Uploaded Images History in Phimpme Android

In Phimpme Android one core feature is of sharing images to many different platforms. After sharing we usually wants to look in the our past records, where we uploaded what pictures? Which image we uploaded? What time it was? So I added a feature to view the upload history of images. User can go to the Upload history tab, present in the navigation drawer of the app. From there he can browse the repository.

How I added history feature in Phimpme

  • Store the data when User initiate an upload

To get which data uploading is in progress. I am storing its name, date, time and image path. When user approve to upload image from Sharing Activity.

Created a database model

public class UploadHistoryRealmModel extends RealmObject{

   String name;
   String pathname;
   String datetime;

   public String getName() {
       return name;
   }

   public void setName(String name) {
       this.name = name;
   }

   public String getPathname() {
       return pathname;
   }

   public void setPathname(String pathname) {
       this.pathname = pathname;
   }

   public String getDatetime() {
       return datetime;
   }

   public void setDatetime(String datetime) {
       this.datetime = datetime;
   }
} 

This is the realm model for storing the name, date, time and image path.

Saving in database

UploadHistoryRealmModel uploadHistory;
uploadHistory = realm.createObject(UploadHistoryRealmModel.class);
uploadHistory.setName(sharableAccountsList.get(position).toString());
uploadHistory.setPathname(saveFilePath);
uploadHistory.setDatetime(new SimpleDateFormat("dd/MM/yyyy HH:mm:ss").format(new Date()));
realm.commitTransaction();

Creating realm object and setting the details in begin and commit Transaction block

  • Added upload history entry in Navigation Drawer

    <LinearLayout
       xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
       android:id="@+id/ll_drawer_uploadhistory"
       android:layout_width="match_parent"
       android:layout_height="wrap_content"
       android:background="@drawable/ripple"
       android:clickable="true"
       android:orientation="horizontal">
    
       <com.mikepenz.iconics.view.IconicsImageView
           android:id="@+id/Drawer_Upload_Icon"
           android:layout_width="@dimen/icon_width_height"
           android:layout_height="@dimen/icon_width_height"
           app:iiv_icon="gmd-file-upload"/>
    
       <TextView
           android:id="@+id/Drawer_Upload_Item"
           android:layout_width="wrap_content"
           android:layout_height="wrap_content"
           android:text="@string/upload_history"
           android:textColor="@color/md_dark_background"
           android:textSize="16sp"/>
    </LinearLayout>

It consist of an ImageView and TextView in a horizontal oriented Linear Layout

  • Showing history in Upload History Activity

Added recyclerview in layout.

<android.support.v7.widget.RecyclerView
   android:id="@+id/upload_history_recycler_view"
   android:layout_width="match_parent"
   android:layout_height="match_parent"
   android:layout_below="@id/toolbar">
</android.support.v7.widget.RecyclerView>

Query the database and updated the adapter of Upload History

uploadResults = realm.where(UploadHistoryRealmModel.class);
RecyclerView.LayoutManager layoutManager = new LinearLayoutManager(this);
uploadHistoryRecyclerView.setLayoutManager(layoutManager);
uploadHistoryRecyclerView.setAdapter(uploadHistoryAdapter);

Added the adapter for recycler view and created an Item using Constraint layout.

Resources

Introducing Stream Servlet in loklak Server

A major part of my GSoC proposal was adding stream API to loklak server. In a previous blog post, I discussed the addition of Mosquitto as a message broker for MQTT streaming. After testing this service for a few days and some minor improvements, I was in a position to expose the stream to outside users using a simple API.

In this blog post, I will be discussing the addition of /api/stream.json endpoint to loklak server.

HTTP Server-Sent Events

Server-sent events (SSE) is a technology where a browser receives automatic updates from a server via HTTP connection. The Server-Sent Events EventSource API is standardized as part of HTML5 by the W3C.

Wikipedia

This API is supported by all major browsers except Microsoft Edge. For loklak, the plan was to use this event system to send messages, as they arrive, to the connected users. Apart from browser support, EventSource API can also be used with many other technologies too.

Jetty Eventsource Plugin

For Java, we can use Jetty’s EventSource plugin to send events to clients. It is similar to other Jetty servlets when it comes to processing the arguments, handling requests, etc. But it provides a simple interface to send events as they occur to connected users.

