Author Archives: Sylvain Hellegouarch

Deploying a docker container of a CherryPy application onto a CoreOS cluster

Previously, I presented a simple web application that was distributed into several docker containers. In this article, I will be introducing the CoreOS platform as the backend for clusterizing a CherryPy application.

CoreOS quick overview

CoreOS is a Linux distribution designed to support distributed/clustering scenarios. I will not spend too much time explaining it here as their documentation already provides lots of information. Most specifically, review their architecture use-cases for a good overview of what CoreOS is articulated.

What matters to us in this article is that we can use CoreOS to manage a cluster of nodes that will host our application as docker containers. To achieve this, CoreOS relies on a technologies such as systemd, etcd and fleet at its core.

Each CoreOS instance within the cluster runs a linux kernel which executes systemd to manage processes within that instance. etcd is a distributed key/value store used across the cluster to enable service discovery and configuration synchronization within the cluster. Fleet is used to manage services executed within your cluster. Those services aredescribed in files called unit files.

Roughly speaking, you use a unit-file to describe your service and specify which docker container to execute. Using fleet, you submit and load that service to the cluster before starting/stopping it at will. CoreOS will determine which host it will deploy it on (you can setup constraints that CoreOS will follow). Once loaded onto a node, the node’s systemd takes over to manage the service locally and you can use fleet to query the status of that service from outside.

Setup your environment with Vagrant

Vagrant is a nifty tool to orchestrate small deployment on your development machine. For instance, here is a simple command to create a node with Ubuntu running on it:

$ vagrant up ubuntu/trusty64 --provider virtualbox

Vagrant has a fairly rich command line you can script to generate a final image. However, Vagrant usually provisions virtual machines by following a description found within a simple text file (well actually it’s a ruby module) called a Vagrantfile. This is the path we will be following in this article.

Let’s get the code:

$ hg clone https://bitbucket.org/Lawouach/cherrypy-recipes
$ cd cherrypy-recipes/deployment/container/vagrant_webapp_with_load_balancing

From there you can create the cluster as follows:

$ eval `ssh-agent -s`
$ export FLEETCTL_TUNNEL=127.0.0.1:2222
$ ./cluster create

I am not using directly vagrant to create the cluster because there are a couple of other operations that must be carried to let fleet talk to the CoreOS node properly. Namely:

  • Generate a new cluster id (via https://discovery.etcd.io/new)
  • Start a ssh agent to handle the node’s SSH identities to connect from the outside
  • Indicate where to locate the node’s ssh service (through a port mapped by Vagrant)
  • Create the cluster (this calls vagrant up internally)

Once completed, you should have a running CoreOS node that you can log into:

$ vagrant ssh core-01

To destroy the cluster and terminate the node:

$ ./cluster destroy

This also takes care of wiping out local resources that we don’t need any longer.

Before moving on, you will need to install the fleet tools.

$ wget https://github.com/coreos/fleet/releases/download/v0.9.0/fleet-v0.9.0-linux-amd64.tar.gz
$ tar zxvf fleet-v0.9.0-linux-amd64.tar.gz
$ export PATH=$PATH:`pwd`/fleet-v0.9.0-linux-amd64

Run your CherryPy application onto the cluster

If you have destroyed the cluster, re-create it and make sure you can speak to it through fleet as follows:

$ fleetctl list-machines
MACHINE IP METADATA
50f6819c... 172.17.8.101 -

Bingo! This is the public address we statically set in the Vagrantfile associated to the node.

Let’s ensure we have no registered units yet:

$ fleetctl list-unit-files
UNIT HASH DSTATE STATE TARGET

$ fleetctl list-units
UNIT MACHINE ACTIVE SUB

Okay, all is good. Now, let’s push each of our units to the cluster:

$ fleetctl submit units/webapp_db.service
$ fleetctl submit units/webapp_app@.service 
$ fleetctl submit units/webapp_load_balancer.service 

$ fleetctl list-unit-files
UNIT                            HASH    DSTATE          STATE           TARGET
webapp_app@.service             02c0c64 inactive        inactive        -
webapp_db.service               127e44a inactive        inactive        -
webapp_load_balancer.service    e1cfee6 inactive        inactive        -

$ fleetctl list-units
UNIT    MACHINE  ACTIVE  SUB

As you can see, the unit files have been registered but they are not loaded onto the cluster yet.

Notice the naming convention used for webapp_app@.service, this is due to the fact that this is will not be considered as a service description itself but as a template for a named service. We will see this in a minute. Refer to this extensive DigitalOcean article for more details regarding unit files.

Let’s now load each unit onto the cluster:

$ fleetctl load units/webapp_db.service
Unit webapp_db.service loaded on 50f6819c.../172.17.8.101

$ fleetctl list-units
UNIT              MACHINE                  ACTIVE   SUB
webapp_db.service 50f6819c.../172.17.8.101 inactive dead

Here, we asked fleet to load the service onto an available node. Considering there is a single node, it wasn’t a a difficult decision to make.

At that stage, your service is not started. It simply is attached to a node.

$ fleetctl journal webapp_db.service
-- Logs begin at Tue 2015-02-17 19:26:07 UTC, end at Tue 2015-02-17 19:40:49 UTC. --

It is not compulsory to explicitely load before starting a service. However, if gives you the opportunity to unload a service if a specific condition occurs (service needs to be amended, the chosen host isn’t valid any longer…).

Now ce can finally start it:

$ fleetctl start units/webapp_db.service 
Unit webapp_db.service launched on 50f6819c.../172.17.8.101

You can see what’s happening:

$ fleetctl journal webapp_db.service
-- Logs begin at Tue 2015-02-17 19:26:07 UTC, end at Tue 2015-02-17 19:56:28 UTC. --
Feb 17 19:56:19 core-01 docker[1561]: dc55e5f30ff9: Pulling fs layer
Feb 17 19:56:21 core-01 docker[1561]: dc55e5f30ff9: Download complete
Feb 17 19:56:21 core-01 docker[1561]: 835f524d1d7e: Pulling metadata
Feb 17 19:56:22 core-01 docker[1561]: 835f524d1d7e: Pulling fs layer
Feb 17 19:56:24 core-01 docker[1561]: 835f524d1d7e: Download complete
Feb 17 19:56:24 core-01 docker[1561]: cb0503cedddb: Pulling metadata
Feb 17 19:56:25 core-01 docker[1561]: cb0503cedddb: Pulling fs layer
Feb 17 19:56:27 core-01 docker[1561]: cb0503cedddb: Download complete
Feb 17 19:56:27 core-01 docker[1561]: cdd30fd0c6f3: Pulling metadata
Feb 17 19:56:27 core-01 docker[1561]: cdd30fd0c6f3: Pulling fs layer

