Understanding Require in NodeJs

require in NodeJs is very different from the client-side library RequireJs. The latter will not be covered in this post.

require is an implementation in NodeJs to support moduling following CommonJs specfication.

require works like include (in C++) or import (in Java) things. The basic functionanlity of require is that it reads a javascript file, executes the file and proceeds to return the exports object.

An example of a required file:

console.log('evaluating example.js');
exports.message = 'hello world';

If you run var example=require('./example.js'), we will see evaluating example.js on the console, and example be an object equal to:

    message: "hello world"

However, you shold not change the reference of exports. An error example:

console.log('Hello Error world');
// exports will NOT be returned.
exports = function Error(){};

Your code can be view in this way:

var module = { exports: {} };
var exports = module.exports;
// Your code
return module.exports;

module is a plain Javascript object. If you change exports by exprots = another_object or exports = a_function, you will lose it (module.exports will not be changed after the reference of exports is changed.)

Some other points you should know about require:

  • required exports is cached.
  • you can omit .js and require will automatically append it if needed.
  • If the file doesn’t start with “./” or “/”, then it is consided as either a core module or located in local node_modules folder.
  • If the file stars with “./”, it is considered a relative file to the file that called require.
  • If the file starts with “/”, it is consided an absolute path.
  • If the file-name is actually a directory, it will first look for package.json and load the file referenced in the main property; otherwise, it will look for an index.js.


  1. http://docs.nodejitsu.com/articles/getting-started/what-is-require
  2. http://stackoverflow.com/questions/16383795/difference-between-module-exports-and-exports-in-the-commonjs-module-system/16383925?noredirect=1#16383925

Comparing Function Value Reference in Scala and JavaScript

The functional programming flavor in Scala is very simimliar to that of JavaScript. Let’s compare the following code:

// Javascript code, can be found here: http://codepen.io/MrCoder/pen/bcKLF
function filter_odd(i){
  return i % 2 === 0 ? 0 : i;

function filter_even(i){
  return i % 2 === 0 ? i : 0;

function total(max, filter){
  var result = 0;
  for (var i = 0; i < max; i++){
    result += filter(i);
  return result;

console.log(total(100, filter_odd));
console.log(total(100, filter_even));

Then let’s have a look at Scala implemenation:

def filter_odd(i: Int) = {if (i%2 == 0) 0 else i}
def filter_even(i: Int) = {if (i%2 == 0) i else 0}

def total(max: Int, filter: Int => Int) = {
    var result = 0
    for(i <- 1 to max){
      result += filter(i)

println(total(100, filter_odd))
println(total(100, filter_even))

What makes it even more interesting is that both of them have a second style for the filter_xxx

// JavaScript. Can be found here: http://codepen.io/MrCoder/pen/zjGiu
var filter_odd = function(i){
  return i % 2 === 0 ? 0 : i;

var filter_even = function(i){
  return i % 2 === 0 ? i : 0;

And Scala version:

val filter_even = {(i: Int) => if (i%2 == 0) i else 0}
var filter_odd = {(i: Int) => if (i%2 == 0) 0 else i}

What is NoSQL and Why

I have not touched NoSQL since finished the spike for myTaxes. Since we are going to use MongoDB or Redis in the Nanki project. Let’s revisit it here.

The CAP theorem

The CAP theorem states that among Consistency, Availability and Partition tolerance, you can only pick two.

In Chinese, below: 这三项分别是一致性、可访问性和分区容忍。而在DB设计中我们最多只能保证其中的两项。比如我们要去GoDaddy上注册域名。因为每个域名只能有一个人购买, 我们必须保证在Checkou的一刻,所有人得到的状态是一致的(并且Checkout这个动作是原子的),这就是Consistency。他们当然也需要所有的客户总是 可以访问他们的网站(并间接访问到他们的数据库),这就是Availability。另外,由于GoDaddy业务的迅速扩张,他们可能还希望可以快速 简单的横向扩展数据库,这就是Partition tolerance。 可惜的是,理论上这三条最多只能同时满足两条。作为一种不严谨的解释,我们可以这样分析一下其中的原因:

  1. 当满足P的时候,必不可能同时满足CA。因为数据处于不同的服务器上面,我们为了让所有的用户看到一致的数据(C),必然需要时间去做同步。这样就不能 保证对用户总是可访问(A)。相反如果我们要保证所有的用户总是可访问,那么在数据完成同步之前,必然有一些用户看到的数据跟另一些用户看到的不同。
  2. 当满足C的时候,必不可能同时满足AP。因为既然要求所用用户看到的数据都是一致的,要么只有一份数据(不满足P),要么给足够的时间去做同步(不满足A)。
  3. 同样道理,当满足A的时候,也不可能同时满足CP。

