It is my pleasure to announce publication of the Tungsten Finite State Machine Library (Tungsten FSM) as an open source package hosted on SourceForge.net. This is the first of four new components for database clustering and replication that we will be releasing into open source during the month of March.
Tungsten FSM is a Java library for implementing in-memory state machines. It is lightweight and very simple to use. Each Tungsten FSM state machine tracks the state of a particular instance (i.e., object) in Java. The model provides standard features of state machines including states, transitions, actions, and error handling. Source and binary downloads are available here--there is also wiki documentation that explains how to use Tungsten FSM with code examples.
Here's a little background on the Tungsten FSM library and how it arose. State machines let you model the behavior of complex systems including system states and input/outputs in a simple and understandable way. They are as important for distributed systems as transactions are for databases. Among other things, state machines enable you to ensure that network services behave deterministically when presented with multiple, concurrent inputs. That determinism in turn is a fundamental requirement for organizing groups of processes into database clusters, which is what we do at Continuent.
When we embarked on development of Tungsten Replicator, it was immediately apparent we would need to implement state machines. Most of the available libraries, such JBoss jBPM, were heavyweight or otherwise difficult to embed. We therefore wrote a lightweight library of our own, adding features as we ran into practical implementation issues like dealing with errors. Tungsten FSM helps us organize code in services--for instance, it has been very easy to add new administrative operations to the Tungsten Replicator simply by adding more state transitions.
However, you don't have to take my word for it. Try out Tungsten FSM and let me know how you like it. For more information on Tungsten in general, please visit our community pages.
p.s., I'm posting this article to aggregators for MySQL and PostgreSQL even though it's not directly related to databases per se. State machines turn out to be essential to database clustering and management, as you'll see in some of the succeeding articles on this blog.
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