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A Rails engine for queuing and managing maintenance tasks
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MaintenanceTasks

A Rails engine for queuing and managing maintenance tasks.

Link to demo video

Installation

To install the gem and run the install generator, execute:

$ bundle add maintenance_tasks
$ bin/rails generate maintenance_tasks:install

The generator creates and runs a migration to add the necessary table to your database. It also mounts Maintenance Tasks in your config/routes.rb. By default the web UI can be accessed in the new /maintenance_tasks path.

In case you use an exception reporting service (e.g. Bugsnag) you might want to define an error handler. See Customizing the error handler for more information.

Active Job Dependency

The Maintenance Tasks framework relies on Active Job behind the scenes to run Tasks. The default queuing backend for Active Job is asynchronous. It is strongly recommended to change this to a persistent backend so that Task progress is not lost during code or infrastructure changes. For more information on configuring a queuing backend, take a look at the Active Job documentation.

Usage

Creating a Task

A generator is provided to create tasks. Generate a new task by running:

$ bin/rails generate maintenance_tasks:task update_posts

This creates the task file app/tasks/maintenance/update_posts_task.rb.

The generated task is a subclass of MaintenanceTasks::Task that implements:

  • collection: return an Active Record Relation or an Array to be iterated over.
  • process: do the work of your maintenance task on a single record
  • count: return the number of rows that will be iterated over (optional, to be able to show progress)

Example:

# app/tasks/maintenance/update_posts_task.rb

module Maintenance
  class UpdatePostsTask < MaintenanceTasks::Task
    def collection
      Post.all
    end

    def count
      collection.count
    end

    def process(post)
      post.update!(content: "New content!")
    end
  end
end

Creating a CSV Task

You can also write a Task that iterates on a CSV file. Note that writing CSV Tasks requires Active Storage to be configured. Ensure that the dependency is specified in your application's Gemfile, and that you've followed the setup instuctions.

Generate a CSV Task by running:

$ bin/rails generate maintenance_tasks:task import_posts --csv

The generated task is a subclass of MaintenanceTasks::Task that implements:

  • process: do the work of your maintenance task on a CSV::Row
# app/tasks/maintenance/import_posts_task.rb

module Maintenance
  class ImportPostsTask < MaintenanceTasks::Task
    csv_collection

    def process(row)
      Post.create!(title: row["title"], content: row["content"])
    end
  end
end
# posts.csv
title,content
My Title,Hello World!

The files uploaded to your Active Storage service provider will be renamed first to include an ISO8601 timestamp and the Task name in snake case format.

Processing Batch Collections

The Maintenance Tasks gem supports processing Active Records in batches. This can reduce the number of calls your Task makes to the database. Use ActiveRecord::Batches#in_batches on the relation returned by your collection to specify that your Task should process batches instead of records. Active Record defaults to 1000 records by batch, but a custom size can be specified.

# app/tasks/maintenance/update_posts_in_batches_task.rb

module Maintenance
  class UpdatePostsInBatchesTask < MaintenanceTasks::Task
    def collection
      Post.in_batches
    end

    def process(batch_of_posts)
      batch_of_posts.update_all(content: "New content added on #{Time.now.utc}")
    end
  end
end

Ensure that you've implemented the following methods:

  • collection: return an ActiveRecord::Batches::BatchEnumerator.
  • process: do the work of your Task on a batch (ActiveRecord::Relation).

Note that #count is calculated automatically based on the number of batches in your collection, and your Task's progress will be displayed in terms of batches (not the number of records in the relation).

Important! Batches should only be used if #process is performing a batch operation such as #update_all or #delete_all. If you need to iterate over individual records, you should define a collection that returns an ActiveRecord::Relation. This uses batching internally, but loads the records with one SQL query. Conversely, batch collections load the primary keys of the records of the batch first, and then perform an additional query to load the records when calling each (or any Enumerable method) inside #process.

Throttling

Maintenance Tasks often modify a lot of data and can be taxing on your database. The gem provides a throttling mechanism that can be used to throttle a Task when a given condition is met. If a Task is throttled, it will be interrupted and retried after a backoff period has passed. The default backoff is 30 seconds. Specify the throttle condition as a block:

# app/tasks/maintenance/update_posts_throttled_task.rb

module Maintenance
  class UpdatePostsThrottledTask < MaintenanceTasks::Task
    throttle_on(backoff: 1.minute) do
      DatabaseStatus.unhealthy?
    end

    def collection
      Post.all
    end

    def count
      collection.count
    end

    def process(post)
      post.update!(content: "New content added on #{Time.now.utc}")
    end
  end
end

Note that it's up to you to define a throttling condition that makes sense for your app. Shopify implements DatabaseStatus.healthy? to check various MySQL metrics such as replication lag, DB threads, whether DB writes are available, etc.

