Posts Tagged - ruby

On Flaky Tests, Time Precision, and Order Dependence

A flaky test is one that fails unpredictably, without a corresponding change in the code under test. These often show up in CI runs where a test unrelated to any change made suddenly fails, and then mysteriously passes when re-run. There are many type and causes of “flakes”. Today I want to talk about flaky tests caused by time precision, and time-order dependence.

The specific tools mentioned here will be Ruby, Rails, and PostgreSQL specific. But analogs exist in nearly all other languages and frameworks, so the techniques are broadly applicable.

Frye meme: Not sure if I broke something, or it's a flaky test
Not sure if I broke something, or it's a flaky test…

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So We've Got a Memory Leak…

Memory leaks happen. And if you’re here, reading this, I’d bet you’re dealing with one. First things first - are you sure it’s a leak, and not bloat?

Okay, so it’s a leak. Much has been written about various tools for profiling a leak, understanding heap dumps, common causes of leaks, work being done to improve Ruby’s memory layout, and so much more. Ben Sheldon’s recent “The answer is in your heap: debugging a big memory increase in Ruby on Rails” is a great example. Ben mentions and shows how he and some teammates used several different tools to generate heap dumps, analyze and interrogate them, and ultimately find and fix the source of a leak in Rails itself.

These are all great resources, and can be crucial knowledge in our hunt for a leak. But they all suppose we already have an idea of where to start looking, or use stripped down examples to showcase the tools. The memory_profiler Gem can profile memory allocations around some suspect code, if we already know that code is suspect. Derailed Benchmarks can get us started on tracking down a leak in the overall stack, or a known problematic resource, and generate heap dumps for us. Comparing those dumps with heapy can point us in the right direction by revealing memory being unexpectedly retained over time. We can use sheap to track down exactly where problematic objects allocations are happening, once we’ve identified those problematic objects.

But what if we’ve reviewed all recent code changes, and nothing stands out? Or if the leaks don’t happen consistently, across all instances of the running app? Or memory starts leaking different times? Where do we even start?

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Well-behaved Ruby Objects: Equality

A “well-behaved” object in Ruby needs to understand the following:

What makes two Ruby objects “equal”?
And which version of “equal” (there are several in Ruby)?
And what makes an object usable as a Hash key?
And is that the same thing that makes them Comparable?

Because I can never seem to remember the specifics. And because my searching the Interwebs seems to find related, but not specific help. And because I’ve got this blurgh-thing… I might as well use it to help future-me (and maybe you?).

Gimme the gist

Implement hash and eql? for use as a Hash key, and then alias the eql? method to == for the expected developer ergonomics. Something like this:

class Message
  attr_reader :body, :subject

  def initialize(subject:, body:)
    @subject = subject
    @body = body

  def eql?(other)
    other.class == self.class &&
      other.body == body &&
      other.subject == subject
  alias == eql?

  def hash
    [self.class, body, subject].hash

What to know more about the specifics, or how to also make these objects Comparable? Read on, friend…

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Debugging Homebrew with Pry

Over the years I’ve written a few Homebrew formulas and sent the occasional Pull Request to update a formula or two. But I’ve never done any work within Homebrew. I’ve never needed to debug how Homebrew itself worked. Until now.

I assumed our typical Ruby debugging tools, like Pry and Pry-Byebug would work. Homebrew is just Ruby, after all. Which is true. But it’s also a bit special, and we can’t do the normal require "pry-byebug"; binding.pry tricks.

But we can, with a little poking around, still use those tools!

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In Search Of… Enumerable#transform for Ruby

In Search Of… a Ruby method with the semantics of Enumerable#map and Enumerable#inject. That is, to transform values while also having access to the prior iteration return value. Sounds odd, I know.

Given the following “value object”

class Snapshot
  def initialize(value = 0)
    @value = value

  def apply(new_value) + new_value)

I want to build an array of snapshots, based on some set of inputs. Meaning, I think I’d like something that looks like this

(1..10).transform( { |prev_snap, i|

Resulting in this

#=> [#<Snapshot:0x00007fe550d12558 @value=1>,
#=>  #<Snapshot:0x00007fe550d12508 @value=3>,
#=>  #<Snapshot:0x00007fe550d124e0 @value=6>,
#=>  #<Snapshot:0x00007fe550d124b8 @value=10>,
#=>  #<Snapshot:0x00007fe550d12468 @value=15>,
#=>  #<Snapshot:0x00007fe550d12440 @value=21>,
#=>  #<Snapshot:0x00007fe550d12418 @value=28>,
#=>  #<Snapshot:0x00007fe550d123c8 @value=36>,
#=>  #<Snapshot:0x00007fe550d123a0 @value=45>,
#=>  #<Snapshot:0x00007fe550d12378 @value=55>]

Right now, as of Ruby 2.5, I don’t know of a clean way of doing that. Clean being in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. It can be done with Enumerable#map or Enumerable#inject, but it ain’t pretty.

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Reclaim Your Domain Model from Rails

TL,DR; When building an application using Rails, I prefer to keep all my model in app/models/. I reserve lib/ for those other things - those not-my-domain-things. I’d like to explain the what and why.

Boundaries Amongst the Fields; Deep Greens Rails has a history of co-opting names, as happened when the ActiveRecord library used the active record pattern name. A similar co-opting has happened with the MVC pattern wherein many believe Rails is an example of the MVC design pattern. In truth, it’s probably closer to MVC Model 2… but I digress.

Model View What’s-that-now?

MVC stands for Model, View, Controller. In Rails-land we know what the Controllers are. And while we don’t have Views in the way that MVC meant, we do have view-templates, and we call those our views. The Model is meant to be all the things it takes to model our problem domain. As applied to Rails, the Model seems the most misunderstood/misused of the MVC triumvirate.

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The accepts_nested_attributes_for Un-Solution

Merry-Go-Round Why does Rails’ accepts_nested_attributes_for approach always feel so darned wrong?

My suspicion is that it feels wrong because it likely is wrong - or at least it is likely the wrong tool for the job.

An example

An accounting of a recent ride I took into the accepts_nested_attributes_for merry go round.

In order to create a Message, I have to first create the Conversation it’s a part of.

This sounds like an explicit workflow, so I’ll model it that way.

… hours later …

FFFUUU, this is too complicated! There must be an easier, more Rails-y way.

I know, Conversations can accepts_nested_attributes_for :messages. Brilliant!

… hours later …

FFFUUU, this is too complicated! There must be a simpler way.

I know, rather than shoehorning this into an overly-coupled mess I’ll model it as an explicit workflow!


Remember, easy is not the same thing as simple.

image via:

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