Adding Dependency

To use this plugin, we can add the following line to Gradle dependencies –

compile group: 'org.eclipse.jetty', name: 'jetty-eventsource-servlet', version: '1.0.0'

[SOURCE]

The Event Source

An EventSource is the object which is required for EventSourceServlet to send events. All the logics for emitting events needs to be defined in the related class. To link a servlet with an EventSource, we need to override the newEventSource method –

public class StreamServlet extends EventSourceServlet {
    @Override
    protected EventSource newEventSource(HttpServletRequest request) {
        String channel = request.getParameter("channel");
        if (channel == null) {
            return null;
        }
        if (channel.isEmpty()) {
            return null;
        }
        return new MqttEventSource(channel);
    }
}

[SOURCE]

If no channel is provided, the EventSource object will be null and the request will be rejected. Here, the MqttEventSource would be used to handle the stream of Tweets as they arrive from the Mosquitto message broker.

Cross Site Requests

Since the requests to this endpoint can’t be of JSONP type, it is necessary to allow cross site requests on this endpoint. This can be done by overriding the doGet method of the servlet –

@Override
protected void doGet(HttpServletRequest request, HttpServletResponse response) throws ServletException, IOException {
     response.setHeader("Access-Control-Allow-Origin", "*");
    super.doGet(request, response);
}

[SOURCE]

Adding MQTT Subscriber

When a request for events arrives, the constructor to MqttEventSource is called. At this stage, we need to connect to the stream from Mosquitto for the channel. To achieve this, we can set the class as MqttCallback using appropriate client configurations –

public class MqttEventSource implements MqttCallback {
    ...
    MqttEventSource(String channel) {
        this.channel = channel;
    }
    ...
    this.mqttClient = new MqttClient(address, "loklak_server_subscriber");
    this.mqttClient.connect();
    this.mqttClient.setCallback(this);
    this.mqttClient.subscribe(this.channel);
    ...
}

[SOURCE]

By setting the callback to this, we can override the messageArrived method to handle the arrival of a new message on the channel. Just to mention, the client library used here is Eclipse Paho.

Connecting MQTT Stream to SSE Stream

Now that we have subscribed to the channel we wish to send events from, we can use the Emitter to send events from our EventSource by implementing it –

public class MqttEventSource implements EventSource, MqttCallback {
    private Emitter emitter;


    @Override
    public void onOpen(Emitter emitter) throws IOException {
        this.emitter = emitter;
        ...
    }

    @Override
    public void messageArrived(String topic, MqttMessage message) throws Exception {
        this.emitter.data(message.toString());
    }
}

[SOURCE]

Closing Stream on Disconnecting from User

When a client disconnects from the stream, it doesn’t makes sense to stay connected to the server. We can use the onClose method to disconnect the subscriber from the MQTT broker –

@Override
public void onClose() {
    try {
        this.mqttClient.close();
        this.mqttClient.disconnect();
    } catch (MqttException e) {
        // Log some warning 
    }
}

[SOURCE]

Conclusion

In this blog post, I discussed connecting the MQTT stream to SSE stream using Jetty’s EventSource plugin. Once in place, this event system would save us from making too many requests to collect and visualize data. The possibilities of applications of such feature are huge.

This feature can be seen in action at the World Mood Tracker app.

The changes were introduced in pull request loklak/loklak_server#1474 by @singhpratyush (me).

Resources

Live Feeds in loklak Media wall using ‘source=twitter’

Loklak Server provides pagination to provide tweets from Loklak search.json API in divisions so as to improve response time from the server. We will be taking advantage of this pagination using parameter `source=twitter` of the search.json API on loklak media wall. Basically, using parameter ‘source=twitter’ in the API does real time scraping and provides live feeds. To improve response time, it returns feeds as specified in the count (default is 100).

In the blog, I am explaining how implemented real time pagination using ‘source = twitter’ in loklak media wall to get live feeds from twitter.

Working

First API Call on Initialization

The first API call needs to have high count (i.e. maximumRecords = 20) so as to get a higher number of feeds and provide a sufficient amount of feeds to fill up the media wall. ‘source=twitter’ must be specified so that real time feeds are scraped and provided from twitter.

http://api.loklak.org/api/search.json?q=fossasia&callback=__ng_jsonp__.__req0.finished&minified=true&source=twitter&maximumRecords=20&timezoneOffset=-330&startRecord=1

 

If feeds are received from the server, then the next API request must be sent after 10 seconds so that server gets sufficient time to scrap the data and store it in the database. This can be done by an effect which dispatches WallNextPageAction(‘’) keeping debounceTime equal to 10000 so that next request is sent 10 seconds after WallSearchCompleteSuccessAction().

