Django Long Running Processes

The most commonly suggested solution for long running processes is to use Celery. I suspect that if you need scalabilty or high volume, etc… Celery is the best solution. That said,  I have been down the Celery rabbit hole more than once. It has never been pleasant. Since my needs are more modest, maybe there is a better alternative?

My needs involve running process that might run for 15 minutes or so. The process might run a dozen times/day and be launched by as many users. The process must be launch-able from the website by authorized users.

I have solved this problem by going to the polar opposite of Celery – cron. Every minute cron would launch a custom django command. That command would look in a database table for tasks and get input data from the database. When a task was completed, that fact was written to the database table. Honestly, this approach has worked well. Never-the-less, I always wonder if there is a stable, simple, robust solution that lies somewhere between cron and Celery.

Maybe RedisRQ and Django RQ? These are my notes so that a year from now, when this issue comes up again, I can get up to speed quickly.

Step 1: Install Redis and Start Redis Server

These instructions are pretty good.

Step 2: Is Redis Server Working?

Maybe you installed Redis Server a long time ago and you want to see if it’s still working? Go here.

Or you could type:

$ redis-cli ping
PONG

Step 3: Install RQ

pip install rq

Step 4: Install and Configure django-rq

Go here.

Step 5: Read the RQ Docs

Seriously – read the RQ docs. They are brief and to-the-point.

Step 6: Daemonize the RQ Workers

If you use supervisord , here is the Ansible template I use to do that:

[program:django_rq]
command= {{ virtualenv_path }}/bin/python manage.py rqworker high default low
stdout_logfile = /var/log/redis/redis_6379.log

numprocs=1

directory={{ django_manage_path }}
environment = DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE="{{ django_settings_import }}",PATH="{{ virtualenv_path }}/bin"
user = vagrant
stopsignal=TERM

autostart=true
autorestart=true


[program:rqscheduler]
command={{ virtualenv_path }}/bin/python manage.py rqscheduler
stdout_logfile = /var/log/redis/rq_scheduler.log

numprocs=1

directory={{ django_manage_path }}
environment = DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE="{{ django_settings_import }}",PATH="{{ virtualenv_path }}/bin"
user = vagrant
stopsignal=TERM

autostart=true
autorestart=true

Reflections

I do not recall all the problems I had with Celery. After reviewing the RQ solution above, it is clear that one of the advantages of that solution is the documentation is really good. Or at least it clearly and directly addressed what I was trying to do.

Additionally, I wish I would have implemented this a long time ago. It is so easy to use. And it’s so freeing to to be able to run long processes.

Reflections part Deux, Troubleshooting and Gotchas

It’s coming back to me. The supervisor config in the original post started the daemon OK. But it turns out there was an error in the config that caused the queued processes to fail. Finding and fixing that bug was a pain in the ass. Maybe my troubles with Celery were really troubles with supervisor? Down the rabbit hole we go!

It turns out that the Django RQ Queue Statistics are helpful for debugging. They show failed tasks along with a Python traceback! Very nice. In my case, I was getting the error:

ImportError: No module named XXXX

Clearly one of my paths in the supervisor conf file was wrong. Time to start hacking:

  1. Edit conf file
  2. Run supervisorctl stop django_rq
  3. Run supervisorctl start django_rq
  4. Queue a task
  5. It failed again? How is that possible? Back to step 1

GOTCHA! After a while you notice the changes you are making are not having any effect. And then you recall that to reload the config file you must run:

service supervisor restart

Now my config file works. All I have to do is figure out which of the ever cludgier hacks I made can be removed. The config file above has been updated.

Son of Reflections part Deux – Adding PATH to Supervisor Config

I thought I had it working. Then when I added a slightly more complex task that interacted with the database, it failed with an ImportError. After flailing around for a while, I found that adding a PATH to the supervisor environment variable solved the problem.

During my flailing, I found this blog post. Lots of great ideas.

Still Falling Down the Rabbit Hole – Logging to the Rescue

Everything was working almost every where… except with the daemonized workers on the server. Luckily, Django-RQ now comes with logging. I implemented the logging in the Django settings files as per the docs, restarted the dev server, and… no logging. Turns out you have to restart the workers.

Also, although the docs show the use of a logging class made for rq (rq.utils.ColorizingStreamHandler), it turns out you can use logging.FileHandler, which is what you want for debugging the code when running from a daemonized worker.

For what it’s worth, it turns out the problem was with the python locale module. The docs say something about it not being thread safe. The function locale.getlocale() returned a value when the workers were run via the dev server, but it returned None when run from a daemonized worker.