Or alternatively, you can request the service’s status:

$ fleetctl status units/webapp_db.service 
● webapp_db.service - Notes database
   Loaded: loaded (/run/fleet/units/webapp_db.service; linked-runtime; vendor preset: disabled)
   Active: activating (start-pre) since Tue 2015-02-17 19:55:33 UTC; 1min 25s ago
  Process: 1552 ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/docker rm notesdb (code=exited, status=1/FAILURE)
  Process: 1478 ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/docker kill notesdb (code=exited, status=1/FAILURE)
  Control: 1561 (docker)
   CGroup: /system.slice/webapp_db.service
           └─control
             └─1561 /usr/bin/docker pull lawouach/webapp_db

Feb 17 19:56:31 core-01 docker[1561]: c1eac5e31754: Pulling fs layer
Feb 17 19:56:33 core-01 docker[1561]: c1eac5e31754: Download complete
Feb 17 19:56:33 core-01 docker[1561]: 672ef5050bb9: Pulling metadata
Feb 17 19:56:35 core-01 docker[1561]: 672ef5050bb9: Pulling fs layer
Feb 17 19:56:36 core-01 docker[1561]: 672ef5050bb9: Download complete
Feb 17 19:56:36 core-01 docker[1561]: 7ebc912be04a: Pulling metadata
Feb 17 19:56:37 core-01 docker[1561]: 7ebc912be04a: Pulling fs layer
Feb 17 19:56:52 core-01 docker[1561]: 7ebc912be04a: Download complete
Feb 17 19:56:52 core-01 docker[1561]: 22f2bfe64e7f: Pulling metadata
Feb 17 19:56:52 core-01 docker[1561]: 22f2bfe64e7f: Pulling fs layer

Once the service is ready:

fleetctl status units/webapp_db.service 
● webapp_db.service - Notes database
   Loaded: loaded (/run/fleet/units/webapp_db.service; linked-runtime; vendor preset: disabled)
   Active: active (running) since Tue 2015-02-17 19:57:24 UTC; 2min 46s ago
  Process: 1561 ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/docker pull lawouach/webapp_db (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
  Process: 1552 ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/docker rm notesdb (code=exited, status=1/FAILURE)
  Process: 1478 ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/docker kill notesdb (code=exited, status=1/FAILURE)
 Main PID: 1831 (docker)
   CGroup: /system.slice/webapp_db.service
           └─1831 /usr/bin/docker run --name notesdb -e POSTGRES_PASSWORD=test -e POSTGRES_USER=test -t lawouach/webapp_db:latest

Feb 17 19:57:28 core-01 docker[1831]: backend>
Feb 17 19:57:28 core-01 docker[1831]: PostgreSQL stand-alone backend 9.4.0
Feb 17 19:57:28 core-01 docker[1831]: backend> statement: CREATE USER "test" WITH SUPERUSER PASSWORD 'test' ;
Feb 17 19:57:28 core-01 docker[1831]: backend>
Feb 17 19:57:28 core-01 docker[1831]: ******CREATING NOTES DATABASE******
Feb 17 19:57:28 core-01 docker[1831]: PostgreSQL stand-alone backend 9.4.0
Feb 17 19:57:28 core-01 docker[1831]: backend> backend> backend> ******DOCKER NOTES CREATED******
Feb 17 19:57:28 core-01 docker[1831]: LOG:  database system was shut down at 2015-02-17 19:57:28 UTC
Feb 17 19:57:28 core-01 docker[1831]: LOG:  database system is ready to accept connections
Feb 17 19:57:28 core-01 docker[1831]: LOG:  autovacuum launcher started

Starting a service from a unit template works the same way except you provide an identifier to the instance:

$ fleetctl load units/webapp_app@1.service
$ fleetctl start units/webapp_app@1.service
$ fleetctl status units/webapp_app@1.service 
● webapp_app@1.service - App service
   Loaded: loaded (/run/fleet/units/webapp_app@1.service; linked-runtime; vendor preset: disabled)
   Active: active (running) since Tue 2015-02-17 20:06:40 UTC; 2min 56s ago
  Process: 2031 ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/docker pull lawouach/webapp_app (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
  Process: 2019 ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/docker rm notes%i (code=exited, status=1/FAILURE)
  Process: 2012 ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/docker kill notes%i (code=exited, status=1/FAILURE)
 Main PID: 2170 (docker)
   CGroup: /system.slice/system-webapp_app.slice/webapp_app@1.service
           └─2170 /usr/bin/docker run --link notesdb:postgres --name notes1 -P -t lawouach/webapp_app:latest

Feb 17 20:06:41 core-01 docker[2170]: [17/Feb/2015:20:06:41] ENGINE Listening for SIGHUP.
Feb 17 20:06:41 core-01 docker[2170]: [17/Feb/2015:20:06:41] ENGINE Listening for SIGTERM.
Feb 17 20:06:41 core-01 docker[2170]: [17/Feb/2015:20:06:41] ENGINE Listening for SIGUSR1.
Feb 17 20:06:41 core-01 docker[2170]: [17/Feb/2015:20:06:41] ENGINE Bus STARTING
Feb 17 20:06:41 core-01 docker[2170]: [17/Feb/2015:20:06:41] ENGINE Starting up DB access
Feb 17 20:06:41 core-01 docker[2170]: [17/Feb/2015:20:06:41] ENGINE Setting up Mako resources
Feb 17 20:06:41 core-01 docker[2170]: [17/Feb/2015:20:06:41] ENGINE Started monitor thread 'Autoreloader'.
Feb 17 20:06:41 core-01 docker[2170]: [17/Feb/2015:20:06:41] ENGINE Started monitor thread '_TimeoutMonitor'.
Feb 17 20:06:42 core-01 docker[2170]: [17/Feb/2015:20:06:42] ENGINE Serving on http://0.0.0.0:8080
Feb 17 20:06:42 core-01 docker[2170]: [17/Feb/2015:20:06:42] ENGINE Bus STARTED

The reason I chose 1 as the identifier is so that it the container’s name becomes notes1 as expected by the load-balancer container when linking it to the application’s container. As described in the previous article.

Start a second instance of that unit template:

$ fleetctl load units/webapp_app@2.service
$ fleetctl start units/webapp_app@2.service

That second instance starts immediatly because the image is already there.