Tasks can define multiple throttle conditions. Throttle conditions are inherited by descendants, and new conditions will be appended without impacting existing conditions.

Custom Task Parameters

Tasks may need additional information, supplied via parameters, to run. Parameters can be defined as Active Model Attributes in a Task, and then become accessible to any of Task's methods: #collection, #count, or #process.

# app/tasks/maintenance/update_posts_via_params_task.rb

module Maintenance
  class UpdatePostsViaParamsTask < MaintenanceTasks::Task
    attribute :updated_content, :string
    validates :updated_content, presence: true

    def collection
      Post.all
    end

    def count
      collection.count
    end

    def process(post)
      post.update!(content: updated_content)
    end
  end
end

Tasks can leverage Active Model Validations when defining parameters. Arguments supplied to a Task accepting parameters will be validated before the Task starts to run. Since arguments are specified in the user interface via text area inputs, it's important to check that they conform to the format your Task expects, and to sanitize any inputs if necessary.

Considerations when writing Tasks

MaintenanceTasks relies on the queue adapter configured for your application to run the job which is processing your Task. The guidelines for writing Task may depend on the queue adapter but in general, you should follow these rules:

  • Duration of Task#process: processing a single element of the collection should take less than 25 seconds, or the duration set as a timeout for Sidekiq or the queue adapter configured in your application. It allows the Task to be safely interrupted and resumed.
  • Idempotency of Task#process: it should be safe to run process multiple times for the same element of the collection. Read more in this Sidekiq best practice. It's important if the Task errors and you run it again, because the same element that errored the Task may well be processed again. It especially matters in the situation described above, when the iteration duration exceeds the timeout: if the job is re-enqueued, multiple elements may be processed again.

Writing tests for a Task

The task generator will also create a test file for your task in the folder test/tasks/maintenance/. At a minimum, it's recommended that the #process method in your task be tested. You may also want to test the #collection and #count methods for your task if they are sufficiently complex.

Example:

# test/tasks/maintenance/update_posts_task_test.rb

require "test_helper"

module Maintenance
  class UpdatePostsTaskTest < ActiveSupport::TestCase
    test "#process performs a task iteration" do
      post = Post.new

      Maintenance::UpdatePostsTask.process(post)

      assert_equal "New content!", post.content
    end
  end
end

Writing tests for a CSV Task

You should write tests for your #process method in a CSV Task as well. It takes a CSV::Row as an argument. You can pass a row, or a hash with string keys to #process from your test.

# test/tasks/maintenance/import_posts_task_test.rb

require "test_helper"

module Maintenance
  class ImportPostsTaskTest < ActiveSupport::TestCase
    test "#process performs a task iteration" do
      assert_difference -> { Post.count } do
        Maintenance::UpdatePostsTask.process({
          "title" => "My Title",
          "content" => "Hello World!",
        })
      end

      post = Post.last
      assert_equal "My Title", post.title
      assert_equal "Hello World!", post.content
    end
  end
end

Writing tests for a Task with parameters

Tests for tasks with parameters need to instatiate the task class in order to assign attributes. Once the task instance is setup, you may test #process normally.

# test/tasks/maintenance/update_posts_via_params_task_test.rb

require "test_helper"

module Maintenance
  class UpdatePostsViaParamsTaskTest < ActiveSupport::TestCase
    setup do
      @task = UpdatePostsViaParamsTask.new
      @task.updated_content = "Testing"
    end

    test "#process performs a task iteration" do
      assert_difference -> { Post.first.content } do
        task.process(Post.first)
      end
    end
  end
end

Running a Task

You can run your new Task by accessing the Web UI and clicking on "Run".

Alternatively, you can run your Task in the command line:

$ bundle exec maintenance_tasks perform Maintenance::UpdatePostsTask

To run a Task that processes CSVs from the command line, use the --csv option:

$ bundle exec maintenance_tasks perform Maintenance::ImportPostsTask --csv "path/to/my_csv.csv"

To run a Task that takes arguments from the command line, use the --arguments option, passing arguments as a set of <key>:<value> pairs:

$ bundle exec maintenance_tasks perform Maintenance::ParamsTask \
  --arguments post_ids:1,2,3 content:"Hello, World!"

