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Conditional aggregation in Django 2.0

12 January 2018 4 comments   PostgreSQL, Django, Python


Django 2.0 came out a couple of weeks ago. It now supports "conditional aggregation" which is SQL standard I didn't even know about.

Before

So I have a Django app which has an endpoint that generates some human-friendly stats about the number of uploads (and their total size) in various different time intervals.

First of all, this is how it set up the time intervals:

today = timezone.now()
start_today = today.replace(hour=0, minute=0, second=0)
start_yesterday = start_today - datetime.timedelta(days=1)
start_this_month = today.replace(day=1)
start_this_year = start_this_month.replace(month=1)

And then, for each of these, there's a little function that returns a dict for each time interval:

def count_and_size(qs, start, end):
    sub_qs = qs.filter(created_at__gte=start, created_at__lt=end)
    return {
        'count': sub_qs.count(),
        'total_size': sub_qs.aggregate(size=Sum('size'))['size'],
}

numbers['uploads'] = {
    'today': count_and_size(upload_qs, start_today, today),
    'yesterday': count_and_size(upload_qs, start_yesterday, start_today),
    'this_month': count_and_size(upload_qs, start_this_month, today),
    'this_year': count_and_size(upload_qs, start_this_year, today),
}

What you get is exactly 2 x 4 = 8 queries. One COUNT and one SUM for each time interval. E.g.

SELECT SUM("upload_upload"."size") AS "size" 
FROM "upload_upload" 
WHERE ("upload_upload"."created_at" >= ...

SELECT COUNT(*) AS "__count" 
FROM "upload_upload" 
WHERE ("upload_upload"."created_at" >= ...

...6 more queries...

Middle

Oops. I think this code comes from a slightly rushed job. We can do the COUNT and the SUM at the same time for each query.

# New, improved count_and_size() function!
def count_and_size(qs, start, end):
    sub_qs = qs.filter(created_at__gte=start, created_at__lt=end)
    return sub_qs.aggregate(
        count=Count('id'),
        total_size=Sum('size'),
    )

numbers['uploads'] = {
    'today': count_and_size(upload_qs, start_today, today),
    'yesterday': count_and_size(upload_qs, start_yesterday, start_today),
    'this_month': count_and_size(upload_qs, start_this_month, today),
    'this_year': count_and_size(upload_qs, start_this_year, today),
}

Much better, now there's only one query per time bucket. So 4 queries in total. E.g.

SELECT COUNT("upload_upload"."id") AS "count", SUM("upload_upload"."size") AS "total_size" 
FROM "upload_upload" 
WHERE ("upload_upload"."created_at" >= ...

...3 more queries...

After

But we can do better than that! Instead, we use conditional aggregation. The syntax gets a bit hairy because there's so many keyword arguments, but I hope I've indented it nicely so it's easy to see how it works:

def make_q(start, end):
    return Q(created_at__gte=start, created_at__lt=end)

q_today = make_q(start_today, today)
q_yesterday = make_q(start_yesterday, start_today)
q_this_month = make_q(start_this_month, today)
q_this_year = make_q(start_this_year, today)

aggregates = upload_qs.aggregate(
    today_count=Count('pk', filter=q_today),
    today_total_size=Sum('size', filter=q_today),

    yesterday_count=Count('pk', filter=q_yesterday),
    yesterday_total_size=Sum('size', filter=q_yesterday),

    this_month_count=Count('pk', filter=q_this_month),
    this_month_total_size=Sum('size', filter=q_this_month),

    this_year_count=Count('pk', filter=q_this_year),
    this_year_total_size=Sum('size', filter=q_this_year),
)
numbers['uploads'] = {
    'today': {
        'count': aggregates['today_count'],
        'total_size': aggregates['today_total_size'],
    },
    'yesterday': {
        'count': aggregates['yesterday_count'],
        'total_size': aggregates['yesterday_total_size'],
    },
    'this_month': {
        'count': aggregates['this_month_count'],
        'total_size': aggregates['this_month_total_size'],
    },
    'this_year': {
        'count': aggregates['this_year_count'],
        'total_size': aggregates['this_year_total_size'],
    },
}

Voila! One single query to get all those pieces of data.
The SQL sent to PostgreSQL looks something like this:

SELECT 
  COUNT("upload_upload"."id") FILTER (WHERE ("upload_upload"."created_at" >= ...)) AS "today_count", 
  SUM("upload_upload"."size") FILTER (WHERE ("upload_upload"."created_at" >= ...)) AS "today_total_size",

  COUNT("upload_upload"."id") FILTER (WHERE ("upload_upload"."created_at" >= ...)) AS "yesterday_count", 
  SUM("upload_upload"."size") FILTER (WHERE ("upload_upload"."created_at" >= ...)) AS "yesterday_total_size", 

  ...

