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Veue

Background

This is a fully featured rails application, built for a startup called Veue that folded in July of 2021. The goal of the startup was to build a low-latency, realtime interactive streaming service. "Twitch for everyone!"

While the service was live, we hosted over 100 live shows, with 11,000 chat messages, and 1,100 HOURS of audiences watching shows.

1,760 commits by primarily 3 main developers into this Rails application over ~10 months: @hcatlin, @ParamagicDev, and @Sirbuland

As we are shutting down the company, we decided that since we weren't going to sell off the assets that we may as well just share what we built with the world– as long as you know how to read Ruby.

There aren't many "mature" Rails applications out there by experienced dev teams that people can look at and so we thought we'd share what we had!

As the project is, it requires access to the Phenix Live Streaming platform, which at release requires an agreement with them. In this version, you can stream with low-latency right from a modern browser.

Previous, there was code that used MUX + an Electron app called the Broadcaster to send an RTMP feed to Mux, which has self-service sign up. Ideally, if this were to be used by other people, we should go with a service that allows quick signup and credit card payments, but for now we're leaving the main branch as-is.

It's maybe-but-probably not worth it to run this yourself, but who knows.... better to put it out there than have it just blink out of existence!

Also, don't judge us too hard! We did our best to code a great product as quickly as we could!

Introduction

This is the primary Rails application for Veue. It's designed to be as standard of a Rails app as is possible, using the best practices of the Rails community and the included tooling around the ecosystem.

We use the following technologies:

  • Postgres
  • Haml
  • Sass CSS
  • Webpacker
  • Stimulus.js
  • Typescript

We use the following Third-Party services:

  • Phenix (Video Streaming platform)
  • Render (Hosting)
  • AppSignal (APM)
  • LogDNA (Logging)
  • Google Perpsective (Content Filtering)
  • IFTTT (Triggered Events)
  • Twilio (SMS)
  • AWS S3 (Image Storage)

Developer Setup

1. Setup Phenix Account

In your local copy of this repo, generate a file config/application.yml with values that another team member can share with you.

# config/application.yml

PHENIX_APP_ID: ?????????
PHENIX_APP_SECRET: ?????

This file will be ignored by git... and leave it that way. Take this secret to your graaaaavvvveeeeeeeee.

2. Postgres

For Postgres installation, visit this page: https://www.postgresql.org/download/

3. Ruby, Rails & Database Setup

First, lets pull in our dependencies:

bundle install && yarn install --check-files

Great, now let's setup the app & database. Run the following in your terminal:

rake db:setup

This will create the database, migrate the database, and seed the database for you with a couple users. However, these users aren't streamers yet... we need to set them up to be streamers!

Run the Rails server (from root of the project in a new shell)

rails s

4. Webhook With Ngrok Setup

This tool runs a magic TSL tunnel back to your machine as long as you keep it open in shell.

First download the executable from https://ngrok.com/download

You can test it from the examples on their download page. It creates a tunnel at a public URL back to an app running on your machine, only for the specified port. (Exit with Ctrl-C and the tunnel will be broken.)

To install, use brew install --cask ngrok or yarn global add ngrok depending on your preferences.

In a web browser, go to https://dashboard.ngrok.com/ and login with your Veue Google Account. This will give you a free pro ngrok account. Follow Step 2 which sets up your auth token.

To run ngrok:

$> ngrok http 3000

Look for two "Forwarding" URLs with random subdomain strings for .ngrok.io (The second one will be https)

This will open a public endpoint that we can use for our webhook. Do not close this tab! Copy the https url in there. It will look something like https://username.ngrok.io

In your config/application.yml file add the following line replacing with your custom ngrok URL.

HOSTNAME: https://username.ngrok.io

6. Webpack Dev Server

To speed up development of TS files (from root of the project in a new shell)

./bin/webpack-dev-server

Your Own Data?

To make the site work locally, you should follow the directions for how to do a Broadcast.

Troubleshooting

bundle install issues

If you get a crash when running gem install puma -v '4.3.5' --source 'https://rubygems.org/', this strange Puma build error has been reported on macOS Catalina and Big Sur

puma_http11.c:203:22: error: implicitly declaring library function 'isspace' with type 'int (int)' [-Werror,-Wimplicit-function-declaration]

to fix run

gem install puma:4.3.5 -- --with-cflags="-Wno-error=implicit-function-declaration"

Then re-run bundle install and it should run through cleanly now.

for more info see https://thoughtfulapps.com/articles/rails/puma-implicitly-declaring-library-function-error

Checks

We use both testing and linters and formatters to ensure consistency in our codebase. On every PR, the following are checked:

Rspec

To run the test suite run:

rails spec

Prettier — FOR TYPESCRIPT/JAVASCRIPT

To run on the entire codebase, run yarn prettier app/ spec/

To run on only one file, run

yarn prettier app/javascript/controllers/my_controller.ts

However, running prettier this way doesn't actually change or prettify your files. All it does is give you warnings.

To have prettier actually re-write your files, you'll want to run it with the --write flag.

yarn prettier --write app/ spec/

You'll want to do this for any Typescript file or spec you add or modify.

Rubocop — For Ruby

Make sure any Ruby code you add or modify passes Rubocop.

You do this by running rubocop on your console. To tell Rubocop to correct your syntax for you use rubocop -A

The full docs are here: https://docs.rubocop.org/rubocop/1.3/index.html

Streaming Architecture

There are several goals of our Streaming Architecture:

  • Low Latency
  • Replay Enabled
  • Sycnchronized Events
  • Browser-Based

There are three main components to how a stream works.

  • Publishing / Ingest - The "streamer" is uploading a video stream to our system and we both record it and send it to live audience members.
  • Live Viewing - When the video is live, we need to get the video to the audience member as quickly as possible
  • Replay Viewing / VOD - After the broadcast is completed, audience members can re-watch the recording with synchronized events.

Sequence Diagram

The source for this image can be found in the docs folder. Please update whenever you can!

Environment Variables

Flags

These may need to be changed on occasion

VELVET_ROPE: true/false - Is the landing page on the root or not?
PERSPECTIVE_API_ENABLED: true/false - Used to turn on or off the Perspective API
PERSPECTIVE_API_SCORE_THRESHOLD: 0.0...1.0 - Cutoff values for not publishing chat messages, 1.0 being the worst and 0.0 being innocent

Third Party Configurations

AppSignal

APPSIGNAL_FRONTEND_KEY: string - Needed for AppSignal Javascript Reporting
APPSIGNAL_PUSH_API_KEY: string - AppSignal's Backend Push Key
APPSIGNAL_APP_ENV: string - AppSignal "environment" tag, used to structure reporting in Appsignal

Google

GOOGLE_CLOUD_KEY: string - Access to the Google Cloud Perspective API

Mux

MUX_TOKEN_ID;
MUX_TOKEN_SECRET;

AWS

Used for S3 storage

AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID;
AWS_BUCKET;
AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY;

LogDNA

LOG_DNA_KEY;

Twilio

TWILIO_ACCOUNT_SID;
TWILIO_AUTH_TOKEN;
TWILIO_PHONE_NUMBER; //- The actual phone number we send from

IFTTT

IFTTT_PUSH_KEY;

Fanout.io

GRIP_REALM_ID;
GRIP_REALM_KEY;
GRIP_URL; //- optional if you want to override

About

Veue was a live video streaming service, and this is the code built over ~10 months by Hampton Catlin, Konnor Rogers, Sirbuland Atlas, and a handful of others.

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