Posts Tagged railssummit

RailsSummit – an amazing adventure

I have had the opportunity to go to and speak at many conferences but this year was the first time I had the chance to go to RailsSummit in São Paulo, Brazil.

I was really looking forward to this trip and I have to say it went beyond my expectations. I had really good feedback from people like the Phusion guys (Ninh & Hongli), Gregg Pollack and others.

For those who don’t know, RailsSummit is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, Ruby event in Latin America. It’s organized yearly by Locaweb, the #1 hosting company in Brazil (props to Akita & Cristiane for their work).

As part of my involvement in the Ruby community I have met a lot of Brazilians always willing to help and especially giving time to translate content. (A good example would be the Portuguese version of the Rails wiki or José Valim GSOC contribution) However, I did not realize how fast Rails was growing over here.

To come back to the conference, I have to say it was one of the best conference I have gone to. Chad Fowler, who gave the opening keynote, later told me that it reminded him of the first Ruby conferences in the US . For me, what made a huge difference was the fact that it was a very positive conference. People were happy to be here, eager to share and you could feel the passion. Unfortunately, I missed the first few Ruby conferences, but I can totally imagine how must have been. Passionate people, not trying to push their products but instead, share the cool stuff they’ve been working on. This is exactly the feeling I had during this conference.

Maybe it’s because I don’t understand Portuguese well enough or maybe it’s just a cultural thing, but the people at the conference were just super friendly and always willing to help. I was really glad to meet those who have been using some of my work, some new people to Ruby and people who don’t do Ruby but were just interested in knowing what was going on in the Ruby world.

The schedule was pretty packed and the discussions very interesting, you could certainly feel the excitement in the air. Ruby seems to catching up quickly over there. Brazilian Rubyists seem to be very pragmatic and a good illustration of that was certainly made by Vinicus Teles, Brazil Agile XPert, who shared tips on how to release a successful product.

I stayed a few days after the conference and went to visit the Rubyists in Rio. Rio is a great city. It has some of the best soccer players in the world and some seriously talented software developers. Ruby & Rails are not just the new trendy startup secret to success, companies like, currently the largest TV network in Latin America and the fourth largest in the world, also started using Ruby and Rails. I had the opportunity to visit their office and meet their teams. It’s very exciting to see how they use Agile/XP and Ruby and how they seem to be so successful. But I will keep that for another post.

Overall, even though the actual traveling to/from Brazil was a bit long, RailsSummit was a blast. I really hope to be able to come back next year, and by then, hopefully my Portuguese will have improved.

, , ,


Ruby, Rack and CouchDB = lots of awesomeness

Over the weekend, I spent some time working on a Ruby + Rack +CouchDB project. Three technologies that I know quite well but that I never put to work together at the same time, at least not directly.  Let’s call this Part I.

Before we get started, let me introduce each component:

  • Ruby : if you are reading this blog, you more than likely know at least a little bit about, what I consider, one of the most enjoyable programming language out there. It’s also a very flexible language that lets us do some interesting things. I could have chosen Python to do the same project but that’s a whole different topic. For this project we will do something Ruby excels at: reopening existing classes and injecting more code.
  • Rack: a webserver interface written in Ruby and inspired by Python’s WSGI. Basically, it’s a defined API to interact between webservers and web frameworks. It’s used by most common Ruby web frameworks, from Sinatra to Rails (btw, Rails3 is going to be even more Rack-focused than it already is). So, very simply put, the webserver receives a request, passes it to Rack, that converts it, passes it to your web framework and the web framework sends a response in the expected format (more on Rack later).
  • CouchDB: Apache’s document-oriented database. RESTful API, schema-less, written in Erlang with built-in support for map/reduce. For this project, I’m using CouchRest, a Ruby wrapper for Couch.

Goal: Log Couch requests and analyze data

Let’s say we have a Rails, Sinatra or Merb application and we are using CouchRest (maybe we are using CouchRest and ActiveRecord, but let’s ignore that for now).

Everything works fine but we would like to profile our app a little and maybe optimize the DB usage. The default framework loggers don’t support Couch. The easy way would be to tail the Couch logs or look at the logs in CouchDBX. Now, while that works, we can’t really see what DB calls are made per action, so it makes any optimization work a bit tedious. (Note that Rails3 will have some better conventions for logging, making things even easier)

So, let’s see how to fix that. Let’s start by looking at Rack.

Rack Middleware

Instead of hacking a web framework specific solution, let’s use Rack. Rack is dead simple, you just need to write a class that has a call method.
In our case, we don’t care about modifying the response, we just want to instrument our app. We just want our middleware to be transparent and let our webserver deal with it normally.

Here we go … that wasn’t hard, was it? We keep the application reference in the @app variable when a new instance of the middleware is created. Then when the middleware is called, we just call the rest of the chain and pretend nothing happened.

As you can see, we just added some logging info around the request. Let’s do one better and save the logs in CouchDB:

Again, nothing complicated. In our rackup file we defined which Couch database to use and we passed it to our middleware (we change our initialize method signature to take the DB).
Finally, instead of printing out the logs, we are saving them to the database.

W00t! At this point all our requests have been saved in the DB with all the data there, ready to be manipulated by some map/reduce views we will write. For the record, you might want to use the bulk_save approach in CouchDB which will wait for X amount of records to save them in the DB all at once. Couch also let’s you send new documents, but only save it to the DB every X documents or X seconds.

As you can see, our document contains the timestamps and the full environment as a hash.

All of that is nice, but even though we get a lot of information, we could not actually see any of the DB calls made in each request. Let’s fix that and inject our logger in CouchRest (you could apply the same approach to any adapter).

Let’s reopen the HTTP Abstraction layer class used by CouchRest and inject some instrumentation:

Again, nothing fancy, we are just opening the module, reopening the methods and wrapping our code around the super call (for those who don’t know, super calls the original method).

This is all for Part I. In Part II, we’ll see how to process the logs and make all that data useful.

By the way, if you make it to RailsSummit, I will be giving a talk on Rails3 and the new exciting stuff you will be able to do including Rack based stuff, CouchDB, MongoDB, new DataMapper etc..

, , , , ,