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Pull Endpoint Reference

The Pull Endpoint serves the Client View for a particular Replicache client.

For more information, see How Replicache Works — Pull.

Configuration

Specify the URL with the pullURL constructor option:

const rep = new Replicache({
// ...
pullURL: '/replicache-pull',
});

Method

Replicache always fetches the pull endpoint using HTTP POST:

POST /replicache-pull HTTP/2

Request Headers

Replicache sends the following HTTP request headers with pull requests:

Content-type: application/json
Authorization: <auth>
X-Replicache-RequestID: <request-id>

Content-type

Always application/json.

Authorization

This is a string that should be used to authorize a user. It is prudent to also verify that the clientID passed in the PushRequest in fact belongs to that user. If not, and users' clientIDs are somehow visible, a user could pull another user's Client View.

The auth token is set by defining auth.

X-Replicache-RequestID

The request ID is useful for debugging. It is of the form <clientid>-<sessionid>-<request count>. The request count enables one to find the request following or preceeding a given request. The sessionid scopes the request count, ensuring the request id is probabilistically unique across restarts (which is good enough).

This header is useful when looking at logs to get a sense of how a client got to its current state.

HTTP Request Body

When pulling we POST an HTTP request with a JSON encoded body.

type PullRequest = {
clientID: string;
cookie: JSONValue;
lastMutationID: number;
profileID: string;
pullVersion: number;
schemaVersion: string;
};

clientID

The clientID of the requesting Replicache instance.

The cookie that was received last time a pull was done. null if this is the first pull from this client.

lastMutationID

The lastMutationID the client received in the last pull response. This value can be useful in cases where a server receives a pull request from a client it doesn't know about. In that case one thing one might do is to re-establish the record of the client on the server side with the lastMutationID it is expecting, which is this value.

profileID

The profileID of the requesting Replicache instance. All clients within a browser profile share the same profileID. It can be used for windowing the Client View, which one typically wants to do per-browser-profile, not per-client.

pullVersion

Version of the type Replicache uses for the response JSON. The current version is 0.

schemaVersion

This is something that you control and should identify the schema of your client view. This ensures that you are sending data of the correct type so that the client can correctly handle the data.

The schemaVersion can be set in the ReplicacheOptions when creating your instance of Replicache.

HTTP Response

HTTP Response Status

  • 200 for success
  • 401 for auth error — Replicache will reauthenticate using getAuth if available
  • All other status codes considered errors

Replicache will exponentially back off sending pushes in the case of both network level and HTTP level errors.

HTTP Response Body

The response body is a JSON object of the PullResponse type:

type PullResponse = {
cookie: JSONValue;
lastMutationID: number;
patch: PatchOperation[];
};

The cookie is an opaque-to-the-client value set by the server that is returned by the client in the next PullRequest. The server uses it to create the patch that will bring the client's Client View up to date with the server's.

The cookie can be any JSONValue but just like with HTTP cookies you want to limit its size since it get sent on every request.

For more information on how to use the cookie see Computing Changes for Pull.

lastMutationID

The ID of the last mutation that was successfully applied to the server from this client.

patch

The patch the client should apply to bring its state up to date with the server.

Basically this should be the delta between the last pull (as identified by the request cookie) and now.

The patch supports 3 operations:

type PatchOperation =
| {
op: 'put';
key: string;
value: JSONValue;
}
| {op: 'del'; key: string}
| {op: 'clear'};

put

Puts a key value into the data store. The key is a string and the value is any JSONValue.

del

Removes a key from the data store. The key is a string.

clear

Removes all the data from the client view. Basically replacing the client view with an empty map.

This is useful in case the request cookie is invalid or not known to the server, or in any other case where the server cannot compute a diff. In those cases, the server can use clear followed by a set of puts that completely rebuild the Client View from scratch.

Computing Changes for Pull

A cookie is returned in the PullResponse and passed in the next pull as part of the PullRequest. As mentioned, the server uses the cookie to identify the state that client currently has so it can compute a diff (patch) between that state and the current state of the server. The patch is returned in the PullResponse.

In the simplest case, the server could not bother with cookies or sending a patch, and instead just return the full Client View to the client on each pull. This is fine for tiny amounts of data or in development, but with Client Views of any significant size, this is massively inefficient and can noticably slow sync. Typically only small amounts of data in the Client View are changing at any time, so it's usually the case that the server implements a cookie / patching strategy so that it only returns what's changed since the last pull.

A complete discussion of strategies for efficiently computing patches is outside the scope of this document, but here are a couple of the most common strategies:

  • Global Version Number: In this strategy a monotonically increasing global version number is used to track when an entity in your datastore has changed. On push, the next version number is acquired and updates to datastore entities are marked with this version. For example, you might have a Version column on a database table and set it to the current version when a row is inserted or modified. The pull handler returns the current version number in the cookie in pull. To compute the patch from a client's state to the current state of the server, select all the entities in the datastore with a version number greater than that passed in the client's PullRequest. This strategy requires using soft deletes. At scale, contention for the global version number could be a performance bottleneck.

    The example Todo app uses this strategy, see backend/.

    This simple strategy is the one we recommend starting with, and what you get by default if you start your project with the example Todo app as a base.

  • LastModified: in this strategy a timestamp is used as a global version number, as above. This strategy might be easier and more performant to implement in some databases, but comes with all the attendant problems that timestamps have (clocks jumping around, etc.).

    The example Replidraw app uses this strategy, see backend/rds.ts.

  • Row Versioning: associate an independent Version with each entity in the your datastore and update it whenever that entity is changed. For example, you could have a Version column and a trigger to increment the Version on a row when it is updated. Note this is different than the global version strategy: in that strategy there is a single incrementing global version; in this strategy each entity has its own, independent version.

    This strategy keeps in look-aside storage a record of which entity versions a client has. This storage could be ephemeral, for example kept in memcache or redis, as it is easy to rebuild if necessary (if a record is lost, return the entire client view and create a new record). Each record needs a unique identifier which is returned as the cookie, a simple integer suffices. On pull, select any entities that are not present in the client's record: these have been added since the last pull. Also select entities that are present in the record but that have larger version numbers in the datastore: these have changed since the last pull. And finally, find those entities that are present in the record but not present in the datastore: these have been deleted since last pull.

    This strategy has much better performance characteristics than global versioning, so we recommend it if global versioning becomes a performance problem. It is, however, more work to set up.

  • Additional options: there are a variety of other strategies you could use to compute the patch, and we plan to document the space of possibilities better in the future. Until then, please contact us if you'd like to discuss options and tradeoffs.

Pull Launch Checklist

  • Check the Launch to Production HOWTO for the checklist that is common for both push and pull.
  • Ensure that the lastMutationID returned in the response is read in the same transaction as the client view data (ie, is consistent with it).
  • If there is a problem with the cookie (e.g., it is unusable) return all data. This is done by first sending a clear op followed by multiple put ops.
  • Make sure that the client view is not a function of the client ID. When starting up Replicache, Replicache will fork the state of an existing client (client view and cookie) and create a new client (client view, client ID and cookie).
  • Ignore all pull requests with an unexpected pullVersion.
  • Do not use the clientID to look up what information was last sent to a client when computing the PullResponse. Since a clientID represents a unique running instance of Replicache, that design would result in each new tab pulling down a fresh snapshot. Instead, use the cookie feature of PullResponse to uniquely identify the data returned by pull. Replicache internally forks the cache when creating a new client and will reuse these cookie values across clients, resulting in new clients being able to startup from previous clients' state with minimal download at startup.