Async Observer start/stop scripts

11 January 2008

Recently I’ve been adding some filters to Litmus which are firing off calls to remote services based on actions performed by our customers. Unfortunately this started to bring some “Timeout::Error” exceptions bubbling up when the remote services didn’t respond in time.

The functions these remote services provide are easily hidden if we get a failure when trying to contact them, the problem for us is that this meant a long wait time for customers whilst we tried to contact the service, followed by a 500 error once the connection had timed out.

I read about beanstalkd – its ability to asynchronously process jobs from a memcached like queue would be the perfect solution to the problem, allowing us to take a shot at reaching the remote services but not tying up mongrels and making our users wait.

Using it with Rails was easy using the async-observer plugin – I managed to get the whole thing up and running in around 30 minutes.

When it came to deploy I noticed that the async observers were in need of scripts to start and stop them so I hacked up a couple of scripts you can stick in your scripts directory and chmod +x ready to use in Capistrano.

I’ve literally just finished these scripts and they’ve had about 5 minutes of testing, so all comments/suggestions/corrections and even your own modifications posted elsewhere are welcome. Just drop any links/suggestions in the comments.

Update: I’ve just noticed that the “puts” returned by the async observer is causing Capistrano to hang during deployment. I’ll have to have a look at it when I get a chance. Any suggestions welcome. Ideally the scripts will still output some text to let you see something is happening during deployment…

Update: I’ve updated the script and it now works really well for us… get it here


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