Sunday, April 28, 2013

Flay, a gem to help improve the maintainability of your code

Recently I read a post where the author listed the must have gems for rails development. Being an avid watcher of Railscasts I knew many of them however one, flay, caught my attention. It comes out of the Seattle Ruby group which also brought us flog.

Flay is along the same lines as Flog; it analyzes your code looking for issues. Rather than looking for tortured code though it is looking for similar or duplicate code blocks. You install with `gem install flay` and then run it against your files, e.g.:

flay ./app/models/*.rb

A report is generated of the suspect areas like this:

macscott:test-project scottshea$ flay ./app/models/*.rb
Total score (lower is better) = 1666

1) Similar code found in :call (mass = 170)

2) Similar code found in :defs (mass = 154)

3) Similar code found in :defs (mass = 138)

4) Similar code found in :call (mass = 136)

5) IDENTICAL code found in :defn (mass*2 = 128)

6) IDENTICAL code found in :defn (mass*2 = 120)


The total app score of 1666 can be viewed in its individual components showing areas that provide the most bang for the buck. For experienced developers operating on their own or in a small team Flay may be unnecessary. However, on larger projects (as the one I ran it on) or those with beginner or intermediate programmers it can help increase the maintainability of your codebase.

I am not sure where the 1666 would rank on the overall chart (is that really bad? representative?) but the 'lower is better' advice holds true. This Stackoverflow question offers some interpretation of the score but really the best advice is "don't let it get higher!"

Monday, April 22, 2013

A rake task to automate deployment and database migration to Heroku

One of my major annoyances with Heroku is that the deploy does not automatically run any database migrations. Seriously?! So I ran into this tonight when I am trying to explain to a seasoned SA that while Heroku automatically will recompile your assets for you it will not do the migrations. A Google turned up this Stackoverflow question which in turn led to this gist. And I am excited to be trying it out.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Using Sidekiq with Faye to notify client web pages and applications of updates

Recently I was given a small coding challenge of how I would update sites & client applicaitons with notifications of content being released. My mind immediately flew to the faye gem. However, this would be a serious block if my app had to halt everything to send out the notification to a bunch of browsers. So, I added in Sidekiq. In the Content Model I put this to call out to Sidekiq:
  def self.release_next
The ContentWorker then looks like this:
class ContentWorker
  include Sidekiq::Worker
  sidekiq_options queue: "content"

  def perform
    next_release = Content.next_release(Content.last_release)
    # puts the data into JSON format; for actual content it could encode a url that is then loaded
    vars = ["title" => next_release.title,
             "site" =>,
             "released_at" => next_release.released_at.strftime("%l:%M:%S %p %m-%d-%Y")].to_json
    message = {:channel => "/releases", :data => vars, :ext => {:auth_token => FAYE_TOKEN}}

    Net::HTTP.post_form(uri, :message => message.to_json)
I created a designated queue in Sidekiq for the messages and then made the Faye channel creation configurable via an environment variable from an initializer file (/config/initializers/faye_configuration.rb):
FAYE_SUBSCRIPTION_PATH = "http://localhost:9292/faye"
The client then just listens in on the Faye channel and acts upon a message coming through. Here is the Javascript I wrote for listening to the Channel and adding the new release to the top of the view table just below the headers:
$(function() {
   var faye = new Faye.Client("");
   faye.subscribe("/releases", function(data) {

function add_to_table(data){
    var json_obj = jQuery.parseJSON(data);
    var $content_table = $('#content_table');
    if ($content_table.find('tr').length >= 10 ) {
    $("#header").after("<tr><td>" + json_obj[0].title+ "</td><td>" + json_obj[0].site + "</td><td>" + json_obj[0].released_at + "</td></tr>");
All in all a nice little challenge. I have not had a chance to try it out beyond my home network yet so I am not sure how performant the solution would be.

Railscasts used for this:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Using Unicorn Worker Killer to help reduce queue backlog on Heroku with Unicorn

In light of the update from Heroku CTO Adam Wiggins and having been part of the efforts to test the larger Dynos with Unicorn on Heroku I felt it necessary to share Unicorn Worker Killer; a tool we have found indispensable.

Based on configurable thresholds for memory and number of requests received it will kill off a Unicorn Worker. For those of you on Heroku this is valuable in that it then returns all the requests back to the Heroku random routing. While not an exact correlation between too many requests and memory size it does help keep individual workers from becoming too overloaded.

Add this to your Gemfile:

gem 'unicorn-worker-killer'

The gem suggests that you configure your `` file for the thresholds. This can be cumbersome on Heroku if you need to test out different settings.

Thankfully you can also control the thresholds via environment variables. In do:
max_request_min =  ENV['MAX_REQUEST_MIN'].to_i || 3072
max_request_max =  ENV['MAX_REQUEST_MAX'].to_i || 4096

# Max requests per worker
use Unicorn::WorkerKiller::MaxRequests, max_request_min, max_request_max

oom_min = ((ENV['OOM_MIN'].to_i || 192) * (1024**2))
oom_max = ((ENV['OOM_MAX'].to_i || 256) * (1024**2))

# Max memory size (RSS) per worker
use Unicorn::WorkerKiller::Oom, oom_min, oom_max

The run this on the heroku command line:
heroku config:add OOM_MAX=256 memory_limit_min =192 MAX_REQUEST_MIN=3072 MAX_REQUEST_MAX=4096 -a unicon-ttm-sandbox
That will add in the variables needed to control the thresholds. The example shows the defaults though we found dropping the OOM_MAX to 216 worked best