Finally, once both services are marked as “active”, you can start the load-balancer service as well:

$ fleetctl start units/webapp_load_balancer.service 
$ fleetctl status units/webapp_load_balancer.service 
● webapp_load_balancer.service - Load Balancer service
   Loaded: loaded (/run/fleet/units/webapp_load_balancer.service; linked-runtime; vendor preset: disabled)
   Active: active (running) since Tue 2015-02-17 20:10:21 UTC; 1min 51s ago
  Process: 2418 ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/docker pull lawouach/webapp_load_balancer (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
  Process: 2410 ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/docker rm notes_loadbalancer (code=exited, status=1/FAILURE)
  Process: 2403 ExecStartPre=/usr/bin/docker kill notes_loadbalancer (code=exited, status=1/FAILURE)
 Main PID: 2500 (docker)
   CGroup: /system.slice/webapp_load_balancer.service
           └─2500 /usr/bin/docker run --link notes1:n1 --link notes2:n2 --name notes_loadbalancer -p 8090:8090 -p 8091:8091 -t lawouach/webapp_load_balancer:latest

Feb 17 20:10:14 core-01 docker[2418]: 9284a1282362: Download complete
Feb 17 20:10:14 core-01 docker[2418]: d53024a13d34: Pulling metadata
Feb 17 20:10:15 core-01 docker[2418]: d53024a13d34: Pulling fs layer
Feb 17 20:10:17 core-01 docker[2418]: d53024a13d34: Download complete
Feb 17 20:10:17 core-01 docker[2418]: 45e1cf959053: Pulling metadata
Feb 17 20:10:18 core-01 docker[2418]: 45e1cf959053: Pulling fs layer
Feb 17 20:10:21 core-01 docker[2418]: 45e1cf959053: Download complete
Feb 17 20:10:21 core-01 docker[2418]: 45e1cf959053: Download complete
Feb 17 20:10:21 core-01 docker[2418]: Status: Downloaded newer image for lawouach/webapp_load_balancer:latest
Feb 17 20:10:21 core-01 systemd[1]: Started Load Balancer service.

At that stage, the complete application is up and running and you can go to http://localhost:7070/ to use it. Port 7070 is mapped to port 8091 by vagrant within our Vagrantfile.

No such thing as a free lunch

As I said earlier, we created a cluster of one node on purpose. Indeed, the way all our containers are able to dynamically know where to locate each other is through the linking mechanism. Though this works very well in simple scenarios like this one, this has a fundamental limit since you cannot link across different hosts. If we had multiple nodes, fleet would try distributing our services accross all of them (unless we decided to constraint this within the unit files) and this would break the links between them obviously. This is why, in this particular example, we create a single node’s cluster.

Docker provides a mechanism named ambassador to address this restriction but we will not review it, instead we will benefit from a flat sub-network topology provided by weave as it seems it follows a more traditional path than the docker’s linking approach. This will be the subject of my next article.

A more concrete example of a complete web application with CherryPy, PostgreSQL and haproxy

In the previous post, I described how to setup a docker image to host your CherryPy application. In this installment, I will present a complete – although simple – web application made of a database, two web application servers and a load-balancer.

Setup a database service

We are going to create a docker image to host our database instance, but because we are lazy and because it has been done already, we will be using an official image of PostgreSQL.

$ docker run --name webdb -e POSTGRES_PASSWORD=test -e POSTGRES_USER=test -d postgres

As you can see, we run the official, latest, PostgreSQL image. By setting the POSTGRES_USER and POSTGRES_PASSWORD, we make sure the container creates the according account for us. We also set a name for this container, this will be useful when we link to it from another container as we will see later on.

A word of warning, this image is not necessarily secure. I would advise you to consider this question prior to using it in production.

Now that the server is running, let’s create a database for our application. Run a new container which will execute the psql shell:

$ docker run -it --link webdb:postgres --rm postgres sh -c 'exec psql -h "$POSTGRES_PORT_5432_TCP_ADDR" -p "$POSTGRES_PORT_5432_TCP_PORT" -U test'
 Password for user test:
 psql (9.4.0)
 Type "help" for help.
 test=# CREATE DATABASE notes;
 CREATE DATABASE
 test=# \c notes \dt
 You are now connected to database "notes" as user "test".
 List of relations
 Schema | Name | Type | Owner
 --------+------+-------+-------
 public | note | table | test
 (1 row)
 notes=#

We have connected to the server, we then create the “notes” database and connect to it.

How did this work? Well, the magic happens through the –link wedb:postgres we provided to the run command. This tells the new container we are linking to a container named webdb and that we create an alias for it inside that new container. That alias is used by docker to initialize a few environment variables such as:

POSTGRES_PORT_5432_TCP_ADDR: 
   the IP address of the linked container
POSTGRES_PORT_5432_TCP_PORT: 
   the exposed port 5432 (which is quite obviously the server's port)

Notice the POSTGRES_ prefix? This is exactly the alias we gave in the command’s argument. This is the mechanism by which you will link your containers so that they can talk to each other.

Note that there are alternatives, such as weave, that may be a little more complex but probably more powerful. Make sure to check them out at some point.

Setup our web application service

We are going to run a very basic web application. It will be a form to take notes. The application will display them and you will be able to delete each note. The notes are posted via javascript through a simple REST API. Nothing fancy. Here is a screenshot for you:

notes_screen

By the way, the application uses Yahoo’s Pure.css framework to change from bootstrap.

Simply clone the mercurial repository to fetch the code.

$ hg clone https://Lawouach@bitbucket.org/Lawouach/cherrypy-recipes
$ cd cherrypy-recipes/deployment/container/webapp_with_load_balancing/notesapp
$ ls
Dockerfile webapp

This will download the whole repository but fear not, it’s rather lightweight. You can review the Dockerfile which is rather similar to what was described in my previous post. Notice how we copy the webapp subdirectory onto the image.

We can now create our image from that directory:

$ docker build -t lawouach/webapp:latest .

As usual, change the tag to whatever suits you.

Let’s now run two containers from that image:

$ docker run --link webdb:postgres --name notes1 --rm -p 8080:8080 -i -t lawouach/webapp:latest
$ docker run --link webdb:postgres --name notes2 --rm -p 8081:8080 -i -t lawouach/webapp:latest

We link those two containers with the container running our database. We can therefore use that knowledge to connect to the database via SQLAlchemy. We also publish the application’s port to two distinct ports on the host. Finally, we name our containers so that can we reference them in the next container we will be creating.

At this stage, you ought to see that your application is running by going either to http://localhost:8080/ or http://localhost:8081/.

Setup a load balancer service

Our last service – microservice should I say – is a simple load-balancer between our two web applications. To support this feature, we will be using haproxy. Well-known, reliable and lean component for such a task.

$ cd cherrypy-recipes/deployment/container/webapp_with_load_balancing/load_balancing
$ ls
Dockerfile haproxy.cfg

Tak some time to review the Dockerfile. Notice how we copy the local haproxy.cfg file as the configuration for our load-balancer. Build your image like this:

$ docker build -t lawouach/haproxy:latest .