FROM "upload_upload";

Is this the best thing to do? I'm starting to have my doubts.

Watch Out!

When I take this now 1 monster query for a spin with an EXPLAIN ANALYZE prefix I notice something worrying!

                                                    QUERY PLAN
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Aggregate  (cost=74.33..74.34 rows=1 width=16) (actual time=0.587..0.587 rows=1 loops=1)
   ->  Seq Scan on upload_upload  (cost=0.00..62.13 rows=813 width=16) (actual time=0.012..0.210 rows=813 loops=1)
 Planning time: 0.427 ms
 Execution time: 0.674 ms
(4 rows)

A sequential scan! That's terrible. The created_at column is indexed in a BTREE so why can't it use the index.

The short answer is: I don't know!
I've uploaded a reduced, but still complete, example demonstrating this in a gist. It's very similar to the example in the stackoverflow question I asked.

So what did I do? I went back to the "middle" solution. One SELECT query per time bucket. So 4 queries in total, but at least all 4 is able to use an index.

When Docker is too slow, use your host

11 January 2018 0 comments   Docker, MacOSX, Django, Web development


I have a side-project that is basically a React frontend, a Django API server and a Node universal React renderer. The killer feature is its Elasticsearch database that searches almost 2.5M large texts and 200K named objects. All the data is stored in a PostgreSQL and there's some Python code that copies that stuff over to Elasticsearch for indexing.

Timings for searches in Songsearch
The PostgreSQL database is about 10GB and the Elasticsearch (version 6.1.0) indices are about 6GB. It's moderately big and even though individual searches take, on average ~75ms (in production) it's hefty. At least for a side-project.

On my MacBook Pro, laptop I use Docker to do development. Docker makes it really easy to run one command that starts memcached, Django, a AWS Product API Node app, create-react-app for the search and a separate create-react-app for the stats web app.

At first I tried to also run PostgreSQL and Elasticsearch in Docker too, but after many attempts I had to just give up. It was too slow. Elasticsearch would keep crashing even though I extended my memory in Docker to 4GB.

This very blog (www.peterbe.com) has a similar stack. Redis, PostgreSQL, Elasticsearch all running in Docker. It works great. One single docker-compose up web starts everything I need. But when it comes to much larger databases, I found my macOS host to be much more performant.

So the dark side of this is that I have remember to do more things when starting work on this project. My PostgreSQL was installed with Homebrew and is always running on my laptop. For Elasticsearch I have to open a dedicated terminal and go to a specific location to start the Elasticsearch for this project (e.g. make start-elasticsearch).

The way I do this is that I have this in my Django projects settings.py:

import dj_database_url
from decouple import config


DATABASES = {
    'default': config(
        'DATABASE_URL',
        # Hostname 'docker.for.mac.host.internal' assumes
        # you have at least Docker 17.12.
        # For older versions of Docker use 'docker.for.mac.localhost'
        default='postgresql://peterbe@docker.for.mac.host.internal/songsearch',
        cast=dj_database_url.parse
    )
}

ES_HOSTS = config('ES_HOSTS', default='docker.for.mac.host.internal:9200', cast=Csv())

(Actually, in reality the defaults in the settings.py code is localhost and I use docker-compose.yml environment variables to override this, but the point is hopefully still there.)

And that's basically it. Now I get Docker to do what various virtualenvs and terminal scripts used to do but the performance of running the big databases on the host.

