FreeElectron
Feature Summary

Abstract

Free Electron is a C++ framework facilitating reuse and integration for R&D projects such as simulation, AI, and visual effects.

Features

A core set of libraries provides functionality that will be used in nearly all systems. On top of this, there is a wide set of extensible and potentially replaceable modules.

Builds are done in Python following a simple template for each module.

Platform abstraction allows virtually identical use on Linux, OSX, and Win32.

Multithreading has been a design imperative from the beginning. A balance is made to provide the tools to write safe code but without forcing locks at too fine a level. Coarse common operations, such as component construction, are built as thread safe, but components themselves can choose to participate in mechanisms that make them thread safe. This avoids potentially hugely wasteful locking where access collisions aren't really possible. Multithreading is demonstrated and proven in several extensions.

A simple, yet powerful, component model hides implementations behind clean interfaces. Implementations can be extended with new implementations, even across dynamic libaries, providing full functional extensibility.

Smart pointers, smart handles, smart hubs, and copy-on-write pointers allow an entire application to be built up purely on references, all propped up by a single context instance. Elegant dependency destruction permits graceful resource deallocation without any explicit shutdown or release calls. Conversions between pointer and handle references, as well as RTTI supported casting, is completely automatic.

Dynamic plugins allow libraries to be compiled independently and provide new components without requiring recompilation of core systems or other components.

A highly efficient database stores primary application data as records in well organized backing stores instead of class instances. Shared properties are implemented with coincidental attribute names instead of multiple inheritance. This avoids picking up unwanted data or functionality from base cases classes in order to get desired properties. Handlers can efficiently cull out subsets from a pool of records in order to operate only on those with the relevant attributes.

Records are often propagated as signals. Signals are records sent to handlers and often contain groups of other records. The payload could be any type of information, such as a single window event or a huge cluster of particles. Signals can be networked to other processes or even other machines.

Serialization stores and retrieves data in human-readable neatly formatted ascii form or as tight binary buffers.

Instead of clinging to a strategy of avoiding other people's work and creating our own versions of everything, we cherry pick outside technologies and assimilate them as modules, usually with our own interfaces. When the technolgies we need are not readily available, we build our own.