Background jobs on Heroku

Background jobs significantly enhance a web application's scalability by allowing it to unload tedious or CPU-intensive activities from the front-end. This helps guarantee that the front-end can process incoming web requests quickly, minimizing the probability of performance problems caused by backlogged requests.

This article discusses background jobs as an architectural model and references implementations, addons, and frameworks.

You can use IronWorker, an add-on for Heroku, to process your background jobs. Give it a try with a free trial of Iron.io.

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Case Studies

Background jobs are particularly beneficial for the following tasks:

  • Interacting with a third-party API or service, such as uploading a file to Amazon S3
  • Processing of data that requires a lot of resources, such as image or video processing

Operational Sequence

The following sections outline the high-level processes involved in processing a request that utilizes a background job:

  • A client sends a request to an application to execute a task that suits a background job.
  • The application’s front-end (referred to on Heroku as the web process) gets the request. It instantly adds the activity to a job queue and communicates to the client. The response shows the request outcome awaiting and may provide a URL for the client to poll.
  • A second app process (referred to as a worker process on Heroku) detects the addition of a task to the job queue. It removes the activity from the queue and starts execution.
  • When the worker process completes a job, it saves the task's result. For instance, when uploading a file to Amazon S3, the file's S3 URL may be persistent.
  • Until the job is finished and the desired outcome is achieved, the client polls the app frequently.

Ad-hoc Background Jobs

There are many methods for creating worker processes that execute asynchronously in response to your web requests. For instance, you might fork a web process or run a cron job every minute to check for new work. While these ad-hoc methods may work in certain circumstances, they are not particularly maintainable or scalable. At Heroku,  workers are as seamless, resilient, scalable, and simple to use as the dynos.

 

Approaches

We will demonstrate approaches using an RSS reader application as an example. Users may input the URL of a new RSS feed to read through the app's form. After a delay, the user is sent to a page to read the feed's contents.

Non-scalable Strategy

A straightforward (but non-scalable) method of doing this is to get the feed contents from the third-party site when processing the form submission request:

The time required to get data from an external source is very variable. It may occur in as little as a few hundred milliseconds in some instances. Occasionally, it may take several seconds. If the feed's server is unavailable, the request may stall for 30 seconds or longer before timeout:

Background jobs on Heroku

Limitations on your app's resources during this period may stop it from responding to subsequent requests and usually results in a lousy user experience. While this problem may not occur under low demand, as your app scales to many concurrent users, response times become more uneven, and specific requests may result in H12 or other error statuses. These are signs of insufficient scalability.

 

Scalable Strategy

A more reliable and flexible design would isolate high-latency or lengthy work in a process apart from the web layer and reply promptly to the user's request with some indication of work progress.

 

Background jobs on Heroku

In this case, one or more background services will receive items from their work queue one by one and do the job asynchronously, operating independently of the web process and without fulfilling web requests. Once the operation is complete, the results will be saved in Postgres, Redis, Memcached, or another persistent storage system.

Using background workers to manage lengthy tasks offers a variety of advantages. It prevents your web dynos from being overloaded, stopping them from fulfilling additional requests, and maintains your site responsive. You may now independently monitor, manage, and scale worker operations based on on-site load. Additionally, the user experience is enhanced significantly when all requests are promptly fulfilled, even if they are just to show the present state of work.

Process Model

Heroku enables you to define an application process model, including background workers collecting and processing work queued tasks. Here is an example Procfile for a Clojure application that includes both a web process type and a background job process type:

web: lein run -m myapp.web

worker: lein run -m myapp.worker

 

The number of web dynos may then be scaled irrespective of the number of worker dynos.

$ heroku ps:scale web=1 worker=5

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Add Ons

Heroku add-ons are components that provide additional functionality for your application, such as storing data, management, analytics, and data processing. These are entirely managed for you by a third-party source or by Heroku. Add-ons exist to free developers from the extra difficulty of maintaining supporting services operating at total capacity.