@Effect()
nextWallSearchAction$
= this.actions$
.ofType(apiAction.ActionTypes.WALL_SEARCH_COMPLETE_SUCCESS)
.debounceTime(10000)
.withLatestFrom(this.store$)
.map(([action, state]) => {
return new wallPaginationAction.WallNextPageAction();
});

Consecutive Calls

To implement pagination, next consecutive API call must be made to add new live feeds to the media wall. For the new feeds, count must be kept low so that no heavy pagination takes place and feeds are added one by one to get more focus on new tweets. For this purpose, count must be kept to one.

this.searchServiceConfig.count = queryObject.count;
this.searchServiceConfig.maximumRecords = queryObject.count;return this.apiSearchService.fetchQuery(queryObject.query.queryString, this.searchServiceConfig)
.takeUntil(nextSearch$)
.map(response => {
return new wallPaginationAction.WallPaginationCompleteSuccessAction(response);
})
.catch(() => of(new wallPaginationAction.WallPaginationCompleteFailAction()));
});

 

Here, count and maximumRecords is updated from queryObject.count which varies between 1 to 5 (default being 1). This can be updated by user from the customization menu.

Next API request is as follows:

http://api.loklak.org/api/search.json?q=fossasia&callback=__ng_jsonp__.__req2.finished&minified=true&source=twitter&maximumRecords=1&timezoneOffset=-330&startRecord=1

 

Now, as done above, if some response is received from media wall, next request is sent after 10 seconds after WallPaginationCompleteSuccess() from an effect by keeping debounceTime equal to 10000.

In the similar way, new consecutive calls can be made by keeping ‘source = twitter’ and keeping count low for getting a proper focus on new feed.

Reference

Using Firebase Test Lab for Testing test cases of Phimpme Android

As now we started writing some test cases for Phimpme Android. While running my instrumentation test case, I saw a tab of Cloud Testing in Android Studio. This is for Firebase Test Lab. Firebase Test Lab provides cloud-based infrastructure for testing Android apps. Everyone doesn’t have every devices of all the android versions. But testing on all of them is equally important.

How I used test lab in Phimpme

  • Run your first test on Firebase

Select Test Lab in your project on the left nav on the Firebase console, and then click Run a Robo test. The Robo test automatically explores your app on wide array of devices to find defects and report any crashes that occur. It doesn’t require you to write test cases. All you need is the app’s APK. Nothing else is needed to use Robo test.

Upload your Application’s APK (app-debug-unaligned.apk) in the next screen and click Continue

Configure the device selection, a wide range of devices and all API levels are present there. You can save the template for future use.

Click on start test to start testing. It will start the tests and show the real time progress as well.

  • Using Firebase Test Lab from Android Studio

It required Android Studio 2.0+. You needs to edit the configuration of Android Instrumentation test.

Select the Firebase Test Lab Device Matrix under the Target. You can configure Matrix, matrix is actually on what virtual and physical devices do you want to run your test. See the below screenshot for details.

Note: You need to enable the firebase in your project

So using test lab on firebase we can easily test the test cases on multiple devices and make our app more scalable.

Resources:

Generating Map Action Responses in SUSI AI

SUSI AI responds to location related user queries with a Map action response. The different types of responses are referred to as actions which tell the client how to render the answer. One such action type is the Map action type. The map action contains latitude, longitude and zoom values telling the client to correspondingly render a map with the given location.

Let us visit SUSI Web Chat and try it out.

Query: Where is London

Response: (API Response)

The API Response actions contain text describing the specified location, an anchor with text ‘Here is a map` linked to openstreetmaps and a map with the location coordinates.

Let us look at how this is implemented on server.

For location related queries, the key where is used as an identifier. Once the query is matched with this key, a regular expression `where is (?:(?:a )*)(.*)` is used to parse the location name.

"keys"   : ["where"],
"phrases": [
  {"type":"regex", "expression":"where is (?:(?:a )*)(.*)"},
]

The parsed location name is stored in $1$ and is used to make API calls to fetch information about the place and its location. Console process is used to fetch required data from an API.

"process": [
  {
    "type":"console",
    "expression":"SELECT location[0] AS lon, location[1] AS lat FROM locations WHERE query='$1$';"},
  {
    "type":"console",
    "expression":"SELECT object AS locationInfo FROM location-info WHERE query='$1$';"}
],

Here, we need to make two API calls :

  • For getting information about the place
  • For getting the location coordinates

First let us look at how a Console Process works. In a console process we provide the URL needed to fetch data from, the query parameter needed to be passed to the URL and the path to look for the answer in the API response.

  • url = <url>   – the url to the remote json service which will be used to retrieve information. It must contain a $query$ string.
  • test = <parameter> – the parameter that will replace the $query$ string inside the given url. It is required to test the service.

For getting the information about the place, we used Wikipedia API. We name this console process as location-info and added the required attributes to run it and fetch data from the API.