You can also run a Task in Ruby by sending run with a Task name to Runner:

MaintenanceTasks::Runner.run(name: "Maintenance::UpdatePostsTask")

To run a Task that processes CSVs using the Runner, provide a Hash containing an open IO object and a filename to run:

MaintenanceTasks::Runner.run(
  name: "Maintenance::ImportPostsTask",
  csv_file: { io: File.open("path/to/my_csv.csv"), filename: "my_csv.csv" }
)

To run a Task that takes arguments using the Runner, provide a Hash containing the set of arguments ({ parameter_name: argument_value }) to run:

MaintenanceTasks::Runner.run(
  name: "Maintenance::ParamsTask",
  arguments: { post_ids: "1,2,3" }
)

Monitoring your Task's status

The web UI will provide updates on the status of your Task. Here are the states a Task can be in:

  • new: A Task that has not yet been run.
  • enqueued: A Task that is waiting to be performed after a user has instructed it to run.
  • running: A Task that is currently being performed by a job worker.
  • pausing: A Task that was paused by a user, but needs to finish work before stopping.
  • paused: A Task that was paused by a user and is not performing. It can be resumed.
  • interrupted: A Task that has been momentarily interrupted by the job infrastructure.
  • cancelling: A Task that was cancelled by a user, but needs to finish work before stopping.
  • cancelled: A Task that was cancelled by a user and is not performing. It cannot be resumed.
  • succeeded: A Task that finished successfully.
  • errored: A Task that encountered an unhandled exception while performing.

How Maintenance Tasks runs a Task

Maintenance tasks can be running for a long time, and the purpose of the gem is to make it easy to continue running tasks through deploys, Kubernetes Pod scheduling, Heroku dyno restarts or other infrastructure or code changes.

This means a Task can safely be interrupted, re-enqueued and resumed without any intervention at the end of an iteration, after the process method returns.

By default, a running Task will be interrupted after running for more 5 minutes. This is configured in the job-iteration gem and can be tweaked in an initializer if necessary.

Running tasks will also be interrupted and re-enqueued when needed. For example when Sidekiq workers shuts down for a deploy:

  • When Sidekiq receives a TSTP or TERM signal, it will consider itself to be stopping.
  • When Sidekiq is stopping, JobIteration stops iterating over the enumerator. The position in the iteration is saved, a new job is enqueued to resume work, and the Task is marked as interrupted.

When Sidekiq is stopping, it will give workers 25 seconds to finish before forcefully terminating them (this is the default but can be configured with the --timeout option). Before the worker threads are terminated, Sidekiq will try to re-enqueue the job so your Task will be resumed. However, the position in the collection won't be persisted so at least one iteration may run again.

Help! My Task is stuck

Finally, if the queue adapter configured for your application doesn't have this property, or if Sidekiq crashes, is forcefully terminated, or is unable to re-enqueue the jobs that were in progress, the Task may be in a seemingly stuck situation where it appears to be running but is not. In that situation, pausing or cancelling it will not result in the Task being paused or cancelled, as the Task will get stuck in a state of pausing or cancelling. As a work-around, if a Task is cancelling for more than 5 minutes, you will be able to cancel it for good, which will just mark it as cancelled, allowing you to run it again.

Configuring the gem

There are a few configurable options for the gem. Custom configurations should be placed in a maintenance_tasks.rb initializer.

Customizing the error handler

Exceptions raised while a Task is performing are rescued and information about the error is persisted and visible in the UI.

If you want to integrate with an exception monitoring service (e.g. Bugsnag), you can define an error handler:

# config/initializers/maintenance_tasks.rb

MaintenanceTasks.error_handler = ->(error, task_context, _errored_element) do
  Bugsnag.notify(error) do |notification|
    notification.add_tab(:task, task_context)
  end
end

The error handler should be a lambda that accepts three arguments:

  • error: The exception that was raised.

  • task_context: A hash with additional information about the Task and the error:

    • task_name: The name of the Task that errored
    • started_at: The time the Task started
    • ended_at: The time the Task errored

    Note that task_context may be empty if the Task produced an error before any context could be gathered (for example, if deserializing the job to process your Task failed).