And now run it to start load balancing between your two web application containers:

$ docker run --link notes1:n1 --link notes2:n2 --name haproxy -p 8090:8090 -p 8091:8091 -d -t lawouach/haproxy:latest

In this case, we will be executing the container in the background because we are blocking on haproxy and it won’t lok to the console anyway.

Notice how we link to both web application containers. We set short alias just by pure lazyness. We publish two ports to the host. The 8090 port will be necessary to access the stats page of the haproxy server itself. The 8091 port will be used to access our application.

To understand how we reuse the the aliases, please refer to the the haproxy.cfg configuration. More precisely to those two lines:

server notes1 ${N1_PORT_8080_TCP_ADDR}:${N1_PORT_8080_TCP_PORT} check inter 4000
server notes2 ${N2_PORT_8080_TCP_ADDR}:${N2_PORT_8080_TCP_PORT} check inter 4000

We load-balance between our two backend servers and we do not have to know their address at the time when we build the image, but only when the container is started.

That’s about it really. At this stage, you ought to connect to http://localhost:8091/ to see use your application. Each request will be sent to each web application’s instances in turn. You may check the status of your load-balancing by connecting to http://localhost:8090/.

Obviously, this just a basic example. For instance, you could extend it by setting another service to manage your syslog and configure haproxy to send its log to it.

Next time, we will be exploring the world of CoreOS and clustering before moving on to service and resource management via Kubernetes and MesOS.

Create a docker container for your CherryPy application

In the past year, process isolation through the use of containers has exploded and you can find containers for almost anything these days. So why not creating a container to isolate your CherryPy application from the rest of the world?

I will not focus on the right and wrongs in undertaking such a task. This is not the point of this article. On the other hand, this article will guide you through the steps to create a base container image that will support creating per-project images that can be run in containers.

We will be using docker for this since it’s the hottest container technology out there. It doesn’t mean it’s the best, just that it’s the most popular which in turns means there is high demand for it. With that being said, once you have decided containers are a relevant feature to you, I encourage you to have a look at other technologies in that field to draw your own conclusion.

Docker uses various Linux kernel assets to isolate a process from the other running processes. In particular, it uses control groups to constraints the resources used by the process. Docker also makes the most of namespaces which create an access layer to resources such as network, mounted devices, etc.

Basically, when you use docker, you run an instance of an image and we call this a container. An image is mostly a mille-feuille of read-only layers that are eventually unified into one. When an image is run as a container, an extra read-write layer is added by docker so that you can make changes at runtime from within your container. Those changes are lost everytime you stop the running container unless you commit it into a new image.

So how to start up with docker?

Getting started

First of all, you must install docker. I will not spend much time here explaining how to go about it since the docker documentation does it very well already. However, iI encourage you to:

  • install from the docker repository as it’s more up to date usually than official distribution repositories
  • ensure you can run docker commands as a non-root user. This will make your daily usage of docker much easier

At the time of this writing, docker 1.4.1 is the latest version and this article was written using 1.3.3. Verify your version as follow:

$ docker version
Client version: 1.3.3
Client API version: 1.15
Go version (client): go1.3.3
Git commit (client): d344625
OS/Arch (client): linux/amd64
Server version: 1.3.3
Server API version: 1.15
Go version (server): go1.3.3
Git commit (server): d344625

Docker command interface

Docker is an application often executed as a daemon. To interact with it you use the command line interface via the docker command. Simply run the following command to see them:

$ docker

Play a little with docker

Before we move on creating our docker image for a CherryPy application, lets play with docker.

The initial step is to pull an existing image. Indeed, you will likely not create your own OS image from scratch. Instead, you will use a public base image, available on the docker public registry. During the course of these articles, we will be using a Ubuntu base image. But everything would work the same wth Centos or something else.

$ docker pull ubuntu
Pulling repository ubuntu
8eaa4ff06b53: Download complete 
511136ea3c5a: Download complete 
3b363fd9d7da: Download complete 
607c5d1cca71: Download complete 
f62feddc05dc: Download complete 
Status: Downloaded newer image for ubuntu:latest

Easy right? The various downloads are those of the intermediary images that were generated by the Ubuntu image maintainers. Interestingly, this means you could start your image from any of those images.

Now that you have an image, you may wish to list all of them on your machine:

$ docker images
REPOSITORY TAG IMAGE ID CREATED VIRTUAL SIZE
ubuntu latest 8eaa4ff06b53 10 days ago 188.3 MB

Notice that the intermediate images are not listed here. To see them:

$ docker images -a

Note that, in the previous call we didn’t specify any specific version for our docker image. You may wish to do so as follow:

$ docker image ubuntu:14.10
Pulling repository ubuntu
bf49414948ac: Download complete 
511136ea3c5a: Download complete 
a7cca9443999: Download complete 
dbbd544a49e2: Download complete 
98b540cf0569: Download complete 
Status: Downloaded newer image for ubuntu:14.10

Let’s pull a centos image as well for the fun:

$ docker pull centos:7
Pulling repository centos
8efe422e6104: Download complete 
511136ea3c5a: Download complete 
5b12ef8fd570: Download complete 
Status: Image is up to date for centos:7

Let’s now run a container and play around with it:

$ docker run --rm --name playground -i -t centos:7 bash

[root@7d5761d100e4 /]# ls
bin dev etc home lib lib64 lost+found media mnt opt proc root run sbin selinux srv sys tmp usr var

In the previous command, we start a bash command executed within a container using the Centos image tagged 7. We name the container to make it easy to reference it afterwards. This is not compulsory but is quite handy in certain situations. We also tell docker that it can dispose of that container when we exit it. Otherwise, the container will remain.

[root@7d5761d100e4 /]# uname -a
Linux 7d5761d100e4 3.13.0-43-generic #72-Ubuntu SMP Mon Dec 8 19:35:06 UTC 2014 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

This is interesting because it shows that, indeed, the container is executed in the host kernel which, in this instance, is my Ubuntu operating system.

Finally below, let’s see the network configuration:

[root@7d5761d100e4 /]# ip addr show
1: lo: <LOOPBACK,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 65536 qdisc noqueue state UNKNOWN 
 link/loopback 00:00:00:00:00:00 brd 00:00:00:00:00:00
 inet 127.0.0.1/8 scope host lo
 valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
 inet6 ::1/128 scope host 
 valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
12: eth0: <BROADCAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc pfifo_fast state UP qlen 1000
 link/ether 02:42:ac:11:00:03 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
 inet 172.17.0.3/16 scope global eth0
 valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
 inet6 fe80::42:acff:fe11:3/64 scope link 
 valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

Note that the eth0 interface is attached to the bridge the docker daemon created on the host. The docker security scheme means that, by default, nothing can reached that interface from the outside. However the docker may contact the outside world. Docker has an extensive documentation regarding its networking architecture.

