Consolidate Onionoo's API
The following ideas have been on my mind for quite some time. Therefore low priority.
How about we simplify Onionoo's API? Two ideas:
Consolidate document types
We have 6 different document types right now:
- Summary documents with just a handful fields to support searches and to enable subsequent requests for other documents. I hear they're not used by Relay Search (anymore).
- Details documents with 80% of relevant content we serve.
- Bandwidth, weights, clients, and uptime documents all containing history objects.
The idea is to consolidate these 6 document types into one. Basically, this would be the details document plus all history objects.
Of course, this would increase the size of responses a lot, and possibly include data that the clients are not interested in. And we can't expect clients to list a dozen or two dozen fields they're interested in by using the
How about we add the history objects as optional fields and extend the
fields parameter to allow adding optional fields. Example:
fields=fingerprintreturns just the fingerprint field. This is what we do right now, though only with details documents.
fields=+write_history,+read_historyreturns all fields that are currently in details documents plus the two history objects that are currently in bandwidth documents.
fields=-effective_familyreturns fields in details documents except for the effective family. We don't need this syntax for this specific feature, but it might make sense to add it while we're at it.
Benefits are a somewhat cleaner API and a reduced number of requests. I think that requests would still be easy to cache, because clients like Relay Search would always ask for the same combination of fields.
We have 19 different parameters right now, and I won't list them all here. But our main client, Relay Search, only uses one of them:
search. This is possible, because we provide most parameters as qualified search terms.
The current situation of supporting a parameter both as HTTP parameter and as qualified search term has led to confusion in the past. Sometimes they're not exactly the same. In most cases supporting both requires more development effort.
We could provide just the
search parameter and make sure that all other parameters are supported as qualified search terms. Maybe we don't even have to use a parameter in the HTTP sense but use the entire resource string as (qualified) search terms.
Relay Search currently sends this query for the top 10 relays by consensus weight (line breaks added for readability):
https://onionoo.torproject.org/details ?type=relay &order=-consensus_weight &limit=250 &running=true
This query would then look as follows:
https://onionoo.torproject.org /type:relay %20order:-consensus_weight %20limit:250 %20running:true
Subsequent queries for details pages look like this:
https://onionoo.torproject.org/details ?lookup=D4125249A474408F0FBA4DB15AC207E31E4CF6B3 https://onionoo.torproject.org/bandwidth ?lookup=D4125249A474408F0FBA4DB15AC207E31E4CF6B3 https://onionoo.torproject.org/weights ?lookup=D4125249A474408F0FBA4DB15AC207E31E4CF6B3
With the suggested changes, these queries would be turned into a single query:
https://onionoo.torproject.org /lookup:D4125249A474408F0FBA4DB15AC207E31E4CF6B3%20 %20fields: +write_history, +read_history, +consensus_weight_fraction, +guard_probability, +middle_probability, +exit_probability
I haven't looked at the code yet, but I believe we can make this change by editing just the web server parts of Onionoo. We can even keep the different document types on disk, as written by the updater. We just need to tell the server to grab different documents and combine them into the response.
This doesn't mean it's trivial to implement. Still, I could imagine that it pays off in the longer term, by making Onionoo's API a bit easier to maintain.
(Edit: Fixed a typo in one the examples.)