The Linux Foundation has announced the launch of the Reactive Foundation, which establishes a formal governance model for supporting open-source reactive programming projects. The foundation’s initial members are Alibaba, Facebook, Netifi and Pivotal, and it includes open source RSocket specification and programming language implementations. RSocket, created by Netflix, is designed to support reactive programming and enable microservices-based and cloud applications to replace HTTP with a more efficient, high-performance alternative.
Ryland Degnan, Co-Founder and CTO at Netifi and Reactive Foundation community chair, told DevPro Journal, “The foundation is the outcome of a long-term collaboration among the founding companies. The idea was to find the best way to build software that’s scalable and that reacts to changes within the system.”
Why Reactive Programming?
Reactive programming uses a message-driven approach to achieve scalability as well as greater resilience and responsiveness than implementing distributed systems based on modular components. Communication between modules can impact latency, user experiences, and the resources and costs required to run a system. Reactive programming’s asynchronous messaging and communication patterns beyond request/response, on the other hand, enable load management and flow control. Additionally, reactive programming’s non-blocking communication allows recipients only to consume resources when active, reducing costs.
Although reactive programming has been a successful methodology for large scale systems, such as those represented by the establishing members of the Reactive Foundation, Degnan points out that with the escalating migration to cloud, microservices, edge and serverless computing, it’s essential to find ways to deliver consistent user experiences regardless of infrastructure, traffic, or mix of end-user devices. “Many more people are interested in reactive programming,” Degnan says. “The idea and the protocol are building up steam.”
Degnan points out that reactive programming wasn’t designed for a specific use case — developers can leverage it for a wide variety of applications. “Any developer who is building software for the cloud or a network application can benefit,” he says.
Reactive Foundation Resources
The Linux Foundation is enabling the Reactive Foundation to build an open-source ecosystem as one of its sub-foundations. Chris Aniszczyk, VP Developer Relations at the Linux Foundation, says,” We’re happy to support new technologies and projects like reactive programming.”
He encourages developers to get involved with the community that the Reactive Foundation now to help build the community and resources. “Getting involved in the early days gives you a better chance at having a strong voice,” Aniszczyk says.
He also urges developers to take advantage of the resources related to reactive programming that are available. Degnan says the foundation has a message board where developers can ask questions and share insights related to RSocket. The foundation also plans to provide documentation for each implementation and build a technology compatibility kit (TCK) for RSocket.
Degnan adds that Netifi is also providing resources and is available to help developers with more complicated use cases, such as those that involve load balancing and broadcasting. You can find quick start guides on the RSocket website. “We aim to expand it all as we move forward,” he concludes.