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Using Couchbase Ruby Gem with EventMachine

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Using Couchbase Ruby Gem with EventMachine

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Curator's Note: The content of this article was originally written by Sergey Avseyev over at the Couchbase blog. 

As you may have noticed the new couchbase ruby gem has been released recently. The release 1.2.2 is mostly a maintenance release with several bug fixes, but yet you can try one new experimental feature: integration with EventMachine library. This post will give you a quick intro about how to start using Couchbase Server with your applications based on the EventMachine asynchronous model.

The EventMachine integration is only (currently) accessible on UNIX-like systems (like Linux, Solaris, BSD).  Because it uses fibers, it also requires MRI ruby version 1.9 or later.

Setup Your Sandbox

First step is installing the libcouchbase library which handles all of the low level Couchbase protocol details. You can follow the installation guide on the official page. Here I’ll only replicate steps needed for typical GNU/Linux box (I’m using Debian unstable):

Install repository PGP key:

$ wget -O- http://packages.couchbase.com/ubuntu/couchbase.key | sudo apt-key add -

Setup repository source. Here I’m using the link for Ubuntu 12.04, but in general it doesn’t matter because we are going to use EventMachine plugin, which built into the gem itself. The packages are in different packages repositories built using the same codebase; the only difference is the version of IO libraries (libevent, libev) included in the version of the distribution.

$ sudo wget -O/etc/apt/sources.list.d/couchbase.list http://packages.couchbase.com/ubuntu/couchbase-ubuntu1204.list

Install libcouchbase headers, core library and debug symbols. Again, you might want to install command line tools or one of the IO backends, but that's not required for the task at hand.

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo sudo apt-get install libcouchbase-dev libcouchbase2-core libcouchbase-dbg

That's it. 

Now you need to install Couchbase Server, follow instructions from the official site. After installation you will get administrator console running at http://localhost:8091 and also REST API accessible on the same port. Step through initial configuration steps and eventually you will allocate bucket with the name “default”.

Finally you need to install the gem itself. It is as easy as typing this into the terminal:

$ gem install couchbase
Building native extensions.  This could take a while...
Successfully installed couchbase-1.2.2
1 gem installed
Installing ri documentation for couchbase-1.2.2...
Installing RDoc documentation for couchbase-1.2.2...

Building the Application

To demonstrate the integration, lets build simple chat application using EventMachine and the add logging for all events there to a Couchbase bucket. It is extremely easy to build an asynchronous application with EventMachine and to prove it I will put the complete source in this post (also found in examples/chat-em directory of the gem sources).

class ChatServer < EM::Connection

  @@clients = []

  def post_init
    @username = nil
    send_data("*** What is your name?\n")

  def receive_data(data)
    if @username
      broadcast(data.strip, @username)
      name = data.gsub(/\s+|[\[\]]/, '').strip[0..20]
      if name.empty?
        send_data("*** What is your name?\n")
        @username = name
        broadcast("#{@username} has joined")
        send_data("*** Hi, #{@username}!\n")

  def unbind
    broadcast("#{@username} has left") if @username

  def broadcast(message, author = nil)
    prefix = author ? "<#{@username}>" : "***"
    @@clients.each do |client|
      unless client == self
        client.send_data("#{prefix} #{message}\n")


EventMachine.run do
  # hit Control + C to stop
  Signal.trap("INT")  { EventMachine.stop }
  Signal.trap("TERM") { EventMachine.stop }

  EventMachine.start_server("", 9999, ChatServer)

This is typical EventMachine server based on EM::Connection. For those who don’t know the meaning of these redefined methods here is an excerpt from the official documentation:

EventMachine::Connection is a class that is instantiated by EventMachine’s processing loop whenever a new connection is created. (New connections can be either initiated locally to a remote server or accepted locally from a remote client.) When a Connection object is instantiated, it mixes in the functionality contained in the user-defined module specified in calls to connect or start_server. User-defined handler modules may redefine any or all of the standard methods defined here, as well as add arbitrary additional code that will also be mixed in.

EventMachine manages one object inherited from EventMachine::Connection (and containing the mixed-in user code) for every network connection that is active at any given time. The event loop will automatically call methods on EventMachine::Connection objects whenever specific events occur on the corresponding connections, as described below.

