Emitting Signals

Holochain provides a mechanism for clients to subscribe to various signals that are emitted by different parts the system, some of them low level, and other explicitly by zome developers.

Low level signals are used by our testing frame work. High level signals produced by zomes can be used by UIs to receive “Application” level notifications of events.

A signal consists of a name and a content represented as a JsonString. Best practice for creating type safe JsonStrings is by having a struct derive from DefaultJson like so:

#[derive(Debug, Serialize, Deserialize, DefaultJson)]
struct SignalPayload {
    message: String
let message = "Hello World".to_string();
hdk::emit_signal("message_received", SignalPayload{message});

This will send a signal with the following JSON representation:

  signal_type: 'User', 
  name: 'message_received', 
  arguments: '{"message":"Hello World"}',

User signals (those emitted by hdk::emit_signal) are sent over all websocket interfaces that include the instance that is emitting a signal.

hc-web-client enables UIs to easily listen for signals by registering a callback through onSignal:

const { onSignal } = await this.webClientConnect({url})

onSignal((msg) => {
  console.log(msg.signal) // -> { signal_type: 'User', name: 'test-signal', arguments: '{"message":"test message"}' }


The current implementation of signals is at MVP stage - there is everything needed to not force UIs to poll for new data, given that the DNA uses callbacks (mainly node-2-node messages and receive) to emit signals as needed.

Future additions will be: * Signal signature description in the DNA ADR 13 describes signals as statically defined properties of a DNA which would enable conductor level binding/connecting of signals with slotes (i.e. zome functions) similar to bridges but with looser coupling. * DHT level signals/hooks Local changes like authoring a new entry could already emit a signal and thus trigger a reload/re-render of the UI. But what if a remote agent authored a chat message in a channel I’m following? It would be very handy to have DNA hooks (i.e. callbacks) that get called when a DHT node has validated and starts holding a new entry or link, such that either a node-2-node message can be sent to a set of observers, or introduce the concept of network level signals that do exactly that automatically.

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