An Overview Client Sessions and Transactions

The User Agent interacts with ATS by creating a session with the ATS server and submitting sequences of requests over the session. ATS supports several session protocols including HTTP/1.x and HTTP/2. A HTTP State Machine is created for each request to process the request.

ATS uses the generic classes ProxyClientSession and ProxyClientTransaction to hide the details of the underlaying protocols from the HTTP State Machine.



ProxyClientSession hierarchy

The ProxyClientSession class abstracts the key features of a client session. It contains zero or more ProxyClientTransaction objects. It also has a reference to the associated NetVC (either UnixNetVConnection or SSLNetVConnection). The session class is responsible for interfacing with the user agent protocol.

At this point there are two concrete subclasses: Http1ClientSession and Http2ClientSession. The Http1ClientSession only has at most one transaction active at a time. The HTTP/2 protocol allows for multiple simultaneous active transactions


ProxyClientTransaction hierarchy

The ProxyClientTransaction class abstracts the key features of a client transaction. It has a reference to its paraent ProxyClientSession. One HttpSM is created for each ProxyClientTransaction.

There are two concrete subclasses: Http1ClientTransaction and Http2Stream.

Session Object Relationships

HTTP/1.x Objects

HTTP1 session objects

This diagram shows the relationships between objects created as part of a HTTP/1.x session. A NetVC object performs the basic network level protocols. The Http1ClientSession object has a reference to the associated NetVC object. The NetVC object is available via the ProxyClientSession::get_netvc() method.

The Http1ClientSession object contains a Http1ClientTransaction objet. For each HTTP request, it calls the ProxyClientSession::new_transaction() method to instantiate the Http1ClientTransaction object. With the HTTP/1.x protocol at most one transaction can be active at a time.

When the Http1ClientTransaction object is instantiated via ProxyClientTransaction::new_transaction() it allocates a new HttpSM object, initializes it, and calls HttpSM::attach_client_session() to associate the Http1ClientTransaction object with the new HttpSM.

The ProxyClientTransaction object refers to the HttpSM via the current_reader member variable. The HttpSM object refers to ProxyClientTransaction via the ua_session member variable (session in the member name is historical because the HttpSM used to refer directly to the ClientSession object).

HTTP/2 Objects

HTTP/2 session objects

This diagram shows the relationships between objects created as part of a HTTP/2 session. It is very similar to the HTTP/1.x case. The Http2ClientSession object interacts with the NetVC. The Http2Stream object creates a HttpSM object object when ProxyClient::new_transaction() is called.

One difference is that the Http/2 protocol allows for multiple simultaneous transactions, so the Http2ClientSession object must be able to manage multiple streams. From the HttpSM perspective it is interacting with a ProxyClientTransaction object, and there is no difference between working with a Http2Stream and a Http1ClientTransaction.

Transaction and Session Shutdown

One of the trickiest bits of managing sessions and transactions is cleaning things up accurately and in a timely fashion. In addition, the TXN_CLOSE hooks and SSN_CLOSE hooks must be executed accurately. The TXN_CLOSE hooks must be executely exactly once. The SSN_CLOSE hook must also be executed exactly once and only after all the TXN_CLOSE hooks of all the child transactions have been executed. The CLOSE hooks are important for many plugins to ensure that plugin allocated objects are appropriately reclaimed.

If objects are not cleaned up, memory leaks will occurs. If objects are reclaimed too soon, delayed events may cause use-after-free and other related memory corruption errors.

To ensure that sessions and transactions are correctly shutdown the following assertions are maintained.

  • The Session object will not call ::destroy() on itself until all child transaction objects are fully shutdown (i.e. TXN_CLOSE hooks are called and the transaction objects have been freed).
  • The Transaction object will not call ::destroy() on itself until the associated HttpSM has been shutdown. In HttpSM::kill_this(), the HttpSM will call ProxyClientTransaction::transaction_done() on the ua_session object. If the user agent initiates the termination, the ProxyClientTransaction object will send a WRITE_COMPLETE, EOS, or ERROR event on the open VIO object. This should signal to the HttpSM object to shut itself down.