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Smart Mobile Studio, datasets and websockets

September 25, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments
It's all about the bytes

It’s all about the bytes

If you have been playing with the beta you have probably noticed a few cool new units in the RTL. First there is system.memory, system.typecon, followed by system.streams. And last but not least: system.dataset.

What’s so special about these units? Well, they give you the same level of low-level (read: byte) access as you enjoy under Delphi. If you know your way around JavaScript you must have noticed that this is a sensitive subject, a really sensitive subject (!). JavaScript is hopeless when it comes to binary data, and there is no such thing as a “stream” in the browser.

You wont believe some of the solutions out there which pass for “top notch” JavaScript. Most of them involving cheap hacks like stuffing bin-hex’ed data into strings. This means you need a separate layer of encoding before you push the data to a server (or de-serialize it to JSON). Well we dont have that problem 🙂

So, with all these units firmly in place we can now enjoy the same level of power, simplicity and elegance as under native Delphi or freepascal. And this is where TW3Dataset comes in. Because it’s actually a fully OOP dataset which saves to a very simple binary format (!)


Fast, binary, pure object pascal

Fast, binary, pure object pascal

Let’s say you have a mobile solution which needs to store uniform data. It can be a phone-book, a list of high-scores for a game, time samples or your latest RSS feed poll. Traditionally you would sculpt it all using arrays and then serialize the whole shabam to JSON; or even worse: make use of WebSQL, PouchDB, TaffyDB or other JavaScript dependencies.

Well that is now a thing of the past. For simple in-memory dataset chores, TW3Dataset covers your basic needs more than adequate. It also saves to TStream, meaning that saving and loading from the new storage system (more about that later) is reduced to a “one liner”.

Is it hard to use?

Nope. In fact it’s even simpler to use than TClientDataset under Delphi (or more or less identical, except with no indexing just yet). Here is a short example of how to create a dataset, populate it and save it to a stream:

  mDataset: TW3Dataset;
  mData:  TStream;
  x:  Integer;
  mDataset := TW3Dataset.create;


    for x:=1 to 1000 do
      mDataset.Fields.FieldByName('name').AsString := 'Name #' + x.toString;

    mData := TMemoryStream.create;

      writeln('Dataset bytesize = ' + mData.size.toString);



As you can see from the code above some calculated field types are supported (Autoinc), and TW3Dataset is going to see some heavy expansion as it’s merged with my universal DB framework. Think FireDac but for the browser.

Other cool stuff

If TW3Dataset is to limited and you want SQL support, Smart Mobile Studio now ships with SQLite compiled for JavaScript. Yes you read right, SQlite has been compiled for JavaScript and reads, writes and generates identical files to the native SQLite versions. That’s pretty darn cool (although it does add 1 megabyte to your apps).

So in fact, you can now create and populate a full SQLite DB and just ship it to your server “as is”. Add encryption and you have a pretty good syncronization layer to play with.

W3C, WC3 or just WC

SQLite used to be built into modern browsers, then dubbed “WebSQL”; but in their infinite wisdom the W3C decided to deprecate that and go for a key-value pair storage system reminicient of MongoDB on wellfare. The good news is that our RTL is now so powerful that we dont need to care about the whims of the W3C any more. Just like Delphi revolutionized database driven desktop application development in the 90’s — we will revolutionize DB driven JavaScript applications for the modern age.

True binary streams? You got it! Compression routines ported directly from Delphi? No problem. In-memory databases? Yup!

Websockets made human

Websocket, oh what a magical buzzword! With all the hype you should think it was black magic. Well our SmartCL.Inet unit has now been expanded with a very cool WebSocket client. This means that if you want to talk directly with a nodeJS installation, or perhaps even better — write your own websocket server and get into Amazon cloud services for next to nothing, the RTL now makes that possible.

Writing a websocket client is now reduced to:

  FSocket.OnOpen:=Procedure (Sender:TW3WebSocket)
      writeln("Socket connected");
      Sender.Write("Rock it with HTML5 WebSocket");
  FSocket.OnClosed:=procedure (Sender:TW3WebSocket)
      Writeln("Socket disconnected");
  FSocket.OnMessage:=Procedure (Sender:TW3WebSocket;Data:String)
      Writeln("Data received:" + Data);
  FSocket.OnError:=Procedure (Sender:TW3WebSocket)
      writeln("Socket has errors");

File storage for the rest of us

Sandboxed files and JavaScript is a complete mess. JavaScript is utterly event driven, wich means that everything requires callback handlers. From accessing a medium, to being allowed said access to creating a writer and finally do the actual writing (phew!). And each event handler must denote the calling context just for the hell of it.

To make this usable by human beings, the RTL introduces a concept called “file-actions”. They work more or less like TAction under Delphi, but are especially tailored for loading and saving data in a uniform way.

Here is an example of saving and then loading back a small file:

procedure TForm1.W3Button4Click(Sender: TObject);
  mAction:  TFileActivitySave;
  mAction.OnExecute:=procedure (sender:Tobject)
      writeln("Saving done");
      var mLoader:=TFileActivityLoad.Create;
      mLoader.OnExecute:=Procedure (sender:TObject)
          writeln("Loading done!");
          writeln("Bytes ready = " + mLoader.FileData.Size.tostring);
            var mReader:=TReader.Create(mLoader.FileData);
            on e: exception do
  var mTemp:=TWriter.Create(mAction.FileData);
  mTemp.WriteString("This is some data");

As you begin to explore the additions to the RTL in the next release, you will find that a lot of time and effort has gone into this. So I hope everyone get’s excited when they what they can now do — and that object pascal is the perfect language for HTML5 and mobile application development!

  1. September 25, 2015 at 9:31 am

    It would be good if you post SmartMobileStudio related topics on the official homepage. Because on that side, there is so little action, that somebody can think that project is already dead.

    • Jon Lennart Aasenden
      September 26, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      The official website is being re-wamped behind the scenes. We are working like mad to make all elements fall into place: company, website, wiki (docs) and more

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