ADR-81: Minimum communications adapter

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This document describes the minimum communications interface to be used with any Decentraland Explorer. The content of this ADR is based on the results of the implementation of RFC-4 and RFC-5. The communications interface has some characteristics:

The actual proposed code interface has events and methods. Typescript will be used to illustrate the behavior. The Emmiter is assumed to be mitt

interface MinimumCommunicationsAdapter {
   * The .send method is used to send information to all the peers
   * connected to this adapter. The hints can be used to tweak the
   * default behavior of the adapter.
  send(data: Uint8Array, hints: SendHints): void
   * The .connect() method resolves when the connection with the
   * adapter was successful and it is ready to send and receive
   * messages.
  connect(): Promise<void>
   * The .disconnect() method can optionally receive an error that will
   * be bubbled up in the DISCONNECTED event. It should be used to
   * notify the user about possible network errors and to help with the
   * UX of the explorer.
  disconnect(error?: Error): Promise<void>

   * Event emitter (mitt) with all the events produced by the adapter.
  events: Emmiter<{
    DISCONNECTION: AdapterDisconnectedEvent
    PEER_DISCONNECTED: PeerDisconnectedEvent
    message: AdapterMessageEvent
    error: Error

type SendHints = { reliable: boolean }

type AdapterDisconnectedEvent = {
  // Whether or no the reason of disconnection was that we logged in on
  // a different session
  kicked: boolean
  // Optional error
  error?: Error

type PeerDisconnectedEvent = {
  // The ethereum address of the disconnected peer
  address: string

// message
type AdapterMessageEvent = {
  // The ethereum address of the sender
  address: boolean
  data: Uint8Array

This interface was designed with extensibility in mind and abstracting all the necessary functions to make Decentraland work. The communications protocol that is transferred using this Adapter is defined in the ADR-104.

Lifecycle of an Adapter

The session of Decentraland may be rather stateful, the explorer depends on content servers, feature flags, blockchain nodes and TheGraph nodes and lastly the communication servers or schemas themselves. To handle that complexity, a stateful CommunicationsDirector is used. In practice, the BFF (link) implements a service in charge of the functions of the CommunicationsDirector, the BFF connects the positions with Archipelago and then forwards the JoinComms messages to the Explorer.

Among its functions, the CommunicationsDirector receives a live stream of information about the position of each connected peer and thanks to that, server-side optimizations can be performed i.e. real-time clustering of users in Islands (ADR-35).

It is important to notice that the Communications Adapter and the CommunicationsDirector should have decoupled lifecycles.

The CommunicationsDirector by itself DOES NOT provide any communications capabilities as the adapter would do, but instead it sends information about which Adapter should be connected at all times. The Explorer MUST listen to this stream of "JoinComms(connectionString)" to create and connect the adapters.

Therefore, we can infer that during a CommunicationsDirector session, one or multiple adapters can be configured, allowing only one at once. The down-to-earth example of this is the Islands behavior, in which walking from one physical location to another connects us first with a group of people (island1) in the first location and then to a different group (island2) in the second location.

    participant BFF
    participant Explorer
    participant S1 as Comms ABC
    participant S2 as Comms XYZ
    opt Connect the BFF
      Explorer->>BFF: Connect
    BFF-->>Explorer: JoinComms(ws://ABC)
    opt Connection with ABC
      Explorer->>Explorer: SetCommunicationsAdapter(ws://ABC)
      S1-->Explorer: Messages both ways
    Explorer-->>BFF: ReportNewPosition()
    BFF-->>Explorer: JoinComms(livekit://XYZ)
    opt Connection with XYZ
      Explorer->>Explorer: SetCommunicationsAdapter(ws://ABC)
      S2-->Explorer: Messages both ways

Implementation suggestions using sagas

function* program() {
  yield fork(communicationsDirectorMainLoop)
  yield fork(communicationsAdapterMainLoop)

function* communicationsDirectorMainLoop() {
  let director: CommunicationsDirector

  while (true) {
    const newCatalystEvent = yield take(SET_NEW_CATALYST_URL)

    // disconnect previous adapter
    yield director?.disconnect()

    director = new CommunicationsDirector(newCatalystEvent.directorService)
    positionsObservable.on("position", (pos) => director.notifyPosition(pos))
    director.on("setCommunicationsAdapter", (url) => {
      yield put(SET_COMMS_ADAPTER(url))

function* communicationsAdapterMainLoop() {
  let communicationsAdapter: MinimumCommunicationsAdapter

  while (true) {
    const newAdapterEvent = yield take(SET_COMMS_ADAPTER)

    // disconnect previous adapter
    yield communicationsAdapter?.disconnect()

    communicationsAdapter = createCommunicationsAdapter(newAdapterEvent.url)



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