Welcome!

PHP Authors: Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Hovhannes Avoyan, Lori MacVittie, Trevor Parsons

Related Topics: Ruby-On-Rails, Java IoT, Industrial IoT, Microservices Expo, Open Source Cloud, Machine Learning , PHP

Ruby-On-Rails: Article

Monitoring Background Jobs in Ruby’s Resque

How to get visibility into an important component of any complex system: the messaging queue

Here at AppNeta, we get to see a lot about how people build their web applications. From simple PHP scripts to heavily service-oriented Java clouds to monolithic Django apps, everybody’s product is architected a little differently. We’re still out to trace everything, and today I want to talk how to get visibility into an important component of any complex system: the messaging queue. Specifically, let’s look at how to trace a job from Rails using Resque.

Messaging Queues
If you haven’t used a messaging queue in your app, the idea is simple. Instead of forcing all the work to happen during the request, while the user is waiting, you can delay some of the more time-consuming tasks. You can do anything in these tasks, ranging from a simple insert to kicking off a series of user analytics that touch all parts of your infrastructure. The advantage is that you can return a speedy response to the user, or, if they are actually waiting on the task results, give them a better loading interface than a white screen and browser loading bar.

A Quick Resque Tutorial
In Ruby, Resque is a task runner, which by default stores the task descriptions in Redis (though other options are available). Resque jobs are just Ruby classes, with a single mandatory method perform. Resque will call perform with the arguments given in the task description. Let’s look at a minimal task, that takes a single argument and prints it. (Useless, I know.)

LogInfo

The @queue variable defines a name that a worker can bind to, in case you want to spread different types of jobs across different machines. To create a task that this worker could run, we just call it from our request:

HoorayTrace

And that’s our job! Maybe not the most interesting job, and probably not prone to performance issues, but we don’t know that yet. So let’s measure it!

Tracing a Resque Task
Now that we’ve added this to our system, we should have monitoring around it. The easiest way to do this would be to just measure the time each task takes, and log that information:

MeasureLog

Unfortunately, the data presentation here leaves a bit to be desired, so I’m going to use TraceView to log this information instead. This also has the benefit of logging any SQL queries, cache accesses, or service calls that we might do in a more complex task, as well as reporting errors. To start a trace fresh, we can wrap this call in the start_trace block:

That’s a start! We’ve now got some visibility into our Resque jobs, and we can rest easy knowing that this is running smoothly in production.

Tracing a Resque Job (with multiple tasks!)
For cron-style jobs, the approach of tracing each task individually works fine. For reference, let’s look at the events we’re generating with that code:

Tracing Resque

Pretty straightforward. Now let’s consider a more complicated set of tasks: a document-processing pipeline. That code might look like this:

ProcessPipeline

In this case, our first task takes a document, and the second one archives it. If we have multiple tasks, each one gets logged separately, and we can figure out same statistics for each — average, std. dev., percentiles, and the like. But what if you have a job that spans multiple tasks? We can further aggregate the stats, but we might be starting to miss things, like large inputs that cause the entire pipeline to slow down.

What we’d really like is to correlate the related tasks, so instead of timing the each task, we’re timing the entire job. Under the hood, TraceView generates a token for each request. If we pass this ID (generally stored in xtrace, after the X-Trace header it’s passed around in) to each task, we can correlate those timings before storing them, and retrieve them all together. To do this, we can modify each task to take this token, and trace using that ID. ProcessDoc then becomes:

ProcessDoc

Now we need to start the trace somewhere, but we’re not doing it in the job. We could start it in the first task, or we could link this one step further up the chain and tie it back to the web request that started it in the first place. In a default rails stack, that request generates the following events:

Tracing Resque

To add in the task queue call to the logged request, we can call the following function:

TaskQueue-LoggedRequest

We have to force a fork in the execution path to indicate that we’re running an asynchronous task, possibly in parallel, with the rest of the web request, which is done with the call to fromString. Aside from that, this is the same underlying call as is done by start_trace above — log that we’re entering a named block of code, and start timing it.

When we put it all together, we get a secondary execution path attached to the web request, and the logged events look like this:

Tracing Resque

Now we’ve got everything: the original request, all tasks, individual timing information, and a global view of how the process performed. Not that we now have an additional timing measurement here: the delay before starting the task at all. In this case, we waited a full 500ms between queuing the job actually executing it! Once we were in the pipeline, the tasks happened much faster (only 25ms between processing and archiving).

Caveats
Lest you think that everything was easy, there’s a couple things to keep in mind when you use this in your own application.

  • Because we’re starting the timing in the web request and ending it in a task queue, we’re relying on those two processes to have an identical clock. If they’re on the same machine, it won’t be a problem, but on different machines, any clock skew will effect the timing.
  • I’ve quietly assumed everything in this system is reliable, which is almost certainly wrong. Whatever your error handling is, make sure you always log the exit event for ‘job’, or you may never know that you have errors!

As long as I haven’t totally dissuaded you from trying this out, all the code is available in one place in this gist, and you can try in out in your application today with our free version of TraceView!

Related Articles

Ruby 2.0 Released: Let The Tracing Begin!

AppNeta Rubygems Verified

Relieve Event Binding Aches in Backbone.js

More Stories By TR Jordan

A veteran of MIT’s Lincoln Labs, TR is a reformed physicist and full-stack hacker – for some limited definition of full stack. After a few years as Software Development Lead with Thermopylae Science and Techology, he left to join Tracelytics as its first engineer. Following Tracelytics merger with AppNeta, TR was tapped to run all of its developer and market evangelism efforts. TR still harbors a not-so-secret love for Matlab-esque graphs and half-baked statistics, as well as elegant and highly-performant code. Read more of his articles at www.appneta.com/blog or visit www.appneta.com.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and G...
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICC-USA, a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of ...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Founded in 2000, Chetu Inc. is a global provider of customized software development solutions and IT staff augmentation services for software technology providers. By providing clients with unparalleled niche technology expertise and industry experience, Chetu has become the premiere long-term, back-end software development partner for start-ups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies. Chetu is headquartered in Plantation, Florida, with thirteen offices throughout the U.S. and abroad.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
CloudEXPO New York 2018, colocated with DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time t...