Rails hook for post-processing after page is rendered?

We're starting to notice a pattern in our Rails app that there are
asynchronous actions we'd like to take after the response is rendered
and shipped to the browser. Examples including queuing email and
writing statistics to the database.

It would be cool if there were a hook in Rails that would allow us to
throw this work onto a queue and have it done in the same process but
just after the response is sent back to the browser.

Anyone know of a hook like this, or a plugin that creates one?

-Colin

Hi Colin,

Colin Kelley wrote:

We're starting to notice a pattern in our Rails app that there are
asynchronous actions we'd like to take after the response is rendered
and shipped to the browser. Examples including queuing email and
writing statistics to the database.

It would be cool if there were a hook in Rails that would allow us to
throw this work onto a queue and have it done in the same process but
just after the response is sent back to the browser.

Anyone know of a hook like this, or a plugin that creates one?

If I understand your question correctly, you're looking for a distributed
Ruby library / plugin. The standard library includes dRuby. The choices
re: plugins includes BackgrounDRb which was the standard choice for quite a
while. There are other options available today which may suit your needs
better, depending. Google 'distributed ruby plugins'.

WRT doing the work in the same process that handled the request, the Rails
architecture pretty much precludes that, at least as a 'best practice.'

HTH,
Bill

Bill Walton wrote:

If I understand your question correctly, you're looking for a
distributed
Ruby library / plugin. The standard library includes dRuby.

...

WRT doing the work in the same process that handled the request, the
Rails
architecture pretty much precludes that, at least as a 'best practice.'

Thanks Bill for the quick response.

Distributed Ruby is pretty heavyweight for what I have in mind. It has
a lot of moving parts. I was thinking lightweight that would just allow
me to time shift a few operations that can take a second or two so that
the page is returned first and then those operations are then performed.
(Example: queue an email.) I'd like to have access to the full cached
model when those post_processing operations run.

I poked around the source a little today and it seems feasible to patch
in at the RailsHandler::process(request, response) level. That method
could be aliased and replaced with a new process method:

alias :old_process :process

def process(request, response)
  old_process(request, response)
  post_process
end

where post_process was something like

within_timer_block do
  while task = @@background_tasks.shift
    task.call
  end
end

(The controllers would queue their slow operations onto
@@background_tasks.)

The timers supervision is to preclude them taking too much time away
from serving the next pages. And it would be best to not allow more
than one post_processing mongrel at a time for the same session (or
possibly IP:port), lest a runaway Ajax loop consume all the mongrels for
example.

Does this sound feasible? Anyone know of some work along these lines
already?

Colin Kelley wrote:

Bill Walton wrote:
> If I understand your question correctly, you're looking for a
> distributed
> Ruby library / plugin. The standard library includes dRuby.
...
> WRT doing the work in the same process that handled the request, the
> Rails
> architecture pretty much precludes that, at least as a 'best practice.'

Thanks Bill for the quick response.

Distributed Ruby is pretty heavyweight for what I have in mind. It has
a lot of moving parts. I was thinking lightweight that would just allow
me to time shift a few operations that can take a second or two so that
the page is returned first and then those operations are then performed.
(Example: queue an email.) I'd like to have access to the full cached
model when those post_processing operations run.

BackgrounDRb gives you access to your app's models. I haven't used any of
the available alternatives, but I'd expect them to do the same.

I poked around the source a little today and it seems feasible to patch
in at the RailsHandler::process(request, response) level. That method
could be aliased and replaced with a new process method:

alias :old_process :process

def process(request, response)
  old_process(request, response)
  post_process
end

where post_process was something like

within_timer_block do
  while task = @@background_tasks.shift
    task.call
  end
end

(The controllers would queue their slow operations onto
@@background_tasks.)

The timers supervision is to preclude them taking too much time away
from serving the next pages. And it would be best to not allow more
than one post_processing mongrel at a time for the same session (or
possibly IP:port), lest a runaway Ajax loop consume all the mongrels for
example.

Does this sound feasible? Anyone know of some work along these lines
already?

I would absolutely recommend against thsi approach. You're adding at least
three levels of complexity when one would do. And the one's you're
contemplating are dangerous. Using a distributed process like BackgrounDRb
solves your problem with a tested and supported solution. I was using the
'old' one, primarily because it also ran on Windows. And I didn't find it
'heavyweight' at all. I'd strongly recommend you try out the existing
solutions to this very common problem before you go hacking Rails' core.

Best regards,
Bill

Bill Walton wrote:

BackgrounDRb gives you access to your app's models.

Excellent--I wasn't aware of that.

I'd strongly recommend you try out the existing
solutions to this very common problem before you go hacking Rails' core.

I will follow your advice and try out BackgrounDRb and perhaps one of
the alternatives as well.

Thanks again,

-Colin

The Rails Wiki lists all possibilities -
http://wiki.rubyonrails.org/rails/pages/HowToRunBackgroundJobsInRails

The most simple (and low-level) solution I found was to use script/
runner
(from http://www.ahabman.com/blog/2008/05/rails-background-process-simple-fast-easy/)

My_Controller

  def in_background
    # your normal code here

    system " RAILS_ENV=#{RAILS_ENV} ruby #{RAILS_ROOT}/script/
runner 'MyModel.some_method_to_run_in_background' & ”

  end

end