As NoSQL focuses on solving horizontal scalebility problem, P is a must-have feature. So there are two different flavors of NoSQL:

  1. CP NoSQL. BigTable, MongoDB, Redis, etc. Some data may not be accessible, but the rest is still consitent/accurate.一份数据 通常只有一个备份。
  2. AP NoSQL. Dynamo, Cassandra, CouchDB, etc. System are still available under partitioning, but some of the data returned may be inaccurate. ‘Eventual Consistency’ can be achieved through replication and verification.

* Relation DB statisefy CA requirement. So they are single site cluster. When partition occurs, system blocks.

CAP Theorem and NoSQL Databases From: http://blog.nahurst.com/visual-guide-to-nosql-systems

上图中的举例指的都是默认配置,有些DB在不同的配置中可以实现不同的偏好。比如,Terrastore在默认情况,如果Server连不上DB并不会尝试连接到master(s)。 但是它也可以server-to-mater reconnection参数,指定在给定的时间窗内尝试重连master。这时候Terrastor就是CA模式,因为Availability被保证了。


  1. 对于CA(传统RDB)来说,一般采用replication的方式来实现partition,即多台机器持有部分重复的数据。
  2. 对于CP来说,一般
  3. 对于AP来说,一般通过replication+verification的方式来保证最终一致性(Eventual Consistency)。

NoSQL database can also be grouped with how the data is stored: Document Oriented, XML, Graph, Key-Value.

Build Nanki Part I

First, let’s design the User’s Journey in the Nanki App. As an impatient developer, why not copy some beautiful thing from others. The user experience of Mailbox is superb. Let’s see if we can achieve it with html, css and javascript.

We are going to build it with angularjs, so in the mailBox.html file, we declare it at the html tag as <html ng-app="mail">1.

  1. ng-app can be put anywhere, e.g. <body ng-app="mail">, as long as all the related directives are its decedeants.

Since we are going to use it on a mobile phone, add the following line to <head> section.

<meta name="viewport" content="initial-scale = 1.0,maximum-scale = 1.0"/>

Add controller to body tag: <body ng-controller="MailController">

Html Layout

The body will be divided into 4 parts:

<div class="wrapper">
    <header class="clearfix"> ...
    <section class="search-bar"> ...
    <section class="container"> ...
    <footer class="clearfix"> ...

We will go through them one by one.

<header class="clearfix">
    <i class="menu icon-reorder"></i>
    <ul class="button-group">
        <li class="later icon-time"></li>
        <li class="inbox icon-inbox"></li>
        <li class="archive icon-ok"></li>
    <i class="edit icon-edit"></i>


clearfix is used to fix the floating ‘issue’. We use float to move the ‘menu’ icon to the left and ‘edit’ icon to the right. The same tech is used for the footer.

[http://stackoverflow.com/questions/8554043/what-is-clearfix] .float is meant to do stuff like float images next to long runs of text, but lots of people used it as their primary layout mechanism.

clearfix will add an element after and set clear: both for that element.

The content of clearfix as (scss or css) is:

.clearfix {
  *zoom: 1;
    display: table;
    line-height: 0;
    content: "";
    clear: both;


.clearfix {
  *zoom: 1;
.clearfix:before, .clearfix:after {
  display: table;
  line-height: 0;
  content: "";
.clearfix:after {
  clear: both;


We use FontAwsome in this project. The class name icon-xxx can be put inside any tag.

Make sure the following line is added to the html file:

<link charset='utf-8' href='css/font-awesome.css' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css'/>
  • buttons inside the group

        li {
          font-size: 16px;
          display: inline-block;
          padding: 5px 20px;
  • Add left border for each icon and remove the left border for the first icon late.

          border-left: $header-icon-border;
          border-left: none;

Alt text

Articles read in May 2013

  1. What is require. It talks about require in NodeJs, but my copied version might also be useful: http://xiaopeng.me/2013/05/05/understanding-require-in-nodejs .

  2. Installing node js npm redis on mac osx. It talks about how to install redis on mac os.

  3. CompoundJs Docs. A guid for creating a simple blog with compoundjs (which is based on express). It is not so good as it looks like. If you find it confusing, please find my version: xxx(todo).