51Degrees Pipeline Documentation  4.1

Introduction

Evidence is the term for input data used in the Pipeline. Evidence can be anything but is most commonly details relating to a web request such as HTTP headers, source IP address or query string parameters.

The evidence values are used by aspect engines to determine the details of the apsect they are concerned with.

Data Structure

The precise details of the data structure behind evidence will vary depending on the language. However, all languages use a similar approach of exposing the stored evidence values as a collection of string key/value pairs.

By convention, the key is all lower-case and uses a '.' character to separate the values into categories based on the source of that data. For example, all keys starting with 'header.' will have come from an HTTP header.

The second part of the key indicates the specific name within the category. For example 'header.user-agent' refers to the 'User-Agent' HTTP header.

Categories used by 51Degrees are:

  • header - For values from HTTP headers
  • cookie - For values from cookies
  • query - For values from the query string
  • server - For values from the request metadata

Life Cycle

Evidence is fully managed by the flow data that contains it.

Thread Safety

Evidence is not thread-safe and should never be written to by flow elements.

Client Side Evidence

Evidence will usually be drawn from one of 4 places:

  • HTTP headers
  • Cookies
  • Query parameters
  • Request metadata such as source IP address

Any device making a request to a web site will include some of this information. For example, the User-Agent HTTP header is almost always populated as part of a request. In some cases though, additional evidence providing more detail can be obtained from code running directly on the client device. In some cases, this may even be required. For example, this technique can be used to retrieve the latitude and longitude from devices that have this capability. Typically, this evidence will be sent back to the server as a cookie in the next request.

For more details, see the client side evidence page.

This use of client-side code requires additional JavaScript to be sent to the client device. The Pipeline web integration is designed to handle this seamlessly for a variety of languages and web frameworks.