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Getting Started

ThreadDB is a multi-party database built on IPFS and Libp2p that provides an alternative architecture for data on the web.

ThreadDB aims to help power a new generation of web technologies by combining a novel use of event sourcing, Interplanetary Linked Data (IPLD), and access control to provide a distributed, scalable, and flexible database solution for decentralized applications.

Thread Implementations

There are two implementations of ThreadDB.

Golang

The first is written in Go and the implementation reference can be found at https://github.com/textileio/go-threads/.

In this reference, you'll find:

  • All the latest components to use as a library.
  • How to write trustless services.
  • How to build a client connected to a threads daemon.

More documentation for the Go implementation will be coming in the future.

JavaScript

The second implementation is written in JavaScript (Typescript, really). This implementation has some optimizations to make it more ideal when writing web applications. The JavaScript implementation is currently a Client of the Go implementation. You can run it against your own go-threads instance or connect it to the Textile Hub to use one of ours. Read more about the Client here.

In general, when building apps that use threads in a remote context, like the browser, it's best to push the networking later to remote services whenever possible (while using/allowing p2p when it works). You can also build your own remote relays and services using the go-threads library.

For the rest of the explanation below, we'll focus on examples using the JavaScript library.

Developer API

ThreadDB is designed to be simple enough for any developer to start using. The API will feel familiar to developers who have worked with technologies like MongoDB.

Important concepts

The first three concepts developers will encounter with ThreadDB are Threads, Collections, and Instances.

  • Instances are the individual records you create, update, or delete.
  • Instances are stored in a Collection.
  • Collections have one or many Schemas and can only store Instances that match one of those Schemas.
  • Databases can store many Collections.
  • Collections are similar to Tables in other databases.
  • A Thread-based Database is tied to a single Thread (with associated Thread ID).

Creating a new thread

To start a new, empty Thread, with remote networking using the Hub APIs, initialize your Thread with the UserAuth object. You can read more about creating UserAuth objects in the creating web apps tutorial.

Create a new Thread API client

import {Client, PrivateKey, UserAuth} from '@textile/hub'

async function setup (auth: UserAuth) {
  const user = await PrivateKey.fromRandom()

  const client = await Client.withUserAuth(auth)

  return client
}

Authorize a new user to use your Hub API

You must generate a new API token for each user you want on your API.

import {Client, PrivateKey} from '@textile/hub'

async function newToken (client: Client, user: PrivateKey) {
  const token = await client.getToken(user)
  return token
}

List a user's existing Threads

import { Client } from '@textile/hub'

async function list (client: Client) {
  const threads = await client.listThreads()
  return threads
}

Create a new database

import {Client, Identity, ThreadID, UserAuth} from '@textile/hub'

async function createDB (client: Client) {
  const thread: ThreadID = await client.newDB()
  return thread
}

Congrats! You now have a new ThreadDB! Each ThreadDB has a unique ThreadID. You can create your own ThreadIDs, or easily generate a random ThreadID as we do in the above example.

Invite

You can invite multiple users to the same thread. Use this to build chat apps, collaborative documents, and more.

import {Client, DBInfo, ThreadID} from '@textile/hub'

async function getInfo (client: Client, threadID: ThreadID): Promise<DBInfo> {
  return await client.getDBInfo(threadID)
}

async function joinFromInfo (client: Client, info: DBInfo) {
  return await client.joinFromInfo(info)
}

Once you get the DB info, you need to send that to the other users you want to join. To do that, we recommend the User Mailbox API.

Collections

Collections are used to handle different data structures in the same Database.

Each Collection is defined by a json-schema.org schema. These schemas define the shape of Collection Instances (the individual entries).

Collections are similar to tables in other databases. Ultimately, a Collection is a single document store with a set of APIs to make it feel like a local database table.

Collections can be created from an existing Schema or Object.

Create from schema

import { Client, ThreadID } from '@textile/hub'

// Define a simple person schema
const schema = {
  $schema: 'http://json-schema.org/draft-07/schema#',
  title: 'Person',
  type: 'object',
  properties: {
    _id: { type: 'string' },
    name: { type: 'string' },
    missions: {
      type: 'number',
      minimum: 0,
      exclusiveMaximum: 100,
    },
  },
}

// Requires the started database we created above
async function collectionFromSchema (client: Client, threadID: ThreadID) {
  await client.newCollection(threadID, {name: 'Astronauts', schema: schema})
}

Instances

Instances are the objects you store in your Collection. Instances are JSON documents with schemas that match those defined in your Collection.

Get all Instances

import {Client, ThreadID} from '@textile/hub'
async function findEntity (client: Client, threadId: ThreadID, collection: string) {
  const found = await client.find(threadId, collection, {})
  console.debug('found:', found.length)
}

Add an Instance

import {Client, ThreadID} from '@textile/hub'
// matches YourModel and schema
async function create (client: Client, threadId: ThreadID, collection: string) {
  const created = await client.create(threadId, collection, [{
    some: 'data',
    numbers: [1, 2, 3]
  }])
}

Query

Each Threads implementation supports query and look-up capabilities such as insert, findOne, has, and more. ThreadDB also supports the MongoDB query language. In the JavaScript library, you might write queries like the following.

import { Client, ThreadID, QueryJSON } from '@textile/hub'

// Requires the started database we generated above containing the Player collection
async function createQuery (client: Client, threadID: ThreadID, query: QueryJSON) {
  // Get results
  const all = await client.find(threadID, 'astronauts', query)
  return all
}

Listen

You can also subscribe to changes in a database.

import { Client, PrivateKey, ThreadID, Update } from '@textile/hub'

const userID = PrivateKey.fromRandom()

interface Astronaut {
  _id: string
  name: string
  missions: number
}
const callback = async (reply?: Update<Astronaut>, err?: Error) => {
  console.log(reply.instance)
}

// Requires userID already be authenticated to the Users API
async function startListener(client: Client, threadID: ThreadID) {
  const filters = [{actionTypes: ['CREATE']}]
  const closer = client.listen<Astronaut>(threadID, filters, callback)
  return closer
}

Access-control

ThreadDB uses a modular role-based access control system that allows access control lists (ACLs) to be declared in a wide variety of ways. ACLs are in active development and you can follow the development here.

Identity

ThreadDB allows you to handle user identities (for access control and security/encryption) in the best way for your app and users.

To handle multiple peers collaborating on a single database, as well as the ability to handle storage on behalf of a user, ThreadDB expects a simple Identity interface for signing and validating database updates. See the Hub documentation on user identities for details.

Connect to the Hub

  1. Create an Account
  2. Create an App Token
  3. Add the Textile Hub Library to your App

Pinning, Relay, and Replication

Thread Services (e.g. pinning encrypted data on IPFS and helping multiple peers relay updates across the network) can be built and deployed to the network using go-threads. Textile offers a number of these functions through the Hub. Attaching the Hub to your databases will allow you to deliver a high-quality user experience.

Installation

ThreadDB can be used with many languages and has libraries written in JavaScript and Go. Find documentation on each of those libraries below.

Advanced Details

The protocols and design of ThreadDB can be explored in detail in the whitepaper: A protocol & event-sourced database for decentralized user-siloed data.

For further technical details, the reference implementation of Threads is written in Go and the full implementation details can be found on godocs (jump to go-threads client).