"location-info": {
  "example":"http://127.0.0.1:4000/susi/console.json?q=%22SELECT%20*%20FROM%20location-info%20WHERE%20query=%27london%27;%22",
  "url":"https://en.wikipedia.org/w/api.php?action=opensearch&limit=1&format=json&search=",
  "test":"london",
  "parser":"json",
  "path":"$.[2]",
  "license":"Copyright by Wikipedia, https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Terms_of_Use/en"
}

The attributes used are :

  • url : The Media WIKI API endpoint
  • test : The Location name which will be appended to the url before making the API call.
  • parser : Specifies the response type for parsing the answer
  • path : Points to the location in the response where the required answer is present

The API endpoint called is of the following format :

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/api.php?action=opensearch&limit=1&format=json&search=LOCATION_NAME

For the query where is london, the API call made returns

[
  "london",
  ["London"],
  ["London  is the capital and most populous city of England and the United Kingdom."],
  ["https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London"]
]

The path $.[2] points to the third element of the array i.e “London  is the capital and most populous city of England and the United Kingdom.” which is stored in $locationInfo$.

Similarly to get the location coordinates, another API call is made to loklak API.

"locations": {
  "example":"http://127.0.0.1:4000/susi/console.json?q=%22SELECT%20*%20FROM%20locations%20WHERE%20query=%27rome%27;%22",
  "url":"http://api.loklak.org/api/console.json?q=SELECT%20*%20FROM%20locations%20WHERE%20location='$query$';",
  "test":"rome",
  "parser":"json",
  "path":"$.data",
  "license":"Copyright by GeoNames"
},

The location coordinates are found in $.data.location in the API response. The location coordinates are stored as latitude and longitude in $lat$ and $lon$ respectively.

Finally we have description about the location and its coordinates, so we create the actions to be put in the server response.

The first action is of type answer and the text to be displayed is given by $locationInfo$ where the data from wikipedia API response is stored.

{
  "type":"answer",
  "select":"random",
  "phrases":["$locationInfo$"]
},

The second action is of type anchor. The text to be displayed is `Here is a map` and it must be hyperlinked to openstreetmaps with the obtained $lat$ and $lon$.

{
  "type":"anchor",
  "link":"https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=13/$lat$/$lon$",
  "text":"Here is a map"
},

The last action is of type map which is populated for latitude and longitude using $lat$ and $lon$ respectively and the zoom value is specified to be 13.

{
  "type":"map",
  "latitude":"$lat$",
  "longitude":"$lon$",
  "zoom":"13"
}

Final output from the server will now contain the three actions with the required data obtained from the respective API calls made. For the sample query `where is london` , the actions will look like :

"actions": [
  {
    "type": "answer",
    "language": "en",
    "expression": "London  is the capital and most populous city of England and the United Kingdom."
  },
  {
    "type": "anchor",
    "link":   "https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=13/51.51279067225417/-0.09184009399817228",
    "text": "Here is a map",
    "language": "en"
  },
  {
    "type": "map",
    "latitude": "51.51279067225417",
    "longitude": "-0.09184009399817228",
    "zoom": "13",
    "language": "en"
  }
],

This is how the map action responses are generated for location related queries. The complete code can be found at SUSI AI Server Repository.

Resources:

Optimising Docker Images for loklak Server

The loklak server is in a process of moving to Kubernetes. In order to do so, we needed to have different Docker images that suit these deployments. In this blog post, I will be discussing the process through which I optimised the size of Docker image for these deployments.

Initial Image

The image that I started with used Ubuntu as base. It installed all the components needed and then modified the configurations as required –

FROM ubuntu:latest

# Env Vars
ENV LANG=en_US.UTF-8
ENV JAVA_TOOL_OPTIONS=-Dfile.encoding=UTF8
ENV DEBIAN_FRONTEND noninteractive

WORKDIR /loklak_server

RUN apt-get update
RUN apt-get upgrade -y
RUN apt-get install -y git openjdk-8-jdk
RUN git clone https://github.com/loklak/loklak_server.git /loklak_server
RUN git checkout development
RUN ./gradlew build -x test -x checkstyleTest -x checkstyleMain -x jacocoTestReport
RUN sed -i.bak 's/^\(port.http=\).*/\180/' conf/config.properties
... # More configurations
RUN echo "while true; do sleep 10;done" >> bin/start.sh

# Start
CMD ["bin/start.sh", "-Idn"]

The size of images built using this Dockerfile was quite huge –

REPOSITORY          TAG                 IMAGE ID            CREATED              SIZE

loklak_server       latest              a92f506b360d        About a minute ago   1.114 GB

ubuntu              latest              ccc7a11d65b1        3 days ago           120.1 MB

But since this size is not acceptable, we needed to reduce it.

