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From aaron morton <>
Subject non blocking Cassandra with Tornado
Date Tue, 27 Jul 2010 12:33:29 GMT
Today I worked out how to make non blocking calls to Cassandra inside of the non blocking Tornado
web server ( using Python. I thought I'd share it here and see
if anyone thinks I'm abusing Thrift too much and inviting trouble.

It's a bit mucky and I have not tested it for things like timeouts and errors. But here goes...

The idea is rather than calling a cassandra client function like get_slice(), call the send_get_slice()
then have a non blocking wait on the socket thrift is using, then call recv_get_slice().

So the steps in Tornado are:

1. 	Web handler creates an object from the model, calls a function on it like start_read()
to populate it.

2.	model.start_read() needs to call get_slice() on the thrift generated Cassandra client.
Instead it calls send_get_slice() and returns to the calling web handler. 

3 	Web Handler then asks Tornado to epoll wait for any activity on the thrift socket. It gets
access to the socket file descriptor by following this chain from the thrift generated Cassandra
client _iprot.trans.__TTransportBase__trans.handle.fileno()

4, 	Web handler function called in 1 above returns, Tornado keeps the http connection alive
and the web handler instance alive. Later when the socket has activity Tornado will call back
into the web handler. 

5.	To get the result of the call to cassandra the Web Handler calls a function on the model
such as finish_read(). finish_read() wants to get the results of the get_slice() and do something,
so it calls recv_get_slice on the thrift Cassandra client. Processes the result and returns
to the web handler. 

This looks like the same process the transport in the thrift package is using.
Except it's not using the nasty reference to get to the raw socket. 

I'm not sure about any adverse affects on the Cassandra server from the client not servicing
the socket immediately when it starts sending data back. I'm guessing there are some buffers
there, but not sure. Could I be accidentally blocking / hurting the cassandra server ?

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