool applications receive d ata via POST and return data via JSON objects, it is very straight-forward to write an API client for any tool in the system. Example libraries are provided.

Additional facilities within OmniTool include: background task management and execution, inbound email processing, outbound email creation, and a large library of utility functions to aid with many common tasks.

OmniTool is an object-oriented system, written in Modern(ish) Perl using Plack for delivery. Application-specific code is written as sub-classes to tools and datatypes, so that all of the common facilities are always available. The client-side code is developed with HTML5, Bootstrap, clean JavaScript, jQuery, and Jemplates. All data is stored in well-normalized MySQL 5.7+ / MariaDB 10.3+ databases. OmniTool is meant to run on Linux or FreeBSD, and the installation process has been tested most on Ubuntu 16.04 as of this writing. OmniTool is a extremely well-documented system with many examples in the extensive developer guides.

TARGET AUDIENCE / USES

Folks who install and run OmniTool will be experienced LAMP developers who are looking to save a lot of time. Anyone with a web browser will be able to make use of the applications that you build and publish with this software, but building and administering these applications will require development expertise.

This is a great system for small-to-medium organizations or departments within larger organizations. The well-defined UI and 'more-is-more' functionality do tighten its focus a bit, although building alternative UI's is quite possible for the industrious. I think this system is perfect for building apps to manage resources, processes, and requests.

There are three usage modes for the applicatins you build in OmniTool:

  1. Web UI (HTML): Easiest way for everyone to use your app. Mobile-responsive, and really shines on tablets.

  2. API: Allows users to set up their own programs to send requests via POST's and receive JSON back. Very nice for extending your application across your organization and beyond.

  3. Perl Scripts: Maybe you just want to manage your datatypes via the Admin UI and then write your scripts to make use of these databases. Would be the least fun, but there is plenty of utilities here to have some fun.

DEVELOPER'S OVERVIEW

All of the main modules have Pod documentation within them, so this is just an overview. The main parts of this code / system are:

  • omnitool::omniclass, which I obnoxiously refer to as 'The OmniClass.' This is meant to be the 'Model' piece, and its objects are instances of Datatypes, which are object definitions configured in the OmniTool Admin UI. This class handles all the database functions (search, load, save) as well as producing forms. Special functons driven by your data should be developed in sub-classes for OmniClass, all the way from small hooks to massage data for presentation up to large actions to impact other data and systems. Please see 'perldoc omnitool::omniclass' for lots more information. FYI, "OmniClass Sub-Class" was so obnoxious, I have to call them "OmniClass Packages"; this is only marginally better, I know.

  • omnitool::tool, which I refer to as 'Tool.pm', provides the 'Controller' piece. This module brings to life the Tools which are configured in the OmniTool Admin UI, and those Tools are meant to command OmniClass and its packages. Like OmniClass, Tool.pm is a base class which provides a lot of functionality, and your Tool.pm sub-classes are where you build the custom applications. Please see 'perldoc omnitool::tool' for lots more information.

  • omnitool::static_files:: is our collection of JavaScript classes and Template-Toolkit templates that combine to form our 'View' piece for the Web UI. We use the excellent Jemplate library to utilize Template-Toolkit on the client-side, allowing us to fully separate the data from the presentation, sending all data to the client via JSON. This makes it possible to have a fully-functional API mode outside of the Web UI, automatically available for each new Tool configured. ** Note: yes, I am keeping these 'static' files here within the Perl code, because (a) this is very much custom code which will be maintained as part of this single system, (b) it will be served to the clients via omnitool::common::ui and (c) I believe the 'htdocs' directory is for very static documents, image files and third-party HTML/JS/CSS/image libraries like ACE. *** Second note: I did start using the 'we' and 'us' lingo in this section. If you read this far, you are definitely involved.

  • omnitool::common::, is the Perl name-space for our utility and glue modules which provide the routines Tool.pm and OmniClass both rely upon as well as to make this system actually function as a application framework. Database functions, user sessions, UI producing, and template processing all happen in here, among other important work.

Conceptually, OmniTool is meant to power 'Applications,' which consist of:

  1. Datatypes - OmniClass configurations create/maintained via the OT Admin Web UI.

  2. Tools - Tool.pm configurations create/maintained via the OT Admin Web UI.

  3. Custom Code - Your sub-classes for OmniClass.pm and Tool.pm plus any custom templates and JavaScript developed to support your Tools.

These three ingredients allow for functional Tools, and to make them usable, you create 'Instances,' sometimes referred to as 'Application Instances.' Instance definitions consist of:

  1. A web hostname, which should point to a virtual host on an Apache or nginix server which will reverse proxy over to the Perl/Plack app server running this very script.

  2. A connection to a MySQL database server. This server should have everything it needs to serve the data needs of this OmniTool Application.

  3. A database on the target MySQL database server which will house all the data for this Application Instance.

This separation of Application configs, code and logic from Instance delivery / storage configuration allows two important features:

  1. Applications may be utilized by multiple groups or teams of people without those separate groups having to share data. ('Single-tenant' databases is the term, I believe.)

  2. Scalability. All your Instances may be served via one HTTPS server and one database server, or you could have one HTTPS server, many Plack/Perl servers and a few database servers. If you are brave enoughto have Galera multi-master replication set up for your MySQL server, you can set up one Application Instance per DB master server, all connecting to the same database name. (Or you can just use a load balancer and have one instance.)

To have separate Database servers, all of your OmniTool Admin databases (omnitool / omnitool_*) must be replicated among all the servers in your OmniTool system. Each database server should have its own, unique copy of otstatedata, with only the table structures being kept in sync between otstatedata DB's.

Please note that the OmniTool Administration Application will itself have multiple Instances, so you are able to separate Application/Datatype/Tools configuration data very nicely. You will be required to build your apps out in a second OT Admin instance, and not in the base Instance tied to the 'omnitool' database. This makes it easy to accept upgrades and share your work.

TECHNOLOGIES USED

This system requires Perl 5.22 or better in the 5.x line. It also expects MySQL 5.7 or higher. This system also requires the full Plack suite, which is detailed here: -Lhttp://plackperl.org as well as the great docs in CPAN.

For templating, we rely on Template Toolkit on the server side and the amazing Jemplate Perl/JavaScript library. Please see http://www.template-toolkit.org and http://www.jemplate.net . Please see the notes in omnitool::common::utility_belt for the template_process() and jemplate_process() methods for more info on how we use these, as well as the notes in omnitool::tool on Tool Modes.

For the HTML, CSS, and much of the JavaScript, we have the most excellent Ace Admin Template from www.wrapbootstrap.com. OmniTool uses version 1.3.4 of that package, with no plans to update at this time. We are using Bootstrap 3.3.5, which seems to work just great. The Ace Admin files are kept at $OTHOME/htdocs/omnitool/ace.

As of this writing, the system has been most tested on Ubuntu 16.04, but the code should work well on recent versions of FreeBSD, RHEL, Fedora, or CentOS.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I am very appreciative to my employer, Cisco Systems, Inc., for allowing this software to be released to the community as open source. (IP Central ID: 153330984).

I am also grateful to Mohsen Hosseini for allowing me to include his most excellent Ace Admin as part of this software.

LICENSE

MIT License

Copyright (c) 2017 Eric Chernoff

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

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