Moving to Apline

Alpine Linux is an extremely lightweight Linux distro, built mainly for the container environment. Its size is so tiny that it hardly puts any impact on the overall size of images. So, I replaced Ubuntu with Alpine –

FROM alpine:latest

...
RUN apk update
RUN apk add git openjdk8 bash
...

And now we had much smaller images –

REPOSITORY          TAG                 IMAGE ID            CREATED             SIZE

loklak_server       latest              54b507ee9187        17 seconds ago      668.8 MB

alpine              latest              7328f6f8b418        6 weeks ago         3.966 MB

As we can see that due to no caching and small size of Alpine, the image size is reduced to almost half the original.

Reducing Content Size

There are many things in a project which are no longer needed while running the project, like the .git folder (which is huge in case of loklak) –

$ du -sh loklak_server/.git
236M loklak_server/.git

We can remove such files from the Docker image and save a lot of space –

rm -rf .[^.] .??*

Optimizing Number of Layers

The number of layers also affect the size of the image. More the number of layers, more will be the size of image. In the Dockerfile, we can club together the RUN commands for lower number of images.

RUN apk update && apk add openjdk8 git bash && \
  git clone https://github.com/loklak/loklak_server.git /loklak_server && \
  ...

After this, the effective size is again reduced by a major factor –

REPOSITORY          TAG                 IMAGE ID            CREATED             SIZE

loklak_server       latest              54b507ee9187        17 seconds ago      422.3 MB

alpine              latest              7328f6f8b418        6 weeks ago         3.966 MB

Conclusion

In this blog post, I discussed the process of optimising the size of Dockerfile for Kubernetes deployments of loklak server. The size was reduced to 426 MB from 1.234 GB and this provided much faster push/pull time for Docker images, and therefore, faster updates for Kubernetes deployments.

Resources

Implementing the Feedback Functionality in SUSI Web Chat

SUSI AI now has a feedback feature where it collects user’s feedback for every response to learn and improve itself. The first step towards guided learning is building a dataset through a feedback mechanism which can be used to learn from and improvise the skill selection mechanism responsible for answering the user queries.

The flow behind the feedback mechanism is :

  1. For every SUSI response show thumbs up and thumbs down buttons.
  2. For the older messages, the feedback thumbs are disabled and only display the feedback already given. The user cannot change the feedback already given.
  3. For the latest SUSI response the user can change his feedback by clicking on thumbs up if he likes the response, else on thumbs down, until he gives a new query.
  4. When the new query is given by the user, the feedback recorded for the previous response is sent to the server.

Let’s visit SUSI Web Chat and try this out.

We can find the feedback thumbs for the response messages. The user cannot change the feedback he has already given for previous messages. For the latest message the user can toggle feedback until he sends the next query.

How is this implemented?

We first design the UI for feedback thumbs using Material UI SVG Icons. We need a separate component for the feedback UI because we need to store the state of feedback as positive or negative because we are allowing the user to change his feedback for the latest response until a new query is sent. And whenever the user clicks on a thumb, we update the state of the component as positive or negative accordingly.

import ThumbUp from 'material-ui/svg-icons/action/thumb-up';
import ThumbDown from 'material-ui/svg-icons/action/thumb-down';

feedbackButtons = (
  <span className='feedback' style={feedbackStyle}>
    <ThumbUp
      onClick={this.rateSkill.bind(this,'positive')}
      style={feedbackIndicator}
      color={positiveFeedbackColor}/>
    <ThumbDown
      onClick={this.rateSkill.bind(this,'negative')}
      style={feedbackIndicator}
      color={negativeFeedbackColor}/>
  </span>
);

The next step is to store the response in Message Store using saveFeedback Action. This will help us later to send the feedback to the server by querying it from the Message Store. The Action calls the Dispatcher with FEEDBACK_RECEIVED ActionType which is collected in the MessageStore and the feedback is updated in the Message Store.

let feedback = this.state.skill;

if(!(Object.keys(feedback).length === 0 &&    
feedback.constructor === Object)){
  feedback.rating = rating;
  this.props.message.feedback.rating = rating;
  Actions.saveFeedback(feedback);
}

case ActionTypes.FEEDBACK_RECEIVED: {
  _feedback = action.feedback;
  MessageStore.emitChange();
  break;
}

The final step is to send the feedback to the server. The server endpoint to store feedback for a skill requires other parameters apart from feedback to identify the skill. The server response contains an attribute `skills` which gives the path of the skill used to answer that query. From that path we need to parse :

  • Model : Highest level of abstraction for categorising skills
  • Group : Different groups under a model
  • Language : Language of the skill
  • Skill : Name of the skill

