(a.k.a. Yet another RPC protocol?)

There are many Remote Procedure Call mechanisms out there. Some of them are very nice. Eider was developed because, as far as the author could tell, no single one of them meets all five of these criteria:

  • Object-oriented. Many RPC protocols only allow you to call a flat list of exposed functions. Eider lets you work with remote objects and their exposed methods.
  • Asynchronous. Many RPC protocols require that responses be returned in the same order as requests were sent. Eider allows responses to be returned in any order, using asynchronous fulfillment mechanisms such as Promises (in JavaScript) and Futures (in Python).
  • Late-binding. Many RPC protocols require invokable function signatures to be declared ahead of time in some special way. Eider has no such requirement; instead it follows the Python tradition of duck typing (if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck… it’s probably a duck). There is no interface description language; exposed objects and methods are coded using the natural syntax of their native language. Type mismatches are reported via exceptions at runtime. [1]
  • Web-first. Many RPC protocols use direct TCP or pipe connections and rely on custom binary formats or overly-verbose XML, all of which make them difficult-to-impossible to use from JavaScript running inside the browser. Eider uses web standards like WebSockets and JSON, so client-side web apps can be first-class participants in an Eider-based system.
  • Polyglot. Many RPC protocols are tied to a single programming language. Eider is language-agnostic.

Eider also has these nice features:

  • Lightweight. The Python and JavaScript implementations are just a few kilobytes each and have minimal external dependencies. Transmitted messages are nearly as compact as in JSON-RPC.
  • Natural syntax. Syntactic sugar is used to make calling remote methods and accessing remote properties as natural as possible. The Python implementation also provides blocking versions of client functions, so simple clients can avoid the complexity of Futures and callbacks.
  • Peer-to-peer. After the initial connection, there is no functional difference between client and server applications. Each peer can be both a provider and consumer of remote interfaces. Callbacks are even supported, where a locally-provided object or method is passed to a remote interface.
  • Built-in proxying. Any Eider peer can act as a bridge between any two of its peers, allowing them to call each other’s methods without connecting directly.
  • Cancellation. Eider consumers can request the graceful cancellation of long-running remote method calls without terminating the connection or losing session state.


[1]It is important not to confuse late binding with weak typing. Eider methods are precisely as strongly typed as the language used to implement them. To assist with coding discipline, Eider has built-in support for function annotation, interactive help, and runtime object inspection.