Architecture overview

Pillar is designed around a flat data storage, using a layered access approach. The stack, in terms of services, looks like this:

  • mongo datastore: all data (not files) is stored here
  • pillar/api: provides REST API to access data
  • pillar/web: web interface for pillar (uses the pillar-python-sdk)

The Pillar application is divided into two main components: api and web. The API componend provides a JSON-based RESTful interface to interact with the database and the file storage backends. The web component. Pillar is based on the python-eve library, with is used as foundation for most of the /api functionality.

Despite having them both in the same application, we chosoe to keep the REST API service very separate from the web interface in order to limit the scope of both applications' for security and overall functionality.

Pillar API

Pillar API is a Python web application based on the python-eve library, which brings in most of the functionality to easily create a RESTful API. We extend this functionality by providing our own permission system, as well as a flexible data model that uses the Cerberus library as validation tool.

Pillar server is the only component that communicates with the Mongo data store, as well as with the file storage.

Pillar web

Pillar web is a Flask application that provides web access to the Pillar server. It does not have data or file storage as it is meant to be only a View component for Pillar. Pillar web is based on the original work done for Blender Cloud v1.

Role and action-based view

Instead of working on a separate user/admin interface, we push for a context based approach when rendering a page. This allows us to have less views, that look slightly different depending on the user roles (subscriber, admin) and the action performed (view, edit, create, etc.).

Pillar Python SDK

The Python SDK, inspired by the PayPal REST SKD, is meant to be a library capable of providing a standard way to communicate with the Pillar server. This library should be used as a dependency to any tool that wants to connect to the server to read and write data.

Currently the Python SDK is used in Pillar Web and in the Blender Cloud add-on.

Extensions

Pillar is meant to be the foundation upon which more applications can be developed. In this example we demonstrate how Attract (task and project management application) and Flamenco (render management application) can take advantage of Pillar and can be tied together in a single application.

Modules

Each component of the diagram is a Python package (except for blender-cloud). This allows us to not repeat ourselves when implementing Attract and Flamenco.

Progressive configuration

Since we use a modular approach, we can import and configure every component individually before running the web application.