For example, for the query `what is the capital of germany` , the skills object is

"skills": ["/susi_skill_data/models/general/smalltalk/en/English-Standalone-aiml2susi.txt"]

So, for this skill,

    • Model : general
    • Group : smalltalk
    • Language : en
    • Skill : English-Standalone-aiml2susi

The server endpoint to store feedback for a particular skill is :

BASE_URL+'/cms/rateSkill.json?model=MODEL&group=GROUP&language=LANGUAGE&skill=SKILL&rating=RATING'

Where Model, Group, Language and Skill are parsed from the skill attribute of server response as discussed above and the Rating is either positive or negative and is collected from the user when he clicks on feedback thumbs.

When a new query is sent, the sendFeedback Action is triggered with the required attributes to make the server call to store feedback on server. The client then makes an Ajax call to the rateSkill endpoint to send the feedback to the server.

let url = BASE_URL+'/cms/rateSkill.json?'+
          'model='+feedback.model+
          '&group='+feedback.group+
          '&language='+feedback.language+
          '&skill='+feedback.skill+
          '&rating='+feedback.rating;

$.ajax({
  url: url,
  dataType: 'jsonp',
  crossDomain: true,
  timeout: 3000,
  async: false,
  success: function (response) {
    console.log(response);
  },
  error: function(errorThrown){
    console.log(errorThrown);
  }
});

This is how the feedback feedback mechanism works in SUSI Web Chat. The entire code can be found at SUSI Web Chat Repository.

Resources

 

Persistently Storing loklak Server Dumps on Kubernetes

In an earlier blog post, I discussed loklak setup on Kubernetes. The deployment mentioned in the post was to test the development branch. Next, we needed to have a deployment where all the messages are collected and dumped in text files that can be reused.

In this blog post, I will be discussing the challenges with such deployment and the approach to tackle them.

Volatile Disk in Kubernetes

The pods that hold deployments in Kubernetes have disk storage. Any data that gets written by the application stays only until the same version of deployment is running. As soon as the deployment is updated/relocated, the data stored during the application is cleaned up.


Due to this, dumps are written when loklak is running but they get wiped out when the deployment image is updated. In other words, all dumps are lost when the image updates. We needed to find a solution to this as we needed a permanent storage when collecting dumps.

Persistent Disk

In order to have a storage which can hold data permanently, we can mount persistent disk(s) on a pod at the appropriate location. This ensures that the data that is important to us stays with us, even
when the deployment goes down.


In order to add persistent disks, we first need to create a persistent disk. On Google Cloud Platform, we can use the gcloud CLI to create disks in a given region –

gcloud compute disks create --size=<required size> --zone=<same as cluster zone> <unique disk name>

After this, we can mount it on a Docker volume defined in Kubernetes configurations –

      ...
      volumeMounts:
        - mountPath: /path/to/mount
          name: volume-name
  volumes:
    - name: volume-name
      gcePersistentDisk:
        pdName: disk-name
        fsType: fileSystemType

But this setup can’t be used for storing loklak dumps. Let’s see “why” in the next section.

Rolling Updates and Persistent Disk

The Kubernetes deployment needs to be updated when the master branch of loklak server is updated. This update of master deployment would create a new pod and try to start loklak server on it. During all this, the older deployment would also be running and serving the requests.


The control will not be transferred to the newer pod until it is ready and all the probes are passing. The newer deployment will now try to mount the disk which is mentioned in the configuration, but it would fail to do so. This would happen because the older pod has already mounted the disk.


Therefore, all new deployments would simply fail to start due to insufficient resources. To overcome such issues, Kubernetes allows persistent volume claims. Let’s see how we used them for loklak deployment.

Persistent Volume Claims

Kubernetes provides Persistent Volume Claims which claim resources (storage) from a Persistent Volume (just like a pod does from a node). The higher level APIs are provided by Kubernetes (configurations and kubectl command line). In the loklak deployment, the persistent volume is a Google Compute Engine disk –

apiVersion: v1
kind: PersistentVolume
metadata:
  name: dump
  namespace: web
spec:
  capacity:
    storage: 100Gi
  accessModes:
    - ReadWriteOnce
  persistentVolumeReclaimPolicy: Retain
  storageClassName: slow
  gcePersistentDisk:
    pdName: "data-dump-disk"
    fsType: "ext4"

[SOURCE]

It must be noted here that a persistent disk by the name of data-dump-index is already created in the same region.