  • errored_element: The element, if any, that was being processed when the Task raised an exception. If you would like to pass this object to your exception monitoring service, make sure you sanitize the object to avoid leaking sensitive data and convert it to a format that is compatible with your bug tracker. For example, Bugsnag only sends the id and class name of Active Record objects in order to protect sensitive data. CSV rows, on the other hand, are converted to strings and passed raw to Bugsnag, so make sure to filter any personal data from these objects before adding them to a report.

Customizing the maintenance tasks module

MaintenanceTasks.tasks_module can be configured to define the module in which tasks will be placed.

# config/initializers/maintenance_tasks.rb

MaintenanceTasks.tasks_module = "TaskModule"

If no value is specified, it will default to Maintenance.

Customizing the underlying job class

MaintenanceTasks.job can be configured to define a Job class for your tasks to use. This is a global configuration, so this Job class will be used across all maintenance tasks in your application.

# config/initializers/maintenance_tasks.rb

MaintenanceTasks.job = 'CustomTaskJob'

# app/jobs/custom_task_job.rb

class CustomTaskJob < MaintenanceTasks::TaskJob
  queue_as :low_priority
end

The Job class must inherit from MaintenanceTasks::TaskJob.

Note that retry_on is not supported for custom Job classes, so failed jobs cannot be retried.

Customizing the rate at which task progress gets updated

MaintenanceTasks.ticker_delay can be configured to customize how frequently task progress gets persisted to the database. It can be a Numeric value or an ActiveSupport::Duration value.

# config/initializers/maintenance_tasks.rb

MaintenanceTasks.ticker_delay = 2.seconds

If no value is specified, it will default to 1 second.

Customizing which Active Storage service to use

The Active Storage framework in Rails 6.1 and up supports multiple storage services per environment. To specify which service to use, MaintenanceTasks.active_storage_service can be configured with the service's key, as specified in your application's config/storage.yml:

# config/storage.yml

user_data:
  service: GCS
  credentials: <%= Rails.root.join("path/to/user/data/keyfile.json") %>
  project: "my-project"
  bucket: "user-data-bucket"

internal:
  service: GCS
  credentials: <%= Rails.root.join("path/to/internal/keyfile.json") %>
  project: "my-project"
  bucket: "internal-bucket"
# config/initializers/maintenance_tasks.rb

MaintenanceTasks.active_storage_service = :internal

There is no need to configure this option if your application uses only one storage service per environment.

Customizing the backtrace cleaner

MaintenanceTasks.backtrace_cleaner can be configured to specify a backtrace cleaner to use when a Task errors and the backtrace is cleaned and persisted. An ActiveSupport::BacktraceCleaner should be used.

# config/initializers/maintenance_tasks.rb

cleaner = ActiveSupport::BacktraceCleaner.new
cleaner.add_silencer { |line| line =~ /ignore_this_dir/ }

MaintenanceTasks.backtrace_cleaner = cleaner

If none is specified, the default Rails.backtrace_cleaner will be used to clean backtraces.

Upgrading

Use bundler to check for and upgrade to newer versions. After installing a new version, re-run the install command:

$ bin/rails generate maintenance_tasks:install

This ensures that new migrations are installed and run as well.

What if I've deleted my previous Maintenance Task migrations?

The install command will attempt to reinstall these old migrations and migrating the database will cause problems. Use bin/rails maintenance_tasks:install:migrations to copy the gem's migrations to your db/migrate folder. Check the release notes to see if any new migrations were added since your last gem upgrade. Ensure that these are kept, but remove any migrations that already ran.

Run the migrations using bin/rails db:migrate.

Contributing

Would you like to report an issue or contribute with code? We accept issues and pull requests. You can find the contribution guidelines on CONTRIBUTING.md.

Releasing new versions

Updates should be added to the latest draft release on GitHub as Pull Requests are merged.

Once a release is ready, follow these steps:

  • Update spec.version in maintenance_tasks.gemspec.
  • Run bundle install to bump the Gemfile.lock version of the gem.
  • Open a PR and merge on approval.
  • Deploy via Shipit and see the new version on https://rubygems.org/gems/maintenance_tasks.
  • Ensure the release has documented all changes and publish it.
  • Create a new draft release on GitHub with the title 'Upcoming Release'. The tag version can be left blank. This will be the starting point for documenting changes related to the next release.