Canopy Application Framework

Canopy is a JavaScript framework for building the client-side web portion of a full-stack Splinter application. A Canopy application is a React app that can dynamically load saplings — user interface (UI) plugins — to provide a custom UI for Splinter. The application can choose which saplings to load based on enterprise requirements, user permissions, smart contracts, Splinter configuration, or other information.

The Canopy framework consists of two JavaScript libraries:

  • CanopyJS is a library for the web part of a Splinter application. It provides functionality for loading saplings into a Canopy application, exposes shared configuration to saplings and the Canopy application, and implements some of the functions defined in SaplingJS. CanopyJS is available on GitHub at Cargill/splinter-canopyjs.

  • SaplingJS is a library for the UI plugins (also called UI apps) that run in a Canopy application. This library provides common functionality for tasks such as user registration and login, user storage, transaction submission, and Canopy configuration. SaplingJS is available on GitHub at Cargill/splinter-saplingjs.

Canopy Features

A Canopy application is essentially a navigation and view manager for the content that is rendered by one or more saplings. Canopy’s features include:

  • Sapling installation and activation: The Canopy application handles installing and activating saplings by using a manifest (in JSON format) that lists the available saplings.

  • Access control: Canopy manages user access to the available saplings. For example, an administrator could access a circuit management sapling that general users cannot use.

  • Registration: Canopy provides specialized hooks for saplings to register for messages from the Canopy application and other saplings.

  • User-controlled sapling selection: For saplings that provide content, Canopy provides a way to select between active saplings.

  • Customizable UI themes: Canopy allows an application to change the branding and theme for an enterprise or organization.

Saplings

A sapling is a UI plugin that provides a single function, or related set of functions for interacting with Splinter components and services (including transaction processing and smart contracts, if available). Saplings can also provide access to other back-end functionality, such as user authorization for an enterprise.

  • Saplings can render content to the main view of a Canopy application. They can also run in the background, gather information, and perform functions (or a combination of these actions). For example, a login sapling could check if the user is logged in, then either display a login screen or show the user’s home view.

  • A sapling can communicate with multiple back-end systems, using any API that is accessible from the browser. For example, saplings can interact with Splinter circuits, services, and smart contracts by fetching data from the Splinter REST APIs, then managing or storing the data as necessary, while handling any Splinter notifications.

  • Saplings can be public or private. Organizations can choose to share open-source saplings, keep them private, or provide saplings for a fee. A commercial product based on a Canopy application could include open-source saplings along with their proprietary saplings.

Saplings have no requirements for a specific UI rendering framework, so they can be written using any framework.

Example Canopy Application

Hyperledger Grid provides an example Canopy application called Grid UI, which includes Grid saplings that can communicate with the Grid daemon’s REST API. The Grid UI application imports CanopyJS to provide an interface for Grid saplings to share functionality such as user, key, and session management. Also, Grid UI demonstrates Canopy theming by featuring the default Grid branding and theme.

See the Grid UI README to learn how to run, test, and build this Canopy application.

Disclaimer

This topic describes Canopy design goals and intended functionality. Some Canopy features are not yet available, such as customizing saplings for individual users or a specific Splinter configuration.