Lasso Platform Overview

Lasso Server is a powerful and comprehensive tool for building and hosting data-driven web applications. This chapter introduces important concepts and information you should know before starting to use the Lasso Platform or Lasso Server.

Lasso Server (and Lasso Developer) is server-side software that runs along with any FastCGI-capable web server. It adds a suite of dynamic functionality and database connectivity to your website. This functionality empowers you to build and serve just about any dynamic web application that you need with maximum productivity and ease.

Lasso Server works by receiving requests from the web server and routing those requests to specific server-side resources. Generally, these local resources are files written in the Lasso language. Lasso can be easily embedded in templates with HTML, XML, or other data types. Lasso Server manages processing and executing these files and responding to the client with the resulting data. The details of programming in the Lasso language are covered in the Lasso Language Guide and Lasso Operations Guide.

Lasso Runtime

The Lasso runtime is a language platform designed from the ground up with the single purpose of hosting online applications. It was engineered with a focus on scalability and performance. Lasso’s threading model is integrated with its transparent event-driven I/O subsystem to make efficient use of hardware with multiple CPUs and to ensure that network requests are served promptly under heavy load.

The Lasso runtime system manages the dynamic compilation of Lasso language code down to native machine code with integrated caching schemes and automatic optimization of the most frequently used methods and object types. It also supports a flexible array of options for ahead-of-time compilation of code into dynamically loaded libraries as well as stand-alone executables for OS X and Linux platforms.

Although the Lasso runtime can operate in the role of a quick command-line utility, it is designed with features to support the needs of an “always-on” application process. Internally, such an application consists of a set of subprocesses, or threads, each waiting to receive messages and sleeping until they arrive. Each thread maintains its own set of variables, and a thread cannot directly access the variables of another thread.

Lasso Language

This version of the Lasso language builds upon many years of success with providing a versatile and full-featured programming language. Lasso is a dynamically typed, object-oriented language with close ties to its database abstraction layer. The language integrates closely to the Lasso runtime to give access to the lower level operating system in a uniform and performance-minded manner. It improves upon this by already including many of the most useful third-party libraries, data sources, technologies, and protocols.

Lasso’s type system combines the dynamic nature of scripting languages with some of the safety and features normally only available in statically typed languages. Types can be extended through a “traits” system, promoting code re-use, and methods are open to multiple dispatch which uses type annotations to provide pattern matching over method calls.

New types and methods can be added at runtime, which means that a running system is not required to be brought down for most changes. This is helpful not only during development but also while a system is in service and urgent, well-tested patches need to be applied.

Object types and methods can be compiled ahead of time using the Lasso compiler (lassoc). The result of this compilation is a dynamic library that can be automatically loaded on demand when the type or method is first required. This helps keep unused data out of memory, improves startup time, and lets an application be built and deployed in a modular manner.

Lasso Server

Lasso Server offers a suite of tools and methodologies for developing, serving, and administering data-driven web sites written in the Lasso language. Lasso Server operates with any web server supporting FastCGI, such as Apache, IIS, lighttpd, and nginx. A full complement of methods and objects are included for accessing web server parameters and variables as well as for encoding and decoding data and for responding to requests.

Lasso Server provides an object model for programmatically building response documents in addition to a simple template mode for creating or customizing HTML, XML, PDF, or any other sort of data on the fly. This system is designed to make it easy to separate logic from presentation.

Lasso Server provides easy to use, yet powerful, control over content type and character encoding. Combined with the Lasso language’s highly integrated support for Unicode strings, Lasso Server can readily serve content for any language using just a single string object and API.

Also provided are built-in support for logging, bulk email sending, users and groups security, sessions, and more; including integration with many third-party libraries such as curl, OpenSSL, and SQLite. Lasso Server brings a rich set of tools together into one package.

The Lasso Instance Manager and Lasso Server Admin applications are included with Lasso Server. These applications provide administrative access to a running system via a web browser. Lasso Instance Manager handles creation, licensing, and status of individual Lasso Server instances, while Lasso Server Admin gives access to database configuration, users and groups, sessions, email queues, error logs, and more. Lasso Instance Manager and Lasso Server Admin provide an accessible access point for the server administrator to monitor and configure the operations of the server.

Lasso Developer

Lasso Developer is a free of charge, single-user edition of Lasso Server that can be used by a single developer to create and test interactive web sites on their own machine. Lasso Developer has a client IP addresses limitation and per-minute transaction limit. Lasso Developer is designed for authoring and demonstrating web sites and is the perfect way to get started with Lasso Server.

Any installation of Lasso Server will default to Lasso Developer functionality when run without a valid serial number.