Posts Tagged ‘software’

Spring integration makes it easy to monitor an sftp server for new files and inject those files into your application for processing.  I like to configure my spring integration applications with annotations and @Bean configurations.  I found the documentation, and online examples for doing this annotations a bit lacking.


This post demonstrates the basics on how to connect get a spring-boot (1.3.x or 1.4.x) application to monitor a sftp server.


Sometimes the behaviour of an application is controlled through properties
and the application needs to detect changes to the property file so it can switch to the new configuration. You also want to ensure that a particular request either uses the old configuration or the new configuration but not a mixture of old and new. Think of this as ACID like isolation for properties to ensure that your requests don’t get processed using an inconsistent configuration.

We accomplish this by using a property lookup bean (PropertyBean) that returns property lookups. The PropertyLookupBean is a request scoped bean meaning that a new instance is created for each request in a spring MVC application. The PropertyLookup bean has an init method that runs post construction and calls the PropertyCache bean to get the current set of properties. Each instance of the PropertyLookup bean will return the property values from the Properties object it gets at initialization.


The property lookup bean has a reference to a singleton scoped PropertyCache. The PropertyCache maintains a reference to the current Properties object. When the PropertyCache bean is asked to return the current properties it checks to see if they have changed on disk and if so reloads the properties.

class PropertyBean {
    private Properties currentProperties;

    PropertyCache propertyCache;

    void doInit() {
        currentProperties = propertyCache.getProperties();
    public String getProperty(String propertyName) {
        return currentProperties.getProperty(propertyName);


The PropertyBean would look similar to the above sample class. This class simply caches an instance of a Properties object post-construction and delegates property requests to this instance.

The PropertyBean needs to be created as a request scoped bean. This can be done with a Spring annotation configuration class as follows.

class MyConfig {
    @Scope(value="request", proxyMode=ScopedProxyMode.TARGET_CLASS)
    public PropertyBean propertyBean() {
        return new PropertyBean();


Managing the loading of properties falls to the PropertyCache class which would look similar to the below class

public class PropertyCache {
    private Properties currentProperties;
    private Long lastReloadTime=0;
    private String propertyFileName;

    public Properties getProperties()  {
         synchronized(this) {
             return currentProperties;

    private reloadPropertiesIfRequired() {
         FileInputStream stream = null;
         try {
             File f = new File(propertyFileName);
             if(f.lastModified() > lastReloadTime) {
                 Properties newProperties = new Properties();
                 stream = new FileInputStream(f);
                 synchronized(this) {
                     lastReloadTime = System.getCurrentMillis();
                     currentProperties = newProperties;
    catch(IOException exp) {
        //do something intelligent on the error
    finally {
        if (stream != null)


All of the business logic code that needs properties to process a request will use the request scoped PropertyBean instance bean. This ensures that the entire request uses the same set of properties even if the underlying property file changes.

class SomeBusinessService {
    private PropertyBean propertyBean;

   public void someOperation() {
      String v = propertyBean.getProperty("");


When a new request is started a new instance of the PropertyBean is created. The doInit() method invokes the PropertyCache getProperties() method. The Property Cache checks the timestamp of the file and looks for modifications, if it detects one it reloads the property file. Any PropertyBean instances that have already been initialized will continue to use the old properties instance.

PostgreSQL is becoming a more popular choice for an embedded database because of its BSD license, relatively low memory footprint and great list of features. A few people have asked me if Slony would be a good choice for replication in an embedded environment. Embedded deployments haven’t been a primary use-case for Slony and some of the challenges you would face are worth writing about.


Last week I was in Chicago giving a talk at PostgresOpen on managing PostgreSQL with puppet. The talk was well attended and appears to have been well received.

Puppet is configuration management software that allows you to describe how your servers should look using a declarative syntax. You describe what packages you want to install (obviously postgres) and how your configuration files should look. Puppet also allows you to run commands to create databases or database objects such as users.

In my talk I discuss why it is important to use a repeatable procedure for building production database servers and how this is a tool in bridging the divide between developers and operations staff.

I talk about how deploying servers with automation allows your servers to be similar. Similar might not mean identical but the differences between your database servers is controlled and managed. This also applies to your development and QA servers. If you deploy your staging, QA, and development servers using the same puppet manifest as your production servers but with possibly different configuration options then you will be more confident in your testing.

You can view my slides. They recorded the talk and I will update this post with a link to the talk when it is posted.

