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Runway Web Interface

This provides a web interface to Runway, so you can run models of distributed systems, visualize them, and interact with them. It embeds runway-compiler to parse and execute model files.

Runway is a newly released project (May 2016), and we're actively working on introductory materials and documentation. Existing resources include:

Here's an example:

Too Many Bananas simulation screencast


You can try this out on, but if you're developing a model, you'll probably find it more comfortable to run runway-browser locally.

First make sure you have node and npm (node package manager) installed. Then run npm install to install dependencies.

Run npm run webpack. This packages up the interpreter along with its dependencies into a single JavaScript file using webpack. (This is a big gotcha if you're changing the internal code, where you forget this step. Use ./node_modules/.bin/webpack --watch for that or webpack-dev-server.)

Set up a web server to serve the dist/ directory. For example:

npm install -g nws
nws -d dist -o

The -o will open dist/index.html in a web browser as served through that web server. The first thing that'll do is pull down a model and view file for the default model. By design, the model and view files aren't compiled into bundle.js with webpack and aren't processed by the web server at all.

You should see a very basic counter model come up.

To see other models, symlink them underneath the dist/models/ directory, then pass ?model=path/to/directory. For example, navigating to http://localhost:3030/?model=elevators will load dist/models/elevators/package.json. The package.json file describes where to find the spec and view. Otherwise, Runway will look default to files named after the directory (dist/models/elevators/elevators.model and dist/models/elevators/elevators.js here). Be sure to load only trustworthy view files, since those may run arbitrary JavaScript code within your browser.

Writing a View

To get the most out of Runway, you need to provide a view, describing how to visualize and manipulate your model. Defining the view can be tedious but isn't particularly difficult once you get the hang of it. The nice thing is you've got all of the global state dumped out right below the SVG by default, so you can build up the view incrementally.

Views used to be written with React and JSX, but that is now deprecated in favor of d3.

Start with an existing example such as runway-model-raft for the basic structure. The key things you need to understand are:

  • D3. See API Reference and Thinking With Joins.
  • SVG. In particular, you should familiarize yourself with these common elements: g, rect, circle, text, line, and path.
  • Coordinate space: (0, 0) is the top left of the canvas, with Y growing downwards. The current canvas is about 100x100, but one of the dimensions can be slightly larger depending on how it's resized. We might change this soon, as other SVG tools seem to default to canvases that are an order of magnitude or so larger.
  • Manually positioning everything is annoying. Hopefully we can find a nicer solution in the future. BBox in lib/util.js might help.
  • Don't be afraid to embrace some "globals" in your view. It's a lot easier than passing around the model everywhere, for example.
  • Access variables from the model using runway-compiler's JavaScript API.


Interactive visualization framework for Runway models of distributed systems




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