Note that you can see containers statuses as follow:

$ docker ps
CONTAINER ID IMAGE COMMAND CREATED STATUS PORTS NAMES
25454ad13219 centos:7 "bash" 4 minutes ago Up 4 minutes playground

Exit the container:

[root@7d5761d100e4 /]# exit

Run again the command:

$ docker ps
CONTAINER ID IMAGE COMMAND CREATED STATUS PORTS NAMES

As we can see the container is indeed gone. Let’s now rewind a little and do not tell docker to automatically remove the container when we exit it:

$ docker run --name playground -i -t centos:7 bash
[root@5960e4445743 /]# exit

Let’s see if the container is there:

$ docker ps
CONTAINER ID IMAGE COMMAND CREATED STATUS PORTS NAMES

Nope. So what’s different? Well, try again to start a container using that same name:

$ docker run --name playground -i -t centos:7 bash
2015/01/11 16:09:53 Error response from daemon: Conflict, The name playground is already assigned to 5960e4445743. You have to delete (or rename) that container to be able to assign playground to a container again.

Ooops. The container is actually still there:

$ docker ps -a
CONTAINER ID IMAGE COMMAND CREATED STATUS PORTS NAMES
5960e4445743 centos:7 "bash" About a minute ago Exited (0) 57 seconds ago

There you go. By default docker ps doesn’t show you the containers in the exit status. You have to remove the container manually using its identifier:

$ docker rm 5960e4445743

I will not go further with using docker as it’s all you really need to start up with

A word about tags

Technically speaking, versions do not actually exist in docker images. They are in fact tags. A tag is a simple label for an image at a given point.

Images are identified with a hash value. As with IP addresses, you are not expected to recall the hash of the images you wish to use. Docker provides a mechanism to tag images much like you would use domain names instead of IP address.

For instance, 14.10 above is actually a tag, not a version. Obviously, since tags are meant to be meaningful to human beings, it’s quite sensible for Linux distributions to be tagged following the version of the distributions.

You can easily create tags for any images as we will see later on.

Let’s talk about registries

Docker images are hosted and served by a registry. Often as it’s the case in our previous example, the registry used is the public docker registry available at : https://registry.hub.docker.com/

Whenever you pull an image from a registry, by default docker pulls from that registry. However, you may query a different registry as follow:

$ docker pull hostname:port/path/to/image:tag

Basically, you provide the address of your registry and a path at which the image can be located. It has a similar form to an URI without the scheme.

Note that, as of docker 1.3.1, if the registry isn’t served over HTTPS, the docker client will refuse to download the image. If you need to pull anyway, you must add the following parameter to the docker daemon when it starts up.

 --insecure-registry hostname:port

Please refer to the official documentation to learn more about this.

A base Linux Python-ready container

Traditionnaly deploying CherryPy application has been done using a simple approach:

  • Package your application into an archive
  • Copy that archive onto a server
  • Configure a database server
  • Configure a reverse proxy such as nginx
  • Start the Python process(es) to server your CherryPy application

That last operation is usually done by directly calling nohup python mymodule.py &. Alternatively, CherryPy comes with a handy script to run your application in a slightly more convenient fashion:

$ cherryd -d -c path/to/application/conf/server.conf -P path/to/application -i mymodule

This runs the Python module mymodule as a daemon using the given configuration file. If the -P flag isn’t provided, the module must be found in PYTHONPATH.

The idea is to create an image that will serve your application using cherryd. Let’s see how to setup an Ubuntu image to run your application.

$ docker run --name playground -i -t ubuntu:14.10 bash
root@d91ec7935e33:/#

First we create a user which will not have the root permissions. This is a good attitude to follow:

root@d91ec7935e33:/# useradd -m -d /home/web web
root@d91ec7935e33:/# mkdir /home/web/.venv

Next, we install a bunch of libraries that are required to deploy some common Python dependencies:

root@d91ec7935e33:/# apt-get update
root@d91ec7935e33:/# apt-get upgrade -y
root@d91ec7935e33:/# apt-get install -y libc6 libc6-dev libpython2.7-dev libpq-dev libexpat1-dev libffi-dev libssl-dev python2.7-dev python-pip
root@d91ec7935e33:/# apt-get autoclean -y
root@d91ec7935e33:/# apt-get autoremove -y

Then we create a virtual environment and install Python packages into it:

root@d91ec7935e33:/# pip install virtualenv
root@d91ec7935e33:/# virtualenv -p python2.7 /home/web/.venv/default
root@d91ec7935e33:/# source /home/web/.venv/default/bin/activate
root@d91ec7935e33:/# pip install cython
root@d91ec7935e33:/# pip install cherrypy==3.6.0 pyopenssl mako psycopg2 python-memcached sqlalchemy

These are common packages I use. Install whichever you require obviously.

As indicated by Tony in the comments, it is probably overkill to create a virtual environment in a container since, the whole point of a container is to isolate your process and its dependencies already. I’m so used to using virtual env that I automatically created one. You may skip these steps.

Those operations were performed as the root user, let’s make the web user those packages owner.

root@d91ec7935e33:/# chown -R web.web /home/web/.venv

Good. Let’s switch to that user now:

root@d91ec7935e33:/# sudo su web
web@d91ec7935e33:/# cd /home/web

At this stage, we have a base image ready to support a CherryPy application. It might be interesting to tag that paricular container as a new image so that we can use it various contexts.

web@d91ec7935e33:/# docker ps
CONTAINER ID        IMAGE               COMMAND             CREATED             STATUS              PORTS                    NAMES
675ad8e8752d        ubuntu:14.10        "bash"              7 minutes ago       Up 7 minutes        0.0.0.0:9090->8080/tcp   playground
web@d91ec7935e33:/# docker commit -m "Base Ubuntu with Python env" 675ad8e8752d
web@d91ec7935e33:/# docker images
REPOSITORY          TAG                 IMAGE ID            CREATED             VIRTUAL SIZE
                            78bc8c5c2e3f        6 seconds ago       506 MB
web@d91ec7935e33:/# docker tag 78bc8c5c2e3f lawouach/ubuntu:pythonbase
web@d91ec7935e33:/# docker images
REPOSITORY          TAG                 IMAGE ID            CREATED             VIRTUAL SIZE
lawouach/ubuntu     pythonbase          78bc8c5c2e3f        32 seconds ago      506 MB

We take the docker container and we commit it as a new image. We then tag the new created image to make it easy to reuse it later on.

Let’s see if it worked. Exit the container and start a new container from the new image.

$ docker run --name playground -i -t lawouach/ubuntu:pythonbase bash 
root@66c6b2a5bb08:/# sudo su web 
web@66c6b2a5bb08:/$ cd /home/web/ 
web@66c6b2a5bb08:~$ source .venv/default/bin/activate
(default)web@66c6b2a5bb08:~$

Well. We are ready to play now.