Really simple Django view function timer decorator

08 December 2017 2 comments   Django, Python


I use this sometimes to get insight into how long some view functions take. Perhaps you find it useful too:

def view_function_timer(prefix='', writeto=print):

    def decorator(func):
        @functools.wraps(func)
        def inner(*args, **kwargs):
            try:
                t0 = time.time()
                return func(*args, **kwargs)
            finally:
                t1 = time.time()
                writeto(
                    'View Function',
                    '({})'.format(prefix) if prefix else '',
                    func.__name__,
                    args[1:],
                    'Took',
                    '{:.2f}ms'.format(1000 * (t1 - t0)),
                    args[0].build_absolute_uri(),
                )
        return inner

    return decorator

And to use it:

from wherever import view_function_timer


@view_function_timer()
def homepage(request, thing):
    ...
    return render(request, template, context)

And then it prints something like this:

View Function  homepage ('valueofthing',) Took 23.22ms http://localhost:8000/home/valueofthing

It's useful when you don't want a full-blown solution to measure all view functions with a middleware or something.
It can be useful also to see how a cache decorator might work:

from django.views.decorators.cache import cache_page
from wherever import view_function_timer


@view_function_timer('possibly cached')
@cache_page(60 * 60 * 2)  # two hours cache
@view_function_timer('not cached')
def homepage(request, thing):
    ...
    return render(request, template, context)

That way you can trace that, with tail -f or something, to see how/if the cacheing decorator works.

There are many better solutions that are more robust but might be a bigger investment. For example, I would recommend markus which, if you don't have a statsd server you can configure to logger.info call the timings.

How to use django-cache-memoize

03 November 2017 0 comments   Django, Python


Last week I released django-memoize-function which is a library for Django developers to more conveniently use caching in function calls. This is a quick blog post to demonstrate that with an example.

The verbose traditional way to do it

Suppose you have a view function that takes in a request and returns a HttpResponse. Within, it does some expensive calculation that you know could be cached. Something like this:

No caching

def blog_post(request, slug):
    post = BlogPost.objects.get(slug=slug)

    related_posts = BlogPost.objects.exclude(
        id=post.id
    ).filter(
        # BlogPost.keywords is an ArrayField
        keywords__overlap=post.keywords
    ).order_by('-publish_date')

    context = {
        'post': post,
        'related_posts': related_posts,
    }
    return render(request, 'blogpost.html', context)

So far so good. Perhaps you know that lookup of related posts is slowish and can be cached for at least one hour. So you add this:

Caching

from django.core.cache import cache

def blog_post(request, slug):
    post = BlogPost.objects.get(slug=slug)

    cache_key = b'related_posts:{}'.format(post.id)
    related_posts = cache.get(cache_key)
    if related_posts is None:  # was not cached
        related_posts = BlogPost.objects.exclude(
            id=post.id
        ).filter(
            # BlogPost.keywords is an ArrayField
            keywords__overlap=post.keywords
        ).order_by('-publish_date')
        cache.set(cache_key, related_posts, 60 * 60)

    context = {
        'post': post,
        'related_posts': related_posts,
    }
    return render(request, 'blogpost.html', context)

Great progress. But now you want that cache to immediate reset as soon as the blog posts change.

@login_required
def update_blog_post(request, slug):
    post = BlogPost.objects.get(slug=slug)
    if request.method == 'POST':
        # BlogPostForm is a forms.ModelForm class for BlogPost
        form = BlogPostForm(request.POST, instance=post)
        if form.is_valid():
            form.save()
            cache_key = b'related_posts:{}'.format(post.id)
            cache.delete(cache_key)
            return redirect(reverse('blog_post', args=(post.id,))
    else:
        form = BlogPostForm(instance=post)

    context = {
        'post': post,
        'form': form,
    }
    return render(request, 'edit_blogpost.html', context)

Awesome. Now the cache is cleared as soon as the BlogPost is updated.

Problem; you have repeated the code generating the cache key in two places.

Use django-cache-memoize

First extract out the getting of related posts into its own function and then decorate it.

from cache_memoize import cache_memoize

@cache_memoize(60 * 60)
def get_related_posts(id):
    return BlogPost.objects.exclude(
        id=post.id
    ).filter(
        # BlogPost.keywords is an ArrayField
        keywords__overlap=post.keywords
    ).order_by('-publish_date')


def blog_post(request, slug):
    post = BlogPost.objects.get(slug=slug)

    related_posts = get_related_posts(post.id)

    context = {
        'post': post,
        'related_posts': related_posts,
    }
    return render(request, 'blogpost.html', context) 

Now, to do the cache invalidation you need to call that function get_related_posts one more time:

def update_blog_post(request, slug):
    post = BlogPost.objects.get(slug=slug)
    if request.method == 'POST':
        # BlogPostForm is a forms.ModelForm class for BlogPost
        form = BlogPostForm(request.POST, instance=post)
        if form.is_valid():
            form.save()

            # NOTE!
            get_related_posts.invalidate(post.id)

            return redirect(reverse('blog_post', args=(post.id,))
    else:
        form = BlogPostForm(instance=post)

    context = {
        'post': post,
        'form': form,
    }
    return render(request, 'edit_blogpost.html', context)

Now you're not repeating the code that constructs the cache key.

