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⚡️ Ultra fast response times serving static files with WebAssembly Workers

Serve static binary files from memory for fast response times.

📕 Background

With trends moving to Serverless or Function-as-a-Service we've started building our web servers from instances of Express running inside Docker containers, to "functions" that instead run on managed infastrure, responding to each request as they arrive.

Many cloud providers supply this type of system which is fast, cheap, and very easy to maintain as all you have to do is upload your functions.

Cloudflare in particular inovate further by replicating your worker to every edge node in their network, drastically limiting CPU + memory time, in exchange for response time as each worker 'instance' is located physically close to users. With previous approaches, worker instances were usally just located in a single region with redundant zones only; thus requiring a load balancer to be setup which is also not simple.

These Cloudflare workers are great as they offer unmatched performance at the edge, but if you're serving say a Progressive Web App, then why not bundle all our application assets into the worker as opposed to just serving responses.

One approach to acheieve this is to publish all your assets the Cloudflare KV (latency key-value store at all of the data centers in Cloudflare's global network) then all the worker has to do is locate in the cache the required file for each request, and return it the response. The base subscription includes 10 million store reads as standard.

Approach, the one taken by this repo, is to use AssemblyScript to embed assets into a binary WebAssembly script, and use this to serve via the worker.

The edge node will load the WebAssembly file into it's memory, where the worker reads them for writing responses to requests.

This is an ultra fast technique as the files are always in system memory for near-zero latency response times.

🚀 Getting Started

This is a Node project using ESM, run yarn to install the required packages first.

  1. yarn build - This will produce embed.wasm in the build directory.
    1. Examine the template at ./assembly/embed.template.ts
    2. Read the files from ./sampleData/ and embed them in embed.ts.
    3. Compile the resulting embed.ts TypeScript file using AssemblyScript to product embed.wasm.
  2. yarn test - This will initialize the WebAssembly module.
    1. The embedded files are read out of the module and saved in ./testOutput.
    2. The SHA-1 hash is compared to the extraced file and the original.
    3. The test is complete when the hash matches, meaning the file was successfully embedded into a WebAssembly Module without being damaged or modified. If you're just interested in how to embed files into wasm, you can stop here. Or continue if you want to serve these files from a worker.
  3. If you want to serve your files, yarn deploy - This will upload and publish the worker and assembly module to Cloudflare. Requires the environment variables:
    • CF_ACCOUNT_ID - Cloudflare Account ID
    • SCRIPT_NAME - The name given to your worker.
    • CF_KV_ID - The UUID of the KV namespace you have created, that has the global variable name __STATIC_CONTENT. This allows comparison with file stored in the namespace vs the assembly worker.
    • Both CF_AUTH_EMAIL + CF_AUTH_KEY to authenticate with the API using your account keys.
      • Or as an alternative, CF_API_TOKEN if you have a scoped API token to use instead.
  4. The files can now be accessed when making requests to the worker. Your app will enjoy fast response times to users across the planet. 🌍 🌎 🌏 Visiitng the root page will display a HTML index page with links to download the embedded images. The files are served from the WebAssembly instance that was uploaded during deployment.

Directory Structure

  • ./assembly - Directory holding the AssemblyScript sources being compiled to WebAssembly.
  • ./assembly/index.ts - Entry file being compiled to WebAssembly, links static files here.
  • ./build - Build artifact directory where compiled WebAssembly files are stored.
  • ./src/worker.js - Main Cloudflare Worker file.

🧑🏼‍💻 Author

Created as a sample worker by Sam Kelleher.

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Get fast Cloudflare Worker response times by embedding static website assets directly using WebAssembly.

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