distwit

Distribute/marshal exceptions and extensible variants
README

Distwit -- "Distributed Witnesses" -- make it possible to use exceptions and
extensible variant types with Marshalling.

Principle

Extension constructors (including exceptions) are generated at runtime.
Each "exception" or "type t += A" statement allocate a new constructor.

A constructor witnesses the type of its arguments. If two objects have the
same constructor (by physical equality), then parameters of the constructor
have the same type.

But physical equality does not span across processes, it is lost when
marshalling. Unmarshalling creates a new copy which will never match the
existing witness.

Type safety is preserved, but equalities are lost. (Otherwise, imagine
matching constructors generated in a similar way but with slightly different
types and exchanged between processes: it would be possible to introduce
arbitrary false equalities).

The difficulty is the generation of unique witnesses independent of an
address space ("pure" values).

A solution is to delegate the generation of witnesses to an external trusted
"gensym" service. As long as generated symbols don't collide, type safety
can be preserved.

Distwit implements this idea: it turns symbols generated by an arbitrary
service (provided as an argument to the main functor) into witnesses valid
for OCaml runtime (locally bypassing the typechecker!).

Precautions for use

This implementation produces witnesses valid for OCaml 4.03 and 4.04
runtimes. They may or may not be valid for later versions.

Safety relies on the validity of the symbol generator. Freshly generated
symbol should be unique. As usual with marshalling, this should be used
between trusted processes.

Furthermore, symbols registered by user (via [register] function) should only
be used with the exact same constructor -- otherwise incorrect equalities are
generated.

Install
Sources
v0.1.0.tar.gz
md5=e179b38ae27e925530b752b301f3b8f8
Dependencies
topkg
build
ocaml
>= "4.03" & < "4.07"
Reverse Dependencies