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10-Aug-2019 17:30

Erlang is a functional concurrency-oriented language with extremely low-weight user-space "processes", share-nothing message-passing semantics, built-in distribution, and a "crash and recover" philosophy proven by two decades of deployment on large soft-realtime production systems.

Despite those advantages, using Erlang for a component of Facebook Chat had a downside: that component needed to communicate with the other parts of the system.

Glueing together PHP, Javascript, Erlang, and C is not a trivial matter. Thrift translates a service description into the RPC glue code necessary for making cross-language calls (marshalling arguments and responses over the wire) and has templates for servers and clients.

Since going open source a year ago (we had the gall to release it on April Fool's Day, 2007), the Thrift project has steadily grown and improved (with multiple iterations on the Erlang binding).

The project I'm currently working on, Facebook Chat, offered a nice set of software engineering challenges: The most resource-intensive operation performed in a chat system is not sending messages.

It is rather keeping each online user aware of the online-idle-offline states of their friends, so that conversations can begin.

One of the things I like most about working at Facebook is the ability to launch products that are (almost) immediately used by millions of people.

Unlike a three-guys-in-a-garage startup, we don't have the luxury of scaling out infrastructure to keep pace with user growth; when your feature's userbase will go from 0 to 70 million practically overnight, scalability has to be baked in from the start.

Chat configurator gives you the option to pick a theme of your chat window.At Live Chat, we know how important it is to maintain the awareness of your brand among customers.That’s why each Live Chat account comes pre-equipped with a powerful yet easy to use chat widget configurator.Cache misses and database failure can be detected by the non-database layers and either reported to the user or worked around using replication.

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While this architecture works pretty well in general, it isn't as successful in a chat application due to the high volume of long-lived requests, the non-relational nature of the data involved, and the statefulness of each request.

Fault tolerance is a desirable characteristic of any big system: if an error happens, the system should try its best to recover without human intervention before giving up and informing the user.



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