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Active Support Instrumentation

Active Support is a part of core Rails that provides Ruby language extensions, utilities and other things. One of the things it includes is an instrumentation API that can be used inside an application to measure certain actions that occur within Ruby code, such as that inside a Rails application or the framework itself. It is not limited to Rails, however. It can be used independently in other Ruby scripts if it is so desired.

In this guide, you will learn how to use the instrumentation API inside of ActiveSupport to measure events inside of Rails and other Ruby code. We cover:

  • What instrumentation can provide
  • The hooks inside the Rails framework for instrumentation
  • Adding a subscriber to a hook
  • Building a custom instrumentation implementation

endprologue.

Introduction to instrumentation

The instrumentation API provided by ActiveSupport allows developers to provide hooks which other developers may hook into. There are several of these within the Rails framework, as described below in . With this API, developers can choose to be notified when certain events occur inside their application or another piece of Ruby code.

For example, there is a hook provided within Active Record that is called every time Active Record uses a SQL query on a database. This hook could be subscribed to, and used to track the number of queries during a certain action. There’s another hook around the processing of an action of a controller. This could be used, for instance, to track how long a specific action has taken.

You are even able to create your own events inside your application which you can later subscribe to.

Rails framework hooks

Within the Ruby on Rails framework, there are a number of hooks provided for common events. These are detailed below.

ActionController

write_fragment.action_controller

Key Value
:key The complete key

{
:key => ‘posts/1-dasboard-view’
}

read_fragment.action_controller

Key Value
:key The complete key

{
:key => ‘posts/1-dasboard-view’
}

expire_fragment.action_controller

Key Value
:key The complete key

{
:key => ‘posts/1-dasboard-view’
}

exist_fragment?.action_controller

Key Value
:key The complete key

{
:key => ‘posts/1-dasboard-view’
}

write_page.action_controller

Key Value
:path The complete path

{
:path => ‘/users/1’
}

expire_page.action_controller

Key Value
:path The complete path

{
:path => ‘/users/1’
}

start_processing.action_controller

Key Value
:controller The controller name
:action The action
:params Hash of request parameters without any filtered parameter
:format html/js/json/xml etc
:method HTTP request verb
:path Request path

{
:controller => “PostsController”,
:action => “new”,
:params => { “action” => “new”, “controller” => “posts” },
:format => :html,
:method => “GET”,
:path => “/posts/new”
}

process_action.action_controller

Key Value
:controller The controller name
:action The action
:params Hash of request parameters without any filtered parameter
:format html/js/json/xml etc
:method HTTP request verb
:path Request path
:view_runtime Amount spent in view in ms

{
:controller => “PostsController”,
:action => “index”,
:params => {"action" => “index”, “controller” => "posts"},
:format => :html,
:method => “GET”,
:path => “/posts”,
:status => 200,
:view_runtime => 46.848,
:db_runtime => 0.157
}

send_file.action_controller

Key Value
:path Complete path to the file

INFO. Additional keys may be added by the caller.

send_data.action_controller

ActionController does not had any specific information to the payload. All options are passed through to the payload.

redirect_to.action_controller

Key Value
:status HTTP response code
:location URL to redirect to

{
:status => 302,
:location => “http://localhost:3000/posts/new”
}

halted_callback.action_controller

Key Value
:filter Filter that halted the action

{
:filter => “:halting_filter”
}

ActionView

render_template.action_view

Key Value
:identifier Full path to template
:layout Applicable layout

{
:identifier => “/Users/adam/projects/notifications/app/views/posts/index.html.erb”,
:layout => “layouts/application”
}

render_partial.action_view

Key Value
:identifier Full path to template

{
:identifier => “/Users/adam/projects/notifications/app/views/posts/_form.html.erb”,
}

ActiveRecord

sql.active_record

Key Value
:sql SQL statement
:name Name of the operation
:object_id self.object_id

INFO. The adapters will add their own data as well.

