Clock and asyncronous tasks

Description

How to run background tasks or cron jobs with Zope

Cron jobs

You can use simple UNIX cron + wget combo to make timed jobs in Plone.

If you need to authenticate, e.g. as an admin, Zope users (not Plone users) can be authenticated using HTTP Basic Auth.

  • Create user in Zope root (not Plone site root) in acl_users folder

  • Call it via HTTP Basic Auth

  • The --auth-no-challenge option to the wget command will authenticate even if the server doesn’t ask you to authenticate. It might come in handy, as Plone does not ask for HTTP authentication, and will just serve Unauthorized if permissions aren’t sufficient.

Clock server

You can make Zope to make regular calls to your views.

Add in buildout.cfg:

zope-conf-additional =
        <clock-server>
           method /xxx/feed-mega-update
           period 3600
           user zopeuser
           password 123123
           host xxx.com
        </clock-server>

        <clock-server>
           method /yyy/feed-mega-update
           period 3600
           user zopeuser
           password 123123
           host yyy.com
        </clock-server>

Create a corresponding user in Management Interface.

In detail:

  • method - Path from root to an executable Zope method (Python script, external method, etc.) The method must receive no arguments.
  • period - Seconds between each call to the method. Typically, at least 30 specified.
  • user - a Zope Username
  • password - The password of this user Zope
  • host - The name of the host that is in the header of a request as host: is specified.

To check whether the server clock is running, restart the instance or the ZEO client in the foreground and see if a message similar to the following is displayed:

2009-03-03 19:57:38 INFO ZServer Clock server for "/ mysite / do_stuff" started (user: admin, period: 60)

If you are using a public source control repository for your buildout.cfg you might want to put zope-conf-additional= to secret.cfg which lies only on the production server and is never committed to the version control:

# Change the number here to change the version of Plone being used
extends =
        http://dist.plone.org/release/4.1rc3/versions.cfg
        http://good-py.appspot.com/release/dexterity/1.0?plone=4.1rc3
        http://plonegomobile.googlecode.com/svn/gomobile.buildout/gomobile.plone-4.trunk.commit-access.cfg
        secret.cfg

Creating a separate ZEO instance for long running tasks

Below is an example how to extend a single process Plone instance buildout to contain two ZEO front end processes, client1 and client2 and dedicate client2 for long running tasks. In this example, Products.feedfeeder RSS zopeuser is set to run on client2.

  • Client1 keeps acting like standalone instance, in the same port as instance used to be
  • Clocked tasks are run on client2 - it does not serve other HTTP requests. Clocked tasks are done using Zope clock server.

The purpose of this is that client2 does heavy writes to the database, potentially blocking the normal site operation of the site if we don’t have a separate client for it.

We create additional production.cfg file which extends the default buildout.cfg file. You still can use buildout.cfg as is for the development, but on the production server your buildout command must be run for the ZEO server enabled file.

Actual clock server jobs, with usernames and passwords, are stored in a separate secret.cfg file which is only available on the production server and is not stored in the version control system. The user credentials for a specially created Zope user, not Plone user. This user can be created through acl_users in the Management Interface.

We also include plonectl command for easy management of ZEO server, client1 and client2.

production.cfg (note - you need to run this with bin/buildout -c production.cfg):

[buildout]

extends =
        buildout.cfg
        secret.cfg

# Add new stuff to be build out when run bin/buildout -c production.cfg

parts +=
        client1
        client2
        zeoserver
        plonectl
        crontab_zeopack

# Run our database and stuff
[zeoserver]
recipe = plone.recipe.zeoserver
zeo-address = 9998

# In ZEO server mode, client1 is clone of standalone
# [instance] running in ZEO mode, different port
[client1]
<= instance
recipe = plone.recipe.zope2instance
zeo-client = on
shared-blob = on
http-address = 9999

# Client2 is like client1, just different port.
# This client is reserved for running clocked tasks (feedfeeder update)
[client2]
<= client1
http-address = 9996

# Tune down cache-size as we don't operate normally,
# so we have smaller memory consumption (default: 10000)
zodb-cache-size = 3000

[plonectl]
recipe = plone.recipe.unifiedinstaller
clients =
        client1
        client2
user = admin:admin

# pack your ZODB each Sunday morning and hence make it smaller and faster
[crontab_zeopack]
recipe = z3c.recipe.usercrontab
times = 0 1 * * 6
command = ${buildout:directory}/bin/zeopack

secret.cfg contains actual clocked jobs. This file contains passwords so it is not recommended to put it under the version control:

[client2]
zope-conf-additional =
    <clock-server>
       method /plonecommunity/feed-mega-update
       period 3600
       user zopeuser
       password secret
       host plonecommunity.mobi
    </clock-server>

    <clock-server>
       method /plonecommunity/@@feed-mega-cleanup?days=14
       period 85000
       user zopeuser
       password secret
       host plonecommunity.mobi
    </clock-server>

    <clock-server>
       method /mobipublic/feed-mega-update
       period 3600
       user zopeuser
       password secret
       host mobipublic.com
    </clock-server>

    <clock-server>
       method /mobipublic/@@feed-mega-cleanup?days=14
       period 84000
       user zopeuser
       password secret
       host mobipublic.com
    </clock-server>

    <clock-server>
       method /mobipublic/find-it/events/@@event-cleanup?days=1
       period 84000
       user zopeuser
       password secret
       host mobipublic.com
    </clock-server>

Asynchronous

Asyncronous tasks are long-running tasks which are run on their own thread.