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Protocol Reference


Please begin by reading the architecture documentation, as it explains how all these components fit together.

To see how these messages actually sent over the network, see Wire Protocol. This document also specifies the differences between the specification and the current implementation.


An agent is code that can spawn entities, and communicates to a place on behalf of the entities it owns. Thus, all these are agents:

  • The place itself (referenced in requests with “place” magic entity id)
  • any visor (represented as the allonet connection to the place)
  • any app (also represented as its allonet connection)

Every connected agent has to spawn its “avatar” entity as part of its ANNOUNCE message, so that it has a representation in a place and can be communicated with (or terminated, in the case of apps).

When an agent disconnects from a place, all its entities are removed from the place.

Agent identity

An agent’s ANNOUNCE message contains its identity: display name, profile URL, and a certificate/public key that can be used to identify the same user/app across connections and places without a central identity authority server.

Identity is currently expressed as the following JSON blob:

    "display_name": "annie"


An entity is the manifestation of an agent in a place. The only fixed information in an entity is its id. Everything else is specified as a set of components.

JSON specification:

    "id": "1234",
    "components": {
        "transform": // every component has a string key
        {            // and an object value
            // the keys and values should be consistent with
            // with the specification for that key. See "Component"


A component describes an aspect of an entity, such as:

  • transform: its position, rotation and size
  • mesh: description of its physical geometry
  • etc…

Alloverse defines a set of official components. App developers are free to invent their own components, which is useful for app-to-app communication (though a standard Visor will not be able to interpret them).


The “intent” blob is used every heart-beat to indicate how the agent intends that its avatar (and other owned entities) should move and behave in real-time this frame. It only covers basic movement: more complex behavior is covered by “interactions”. It’s sent over the unreliable channel, so it should be repeated every frame as long as it’s relevant.

The blob is also used to send housekeeping information such as acknowledging receipt of state diffs.

See Intent.


An on-demand message either announcing information, or requesting something from one entity to another (sent by the requesting entity’s agent, and handled by the receiving entity’s agent).

Alloverse defines a set of official Interactions. App developers are free to invent their own interactions, which is useful for app-to-app communication (though a standard Visor will not be able to interpret them).

Types of communication

Entity intent

Agent to place per-frame message.

See Intent.

Entity to entity interaction (request/response/pubsub)

Sent from agent, to place, then forwarded to the designated agent, over the reliable channel on demand.

    "{source entity ID}",
    "{destination entity ID or emptystring if publication}",
    "{request ID or empty string if single-way}",
    // interaction body goes here

The agent sending the request must own the source entity.

Requests and responses

If the second field is set to “request” and a request ID is set, the recipient can respond to the interaction by setting “response” and filling in the same request ID, and the alloplace server will route the message correctly.

A response must be sent to the entity that sent the request. Sending a response to a an entity that didn’t request it may lead to force disconnection.

The client sets its own request IDs. These must be unique for each request this session for this agent. An UUID or monotonically increasing integer as string should do.

Publication and subscription

If the second field is “publication” and no destination entity is filled in, it’s a publication that anyone can subscribe to. This is useful for apps to broadcast information that is instantaneous rather than a property of an entity (in which case it would have been a property of a component of an entity).

Agents can subscribe to publications by providing a “match pattern” which is an Elixir guard expression. This lets agents set very fine grained subscriptions to exactly what interactions it wants to receive.

If nobody is subscribing to a matching pattern of the given publication, the message is filtered out by the alloplace server.

Behavior is undefined if you provide a request id in a publication. Future versions may allow publications to have responses.


The message is directed to a single entity/client, and you can’t respond to it. request_id should be empty.

Access control

Access control is defined on the interaction level. The alloplace server can be fed with Elixir guard expressions the same way that subscriptions work, and an “allow” or “deny” flag, which then becomes the “Access Control List” (ACL) for interactions in the place.

Since announce is an interaction, an interaction ACL can be used to allow/deny agents from joining a place. Likewise, since changing the ACL is also an interaction, you can use an ACL to control who may modify the ACL. In other words, anything except intents and place state updates can be filtered using interaction ACLs.

Interaction ACLs guard on the entire interaction message, and not just the payload body. So for example, the following rule would disallow users named “harry” from joining a room:

    "interaction", // match exactly on provided value for first field
    SourceEntity,  // bare words become variables
    _,             // underscore means unused variable = ignored value
      ["identity", Identity],
  ] where Identity["name"] == "harry" """

Note that the rule itself is an Elixir string, not a JSON expression.

If an interaction is sent by an agent but is disallowed by an ACL rule, the following message is sent in response:

  // original interaction goes here,
  // rule that caused denial goes here

Place to agent state update

Sent every heart-beat on the unreliable channel 0 to let agents know what the world looks like.

See State Diffs for full format and explanation, and Entity to understand the things the state contains.

Official components

Please see the list of official components. These are defined by alloplace, and define how an agent and entity interact with a place.

Official interactions

Please see the list of official interactions. These are defined by alloplace, and define how an agent and entity interact with a place.

HTTP Endpoints

Alloapp Gateway

HTTP service that takes a connection request, repackages as env vars, and boots the requested process. Node express.


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