Mike Slinn

Connoisseur of Technology

AMF over HTTP in another Multiverse

2011-09-21 / All Blog posts

This silly story is taken from my book “Flex Data Services, Hibernate and Eclipse.” No other part of that book is deliberately silly. I thought it would be fun to post this here. In the story, produce and food are allegories for data and a cellar is an allegory for a database. As for Klay and Adobe, well, you get the idea.

Once upon a time, in an alternate multiverse, there might or might not have been a world called Klay. Klay was a world very like Earth, except that the peaceful inhabitants were obsessed with food and food technology. This world had perfected the art and science of growing and cooking food. Each region had its own specialty, however because transportation was not mechanized. Only seasoned travelers had ever experienced the wondrous tastes and textures of the exquisite culinary creations in far-off lands. Because growing conditions varied widely, food could only be made from local produce, and thus could not be replicated outside of where the food was grown. Instead, the pudgy townsfolk would gather around wandering minstrels as they sang of the nutritional marvels that they had experienced in far-off lands.

Food was grown, prepared, cooked and eaten nearby the same fields that it was grown. The Klaylings valued freshness and texture very highly, but they found that some produce actually improved when it was aged. This produce was stored in cellars next to the fields where the produce was grown. When a chef prepared a meal, he/she would gather the ingredients and cook it to order.

A group of rich merchants in a prosperous region realized that there was profit to be made by selling prepared food to neighboring regions. Their first attempt was to have a chef prepare a dish that resembled a soufflé, and have it delivered by horseback. The rider, holding the dish in front of him, ended up with egg all over himself. Clearly, a means of packaging the food was required.

The merchants had another problem. Each country had different customs regarding the shape of the containers from which they ate. It was inconceivable that a person accustomed to eating from a square bowl might eat instead from a round or oval bowl. This complication was considered serious, because as any chef will tell you, presentation is very important. The food had to be prepared for the specific containers that it was served in, and once prepared could not be transferred to another container without ruining the presentation, thereby severely reducing the selling price.

The merchants called upon the local wise woman, who meditated and went into a trance. An acolyte wrote down the muttered sentences that she uttered while communing with the Fat God. Without knowing what the words meant, she wrote down the words and presented them to the merchants after the wise woman fell asleep. The words were:

Awesome Mouthwatering Food over Highspeed Trusty Transport Provider.

Another acolyte, skilled in numerology, tried turning the words into sacred acronyms: AMF over HTTP. Try as he might, he could not understand any significance in those words.

When the wise woman awoke, she drew this diagram:

Wise Woman’s Food Delivery Service diagram

The merchants gathered around the wise woman as she explained the diagram. “The food from the fields and the cellars are brought into the kitchen as required. The meal is cooked to order, then deconstituted and packaged. A magic carpet uses AMF over HTTP to deliver the deconstituted food to the client’s kitchen, where it is reconstituted by one of the local chefs. The food is served into the appropriate containers for the patrons, and the carpet returns with the chef and payment.

“The key is AMF over HTTP. This magical process, yet to be invented, would consist of a tesseract, larger on the inside than it is on the outside. Within the tesseract, AMF would absorb the raw essence of the prepared food. The magic carpet would transport the tesseract almost instantaneously to the far-off land where the client lives. The magical AMF process would then reconstitute the food into the client’s desired containers.”

The merchants were incredulous. “But we have never heard of AMF over HTTP. Where can we find this magical process, and the magic carpet?”

The old woman replied that she did not know. “It was only a dream,” she replied despondently.

Fortunately, in this multiverse, AMF over HTTP does exist, and it transports data between client and servers just as the wise old woman described – and a whole lot more. Under the covers, AMF is used internally by Flex for many purposes. The next few chapters discuss how that can be done, and more. The Internet is our magic carpet.

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