Beanstalkd in the wild (and a Scout plugin)

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Plugins Bullet_white Comments Comments

Beanstalkd is a simple, fast work queue. As its FAQ eloquently states, “beanstalkd is a big to-do list for your distributed application”. It’s commonly used to move intensive work out of the web request cycle and into the background.

Kevin Lawver of uPlaya has whipped up a Scout plugin for monitoring beanstalkd. At uPlaya, you upload a song and they tell if you if it has the potential to be a hit. 3 reasons why beanstalkd is great for uPlaya:

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Don't build to get acquired. Build to say "No".

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Business Bullet_white Comments Comments

Groupon rejected a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google. They don’t need to cash out.

Our goal isn’t to get acquired. It’s to say “No” as often as possible:

  • No, we’re not going to support Windows.
  • No, that partnership doesn’t feel right.
  • No, we’re not working late.

Saying “No” means your business is healthy. You can focus on the things you really enjoy working on. Why would you sell?

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Modifying browser history with Javascript

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Development Bullet_white Comments Comments

We lost the browser state when we replaced our Charts UI w/AJAX manipulation. While it’s possible to maintain state using an anchor ala Gmail (ie –, it breaks the separation between business and view logic. The server cannot access the state information contained in the anchor – it’s only accessible from the browser.

To maintain state, we’d need a combination of Javascript parsing and additional requests to retrieve chart data. Our views would be a confusing mess of logic. I’m glad we punted – we can maintain state in 3 lines of Javascript now.

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Data processing slowing you down? Try a teaser check

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Development Bullet_white Comments Comments

Your cluster of servers ping Scout every minute, but you may only login to our website once a day. There’s a large gap between the amount of work on the data-processing side and the number of times it results in a visit to Scout. It’s a typical profile of a data processing application.

For a write-heavy application like Scout, hardware costs can increase linearly with user growth. It doesn’t scale like a read-heavy web application that can leverage a fast, in-memory caching layer for frequent reads. You need to make writing data more efficient.

For us, teaser checks have dramatically decreased the time spent processing data.

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Announcing Redwood: Spotlight-like search for your web apps

By Andre Bullet_white Comments Comments

Our knowledge at Scout is spread across web apps: Gmail, Basecamp, Delicious, Dropbox, and more. It’s become more cumbersome to find information as our pile of content has grown.

We saw two options: devote more time to organizing our information or make it easier to search through it.

Spending more time organizing our stuff didn’t sound appealing. When we’re documenting something we don’t know if it’s going to grow into a frequenty referenced source or never get viewed again. We don’t want content creation to become a burden.

Today we’re releasing Redwood, a tool to quickly search across web apps, right from your Mac OSX Desktop. It works a lot like Spotlight.

You can try Redwood for free. For now you can search your Basecamp account. We’ll be adding additional web apps in a paid version.

Just like with Scout, we’ll be iterating on Redwood. Don’t hesitate to share your feedback with us.


Monitoring mod_pagespeed

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Plugins Bullet_white Comments Comments

Josh Nichols of Rails Machine has developed a Scout plugin for monitoring mod_pagespeed, Google’s Apache 2.x module for performing on-the-fly optimization in the Apache 2 HTTP Server.

mod_pagespeed has several filters that optimize a web page’s resources. These filters combine CSS files, optimize images, and more. mod_pagespeed is still under heavy development (a couple of the filters aren’t working for Josh, including image optimization). These issues shouldn’t impact the plugin’s metric reporting.

To install the plugin, just click the button when viewing a server on Scout. mod_pagespeed is listed in our plugin directory.


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