Web Oriented Object Framework

User Guide (Version 0.5b4)

User Guide (Version 0.5b4)

The Woof! interpreter model

The Tcl language allows multiple interpreters within a single program and moreover provides for the ability to run code inside a safe interpreter that, for security reasons, can be restricted in terms of the commands it can execute. For example, commands that execute programs or write to disk can be either disabled or enabled with restrictions. The purpose of running code in a safe interpreter is to make it harder for an attacker to penetrate or damage the system even in the presence of programming bugs and security holes. See Security for more details.

Woof! makes use of this very useful Tcl capability by splitting the runtime environment between two interpreters:

When a client request arrives, the master interpreter receives it from the web server and passes it into the safe application interpreter. The application interpreter processes the request and then calls the web server interfaces to return the response to the client.

The advantage of this model of processing is that most of the processing happens in an interpreter whose access to system resources such as the file system is limited. This is by no means a panacea against security vulnerabilities but affords some additional level of protection.

Loading application-specific code in the master interpreter

Because the application interpreter is a safe interpreter, not all Tcl code, for example database access functions, can be executed in it directly. Instead, the application must load code in the master interpreter and then appropriately use the interp alias command to make the required commands visible in the application interpreter.

Application-specific code is loaded in the master interpreter at start up time. After creation of the application interpreter, the master checks for the existence of the file app_master.tcl in the app subdirectory under the Woof! root and loads it using the Tcl source command. This file may in turn load other packages as well as modify the application interpreter. The name of the application interpreter can be obtained through the ::woof::master::app_interp command.

The path app/lib under the Woof! root directory is automatically added to the auto_path Tcl variable. If you are loading packages from other directories, they should be added to auto_path as well.

Below is a sample app_master.tcl file which assumes the presence of a database package db and make a single command visible in the application interpreter.

# File app_master.tcl

package require db ;# Load the package
...Initialize the database connections etc...

proc select_alias {args} {
   ...check arguments etc...
   db::select db_handle {*}$args

# Create a global command db_select in the application interpreter that
# will be handled by the the master interpreter

[::woof::master::app_interp] alias ::db_select ::select_alias