Thrift RPC Framework

At TechStars, Alessio Signorini and I had the opportunity to experiment with Facebook’s Thrift remote procedure call (RPC) framework. I was thoroughly impressed with the framework and feel it takes distributed computing to whole new level. Every developer regularly working on both large and small client/server architectures must be familiar with this tool.

Developers can easily specify data types (parameters) and server interface definitions (API) in a plain text file. Thrift uses this text file to create programming language independent client and server stub files. What makes this so powerful, is that system architects can now choose the appropriate programing language for each area of the system.

Not all programing languages are created equal and no one language contains just positive attributes. It is often the case that the ideal language for a server is Java or C++, but the client would best be written in Python. Thrift allows you to easily choose the best language for the job without having to reinvent the communication protocol every-time you change the language.

This framework is a game changer for software developers and system architects. If you haven’t already done so I strongly encourage you to start playing with it. Below is an example thrift file that defines several data types and one service. Once this interface is defined it can easily be converted into stubs for any language which keeps the interface API separate from the implementation. Read the whitepaper here.

#!/usr/local/bin/thrift --gen cpp:pure_enums --gen php

namespace cpp displaymanager

enum pushResult
{
  OK,
  BUSY,
  INVALID
}

struct pushUrl
{
  1:  string name,
  2:  string url
}

struct pushHtml
{
  1:   string name,
  2:   string data
}

service displaymanager
{
  pushResult fetchUrl(1: pushUrl url);
  pushResult postHtml(1: pushHtml html);
  string	 whatsLoaded();
  string	 currentUrl();
}