Tag: scribd
DB Charmer – ActiveRecord Connection Magic Plugin
3 Nov2009

Today I’m proud to announce the first public release of our ActiveRecord database connection magic plugin: DbCharmer.

DB Charmer – ActiveRecord Connection Magic Plugin

DbCharmer is a simple yet powerful plugin for ActiveRecord that does a few things:

  1. Allows you to easily manage AR models’ connections (switch_connection_to method)
  2. Allows you to switch AR models’ default connections to a separate servers/databases
  3. Allows you to easily choose where your query should go (on_* methods family)
  4. Allows you to automatically send read queries to your slaves while masters would handle all the updates.
  5. Adds multiple databases migrations to ActiveRecord

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Advanced Squid Caching in Scribd: Logged In Users and Complex URLs Handling
21 Jul2009

It’s been a while since I’ve posted my first post about the way we do document pages caching in Scribd and this approach has definitely proven to be really effective since then. In the second post of this series I’d like to explain how we handle our complex document URLs and logged in users in the caching architecture.

First of all, let’s take a look at a typical Scribd’s document URL: http://www.scribd.com/doc/1/Improved-Statistical-Test.

As we can see, it consists of a document-specific part (/doc/1) and a non-unique human-readable slug part (/Improved-Statistical-Test). When a user comes to the site with a wrong slug in the document URL, we need to make sure we send the user to the correct URL with a permanent HTTP 301 redirect. So, obviously we can’t simply send our requests to the squid because it’d cause few problems:

  • When we change document’s title, we’d create a new cached item and would not be able to redirect users from the old URL to the new one
  • When we change a title, we’d pollute cache with additional document page copies.

One more problem that makes the situation even worse – we have 3 different kinds of users on the site:

  1. Logged in users – active web site users that are logged in and should see their name at the top of the page, should see all kinds of customized parts of the page, etc (especially when a page is their own document).
  2. Anonymous users – all users that are not logged in and visit the site with a flash-enabled browser
  3. Bots – all kinds of crawlers that can’t read flash content and need to see a plain text document version

All three kinds of users should see their own document page versions whether the page is cached or not.

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Loops plugin for rails and merb released
17 Feb2009

loops is a small and lightweight framework for Ruby on Rails and Merb created to support simple background loops in your application which are usually used to do some background data processing on your servers (queue workers, batch tasks processors, etc).

Originally loops plugin was created to make our (Scribd.com) own loops code more organized. We used to have tens of different modules with methods that were called with script/runner and then used with nohup and other not so convenient backgrounding techniques. When you have such a number of loops/workers to run in background it becomes a nightmare to manage them on a regular basis (restarts, code upgrades, status/health checking, etc).

After a short time of writing our loops in more organized ways we were able to generalize most of the loops code so now our loops look like a classes with a single mandatory public method called run. Everything else (spawning many workers, managing them, logging, backgrounding, pid-files management, etc) is handled by the plugin itself.

The major idea behind this small project was to create a deadly simple and yet robust framework to be able to run some tasks in background and do not think about spawning many workers, restarting them when they die, etc. So, if you need to be able to run either one or many copies of your worker or you do not want to think about re-spawning dead workers and do not want to spend megabytes of RAM on separate copies of Ruby interpreter (when you run each copy of your loop as a separate process controlled by monit/god/etc), then I’d recommend you to try this framework — you’ll like it.

For more information, visit the project site and, of course, read the sources 🙂

Rails Developer for a Large Startup: My Vision of an Ideal Candidate
7 Feb2009

Few days ago we were chatting in our corporate Campfire room and one of the guys asked me what do I think about our hiring process for Rails developers, what questions I’d ask a candidate if I was interviewing and so on. Those questions sparkled a really long and interesting discussion and I would like to share my thoughts on the topic in this post.

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