Run a CherryPy application in a docker container

For the purpose of this article, here is our simple application:

import cherrypy

class Root(object):
    @cherrypy.expose
    def index(self):
        return "Hello world"

cherrypy.config.update({'server.socket_host': '0.0.0.0'})
cherrypy.tree.mount(Root())

Two important points:

  • You must make sure CherryPy listens on the eth0 interface so just make it listen on all the container interfaces. Otherwise, the CherryPy will listen only on 127.0.0.1 which won’t be reachable from outside the container.
  • Do not start the CherryPy engine yourself, this is done by the cherryd command. You must simply ensure the application is mounted so that CherryPy can serve it.

Save this piece of code into your container under the module name: server.py. This could be any name, really. The module will be located in /home/web.

You can manually test the module:

$ docker run --name playground -p 9090:8080 -i -t lawouach/ubuntu:pythonbase bash
(default)web@66c6b2a5bb08:~$ cherryd -d -P /home/web -i server
(default)web@66c6b2a5bb08:~$ ip addr list eth0 | grep "inet "
inet 172.17.0.11/16 scope global eth0

The second line tells us the IPv4 address of this container. Next point your browser to the following URL: http://localhost:9090/

“What is this magic?” I hear you say!

If you look at the command we use to start the container, we provide this bit: -p 9090:8080. This tells docker to map port 9090 on the host to port 8080 on the container alllowing for your application to be reached from the outside.

And voilà!

Make the process a little more developer friendly

In the previous section, we saved the application’s code into the container itself. During development, this may not be practical. One approach is to use a volume to share a directory between your host (where you work) and the container.

$ docker run --name playground -p 9090:8080 -v `pwd`/webapp:/home/web/webapp -i -t lawouach/ubuntu:pythonbase bash

You can then work on your application and the container will see those changes immediatly.

Automate things a bit

The previous steps have shown in details how to setup an image to run a CherryPy application. Docker provides a simple interface to automate the whole process: Dockerfile.

A Dockerfile is a simple text file containing all the steps to create an image and more. Let’s see it first hand:

FROM ubuntu:14.10

RUN useradd -m -d /home/web web && mkdir /home/web/.venv &&\

apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade -y && \
apt-get install -y libc6 libc6-dev libpython2.7-dev libpq-dev libexpat1-dev libffi-dev libssl-dev python2.7-dev python-pip && \
pip install virtualenv && \
virtualenv -p python2.7 /home/web/.venv/default && \
/home/web/.venv/default/bin/pip install cython && \
/home/web/.venv/default/bin/pip install cherrypy==3.6.0 pyopenssl mako psycopg2 python-memcached sqlalchemy && \
apt-get autoclean -y && \
apt-get autoremove -y && \
chown -R web.web /home/web/.venv

USER web
WORKDIR /home/web
ENV PYTHONPATH /home/web/webapp

COPY webapp /home/web/webapp

ENTRYPOINT ["/home/web/.venv/default/bin/cherryd", "-i", "server"]

Create a directory and save the content above into a file named Dockerfile. Create a subdirectory called webapp and store your server.py module into it.

Now, build the image as follow:

$ docker build -t lawouach/mywebapp:latest .

Use whatever tag suits you. Then, you can run a container like this:

$ docker run -p 9090:8080 -i -t lawouach/mywebapp:latest

That’s it! A docker container running your CherryPy application.

In the next articles, I will explore various options to use docker in a web application context. Follow ups will also include an introduction to weave and coreos to clusterize your CherryPy application.

In the meantime, do enjoy.

Robot Framework and Sphinx: A suitable toolset for your specification by example

At work, we have been using Robot Framework for all kinds of tests for a few years now and it’s proven to be the good choice. Robot Framework’s simple syntax and grammar does not scare testers away (usually). At the same time, its design makes it easy to support complex use cases as well as simple ones through the power of the Python programming language.

One blind spot however, in my opinion anyway, is the way Robot Framework let you document your tests. It provides a section for this, with basic HTML support but it has always felt limited and not really friendly.

Luckily, in the recent releases, the Robot Framework developers have provided a built-in support for reStructuredText. Not that the documentation section supports this syntax, but instead, you can embed Robot Framework tests into a reStructuredText document, and therefore into Sphinx as well.

The gain isn’t so much visible in the Robot Framework reports since the reStructuredText sections won’t appear in those, but it means you can generate HTML documents which embed executable tests. Fans of doctests will be in known territory.

I think this is a powerful combination as it bridges the tests with the specifications and ensure they are both kept locally at the same place, imrpoving their chance to stay synchronised.  In my mind, it provides a great framework to follow the Specification by Example that Gojko Adzic described so eloquently.

Here is a simple:

Finally, a related powerful extension provides a simple mechanism to include Robot Framework tests into Sphinx documentation. We use it extensively at work as we wanted to keep our tests outside in distinct files without losing the ability to see them embedded into the generated HTML documentation.

CherryPy documentation new start

Early on this year, a discussion emerged on the CherryPy mailing-list about the project. Most people said they loved the project but had struggled with its documentation. Though rich and extensive, it was felt it left down the project somehow by being not designed in a way that was attractive to new comers. I took upon myself to rewrite it from scratch following some ideas exchanged on the mailing-list.

The general expressed wish was to make it friendliers to people starting with the framework whilst making easy to look for common tasks and patterns. This suited me well as I wanted to carry the work I started on the various recipes I keep on BitBucket.

Eventually, I quickly wrote a set of tutorials to guide people through the general layout of a CherryPy application. Then I developed upon the recipes idea by going through many of the most recurrent questions we have on the mailing-list. Finally, I wrote an extensive section regarding the core features of the framework: plugins, tools, the bus, the dispatchers, etc. Those features are seldom used to their best even though they provide a very powerful backbone to design your application in clean way.

The documentation is now online and seems to have been well-received. It will need to be completed but I believe they already make the project much more appealing and fun to work with.

Having fun with WebSocket and Canvas

Recently, I was advised that WebFaction had added support for WebSocket in their custom applications by enabling the according nginx module in their frontend. Obviously, I had to try it out with my own websocket library: ws4py.

Setting up your WebFaction application

Well, as usual with WebFaction, setting up the application is dead simple. Only a few clicks from their control panel.

Create a Custom application and select websocket. This will provide you with a port that your backend will be bound to. And voilà.

Now, your application is created but you won’t yet be able to connect a websocket client. Indeed, you must associate a domain or subdomain with that application.