Getting fancy; hot cache

The above pattern, with or without django-cache-memoize, clears the cache when the blog post changes and then you basically wait till the next time the blog post is rendered, then the cache will be populated again.

A more "aggressive" pattern is to "heat the cache up" right after we've cleared it. A simple change is to call get_related_posts() again and let it cache. But to make sure it gets a fresh set of results we pass in the extra _refresh=True argument.

def update_blog_post(request, slug):
    post = BlogPost.objects.get(slug=slug)
    if request.method == 'POST':
        # BlogPostForm is a forms.ModelForm class for BlogPost
        form = BlogPostForm(request.POST, instance=post)
        if form.is_valid():
            form.save()

            # NOTE!
            # Refresh the cache here and now
            get_related_posts(post.id, _refresh=True)

            return redirect(reverse('blog_post', args=(post.id,))
    else:
        form = BlogPostForm(instance=post)

    context = {
        'post': post,
        'form': form,
    }
    return render(request, 'edit_blogpost.html', context)

What was the point of that?

The above example doesn't do a great job demonstrating how convenient it can be to use django-cache-memoize compared to "doing it manually". If your code base is peppered with lots of little blocks where you construct a cache key, check the cache, fall back on re-generation and write to cache again; then it can really add up to take away all of that mess and just use a decorator on anything that can be memoized.

Probably the biggest benefit with moving the cacheable functionality into its own function and decorating it is that all that hassle code with creating safe and unique cache keys is all in one place. You won't be violating the Don't Repeat Yourself principle. This becomes especially important once the cache keys that need to be constructed are getting complex and needs care.

Ultimately if you're able, your code will be free of various cache.set and cache.get code and yet a bunch of cacheable stuff gets cached nicely.

Why not use a regular @memoize or @functools.lru_cache?

The major difference between something like https://pypi.python.org/pypi/memoize/ and django-cache-memoize is that django-cache-memoize uses django.core.cache.cache which is a global state store (most likely backed by Redis or Memcached). If you use one of the other memoization solutions they'll be in-memory. Meaning, if your production code runs Gunicorn or uWSGI with, say, 8 workers then you'll have 8 copies of the same cache store. So if you're trying to protect an expensive function with @functools.lru_cache it will, worst case, be a cache miss 8 times on 8 different requests.

django-cache-memoize

27 October 2017 3 comments   Django, Python

https://pypi.python.org/pypi/django-cache-memoize


Released a new package today: django-cache-memoize

It's actually quite simple; a Python memoize function that uses Django's cache plus the added trick that you can invalidate the cache my doing the same function call with the same parameters if you just add .invalidate to your function.

The history of it is from my recent Mozilla work on Symbols.

I originally copy and pasted the snippet out that in a blog post and today I extracted it out into its own project with tests, docs, CI and a setup.py.

I'm still amazed how long it takes to make a package with all the "fluff" around it. A lot of the bits in here (like setup.py and pytest.ini etc) are copied from other nicely maintained Python packages. For example, I straight up copied the tox.ini from Jannis Leidel's python-dockerflow. The ratio of actual code writing (including tests!) is far overpowered by the package sit-ups. But I "complain with a pinch of salt" because a lot of time spent was writing documentation and that's equally as important as the code probably.

Simple or fancy UPSERT in PostgreSQL with Django

11 October 2017 6 comments   PostgreSQL, Django, Web development, Python


As of PostgreSQL 9.5 we have UPSERT support. Technically, it's ON CONFLICT, but it's basically a way to execute an UPDATE statement in case the INSERT triggers a conflict on some column value. By the way, here's a great blog post that demonstrates how to use ON CONFLICT.

In this Django app I have a model that has a field called hash which has a unique=True index on it. What I want to do is either insert a row, or if the hash is already in there, it should increment the count and the modified_at timestamp instead.

