Serial nested term storage and dispatch registry
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Local, transactional, nested term storage and dispatch registry.


The package can be installed by adding system_registry to your list of dependencies in mix.exs:

def deps do
  [{:system_registry, "~> 0.1"}]


SystemRegistry is a nested term storage and dispatch system. It takes a different approach to the typical publish-subscribe pattern by focusing on data instead of events. SystemRegistry is local (as opposed to distributed) and transactional (as opposed to asynchronous) in order to eliminate race conditions. SystemRegistry is similar to Elixir.Registry but differs in that it is intended to construct a single global state that any process can contribute to and register to consume. Registrants are rate-limited to control how often they receive state updates and will eventually become consistent. Rate limiting decouples the consumers from the publisher's update interval, enabling consumers to shed unnecessary load.

Data is stored in system registry as a tree of nodes, represented by a nested map. The tree of nodes is comprised of two types of nodes.

  • internal node: A key with a value that is a map.
  • leaf node: A key wth a value that is not a map.

The tree is navigated using a list of keys representing the path to the desired leaf node called a scope.


%{state: %{network_interface: %{"wlan0" => %{ipv4_address: ""}}}}

In this example, there is only one leaf node, ipv4_address, located at the scope [:state, :network_interface, "wlan0", :ipv4_address]

Processes contribute data to SystemRegistry by applying a transaction. A transaction can modify data by composing one or many calls to update, delete, or move. Registrants are notified of a change once the entire transaction has been successfully applied.

Data flows through SystemRegistry in two phases. First, process data is stored in a separate fragment labeled by the caller pid and only contains the applied transactions of the caller. Second, the local pid fragment is then applied to the global state through a SystemRegistry.Processor.

Processors are workers that implement the SystemRegistry.Processor behaviour and are the only means of moving data from local fragments to the global state. Processors implement two callback methods: handle_validate/2 and handle_commit/2. A transaction can only be committed if all processors return :ok during the validation sequence. If a transaction fails validation, it will only return an error to the caller if the transaction option :notify_on_error is true. Transactions that result in errors will not clean up the local fragment state. Processor validation errors are accumulated and returned in the case of an unsuccessful commit. SystemRegistry automatically starts two processors for state and config.

Global State Processor

The State processor monitors transactions for any that are writing values to the top-level :state scope. Since updates performs a deep merge, the State processor will cause validation to fail if a processes attempts to overwrite a sub-key of :state that has been set by a different process.

For example:

Task.start(fn -> SystemRegistry.update([:state, :a], 1))

{:error, {SystemRegistry.Processor.State, {:reserved_keys, [:a]}}} = SystemRegistry.update([:state, :a], 2)

The mount point for the State processor defaults to :state, but can be configured in your application:

config :system_registry, SystemRegistry.Processor.State,
  mount: :somewhere_else

Global Config Processor

The Config processor monitors transactions for any that are writing values to the top-level :config scope. Values in the config scope can be written to by any process with a valid transaction.

It validates that the transaction option :priority is set to a value form the application configuration. You can use :_ to specify any priority value other than the ones specified which includes nil.

config :system_registry, SystemRegistry.Processor.Config,
  priorities: [

If priorities are not declared in the application config, the default priority levels [:debug, :_, :persistence, :default] will be used.

Options can be passed in when starting a transaction, or when using update / delete directly.

# Pass as options
SystemRegistry.update([:config, :a], 1, priority: :debug)
# Or
SystemRegistry.transaction(priority: :debug)
|> SystemRegistry.update([:config, :a], 1)
|> SystemRegistry.commit

When the global state is returned, it will be the merged result of the state set by each producing process in the priority order defined in the application config. In the example above, :high will take precedence over :medium and :medium over :low and so on. Any transactions that fall into the :_ priority level will be merged together in no particular order.

The mount point for the Config processor defaults to :config, but can be configured in your application:

config :system_registry, SystemRegistry.Processor.Config,
  mount: :somewhere_else



{:ok, {%{state: 1}, %{}}} = SystemRegistry.update([:state], 1)

Calls to update/2 return a delta-state as a 2-tuple of {new, old}. Updates will either create keys (leaf nodes) or replace their value.

{:ok, {%{state: 1}, %{}}} = SystemRegistry.update([:state], 1)
{:ok, {%{state: 2}, %{state: 1}}} = SystemRegistry.update([:state], 2)

If we instead want to have sub-keys :a and :b under the top-level :state key, we could do so like this:

{:ok, {%{state: %{a: 1}}, %{}} = SystemRegistry.update([:state, :a], 1)
{:ok, {%{state: %{a: 1, b: 2}}, %{state: %{a: 1}}} = SystemRegistry.update([:state, :b], 2)

If a map is provided as the value for a key, the map is recursively expanded into a series of update calls representing the leaf nodes.