It is likely your application will be used from a javascript connector in living in a browser, which means, you will be bound by the browser same-origin security model. I would therefore advise you to carefully consider your sub-domain and URL strategies. Probably something along:

  • http://yourhost/ : for the webapp
  • http://yourhost/ws : as the base url for all websocket endpoints

This is just a suggestion of course but this will make it easier for your deployment to follow a simple strategy like this one.

In the WebFaction control panel, create a website which associates your web application with the domain (your webapp can be anything you need to). Associate then your custom websocket application with the same domain but a different path segment. Again, by sharing the same domain, you’ll avoid troubles regarding working around the same-origin security model. I would probably advise as well that you enable SSL but it’s up to you to make that decision.

Once done, you will have now a configured endpoint for your websocket application.

The Custome websocket application will forward all requests to you so that you can run your web and websocket apps from that single port. This is what the demo below allows itself doing. I would recommend that you run two different application processes, one for your webapp and another one for your websocket endpoint. Be antifragile.

Drawing stuff collaboratively

I setup a small demo (sorry self-signed certificate) to demonstrate how you can use HTML5 canvas and websocket features to perform collaborative tasks across various connected clients.

That demo runs a small webapp that also enables a websocket endpoint. When you are on the drawing board, everything you draw is sent to other connected clients so that their view reflects what’s happening on yours. Obviously this goes in any way frm any client to any other clients.

The demo is implemented using ws4py hosted within a CherryPy application. Drawing events are serialized into a json structure and sent over to the server which dispatches them to all participants of that board, and only that board (note, this demo doesn’t validate the content before dispatching back so please conservative with whom you share your board with).

Open the link found in the demo page and share it on as many browsers as you can (including your mobile device). Starting drawing from one device will make all other devices been drawn onto simultaneously and synchronously. Note that the board stays available for up to 5mn only and will disconnect all participants then.

The source code for the demo is located here.

Some feedback…

Let me share a bit of feedback about the whole process.

  • WebSockets are finally a reality. Unless you’re running an old browser or old mobile platform, RFC6455 is available to you.  This means, you can really leverage the power of push from the server. Mind you, you might want to look at Server-Side Event  as well.
  • There isn’t yet a clear understanding on how to properly configure your server resources. In my demo, the whole webapp also hosts the websocket app but this is probably not a good idea if you have a large amount of connected clients or intensive work done server side. Even though the initial connection is initiated from a HTTP request, I would suggest the websocket server is disconnected from the HTTP server process.
  • Security wise, I would suggest you follow the usual principles of validating that any data coming through before you process or dispatch them back.
  • WebFaction supports for websocket is dead easy to setup and fast (at least, since my demo is hosted in Europe and I live in France, I almost cannot see any delay). I would consider their performances good enough to support some really funky real-time applications.
  • jCanvas is really useful to unify your canvas operations.  For this demo, it’s been a blessing.
  • Device motion events are low level and you need to do a lot of leg work to actually make sense of them. This demo is probably not making a really good use of them.
  • There seems to be no universal way to detect that you are running on a mobile device. Go figure.

Next, I wouldn’t mind adding websocket to that fun demo from the mozilla developer network.

The joy of distributing Python packages for Python 2 and 3

I released ws4py 0.3.4 this weekend and although I had integrated support for Python 2 and 3 for a long time now, I ran into a challenge I had quite missed. Indeed, until now my Python 3 support had mainly been concerned about string handling and various compatibility modules. This has proven to work very well and avoided having to rely on external packages such as six.

However, in the past few weeks and I added asyncio support to ws4py and therefore introduced the newly yield from statement. Of course, this isn’t tolerated by Python 2 which complains with a well deserved SyntaxError.

The issues however is that I wished to distribute the same source code with a single source distribution archive. Initially, I had written a function that was preventing modules using that statement to actually be packaged. However, this was rather daft since that, if it weren’t packaged, it wouldn’t be distributed either. Next, I decided to some of setuptools magic. Well, it didn’t help since that’s not what it’s there for anyhow. At this stage, I should say: Don’t simply copy/paste. It will do no good.

Finally, I opted for a fairly simple solution. I knew that when a package is installed from a distribution packages, it is obviously built first. I therefore had to act after Python modules had been gathered but before they would be built. After briefly browsing through distutils source code, I found where I would perform surgery: the find_package_modules of the distutils.command.build_py.build_py class. The nice aspect of this solution is that the source distribution contains indeed all the modules, whether they aim Python 2 or 3 but it’s only when installed that the appropriate modules will be selected and built.

Am I doing it wrong? Is there a cleaner, nicer more pythonic way? If so, please let me know. If not, I hope this may help others that want a simple solution to handle their Python 2 and 3 modules in a single baseline.

“Robot Framework Test Automation” book review

From time to time PacktPub will request a book review of one of their Python-related titles. This time around it was regarding their “Robot Framework Test Automation” book they recently released. Since I’ve been using this awesome acceptance testing tool at work for more than two years, I was happy to comply.

In a nutshell, Robot Framework provides a great interface that acts as the middle-man between variour stakeholders. Indeed, tests are written in plain text (though other formats are supported, I never use them) with a rather minimal set of rules making it (almost) straightforward to read even by non-technical persons. The dirty technical details being hidden away and implemented in Python and executable in one of the various Python VM (CPython, Jython, IronPython are supported out of the box).

Most of the time, the basics of the Robot Framework data model and workflow can be taught in a couple of hours. However, being efficient with it will take a little more time. Still, people don’t have to learn a complete programming language (Python) itself and that’s a relief meaning they are happy to work with Robot Framework sometimes cumbersome syntax.

In spite of having a rather extensive documentation available online, the project did lack a good, straight to the point summary that takes you by the hand. Moreover, the documentation’s style of the project is fairly dry and Unix-style making it tedious to browse sometimes. Still, the content is there and it rarely failed me. With that said, having a friendly book on the subject is a great thing. Kudos to PacktPub. Now about the book…

The good

The book provides an introduction to the tool, its most common usages and even tries to guide you getting more from it. It’s a short book, 83 pages, that will not bore you with complex details. In other words, it’s a good companion of the online documentation if you start with Robot Framework.

Sumit Bisht, the author, does a good job keeping a neutral point of view in regards to how you should use Robot Framework. Indeed, depending on your software under test, you might want to have a more data-oriented approach (ala fitness), a behavior-driven testing approach or even a more assert-oriented style. Not many software can deal with all of them equally and it depends also on how testing is perceived in your organisation. Robot Framework can cope with all of them.

The bad

Though I could understand it’s only an introduction, it feels like some concepts are not properly explored. The idea behind keywords, the internal data model, dynamic libraries, etc. In other words, you will not really understand the underlying blocks and axioms that are the pedestal of the whole tool, you’ll rather learn the basics of using it. In fact, the only section where the book goes into more technical details (with a good example on using sikuli) will probably confuse you since it failed to properly introduce the principles behind them.