The Code(s)

Here's the basic version in "pure Django ORM":

if MissingSymbol.objects.filter(hash=hash_).exists():
    MissingSymbol.objects.filter(hash=hash_).update(
        count=F('count') + 1,
        modified_at=timezone.now()
    )
else:
    MissingSymbol.objects.create(
        hash=hash_,
        symbol=symbol,
        debugid=debugid,
        filename=filename,
        code_file=code_file or None,
        code_id=code_id or None,
    )

Here's that same code rewritten in "pure SQL":

from django.db import connection


with connection.cursor() as cursor:
    cursor.execute("""
        INSERT INTO download_missingsymbol (
            hash, symbol, debugid, filename, code_file, code_id,
            count, created_at, modified_at
        ) VALUES (
            %s, %s, %s, %s, %s, %s,
            1, CLOCK_TIMESTAMP(), CLOCK_TIMESTAMP()
          )
        ON CONFLICT (hash)
        DO UPDATE SET
            count = download_missingsymbol.count + 1,
            modified_at = CLOCK_TIMESTAMP()
        WHERE download_missingsymbol.hash = %s
        """, [
            hash_, symbol, debugid, filename,
            code_file or None, code_id or None,
            hash_
        ]
    )

Both work.

Note the use of CLOCK_TIMESTAMP() instead of NOW(). Since Django wraps all writes in transactions if you use NOW() it will be evaluated to the same value for the whole transaction, thus making unit testing really hard.

But which is fastest?

The Results

First of all, this hard to test locally because my Postgres is running locally in Docker so the network latency in talking to a network Postgres means that the latency is less and having to do two different executions would cost more if the network latency is more.

I ran a simple benchmark where it randomly picked one of the two code blocks (above) depending on a 50% chance.
The results are:

METHOD     MEAN       MEDIAN
SQL        6.99ms     6.61ms
ORM        10.28ms    9.86ms

So doing it with a block of raw SQL instead is 1.5 times faster. But this difference would surely grow when the network latency is higher.

Discussion

There's an alternative and that's to use django-postgres-extra but I'm personally hesitant. The above little raw SQL hack is the only thing I need and adding more libraries makes far-future maintenance harder.

Beyond the time optimization of being able to send only 1 SQL instruction to PostgreSQL, the biggest benefit is avoiding concurrency race conditions. From the documentation:

"ON CONFLICT DO UPDATE guarantees an atomic INSERT or UPDATE outcome; provided there is no independent error, one of those two outcomes is guaranteed, even under high concurrency. This is also known as UPSERT — "UPDATE or INSERT"."

I'm going to keep this little hack. It's not beautiful but it works and saves time and gives me more comfort around race conditions.

cache_memoize - a pretty decent cache decorator for Django

11 September 2017 4 comments   Django, Web development, Python

https://gist.github.com/peterbe/fd6ffc23325df849b27c549e769ce570


UPDATE - Oct 27, 2017 This snippet did now become its own PyPI package. See https://pypi.python.org/pypi/django-cache-memoize

This is something that's grown up organically when working on Mozilla Symbol Server. It has served me very well and perhaps it's worth extracting into its own lib.

Usage

Basically, you are probably used to this in Django:

from django.core.cache import cache

def compute_something(user, special=False):
    cache_key = 'meatycomputation:{}:special={}'.format(user.id, special)
    value = cache.get(cache_key)
    if value is None:
        value = _call_the_meat(user.id, special)  # some really slow function
        cache.set(cache_key, value, 60 * 5)
    return value

Here's instead how you can do exactly the same with cache_memoize:

from wherever.decorators import cache_memoize

@cache_memoize(60 * 5)
def compute_something(user, special=False):
    return _call_the_meat(user.id, special)  # some really slow function

Cache invalidation

If you ever need to do non-trivial caching you know it's important to be able to invalidate the cache. Usually, to be able to do that you need to involved in how the cache key was created.

Consider our two examples above, here's first the common thing to do:

def save_user(user):
    do_something_that_will_need_to_cache_invalidate(user)

    cache_key = 'meatycomputation:{}:special={}'.format(user.id, False)
    cache.delete(cache_key)
    # And when it was special=True
    cache_key = 'meatycomputation:{}:special={}'.format(user.id, True)
    cache.delete(cache_key)

This works but it involves repeating the code that generates the cache key. You could extract that into its own function of course.

Here's how you do it with the cache_memoize decorator:

def save_user(user):
    do_something_that_will_need_to_cache_invalidate(user)

    compute_something.invalidate(user, special=False)
    compute_something.invalidate(user, special=True)    

Other features

There are actually two ways to "invalidate" the cache. Calling the new myoriginalfunction.invalidate(...) function or passing a custom extra keyword argument called _refresh. For example: compute_something(user, _refresh=True).