This class is never instantiated by user code, and does not publish an initialize method. The instance methods of EventMachine::Connection which may be called by the event loop are: #post_init, #connection_completed, #receive_data, #unbind, #ssl_verify_peer (if TLS is used), #ssl_handshake_completed

All of the other instance methods defined here are called only by user code.

The protocol is very simple and line oriented. For each connection EventMachine will create an instance of ChatServer, which first ask the name of new participant and then broadcast all his messages to the group. You can use your favorite tool which allow you communicate over arbitrary text protocol, like telnet for example or nc. Here is sample of session between endpoints.

~ $ telnet localhost 9999           │ ~ $ nc localhost 9999
Trying                 │ *** What is your name?
Connected to localhost.             │ alice
Escape character is '^]'.           │ *** Hi, alice!
*** What is your name?              │ *** bob has joined
bob                                 │ <bob> hi everyone
*** Hi, bob!                        │ hello, bob! how are you?
hi everyone                         │ ^C
<alice> hello, bob! how are you?    │ ~ $
*** alice has left                  │
^]                                  │
telnet> Connection closed.          │
~ $                                 │

Now it's time to add a bit of Couchbase. Imagine I’d like to keep all messages in a distributed database as efficiently as I can. Couchbase is the answer :). To do so I need to:

Implement a log method in the ChatServer class, which should accept the message and an optional author (for system events it will be nil):

def log(message, author = nil)
  Couchbase.bucket.incr("log:key", :initial => 1) do |res|
    entry = {
      'time' => Time.now.utc,
      'author' => author || "[system]",
      'message' => message
    Couchbase.bucket.set("log:#{res.value}", entry)
Then I add a call to log(message, author) in the broadcast method just before iterating all connected clients. And wrap EventMachine.start_server with Couchbase::Bucket#on_connect callback, to execute the server just after the client has been connected. The resulting loop execution will look like this:
EventMachine.run do
  # hit Control + C to stop
  Signal.trap("INT")  { EventMachine.stop }
  Signal.trap("TERM") { EventMachine.stop }

  Couchbase.connection_options = {:async => true, :engine => :eventmachine}
  Couchbase.bucket.on_connect do |res|
    if res.success?
      EventMachine.start_server("", 9999, ChatServer)
      puts "Cannot connect to Couchbase Server: #{res.error}"

That's it for now! In the future we can expand this example to use more modern techniques like em-synchrony and maybe websockets. Watch this blog for updates.

Bonus Points

Just logging might not be that interesting, with Couchbase Server you can perform simple analytics with View queries using Couchbase's incremental Map-Reduce awesomeness. For example, here is the Map function to get all entries in chronological order.

function (doc, meta) {
  if (doc.message) {
    if (doc.author == "[system]" && doc.time) {
      emit(new Date(doc.time), "*** " + doc.message);
    } else {
      emit(new Date(doc.time), "<" + doc.author + "> " + doc.message);

And the JSON output.

  {"id":"log:1","key":"2013-02-11T19:08:05.000Z","value":"*** alice has joined"},
  {"id":"log:2","key":"2013-02-11T19:08:18.000Z","value":"*** bob has joined"},
  {"id":"log:3","key":"2013-02-11T19:08:38.000Z","value":"<bob> hi everyone"},
  {"id":"log:4","key":"2013-02-11T19:08:48.000Z","value":"<alice> hello, bob! how are you?"},
  {"id":"log:5","key":"2013-02-11T19:08:58.000Z","value":"*** alice has left"},
  {"id":"log:6","key":"2013-02-11T19:09:01.000Z","value":"*** bob has left"}

Okay, that's really all for now. Enjoy this experimental new feature. It'll be fully supported in a future release. If you run into any trouble, please file an issue on the RCBC project issue tracker. Fixes and contributions are always welcome too and it's Open Source under an Apache 2.0 License. You'll find the sources on github.

Learn how the world’s first NoSQL Engagement Database delivers unparalleled performance at any scale for customer experience innovation that never ends.


Published at DZone with permission of Don Pinto, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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