Add-ons are installed on apps through the Heroku Dashboard or the command line interface. The majority of add-ons provide a variety of plans with varying features, capabilities, and pricing. Add-on plans are priced on a month-to-month basis and are paid according to the second.

Addon such as IronWorker has collaborated with Heroku to streamline the process of integrating the two services.

An ironWorker is a highly scalable task queue/job queue that enables you to offload front-end activities quickly, perform background processes, and process many tasks concurrently – all in the cloud and without the need to install or maintain servers. Additionally, it may act as a cron-in-the-cloud service, automating tasks according to a schedule you specify.

IronWorker Configuration on Heroku

  1. Download and install the IronWorker add-on for Heroku, which includes Iron's command-line interface and client library.
  2. Configuration: retrieving the Token and the Project ID
  3. Allocate Your Jobs: Zip and upload your code to Iron, or use the CLI tool to build your Docker image with Iron.
  4. Log in to the Client and Begin Pushing Your Jobs

Advantages of Ironworker's

Quick Installation

IronWorker enables you to create background tasks in a matter of minutes. Install, configure, deploy, and start your jobs.

Integrate Easily With Your Program

As workers are platform-independent, you may use whatever code you want. Workers may be developed in Ruby, PHP, Python, NodeJS, Java,.NET, or Go.

Satisfy User Demands

You can increase your income by adding workers asynchronously to process tasks when demand is increasing.

Trial Period

An ironWorker is available for a 14-day free trial. The free trial period provides access to all their services, including up to 60 workers, unlimited length hours, and phone/chat/email support. When the trial time ends, your tasks will be automatically paused unless you upgrade your subscription.

Individualized Solutions

If you need a customized workforce solution for your application, contact Iron's support team, and they will create a solution tailored to your specific needs.

Automate Tasks Through Scheduling

Your tasks will not slip through the gaps with IronWorker's redundancy and centralized work queue. IronWorker's simple user interface lets you plan tasks for particular days and times, establish a frequency/delay timer for work repetition, and allow on-demand job processing.

Accelerate the Application Workflow

Parallel concurrent processing enables you to distribute your work horizontally over thousands of cores. Workers are distributed throughout their whole cloud, enabling them to decrease tasks that formerly took ten hours to ten minutes.

Processing at a High Rate

Customers with customized service level agreements and extensive volume processing provide entirely dedicated worker environments that allocate resources exclusively to your activities, effectively giving you your virtual private cloud with all of IronWorker's advantages.

No Server Administration

Developing and managing servers is never a one-off task. Their elastic infrastructure provides a safe, controlled environment that scales by the demands of your application which provides the flexibility to develop functionality on the front end from the backend.

Background jobs on Heroku

Final Words

Managing lengthy projects using background workers offers several advantages. It prevents your web dynos from being overburdened, stopping them from fulfilling additional requests, and maintains your site responsive.

A worker is employed to do any heavy lifting that your application requires. Several instances include sending email, interacting with a remote API (for example, tweeting something), retrieving postings from an RSS feed, converting an image thumbnail, or generating a PDF. 

Moreover, you can use addons that provide additional functionality for your application, such as storing data, management, analytics, and data processing. These are entirely managed for you by a third-party source or by Heroku. Addon ironWorker is a highly scalable task queue/job queue that enables you to offload front-end activities quickly, perform background processes, and process many tasks concurrently. Moreover, it may act as a cron-in-the-cloud service, automating tasks according to a schedule you specify.

 

You may now independently monitor, regulate, and scale worker operations in response to site load. Additionally, the user experience is significantly enhanced when all requests are promptly fulfilled, even to show the present work state.

Backgrounding is a notion in and of itself. Numerous libraries and services exist that enable you to include background tasks in your applications. Among the most often used technologies are database-backed task frameworks and message queues.

 

There is an Ironworker add-on for Heroku. Give it a try when trying a free trial with Iron.io

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