Parlot, Make deployment steps orderable - This week in Orchard (07/03/2021)

Gábor Domonkos's avatar
Admin UI, Multi-tenancy, Multi-node setup, This week in Orchard, Workflows, Liquid

This week you can meet with Parlot, which is a fast, lightweight, and simple to use .NET parser combinator! Check out our post for the orderable deployment steps, the improvements of the Kast platform, and many more!

Orchard Core updates

Make deployment steps orderable

This is about making deployment steps orderable in the UI, to allow drag and drop to get steps where you want them to be. UI only, as the choice to when steps run should be up to the user.

Let's say you have plenty of plans where features don't want to be first - more common when deploying to existing sites, rather than building up recipes, but steps are for both. And now you can also find hints to the important steps that suggest they should go first, like "Content Definitions should be placed before any content steps."

Orderable deployment plans

Update from node-sass to dart-sass

This is about replacing gulp-sass with its newer gulp-dart-sass because node-saas is now deprecated and the latest node-sass doesn't compile on the latest NodeJS anymore. So, it's recommended on the gulp-sass repository be upgraded to gulp-dart-sass as node-sass is deprecated. You can read more about it in this article.

LibSass is deprecated

Fix WorkflowBlockingActivitiesIndex table indices name length for PostgreSQL

This is an interesting one, so we think this should deserve a few lines. Check out the Migrations file in the OrchardCore.Workflows module where you can see the creation of two different indices: IDX_WorkflowBlockingActivitiesIndex_DocumentId_ActivityId and IDX_WorkflowBlockingActivitiesIndex_DocumentId_ActivityName. Because of the PostgreSQL name length limit, it uses only IDX_WorkflowBlockingActivitiesIndex_DocumentId_Activity for both which causes an exception. The fix is just to reduce the length of these indices.

The new shorter names of the indices

Add Properties to SetupContext

There is a SetupContext class that had some properties like SiteName, AdminUserName, AdminUserId, etc. This SetupContext class will be prepopulated by the setup screen and then passed to ISetupHandler. But now the ISetupHandler accepts an IDictionary to work with these properties. But why is it useful? When setting up a tenant or site sometimes you need to pass in some custom data and use it in your setup recipes. Like when a user registers on a site and he submits a form with firstname, lastname, etc. We then call a workflow that creates the tenant and executes a setup recipe. In this setup recipe, we could create a landing page and we want to assign the firstname, lastname to be set as the displaytext of the landing page content item. Or another use case would be to populate the custom user profile settings during setup. So, from now, the developers can populate the Properties bag from his workflow task or a custom setup screen if they would like to. You can see a good example in the ExecuteAsync method of the SetupTenantTask.

Using the Properties of the SetupContext



The Shortcodes repository by Sébastien Ros contains a Shortcodes processor for .NET with a focus on performance and simplicity. And now that Shortcodes processor is updated to use a new parser called Parlot. Parlot is a French pronunciation of the word like chat or someone who talks a lot. In French, you write it parlotte.

Parlot is a hand-written parser for Shortcodes and that parser is now extracted to make it reusable. You can find adding and using Parlot in the Shortcodes module in this PR. If you check out that pull request, you will see that before this PR we had the Character.cs, Cursor.cs classes. Now they aren't here anymore, they are in the package. The code is almost the same. Now we have a ShortcodesParser.cs that is using Parlot. And in this file, you can find the grammar of Shortcodes. A text is based on shortcode and TEXT nodes. A Shortcode can have an identifier and arguments. An argument is like identifier equals value. It's actually could be just a value if you want. And a value is either a string or a number.

This class contains a bunch of first-level methods like ParseNode, ParseRawText, and so on.

The ShortcodesParser class

If you check out the JSON benchmarks of Parlot, you will see a nice table about the performance of Parlot. And in that table, you can see the performance of parsing JSON documents. As you can see, it is ten times faster than something like Sprache, which is a famous parser. Pidgin has been created to be faster than Sprache and now Parlot is faster than Pidgins. If you take a look at the allocations, you can see that they are equal because it's just about allocating JSON.

Parlot JSON Benchmarks

This benchmark creates an expression tree (AST) representing mathematical expressions with operator precedence and grouping. Same thing here. This table is about comparing the low level, the fluent API, and Piding. Even the Fluent API is five times faster than Pidgin. And in terms of allocation, it's a little bit better than Pidgin.

Parlot Expression Benchmarks

Here you can see a demo video about Parlot and a lot more than that! Like stories about the NCalc library that is created by Sébastien Ros 10 years ago. NCalc is a mathematical expressions evaluator in .NET. NCalc can parse any expression and evaluate the result, including static or dynamic parameters and custom functions. And that library is used by the Sprache.Calc library. Sprache.Calc provides easy to use extensible expression evaluator based on the LinqyCalculator sample. The evaluator supports arithmetic operations, custom functions, and parameters. It takes a string representation of an expression and converts it to a structured LINQ expression instance which can easily be compiled to an executable delegate. In contrast with interpreted expression evaluators such as NCalc, compiled expressions perform just as fast as native C# methods.

Functionalities of NCalc

We can fill up the whole This week in Orchard post just by these libraries and the story behind Parlot. Or we can start to describe how the parser works and how you can extend it with your own implementations, but this may no longer be closely related to the topic of this series. So, as we just mentioned before: if you are interested in these topics, this will be your presentation!

Resource Zones, Resource Layers, Resource Widgets

Kast is an Australian company and one of their primary goals is to implement the Kast platform with the Kast Group Finder component. We worked together with Seth Cleaver (Co-founder and Director of Kast) on this tool to be able to create an intuitive self-service process that enables people within a church to easily find a suitable group to attend, simplify the administrative processes required for getting people into groups, and provide information to the group co-ordinators that might assist in planning and measuring effectiveness. Check out this case study about how we've developed this multi-tenant social group management platform for churches!

The Kast platform is growing from time to time and this time you could see an improvement from Dean Marcussen which is about providing ways to edit static resources (like JavaScript and CSS) using the admin UI. The exact issue in GitHub is opened by Dody Gunawinata a while ago about the downside of the current theme system is that to change anything will require deployment. The way around is to include the JS/CSS in a template and include them in every other template.

The Resources page on the admin UI of Orchard Core

Check out the following recording for a possible solution! It didn't seem like the design was wanted for Orchard Core itself, so it will probably remain private at this stage. But if the people wanted it, it might be possible to make it available at some point as a contribution module.

News from the community

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If you are interested in more news around Orchard and the details of the topics above, don't forget to check out the recording of this week's Orchard meeting!

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