The storage class defines the way in which the PV should be handled, along with the provisioner for the service –

kind: StorageClass
apiVersion: storage.k8s.io/v1
metadata:
  name: slow
  namespace: web
provisioner: kubernetes.io/gce-pd
parameters:
  type: pd-standard
  zone: us-central1-a

[SOURCE]

After having the StorageClass and PersistentVolume, we can create a claim for the volume by using appropriate configurations –

apiVersion: v1
kind: PersistentVolumeClaim
metadata:
  name: dump
  namespace: web
spec:
  accessModes:
    - ReadWriteOnce
  resources:
    requests:
      storage: 100Gi
  storageClassName: slow

[SOURCE]

After this, we can mount this claim on our Deployment –

  ...
  volumeMounts:
    - name: dump
      mountPath: /loklak_server/data
volumes:
  - name: dump
    persistentVolumeClaim:
      claimName: dump

[SOURCE]

Verifying persistence of Dumps

To verify this, we can redeploy the cluster using the same persistent disk and check if the earlier dumps are still present there –

$ http http://link.to.deployment/dump/
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Cache-Control: public, max-age=60
Content-Type: text/html;charset=utf-8
...


<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 3.2 Final//EN">

<h1>Index of /dump</h1>
<pre>      Name 
[gz ] <a href="messages_20170802_71562040.txt.gz">messages_20170802_71562040.txt.gz</a>   Thu Aug 03 00:07:21 GMT 2017   132M
[gz ] <a href="messages_20170803_69925009.txt.gz">messages_20170803_69925009.txt.gz</a>   Mon Aug 07 15:40:04 GMT 2017   532M
[gz ] <a href="messages_20170807_36357603.txt.gz">messages_20170807_36357603.txt.gz</a>   Wed Aug 09 10:26:24 GMT 2017   377M
[txt] <a href="messages_20170809_27974404.txt">messages_20170809_27974404.txt</a>      Thu Aug 10 08:51:49 GMT 2017  1564M
<hr></pre>
...

Conclusion

In this blog post, I discussed the process of deployment of loklak with persistent dumps on Kubernetes. This deployment is intended to work as root.loklak.org in near future. The changes were proposed in loklak/loklak_server#1377 by @singhpratyush (me).

Resources

UI Espresso Test Cases for Phimpme Android

Now we are heading toward a release of Phimpme soon, So we are increasing the code coverage by writing test cases for our app. What is a Test Case? Test cases are the script against which we run our code to test the features implementation. It is basically contains the output, flow and features steps of the app. To release app on multiple platform, it is highly recommended to test the app on test cases.

For example, Let’s consider if we are developing an app which has one button. So first we write a UI test case which checks whether a button displayed on the screen or not? And in response to that it show the pass and fail of a test case.

Steps to add a UI test case using Espresso

Espresso testing framework provides APIs to simulate user interactions. It has a concise API. Even, now in new Version of Android Studio, there is a feature to record Espresso Test cases. I’ll show you how to use Recorder to write test cases in below steps.

  • Setup Project Directory

Android Instrumentation tests must be placed in androidTest directory. If it is not there create a directory in app/src/androidTest/java…

  • Write Test Case

So firstly, I am writing a very simple test case, which checks whether the three Bottom navigation view items are displayed or not?

Espresso Testing framework has basically three components:

ViewMatchers

Which helps to find the correct view on which some actions can be performed E.g. onView(withId(R.id.navigation_accounts). Here I am taking the view of accounts item in Bottom Navigation View.

ViewActions

It allows to perform actions on the view we get earlier. E.g. Very basic operation used is click()

ViewAssertions

It allows to assert the current state of the view E.g. isDisplayed() is an assertion on the view we get. So a basic architecture of an Espresso Test case is

onView(ViewMatcher)       
 .perform(ViewAction)     
   .check(ViewAssertion);

We can also Use Hamcrest framework which provide extra features of checking conditions in the code.

Setup Espresso in Code

Add this in your application level build.gradle

// Android Testing Support Library's runner and rules
androidTestCompile "com.android.support.test:runner:$rootProject.ext.runnerVersion"
androidTestCompile "com.android.support.test:rules:$rootProject.ext.rulesVersion"

// Espresso UI Testing dependencies.
androidTestCompile "com.android.support.test.espresso:espresso-core:$rootProject.ext.espressoVersion"
androidTestCompile "com.android.support.test.espresso:espresso-contrib:$rootProject.ext.espressoVersion"
  • Use recorder to write the Test Case

New recorder feature is great, if you want to set up everything quickly. Go to the Run → Record Espresso Test in Android Studio.

It dumps the current User Interface hierarchy and provide the feature to assert that.

You can edit the assertions by selecting the element and apply the assertion on it.

