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README.md

Duckweed

Duckweed is a general-purpose metrics service that can be used to count things.

It consists of a simple Sinatra front-end and a Redis back-end. No configuration is required to start tracking new events; just make an HTTP POST request to a Duckweed instance with a new event name and Duckweed will start tracking it. Metrics can be read back from Duckweed with simple HTTP requests.

Examples of things you can do with Duckweed:

  • product metrics: gauge the success of your product by pinging Duckweed every time a user takes a particular action on your site
  • health metrics: count important application events to get immediate feedback when something is broken
  • A/B testing: use Duckweed to record the activity of experiment and control groups
  • application and server monitoring: count periodic events using Duckweed and ask a health monitoring service like Nagios to check whether the event's frequency is above the desired minimum threshold

Duckweed was designed to be simple, reliable and performant. It's easy to set-up, and easy to use. It's particularly optimized for providing immediate, real-time feedback to help you be aware of what's going on right now in your app. It's not really intended to be a historical archive of all activity on your site reaching far back in time.

Integration with third-party services

  • Geckoboard: Duckweed knows how to export results in JSON format suitable for consumption by Geckboard (http://www.geckoboard.com/), which means you can easily get insight into Duckweed's metrics in the form of graphical charts and counters
  • Pingdom: Duckweed can answer health probes from the Pingdom monitoring service (http://pingdom.com/) so that you can be alerted as soon as an important metric falls below some critical threshold
  • Airbrake/Hoptoad: Duckweed can talk to the Airbrake error reporting and aggregaton service (http://airbrakeapp.com/), so you'll find out if anything ever goes wrong with Duckweed itself

Data storage

Events are stored in buckets of minute, hour, and day granularity. As Duckweed is all about getting insight into current application behavior, minute-granularity data is kept for 2 days, hour-granularity data is kept for about a month, and day-granularity data is kept for 5 years.

Set-up

  1. Clone Duckweed on a box that has Redis installed and running
  2. Install its dependencies using bundle install
  3. Fire up a Ruby console with bundle exec irb -r lib/duckweed/token -r lib/duckweed
  4. Set-up an auth token with Duckweed::Token.authorize 'secret_token', 'rw'
  5. Run Duckweed using your Rack-compatible server of choice (for example, using rackup)

(Note that you can set up a token with read/write access for internal use, and set up different tokens with only read access that you can assign to external services such as Geckoboard and Pingdom.)

Interface

You interact with Duckweed over a simple HTTP-based API. This means that you can post events to Duckweed with basically any language that provides a means of making HTTP requests. You can read event metrics back using the same tools. It is even possible to script access to Duckweed using the curl tool from the command-line.

All requests require authentication via the auth_token query paramter in the URL, or HTTP Basic Authentication.

POST /track/:event

Notify Duckweed that an event has occurred. Optionally takes a quantity parameter (to indicate that a batch job has caused :event to occur a number of times) and a timestamp parameter (useful, for example, when you are running your Duckweed POST requests from an asynchronous work queue, and you want the event to be recorded as having taken place when the job was enqueued, not when it finally ran).

GET /count/:event and GET /count/:event/:granularity/:quantity

Ask Duckweed the number of times an event has occurred. Optionally takes quantity (a number) and granularity ("minutes", "hours", "days") parameters so that you can specify the period over which the count should be returned. Defaults to the last hour with minute-granularity. Also takes an optional offset parameter, which can be used to look further back in time, starting with older buckets (defaults to 1).

GET /histogram/:event

Returns a JSON object suitable for consumption by Geckoboard which shows the count of the requested :event over time. Respects the usual quantity, granuarity and offset parameters.

GET /accumulate/:event

Similar to the "histogram" action, but aggregates counts as it moves from older to newer buckets, showing the additive affect of events over time.

POST /multicount

Like "count" but can be used to query the counts for a large number of events at once rather than having to make multiple GET requests.

GET /check/:event

Given a threshold parameter make sure the count of the specified :event is above the threshold. Returns a "GOOD" or "BAD" string that can be detected by a monitoring service such as Nagios or Pingdom. Also takes the usual parameters of quantity and granularity.

About Causes (http://www.causes.com/)

We built Duckweed to give us real-time insight into our product's performance and get rapid feedback on things like application health and experiment results.

If you'd like to work with us, check out http://www.causes.com/join_us and get in touch with us at jobs@causes.com.

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