What is the Reactive Manifesto?

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The Reactive Manifesto is a document that defines the core principles of reactive programming. It was first released in 2013 by a group of developers led by a man called Jonas Boner (you can find him on Twitter: @jboner). Jonas wrote this in a blog post explaining the reasons behind the manifesto:

“Application requirements have changed dramatically in recent years. Both from a runtime environment perspective, with multicore and cloud computing architectures nowadays being the norm, as well as from a user requirements perspective, with tighter SLAs in terms of lower latency, higher throughput, availability and close to linear scalability. This all demands writing applications in a fundamentally different way than what most programmers are used to.”

A number of high-profile programmers signed the reactive manifesto. Some of the names behind it include Erik Meijer, Martin Odersky, Greg Young, Martin Thompson, and Roland Kuhn. A second, updated version of the Reactive Manifesto was released in 2014 – to date more than 22,000 people have signed it.

The Reactive Manifesto underpins the principles of reactive programming

You can think of it as the map to the treasure of reactive programming, or like the bible for the programmers of the reactive programming religion. Everyone starting with reactive programming should have a read of the manifesto to understand what reactive programming is all about and what its principles are.

The 4 principles of the Reactive Manifesto

Reactive systems must be responsive

The system should respond in a timely manner. Responsive systems focus on providing rapid and consistent response times, so they deliver a consistent quality of service.


Reactive systems must be resilient

In case the system faces any failure, it should stay responsive. Resilience is achieved by replication, containment, isolation, and delegation. Failures are contained within each component, isolating components from each other, so when failure has occurred in a component, it will not affect the other components or the system as a whole.

Reactive systems must be elastic

Reactive systems can react to changes and stay responsive under varying workload. They achieve elasticity in a cost effective way on commodity hardware and software platforms.

Reactive systems must be message driven

Message driven: In order to establish the resilient principle, reactive systems need to establish a boundary between components by relying on asynchronous message passing.

Those are the core principles behind reactive programming put forward by the manifesto. But there’s something else that supports the thinking behind reactive programming. That’s the standard specification on reactive streams.

Reactive Streams standard specifications

Everything in the reactive world is accomplished with the help of Reactive Streams. In 2013, Netflix, Pivotal, and Lightbend (previously known as Typesafe) felt a need for a standards specification for Reactive Streams as the reactive programming was beginning to spread and more frameworks for reactive programming were starting to emerge, so they started the initiative that resulted in Reactive Streams standard specification, which is now getting implemented across various frameworks and platforms.

You can take a look at the Reactive Streams standard specification here.

This post has been adapted from Reactive Programming in Kotlin. Find it on the Packt store here.

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