You can pass callables that get called when the cache works in your favor or when it's a cache miss. For example:

def increment_hits(user, special=None):
    # use your imagination
    metrics.incr(user.email)

def cache_miss(user, special=None):
    print("cache miss on {}".format(user.email))

@cache_memoize(
    60 * 5,
    hit_callable=increment_hits,
    miss_callable=cache_miss,
)
def compute_something(user, special=False):
    return _call_the_meat(user.id, special)  # some really slow function

Sometimes you just want to use the memoizer to make sure something only gets called "once" (or once per time interval). In that case it might be smart to not flood your cache backend with the value of the function output if there is one. For example:

@cache_memoize(60 * 60, store_result=False)  # idempotent guard
def calculate_and_update(user):
    # do something expensive here that is best to only do once per hour

Internally cache_memoize will basically try to convert every argument and keyword argument to a string with, kinda, str(). That might not always be appropriate because you might know that you have two distinct objects whose __str__ will yield the same result. For that you can use the args_rewrite parameter. For example:

def simplify_special_objects(obj):
    # use your imagination
    return obj.hostname 

@cache_memoize(60 * 5, args_rewrite=simplify_special_objects)
def compute_something(special_obj):
    return _call_the_meat(special_obj.hostname)

In conclusion

I've uploaded the code as a gist.

It's quite possible that there's already a perfectly good lib that does exactly this. If so, thanks for letting me know. If not, perhaps I ought to wrap this up and publish it on PyPI. Again, that's for letting me know.

UPDATE

I found a bug in the original gist. Updated 2017-10-05.
The bug was that the calling of miss_callable and hit_callable was reversed.

Mozilla Symbol Server (aka. Tecken) load testing

06 September 2017 0 comments   Mozilla, Django, Web development, Python


(Thanks Miles Crabil not only for being an awesome Ops person but also for reviewing this blog post!)

My project over the summer, here at Mozilla, has been a project called Mozilla Symbol Server. It's a web service that uploads C++ symbol files, downloads C++ symbol files and symbolicates C++ crash stacktraces. It went into production last week which was fun but there's still lots of work to do on adding beyond-parity features and more optimizations.

What Is Mozilla Symbol Server?

The code name for this project is Tecken and it's written in Python (Django, Gunicorn) and uses PostgreSQL, Redis and Celery. The frontend is entirely static and developed (almost) as a separate project within. The frontend is written in React (using create-react-app and react-router). Everything is run as Docker containers. And if you ask me more details about how it's configured/deployed I'm afraid I have to defer to the awesome Mozilla CloudOps team.

One the challenges I faces developing Tecken is that symbol downloads need to be fast to handle high volumes of traffic. Today I did some load testing on our stage deployment and managed to start 14 concurrent clients that bombarded our staging server with realistic HTTPS GET queries based on log files. It's actually 7 + 1 + 4 + 2 concurrent clients. 7 of them from a m3.2xlarge EC2 node (8 vCPUs), 1 from a m3.large EC2 node (1 vCPU), 2 from two separate NYC based DigitalOcean personal servers and 2 clients here from my laptop on my home broadband. Basically, each loadtest script process got its own CPU.

Total req/s
It's hard to know how much more each client could push if it wasn't slowed down. Either way, the server managed to sustain about 330 requests per second. Our production baseline goal is to able to handle at least 40 requests per second.

After running for a while the caches started getting warm but about 1-5% of requests do have to make a boto3 roundtrip to an S3 bucket located on the other side of America in Oregon. There is also a ~5% penalty in that some requests trigger a write to a central Redis ElastiCache server. That's cheaper than the boto3 S3 call but still hefty latency costs to pay.

The ELB in our staging environment spreads the load between 2 c4.large (2 vCPUs, 3.75GB RAM) EC2 web heads. Each running with preloaded Gunicorn workers between Nginx and Django. Each web head has its own local memcached server to share memory between each worker but only local to the web head.

Is this a lot?

How long is a rope? Hard to tell. Tecken's performance is certainly more than enough and by the sheer fact that it was only just production deployed last week tells me we can probably find a lot of low-hanging fruit optimizations on the deployment side over time.

One way of answering that is to compare it with our lightest endpoint. One that involves absolutely no external resources. It's just pure Python in the form of ELB → Nginx → Gunicorn → Django. If I run hey from the same server I did the load testing I get a topline of 1,300 requests per second.