Save and Run the test cases by right click on Name of the class. Run ‘Test Case name’

Console will show the progress of Test case. Like here it is showing passed, it means it get all the view hierarchy which is required by the Test Case.

Resources

Using Mosquitto as a Message Broker for MQTT in loklak Server

In loklak server, messages are collected from various sources and indexed using Elasticsearch. To know when a message of interest arrives, users can poll the search endpoint. But this method would require a lot of HTTP requests, most of them being redundant. Also, if a user would like to collect messages for a particular topic, he would need to make a lot of requests over a period of time to get enough data.

For GSoC 2017, my proposal was to introduce stream API in the loklak server so that we could save ourselves from making too many requests and also add many use cases.

Mosquitto is Eclipse’s project which acts as a message broker for the popular MQTT protocol. MQTT, based on the pub-sub model, is a lightweight and IOT friendly protocol. In this blog post, I will discuss the basic setup of Mosquitto in the loklak server.

Installation and Dependency for Mosquitto

The installation process of Mosquitto is very simple. For Ubuntu, it is available from the pre installed PPAs –

sudo apt-get install mosquitto

Once the message broker is up and running, we can use the clients to connect to it and publish/subscribe to channels. To add MQTT client as a project dependency, we can introduce following line in Gradle dependencies file –

compile group: 'net.sf.xenqtt', name: 'xenqtt', version: '0.9.5'

[SOURCE]

After this, we can use the client libraries in the server code base.

The MQTTPublisher Class

The MQTTPublisher class in loklak would provide an interface to perform basic operations in MQTT. The implementation uses AsyncClientListener to connect to Mosquitto broker –

AsyncClientListener listener = new AsyncClientListener() {
    // Override methods according to needs
};

[SOURCE]

The publish method for the class can be used by other components of the project to publish messages on the desired channel –

public void publish(String channel, String message) {
    this.mqttClient.publish(new PublishMessage(channel, QoS.AT_LEAST_ONCE, message));
}

[SOURCE]

We also have methods which allow publishing of multiple messages to multiple channels in order to increase the functionality of the class.

Starting Publisher with Server

The flags which signal using of streaming service in loklak are located in conf/config.properties. These configurations are referred while initializing the Data Access Object and an MQTTPublisher is created if needed –

String mqttAddress = getConfig("stream.mqtt.address", "tcp://127.0.0.1:1883");
streamEnabled = getConfig("stream.enabled", false);
if (streamEnabled) {
    mqttPublisher = new MQTTPublisher(mqttAddress);
}

[SOURCE]

The mqttPublisher can now be used by other components of loklak to publish messages to the channel they want.

Adding Mosquitto to Kubernetes

Since loklak has also a nice Kubernetes setup, it was very simple to introduce a new deployment for Mosquitto to it.

Changes in Dockerfile

The Dockerfile for master deployment has to be modified to discover Mosquitto broker in the Kubernetes cluster. For this purpose, corresponding flags in config.properties have to be changed to ensure that things work fine –

sed -i.bak 's/^\(stream.enabled\).*/\1=true/' conf/config.properties && \
sed -i.bak 's/^\(stream.mqtt.address\).*/\1=mosquitto.mqtt:1883/' conf/config.properties && \

[SOURCE]

The Mosquitto broker would be available at mosquitto.mqtt:1883 because of the service that is created for it (explained in later section).

Mosquitto Deployment

The Docker image used in Kubernetes deployment of Mosquitto is taken from toke/docker-kubernetes. Two ports are exposed for the cluster but no volumes are needed –

apiVersion: extensions/v1beta1
kind: Deployment
metadata:
  name: mosquitto
  namespace: mqtt
spec:
  ...
  template:
    ...
    spec:
      containers:
      - name: mosquitto
        image: toke/mosquitto
        ports:
        - containerPort: 9001
        - containerPort: 8883

[SOURCE]

Exposing Mosquitto to the Cluster

Now that we have the deployment running, we need to expose the required ports to the cluster so that other components may use it. The port 9001 appears as port 80 for the service and 1883 is also exposed –

apiVersion: v1
kind: Service
metadata:
  name: mosquitto
  namespace: mqtt
  ...
spec:
  ...
  ports:
  - name: mosquitto
    port: 1883
  - name: mosquitto-web
    port: 80
    targetPort: 9001

[SOURCE]

After creating the service using this configuration, we will be able to connect our clients to Mosquitto at address mosquitto.mqtt:1883.

Conclusion

In this blog post, I discussed the process of adding Mosquitto to the loklak server project. This is the first step towards introducing the stream API for messages collected in loklak.

These changes were introduced in pull requests loklak/loklak_server#1393 and loklak/loklak_server#1398 by @singhpratyush (me).

Resources