{
:sql => “SELECT \”posts\“.* FROM \”posts\" ",
:name => “Post Load”,
:connection_id => 70307250813140,
:binds => []
}

identity.active_record

Key Value
:line Primary Key of object in the identity map
:name Record’s class
:connection_id self.object_id

ActionMailer

receive.action_mailer

Key Value
:mailer Name of the mailer class
:message_id ID of the message, generated by the Mail gem
:subject Subject of the mail
:to To address(es) of the mail
:from From address of the mail
:bcc BCC addresses of the mail
:cc CC addresses of the mail
:date Date of the mail
:mail The encoded form of the mail

{
:mailer => “Notification”,
:message_id => “4f5b5491f1774_181b23fc3d4434d38138e5@mba.local.mail”,
:subject => “Rails Guides”,
:to => [“users@rails.com”, “ddh@rails.com”],
:from => [“me@rails.com”],
:date => Sat, 10 Mar 2012 14:18:09 +0100,
:mail=> “…” # ommitted for beverity
}

deliver.action_mailer

Key Value
:mailer Name of the mailer class
:message_id ID of the message, generated by the Mail gem
:subject Subject of the mail
:to To address(es) of the mail
:from From address of the mail
:bcc BCC addresses of the mail
:cc CC addresses of the mail
:date Date of the mail
:mail The encoded form of the mail

{
:mailer => “Notification”,
:message_id => “4f5b5491f1774_181b23fc3d4434d38138e5@mba.local.mail”,
:subject => “Rails Guides”,
:to => [“users@rails.com”, “ddh@rails.com”],
:from => [“me@rails.com”],
:date => Sat, 10 Mar 2012 14:18:09 +0100,
:mail=> “…” # ommitted for beverity
}

ActiveResource

request.active_resource

Key Value
:method HTTP method
:request_uri Complete URI
:result HTTP response object

ActiveSupport

cache_read.active_support

Key Value
:key Key used in the store
:hit If this read is a hit
:super_operation :fetch is added when a read is used with #fetch

cache_generate.active_support

This event is only used when #fetch is called with a block.

Key Value
:key Key used in the store

INFO. Options passed to fetch will be merged with the payload when writing to the store

{
:key => ‘name-of-complicated-computation’
}

cache_fetch_hit.active_support

This event is only used when #fetch is called with a block.

Key Value
:key Key used in the store

INFO. Options passed to fetch will be merged with the payload.

{
:key => ‘name-of-complicated-computation’
}

cache_write.active_support

Key Value
:key Key used in the store

INFO. Cache stores my add their own keys

{
:key => ‘name-of-complicated-computation’
}

cache_delete.active_support

Key Value
:key Key used in the store

{
:key => ‘name-of-complicated-computation’
}

cache_exist?.active_support

Key Value
:key Key used in the store

{
:key => ‘name-of-complicated-computation’
}

Rails

deprecation.rails

Key Value
:message The deprecation warning
:callstack Where the deprecation came from

Subscribing to an event

Subscribing to an event is easy. Use ActiveSupport::Notifications.subscribe with a block to
listen to any notification.

The block receives the following arguments:

  1. The name of the event
  2. Time when is started
  3. Time when it finished
  4. An unique ID for this event
  5. The payload (described in previous sections)

ActiveSupport::Notifications.subscribe “process_action.action_controller” do |name, started, finished, unique_id, data|

  1. your own custom stuff
    Rails.logger.info “#{name} Received!”
    end

Defining all those block arguments each time can be tedious. You can easily create an ActiveSupport::Notifications::Event
from block args like this:

ActiveSupport::Notifications.subscribe “process_action.action_controller” do |*args|
event = ActiveSupport::Notification::Event.new args

event.name # => “process_action.action_controller” event.duration # => 10 (in milliseconds) event.payload # => { :extra => :information } Rails.logger.info “#{event} Received!”

end

Most times you only care about the data itself. Here is a shortuct to just get the data.

ActiveSupport::Notifications.subscribe “process_action.action_controller” do |*args|
data = args.extract_options!
data # { :extra => :information }

You may also subscribe to events matching a regular expresssion. This enables you to subscribe to
multiple events at once. Here’s you could subscribe to everything from ActionController.

ActiveSupport::Notifications.subscribe /action_controller/ do |*args|

  1. inspect all ActionController events
    end

Creating custom events

Adding your own events is easy as well. ActiveSupport::Notifications will take care of
all the heavy lifting for you. Simply call instrument with a name, payload and a block.
The notification will be sent after the block returns. ActiveSupport will generate the start and end times
as well as the unique ID. All data passed into the insturment call will make it into the payload.

Here’s an example:

ActiveSupport::Notifications.instrument “my.custom.event”, :this => :data do

  1. do your custom stuff here
    end

Now you can listen to this event with:

ActiveSupport::Notifications.subscribe “my.custom.event” do |name, started, finished, unique_id, data|
puts data.inspect # { :this => :data }
end

You should follow Rails conventions when defining your own events. The format is: event.library.
If you application is sending Tweets, you should create an event named tweet.twitter.

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