$ hey -n 10000 -c 10 https://symbols.stage.mozaws.net/__lbheartbeat__
Summary:
  Total:    7.6604 secs
  Slowest:  0.0610 secs
  Fastest:  0.0018 secs
  Average:  0.0075 secs
  Requests/sec: 1305.4199
...  

That basically means that all the extra "stuff" (memcache key prep, memcache key queries and possible other high latency network requests) it needs to do in the Django view takes up roughly 3x the time it takes the absolute minimal Django request-response rendering.

Also, if I use the same technique to bombard a single URL, but one that actually involves most code steps but is definitely able to not require any slow ElastiCache writes or boto3 S3 reads you I get 800 requests per second:

$ hey -n 10000 -c 10 https://symbols.stage.mozaws.net/advapi32.pdb/5EFB9BF42CC64024AB64802E467394642/advapi32.sy
Summary:
  Total:    12.4160 secs
  Slowest:  0.0651 secs
  Fastest:  0.0024 secs
  Average:  0.0122 secs
  Requests/sec: 805.4150
  Total data:   300000 bytes
  Size/request: 30 bytes
...

Lesson learned

Max CPU Used
It's a recurring reminder that performance is almost all about latency. If not RAM or disk it's networking. See the graph of the "Max CPU Used" which basically shows that CPU of user, system and stolen ("CPU spent waiting for the hypervisor to service another virtual CPU") never sum totalling over 50%.

Fastest *local* cache backend possible for Django

04 August 2017 11 comments   Django, Web development, Python


I did another couple of benchmarks of different cache backends in Django. This is an extension/update on Fastest cache backend possible for Django published a couple of months ago. This benchmarking isn't as elaborate as the last one. Fewer tests and fewer variables.

I have another app where I use a lot of caching. This web application will run its cache server on the same virtual machine. So no separation of cache server and web head(s). Just one Django server talking to localhost:11211 (memcached's default port) and localhost:6379 (Redis's default port).

Also in this benchmark, the keys were slightly smaller. To simulate my applications "realistic needs" I made the benchmark fall on roughly 80% cache hits and 20% cache misses. The cache keys were 1 to 3 characters long and the cache values lists of strings always 30 items long (e.g. len(['abc', 'def', 'cba', ... , 'cab']) == 30).

Also, in this benchmark I was too lazy to test all different parsers, serializers and compressors that django-redis supports. I only test python-memcached==1.58 versus django-redis==4.8.0 versus django-redis==4.8.0 && msgpack-python==0.4.8.

The results are quite "boring". There's basically not enough difference to matter.

Config Average Median Compared to fastest
memcache 4.51s 3.90s 100%
redis 5.41s 4.61s 84.7%
redis_msgpack 5.16s 4.40s 88.8%

UPDATE

As Hal pointed out in the comment, when you know the web server and the memcached server is on the same computer you should use UNIX sockets. They're "obviously" faster since the lack of HTTP overhead at the cost of it doesn't work over a network.

Because running memcached on a socket on OSX is a hassle I only have one benchmark. Note! This basically compares good old django.core.cache.backends.memcached.MemcachedCache with two different locations.

Config Average Median Compared to fastest
127.0.0.1:11211 3.33s 3.34s 81.3%
unix:/tmp/memcached.sock 2.66s 2.71s 100%

But there's more! Another option is to use pylibmc which is a Python client written in C. By the way, my Python I use for these microbenchmarks is Python 3.5.

Unfortunately I'm too lazy/too busy to do a matrix comparison of pylibmc on TCP versus UNIX socket. Here are the comparison results of using python-memcached versus pylibmc:

Client Average Median Compared to fastest
python-memcached 3.52s 3.52s 62.9%
pylibmc 2.31s 2.22s 100%

UPDATE 2

https://plot.ly/~jensens/36.embed

Seems my luck someone else has done the matrix comparison of python-memcached vs pylibmc on TCP vs UNIX socket:

https://plot.ly/~jensens/36.embed

Find static files defined in django-pipeline but not found

25 July 2017 0 comments   Django, Python


If you're reading this you're probably familiar with how, in django-pipeline, you define bundles of static files to be combined and served. If you're not familiar with django-pipeline it's unlike this'll be of much help.