The ugly

There isn’t anything particulary that bad with this book, again it should be considered as a friendly introduction. I do not agree with a few minor points Sumit makes but they hardly matter and aren’t wrong anyway, just a matter of opinion. Note also that the book lacks examples a couple of times where it would have mattered but I don’t believe this makes the book any less useful.

The only thing that annoys me really is that PacktPub book’s layout still looks so unprofesionnal. They should really make an effort as the code is, most of the time, too hard to read (actually on this one item, it wasn’t that bad).

Final note

I think this book is ideal if you are about to start with Robot Framework as it will speed up the basics. If you’re already used to the tool, I am not sure it will help very much.

 

 

 

ws4py – WebSocket client and server library for Python

Recently I released ws4py, a package that provides client and server WebSocket support for Python 2.6 and 2.7.

Let’s first have a quick overview of what ws4py offers for now:

  • WebSocket specification draft-10 of the current specification.
  • A threaded client. This gives a simple client that doesn’t require an external dependency.
  • A Tornado client. This client is based on Tornado 2.0 which is quite a popular way of running asynchronous networking code these days. Tornado provides its own server implementation so I didn’t include mine in ws4py.
  • A CherryPy extension so that you can integrate WebSocket from within your CherryPy 3.2.1 server.
  • A gevent server based on the popular gevent library. This is courtesy of Jeff Lindsay.
  • Based on Jeff’s work, a pure WSGI middleware as well (available in the current master branch only until the next release).
  • ws4py runs on Android devices thanks to the SL4A package

Hopefully more client and servers will be added along the way as well as Python 3.x support. The former should be rather simple to add due to the way I designed ws4py.

The main idea is to make a distinction between the bytes provider and the bytes processing. The former is essentially reading and writing bytes from the connected socket. The latter is the function of making something out of the received bytes based on the WebSocket specification. In most implementations I have seen so far, both are rather heavily intertwined making it difficult to use a different bytes provider.

ws4py tries a different path by relying on a great feature of Python: the possibility to send data back to a generator. For instance, the frame parsing yields the quantity of bytes each time it needs more and the caller feeds back the generator those bytes once they are received. In fact, the caller of a frame parser is a stream object which acts the same way. The caller of that stream object is in fact the bytes provider (a client or a server). The stream is in charge of aggregating frames into a WebSocket message. Thanks to that design, both the frame and stream objects are totally unaware of the bytes provider and can be easily adapted in various contexts (gevent, tornado, CherryPy, etc.).

On my TODO list for ws4py:

  • Upgrade to a more recent version of the specification
  • Python 3.x implementation
  • Better documentation, read, write documentation.
  • Better performances on very large WebSocket messages

Acceptance testing a CherryPy application with Robot Framework

I recently received the Python Testing Cookbook authored by Greg L. Turnquist and was happy to read about recipes on acceptance testing using Robot Framework. We’ve been using this tool at work for a few weeks now with great results. Greg shows how to test a web application using the Selenium Library extension for Robot Framework and I thought it’d be fun to demonstrate how to test a CherryPy application following his recipe. So here we go.

First some requirements:

$ mkvirtualenv --distribute --no-site-packages --unzip-setuptools acceptance
(acceptance)$ pip install cherrypy
(acceptance)$ pip install robotframework
(acceptance)$ pip install robotframework-seleniumlibrary

Let’s define a simple CherryPy application, which displays a input text where to type a message. When the submit button is pressed, the message is sent to the server and returned as-is. Well it’s an echo message really.

import cherrypy
 
__all__ = ['Echo']
 
class Echo(object):
    @cherrypy.expose
    def index(self):
        return """<html>
<head><title>Robot Framework Test for CherryPy</title></head>
<body>
<form method="post" action="/echo">
<input type="text" name="message" />
<input type="submit" />
</form>
</body>
</html>"""
 
    @cherrypy.expose
    def echo(self, message):
        return message
 
if __name__ == '__main__':
    cherrypy.quickstart(Echo())

Save the code above in a module named myapp.py

Next, we create an extension to Robot Framework that will manage CherryPy. Save the following in a module CherryPyLib.py. It’s important to respect that name since Robot Framework expects the module and its class to match in names.

import imp
import os, os.path
 
import cherrypy
 
class CherryPyLib(object):
    def setup_cherrypy(self, conf_file=None):
        """
        Configures the CherryPy engine and server using
        the built-in 'embedded' environment mode.
 
        If provided, `conf_file` is a path to a CherryPy
        configuration file used in addition.
        """
        cherrypy.config.update({"environment": "embedded"})
        if conf_file:
            cherrypy.config.update(conf_file)            
 
    def start_cherrypy(self):
        """
        Starts a CherryPy engine.
        """
        cherrypy.engine.start()
 
    def exit_cherrypy(self):
        """
        Terminates a CherryPy engine.
        """
        cherrypy.engine.exit()
 
    def mount_application(self, appmod, appcls, directory=None):
        """
        Mounts an application to be tested. `appmod` is the name
        of a Python module containing `appcls`. The module is
        looked for in the given directory. If not provided, we use
        the current one instead.
        """
        directory = directory or os.getcwd()
        file, filename, description = imp.find_module(appmod, [directory])
        mod = imp.load_module(appmod, file, filename, description)
        if hasattr(mod, appcls):
            cls = getattr(mod, appcls)
            app = cls()
            cherrypy.tree.mount(app)
        else:
            raise ImportError, "cannot import name %s from %s" % (appcls, appmod)

Note that we start and stop the CherryPy server during the test itself, meaning you don’t need to start it separately. Pure awesomeness.

Finally let’s write a straightforward acceptance test to validate the overall workflow of echoing a message using our little application.

***Settings***
Library	SeleniumLibrary
Library	CherryPyLib
Suite Setup	Start Dependencies
Suite Teardown	Shutdown Dependencies
Test Setup	Mount Application	myapp	Echo

***Variables***
${MSG}	Hello World
${HOST}	http://localhost:8080/

***Test Cases***
Echo ${MSG}
     Open Browser	${HOST}
     Input text		message		${MSG}
     Submit form
     Page Should Contain		${MSG}
     Close All Browsers

***Keywords***
Start Dependencies
    Setup Cherrypy
    Start CherryPy
    Start Selenium Server
    Sleep 	3s

Shutdown Dependencies
    Stop Selenium Server
    Exit CherryPy

Save the test above into a file named testmyapp.txt. You can finally run the test as follow:

(acceptance)$ pybot --pythonpath . testmyapp.txt

This will start CherryPy, Selenium’s proxy server and Firefox within which the test case will be run. Easy, elegant and powerful.