Updated: You can view a recording of the video below

This weekend we had the second annual Toronto OpenStreetMap developer weekend. The nice folks at the Ryerson Department of Geography hosted us. My focus this weekend was to work the Serge and Martijn on maproulette

Maproulette is software that presents an easy to do mapping task to users which they can complete and then mark the task as completed. Examples of past maproulette mapping challenges include fixing connectivity errors or fixing objects touched by the license change.

I found the documentation on urllib2 a bit unclear about how to get cookie handling working properly.

I was working on a python script that needed to contact the OpenStreetMap web server, login with my OSM credentials and interact with the website.

The first step is to setup a urllib2 opener instance that is configured to store cookies.

import cookielib,Cookie,urllib2,urllib
import xml.etree.cElementTree as ElementTree

cookies = cookielib.CookieJar()
opener = urllib2.build_opener(urllib2.HTTPCookieProcessor(cookies))

This will create an opener that can be used to retrieve URL’s. Any cookies set in the HTTP response will be stored in the cookie’s cookie jar. If I needed to add additional openers (ie for special redirect handling) I would just add them as additional parameters to the build_opener call. ie urllib2.build_opener(handler1, handler2,handler3)…

Next we need to contact OpenStreetMap to get a blank login form. The blank login screen has a hidden variable ‘authenticity_token’ that needs to be passed back as part of the POST with my login credentials

inptag = '{}input'
formtag = '{}form'
# fetch the blank login form
response_tokenfetch =
html =
# parse the HTML elements in the form
# extract any input fields for later resubmission
# this will pick up the authenticity_token and anything else
xml_tree = ElementTree.parse(htmlfile)
for form in xml_tree.getiterator(formtag):                
    for field in form.getiterator(inptag):
        if 'name' in field.attrib and 'value' in field.attrib:
                login_payload[field.attrib['name']] = field.attrib['value']
login_payload['username'] = username
login_payload['password'] = password
login_payload['remember_me'] = 'yes'
login_payload['cookie_test'] = 'true'

Next we submit the LOGIN request as a POST. Any session cookies returned as part of the blank form will be added to the second request.

response =,urllib.urlencode(login_payload))

If our login was successful then cookies contains an _osm_session and _osm_username that will be used in subsequent API calls.

response2 =

You could then parse the HTML to extract a list of messages.
If your using the formal OpenStreetMap API (ie calls under /api/0.6/…) then you should instead use oauth for authentication instead of logging in through the website. Some OSM features such as messaging can only be accessed by pretending to be a web session and parsing/faking HTML.

I spent the weekend attending Pycon Canada where I gave a talk on Pl/Python. I want to thank the conference organizers for putting on an excellent conference. I am told that this was the first time Pycon had a regional conference in Canada and that it was put together by a group of volunteers in less than 6 months.

One of my favourite parts of local/regional conferences held on weekends is that they tend to attract attendees who are passionate about computers and technology. The people who I spoke with at the conference were there because they wanted to be there,not because there boss wanted them to be there, and either loved Python or wanted to learn more about it. I’ve attended many great PostgreSQL conferences over the past few years but it was nice to spend sometime talking with people from broader development backgrounds.

In my discussions with people at the conference I noticed a trend. People I spoke with who are working at companies that did Python development tended to be using PostgreSQL. The ones that weren’t currently using PostgreSQL were using MySQL and talking about moving to PostgreSQL or were apologetic for still being on MySQL. The MySQL users were often apologizing before I told them that I was a PostgreSQL contributor. Some of the MySQL users also mentioned that they were using non-Oracle forks like Percona.

This was in contrast to the people at the Python conference that described their workplaces as doing primarily Java development. The Java development shops tended to be using Oracle or SQL Server. I admit that the sample size of of the Java developers wasn’t that big (this was a Python conference after all) but my observations are worth keeping in mind since they might be indicating a pattern. Other people have commented about the popularity of PostgreSQL in the Ruby community.

I wonder how much of this observations is because older written in Java are already using SQL Server/Oracle and there hasn’t been a strong enough driver to change to PostgreSQL. While newer software projects are tending to choose Python or Ruby over Java and at the same time picking a FLOSS database such as PostgreSQL where they don’t have to worry about migrating a legacy application.

My talk on writing stored functions in Pl/Python was well received. A lot of people saw appeal in being able to write their stored functions in Python instead of pl/SQL but that shouldn’t be a surprise considering this was a Python conference.

My slides are available here, the video of the talk is posted at pyvideo