The Challenge (aka. the pitfall)

So you specify bundles by creating things in your settings.py something like this:

PIPELINE = {
    'STYLESHEETS': {
        'colors': {
            'source_filenames': (
              'css/core.css',
              'css/colors/*.css',
              'css/layers.css'
            ),
            'output_filename': 'css/colors.css',
            'extra_context': {
                'media': 'screen,projection',
            },
        },
    },
    'JAVASCRIPT': {
        'stats': {
            'source_filenames': (
              'js/jquery.js',
              'js/d3.js',
              'js/collections/*.js',
              'js/aplication.js',
            ),
            'output_filename': 'js/stats.js',
        }
    }
}

You do a bit more configuration and now, when you run ./manage.py collectstatic --noinput Django and django-pipeline will gather up all static files from all Django apps installed, then start post processing then and doing things like concatenating them into one file and doing stuff like minification etc.

The problem is, if you look at the example snippet above, there's a typo. Instead of js/application.js it's accidentally js/aplication.js. Oh noes!!

What's sad is it that nobody will notice (running ./manage.py collectstatic will exit with a 0). At least not unless you do some careful manual reviewing. Perhaps you will notice later, when you've pushed the site to prod, that the output file js/stats.js actually doesn't contain the code from js/application.js.

Or, you can automate it!

A Solution (aka. the hack)

I started this work this morning because the error actually happened to us. Thankfully not in production but our staging server produced a rendered HTML page with <link href="/static/css/report.min.cd784b4a5e2d.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" /> which was an actual file but it was 0 bytes.

It wasn't that hard to figure out what the problem was because of the context of recent changes but it would have been nice to catch this during continuous integration.

So what we did was add an extra class to settings.STATICFILES_FINDERS called myproject.base.finders.LeftoverPipelineFinder. So now it looks like this:

# in settings.py

STATICFILES_FINDERS = (
    'django.contrib.staticfiles.finders.FileSystemFinder',
    'django.contrib.staticfiles.finders.AppDirectoriesFinder',
    'pipeline.finders.PipelineFinder',
    'myproject.finders.LeftoverPipelineFinder',  # the new hotness!
)

And here's the class implementation:

from pipeline.finders import PipelineFinder

from django.conf import settings
from django.core.exceptions import ImproperlyConfigured


class LeftoverPipelineFinder(PipelineFinder):
    """This finder is expected to come AFTER 
    django.contrib.staticfiles.finders.FileSystemFinder and 
    django.contrib.staticfiles.finders.AppDirectoriesFinder in 
    settings.STATICFILES_FINDERS.
    If a path is looked for here it means it's trying to find a file
    that none of the regular staticfiles finders couldn't find.
    """
    def find(self, path, all=False):
        # Before we raise an error, try to find out where,
        # in the bundles, this was defined. This will make it easier to correct
        # the mistake.
        for config_name in 'STYLESHEETS', 'JAVASCRIPT':
            config = settings.PIPELINE[config_name]
            for key in config:
                if path in config[key]['source_filenames']:
                    raise ImproperlyConfigured(
                        'Static file {!r} can not be found anywhere. Defined in '
                        "PIPELINE[{!r}][{!r}]['source_filenames']".format(
                            path,
                            config_name,
                            key,
                        )
                    )
        # If the file can't be found AND it's not in bundles, there's
        # got to be something else really wrong.
        raise NotImplementedError(path)

Now, if you have a typo or something in your bundles, you'll get a nice error about it as soon as you try to run collectstatic. For example:

▶ ./manage.py collectstatic --noinput
Post-processed 'css/search.min.css' as 'css/search.min.css'
Post-processed 'css/base.min.css' as 'css/base.min.css'
Post-processed 'css/base-dynamic.min.css' as 'css/base-dynamic.min.css'
Post-processed 'js/google-analytics.min.js' as 'js/google-analytics.min.js'
Traceback (most recent call last):
...
django.core.exceptions.ImproperlyConfigured: Static file 'js/aplication.js' can not be found anywhere. Defined in PIPELINE['JAVASCRIPT']['stats']['source_filenames']

Final Thoughts

This was a morning hack. I'm still not entirely sure if this the best approach, but there was none better and the result is pretty good.

We run ./manage.py collectstatic --noinput in our continous integration just before it runs ./manage.py test. So if you make a Pull Request that has a typo in bundles.py it will get caught.

Unfortunately, it won't find missing files if you use foo*.js or something like that. django-pipeline uses glob.glob to convert expressions like that into a list of actual files and that depends on the filesystem and all of that happens before the django.contrib.staticfiles.finders.find function is called.

If you have any better suggestions to solve this, please let me know.