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A quick summary#

Image Processing Pipeline is split into several reusable modules, each providing a different layer of abstraction. At the top, there is a user-friendly interface that automates the process. Once you reach the broker, you have a reusable job server that could be built into a backend for multi-threaded image processing.

One of the challenges of IPP was overcoming Node.js thread pool size limit, which must be set before starting the Node.js runtime. Libraries such as sharp rely on the thread pool to carry out their operations in a non-blocking manner. To overcome this, with minimal overhead for the end user, a second process needs to be spawned with libuv's UV_THREADPOOL_SIZE set to the concurrency option.

The parts#

Image Processing Pipeline is built around some modern parts of the Node.js environment, such as the async/await syntax. Most functions are asynchronous, and return promises that resolve or reject.


Once all tasks have been completed and the broker has been shutdown, all blocking event handlers are cleanly unregistered. The main Node.js process may exit gracefully by exhausting the event-loop of any useful work, and therefore process.exit is unnecessary.

##Command Line Interface

The CLI is responsible for searching and validating program configuration, passing the list of images to the broker for processing, and reporting back to the user with a progress report. It is also responsible for generating additional reports, such as the manifest file.

This is a high level program interface, and may be replaced with a different variant, such as we web interface.


The processing core is a simple asynchronous function that will create a metadata object, and recursively pass the image buffer and metadata through a given processing pipeline. It will then resolve a Promise with the resulting formats and associated metadata.


Like the core, pipes are also asynchronous functions that receive a single image buffer and metadata object, and return a promise resolving into a one or multiple image buffers and associated metadata objects.

A pipe may modify the image in any way, receiving and returning a binary buffer, whilst also being able to modify the returned metadata object in any way.

The metadata object is immutable, and should not be modified. Only a copy with modified values is to be returned. The function should also be kept as pure as possible.

Common elements#

Some elements are common to multiple IPP modules. They are usually a part of the shared @ipp/common package.


The metadata object is generated at the core, and returned all the way up to the CLI, where it is used to create the manifest file, for example. It is a simple indexed object that maps strings to any values.


A common Exception class is extended by most parts of the program, as a better extension to the JavaScript Error class. Different modules can extend the Exception to create their own unique detectable error boundaries.

Error handling#

Pipes may throw errors (or reject with an error) at any point. This error bubbles up to the chain until it can be dealt with by a capable consumer, such as the CLI. If an error occurs in a pipe, it will fail the entire image job.

The CLI, for example, will serialise and write any pipeline errors into a errors.json file in the root of the output folder.

Deprecated parts#


The broker was the initial solution to overcome the issue of the limited threadpool size in the main Node.js process. The broker was responsible for spawning a new child process and handling messaging between the processes over an Inter-Process Communication channel, distributing jobs via a queue. The down side of this is an additional time overhead when creating or destroying the broker.

It was replaced in favour of an initialisation script that attempts to elevate the current process' threadpool as effeciently as possible based on the OS. This feature was implemented in CLI version 1.1.0.

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Last updated on by Marcus Cemes