Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Continuous Build Integration

If you don't know what Continuous Build Integration is, then you should because it makes the development process work very well.

Here at UnnamedStartup® we're using Mercurial (a.k.a. Hg) as our revision control system and we wanted to use buildbot to manage our continuous integration according to the following diagram:

I've just got the closed loop from developer to Hg to Buildbot to email. It could have gone smoother. Here's a few of the challenges I faced, and how I solved them.

  1. Sending Check-in Notifications from Mercurial to Buildbot - There is a user contribution to buildbot for doing this. You can download hg_buildbot.py and make sure it is executable to the user(s) commiting to your Mercurial repository. Follow the instructions in the comments of that file to have mercurial call this script. Please note that if you are submitting changes via https, I hit a bug and ended up changing to committing via ssh to work around it (for what it's worth, ssh is faster than https).
  2. Configure Buildbot Sources - The hg_buildbot.py script is expecting buildbot to be accepting changes from a PBChangeSource. Configure buidbot like so:

    from buildbot.changes.pb import PBChangeSource

  3. Unified email recipients list - I've configured Mercurial to send email notifications like so:


    #callback to the notifier extension when changegroups are constructed
    changegroup.notify = python:hgext.notify.hook

    #only send out emails if a changegroup is pushed to the master repository
    sources = serve
    # set this to True when you need to do testing
    test = False
    config = /usr/local/share/hg/my_email_notifications
    template = Subject: Changes in repository: {desc|firstline|strip}\nFrom: {author}\n\ndetails: {baseurl}/rev/{node|short}\nchangeset: {rev}:{node|short}\nuser: {author}\ndate: {date|date}\ndescription:\n{desc}\n


    * = "Developer 1"<dev1@unamedstartup.com>, "Developer 2"<dev2@unamedstartup.com>

    So we now want to use the same list when telling our developers that the build failed. Since buildbot configuration file is just python we can embed this parsing code directly in our configuration file:

    emailcfg = open("/usr/local/share/hg/my_email_notifications")
    import re
    emailparser = re.compile("<(.+@.+)>")
    emails = map(lambda s: emailparser.search(s).group(1),

    Granted, this isn't going to handle changes to the my_email_notications file very well, but you should get the idea. The important thing is that we aren't maintaining two lists of emails.
  4. Sending email to an authenticating smtp server - Out of the box buildbot can only send email to an open SMTP server... I'm not sure who's dumb enough to leave their email server open like that, but we don't. So a little reading through the twisted libraries and I found that twisted kind-of supports ESMTP. I had to wrap this up in a buildbot notifier. Here's the code for that:

    from buildbot.status.mail import MailNotifier
    class ESMTPMailNotifier(MailNotifier):
    def __init__(self, username=None, password=None, port=25, *args, **kwargs):
    self._username = username
    self._password = password
    self._port = port
    def sendMessage(self, m, recipients):
    from twisted.internet.ssl import ClientContextFactory
    from twisted.internet import reactor
    from twisted.mail.smtp import ESMTPSenderFactory
    from StringIO import StringIO
    from twisted.internet import defer
    s = m.as_string()
    ds = []
    for recip in recipients:
    if not hasattr(m,'read'):
    # It's not a file
    m = StringIO(str(m))
    d = defer.Deferred()
    factory = ESMTPSenderFactory(self._username, self._password,
    self.fromaddr, recip, m, d,
    reactor.connectTCP(self.relayhost, self._port, factory)
    return defer.DeferredList(ds)

    from buildbot.status import mail

Granted, this isn't a complete guide to how to set up Mercurial and Buildbot, but I hope this will help you get over some of the minor hurdles I had to jump over.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Paranoid Versions

As I mentioned in my previous post, we have an Item object that is both versioned and remains in the database after it's deleted. Fortunately, there's two ruby plugins that do just that: acts_as_versioned and acts_as_paranoid. Unfortunately, these plugins don't work together perfectly. Even more unfortunately, this fix doesn't work as it should because acts_as_versioned tries to version the deleted_at column as well, so here's the module we're using to combine them:
module ActiveRecord
 module Acts
  module Versioned
    module ClassMethods
      def acts_as_paranoid_versioned
        self.non_versioned_columns << 'deleted_at'
        # protect the versioned model
        self.versioned_class.class_eval do
          def self.delete_all(conditions = nil); return; end

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

All Aboard!

Today at 1pm I started writing our first ruby model object. It is the Item base class and of course it's non trivial as far as model objects go because we have lots of non-standard behavior for it. But I don't like to start with the easy stuff, especially when I'm just learning a new framework and all... At 11pm I had the following working:
  • Item model and schema complete with data migrations so that anyone can start with an empty database
  • CRUD support for Item
  • output as html and xml
  • Items are versioned. The complete edit history is stored in the database (each version is a complete record)
  • Items are "paranoid". This means that when they are deleted, they are not really deleted -- instead the deleted_at timestamp is set.
  • Concurrent editing detection, first submitter wins (error handling needed)
  • textile formatting support
  • listing of items using the xoxo microformat
What we don't have that we should:
  • Version viewing/comparing/reverting from the interface
I took a few breaks for dinner at whatnot. I'd say I spent a sum total of 7 hours "programming" but in actuality, it was about 1 hour of programming and 6 hours of looking up things on websites and doing research on how to use these rails plugins. This included fixing an incompatibility between two of the rails plugins I wanted to use (acts_as_versioned and acts_as_paranoid). it's hard to to much more with items until we make more models. My goal was to get enough underway that we could check in our initial project and set up continuous build, testing, and demo environments. And that, my friends, is why rails is neat. An experienced rails developer would have finished all this before leaving the office and then do something more productive with his/her evening ;-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Getting Rolling

As chief architect of a angel-funded web startup that shall remain nameless for now, I've decided to use Ruby on Rails as our site platform. My early experiences with rails have been extremely positive and have so far, made me very productive -- in most part due to the great work that has been done by the rails community. I'll post my experiences and any useful information I learn here, in an attempt to give back to the community.