{:ok, {%{state: %{a: 1, b: 2}}, %{state: %{a: 1}}} = SystemRegistry.update([:state], %{a: 1, b: 2})

Data can also be updated in place using update_in/2

SystemRegistry.update([:state, :my_list], [1])
{:ok, {%{state: %{my_list: [1]}}, %{}}}

SystemRegistry.update_in([:state, :my_list], fn(value) -> [2 | value] end)
{:ok, {%{state: %{my_list: [1, 2]}}, %{state: %{my_list: [1]}}}


At any time, you can call match/1 to fetch the current value of the registry if the [match_spec] matches( in the registry.

{:ok, {%{a: 1}, %{}}} = SystemRegistry.update([:a], 1)
%{a: 1} = SystemRegistry.match(self(), %{a: :_})
%{} = SystemRegistry.match(self(), %{b: :_})

Note: If you're not using a processor (like the included :config or :state) your updates will be applied to the local fragment. To retrieve them you must pass the pid as the first argument to match.

When using the global storage fragment via :state, :config or a custom processor you may omit the pid.

iex(1)> {:ok, {new, old}} = SystemRegistry.update([:state, :a], 1)
{:ok, {%{state: %{a: 1}}, %{}}}
iex(2)> SystemRegistry.match(%{state: %{a: :_}})
%{state: %{a: 1}}


Calling delete/1 will return the current state and recursively trim the tree of any internal nodes which have a value of %{}.

{:ok, {%{a: 1}, %{}}} = SystemRegistry.update([:a], 1)
{:ok, %{}} = SystemRegistry.delete([:a])

{:ok, {%{a: %{b: %{c: 1}}}, %{}}} = SystemRegistry.update([:a, :b, :c], 1)
{:ok, %{}} = SystemRegistry.delete([:a, :b, :c])

SystemRegistry operates on a tree of nodes represented as nested maps, so if the value assigned to a scope is a Map, it is recursively expanded into scopes.

{:ok, {%{a: %{b: 1}}, %{}}} = SystemRegistry.update([:a], %{b: 1})


Nodes can be moved from one scope to another. You can move both leaf nodes or internal nodes.

SystemRegistry.update([:a], 1)
{:ok, {%{a: 1}, %{}}}
SystemRegistry.move([:a], [:b])
{:ok, {%{b: 1}, %{a: 1}}}

iex> SystemRegistry.update([:a], 1)
{:ok, {%{a: 1}, %{}}}
iex> SystemRegistry.transaction |> SystemRegistry.move([:a], [:b]) |> SystemRegistry.commit
{:ok, {%{b: 1}, %{a: 1}}}


Transactions let you compose update and delete functions using transaction and commit so they are executed atomically. Under the hood, update/3 and delete/2 pass a transaction through the pipeline and result in an atomic merged update and/or delete operation:

{:ok, {%{a: 1, b: 2}, %{}}} =
  |> SystemRegistry.update([:a], 1)
  |> SystemRegistry.update([:b], 2)
  |> SystemRegistry.commit

Dispatch API

Registrants can be rate-limited to avoid overwhelming them with frequent state changes, while still eventually receiving an update of the complete state. When writing code that reacts to changes in global state, it is often not necessary to process every event. For example, let's say we have a process that performs an expensive operation when a certain chunk of state is changed. If the process causing the state were to "flap" back and forth between states 100 times in a second, we may only care to react to that change after it is done "flapping". If we set up a consumer with a 1000 ms min_interval rate-limit, it would receive the initial message and the final state when the time limit expires. You can also set hysteresis to represent the amount of time the system should wait before sending the current state prior to min_interval. min_interval and hysteresis default to 0.

You can register to and unregister from the SystemRegistry to receive messages when the contents of the registry change. Upon registration, the caller will receive the current state.

{:ok, %{state: %{a: 1}}} = SystemRegistry.update([:state, :a], 1)
SystemRegistry.register(min_interval: 1000)

SystemRegistry.update([:state, :b], 2)

## flush()
#=> {:system_registry, :global, %{state: %{a: 1, b: 2}}}

SystemRegistry.update([:state, :b], 3)
## flush()
#=> (nothing)

How rate-limiting works

SystemRegistry.register(hysteresis: 50, min_interval: 1000)
SystemRegistry.update([:state, :b], 2)
## 50ms later
## flush()
#=> {:system_registry, :global, %{state: %{a: 1, b: 2}}}
SystemRegistry.update([:state, :b], 3)
SystemRegistry.update([:state, :b], 4)
## 1000ms later
## flush()
#=> {:system_registry, :global, %{state: %{a: 1, b: 2}}}