Deferred Work Using Sidekiq

Posted on Nov 3, 2013

As we’ve discussed at certain points in the past, user experience is extremely important, and back-end developers have a lot to do with that as well. Many users can deal with ‘ugly’ if the interface is clear, but no one on Earth likes slow! We’ll look at how to take needed work out of the request/response cycle in this exercise.

Step 0

We’ll be revisiting the house project with this exercise. I’ve merged the work that we’ve accomplished into master, so that you’ll be able to either update your forks, or pull the changes down locally.

What’s that, you weren’t working on a branch when you made your changes, and you can’t apply my changes quickly?

If you have made changes on master that are now irrelevant, try issuing these commands:

git commit -a -m "Saving my work, just in case"
git checkout -b save-my-work
git branch -D master
git checkout -b master -t origin/master

That should get you ready to work again. But create branches when you start working! It’s easy! Here’s the branch I’d start here:

git checkout -b friend-graph-sidekiq

Step 1

Add these files to your Gemfile:

gem "koala", "~> 1.8.0rc1"
gem 'sidekiq'

# add this in the test group
gem 'mocha', :require => 'mocha/api'

Install them. You should know how by now! Ask a neighbor if you don’t.

Step 2

Put these contents in spec/models/social_connection_spec.rb

require 'spec_helper'

describe SocialConnection do

  describe "validation" do
    subject{ build(:social_connection) }
    it{ should be_valid }
    it "should require a user" do
      build(:social_connection, user: nil).should_not be_valid
    it "should require a provider" do
      build(:social_connection, provider: nil).should_not be_valid
    it "should require a uid" do
      build(:social_connection, uid: nil).should_not be_valid

  describe "associations" do
    it "should be present on user" do
      build(:user).respond_to?(:social_connections).should == true

  describe "Facebook" do
    let(:user){ create(:user) }

    describe "interface" do
      subject{ FacebookInterface.for(user) }
      it {should_not be_nil}
      it {should be_a(FacebookInterface::StubInterface)}

    describe "usage" do
      let(:fbi){ FacebookInterface.for(user) }


This will give you a spec to pass! Run your specs with either:

bundle exec guard start -i


bundle exec rake spec

if you know that guard isn’t working for you.

To pass this test, you’ll need to:

  • create a model with the right fields and types
  • add the proper associations throughout the domain
  • add validations to the class you create

If you’d like a hint, download this file into spec/factories/social_connections.rb, or simply refer to it inline.

Our goal with this step is to create a record that allows us to keep track of some basic information for social connections on the part of our users. When you have this spec passing, you have the domain layer ready! Now let’s proceed to the integration.

Step 3

Place this file in spec/support/facebook_interface.rb.

class FacebookInterface

  class StubInterface

    def friends
          "name" => "James Schaffer",
          "id" => "11670"
          "name" => "Brian O'Malley",
          "id" => "615125"
          "name" => "Greg Staff",
          "id" => "1507686"
          "name" => "Katherine McNerney",
          "id" => "1530325"
          "name" => "Joel Bonasera",
          "id" => "1905046"
          "name" => "Denny Abraham",
          "id" => "1911249"

    def friend_detail(id)
        "id" => id.to_s,
        "name" => "James Schaffer",
        "first_name" => "James",
        "last_name" => "Schaffer",
        "link" => "",
        "username" => "jas.schaffer",
        "gender" => "male",
        "locale" => "en_US",
        "updated_time" => "2013-09-23T02:08:44+0000"


Place this file in spec/support/sidekiq.rb

require 'sidekiq/testing'

Finally, place this spec in place in spec/models/facebook_friend_worker_spec.rb:

require 'spec_helper'

describe FacebookFriendWorker do

  subject{ }

  it "should include the line 'include Sidekiq::Worker'" do
    subject.respond_to?(:jid).should == true

  context "when processing friends" do

    before(:each) do
      @user = create(:user)

    it "should save all friends" do
      lambda{ subject.perform( }.should change(SocialConnection, :count).by(6)

    context  "attribute saving" do
      before(:each) do
        @friend = SocialConnection.where(uid: "1905046").first

      it "should store uid" do
        @friend.should_not be_nil

      it "should save provider" do
        @friend.provider.should == "facebook"

      it "should store name" do == "Joel Bonasera"

      it "should be bidirectional" do
        @friend.follower.should == true
        @friend.follows.should == true



This will give you the next spec to run. This will test that you can progress through the Facebook API response, and save the results to the DB in the appropriate manner.

It’s customary to create an app/workers directory to place your FacebookFriendWorker, as well as any other background workers that you create. So the code that you write to pass this test should go in app/workers/facebook_friend_worker.rb.

When your specs are passing here, we’ve added the ability to defer work outside of the request/response cycle. We’re most of the way to seeing this work!

Step 4

Add this spec to your spec/models/authentication_spec.rb file:

 context "saving Facebook auths" do
   subject{ build(:authentication) }
   it "should enqueue a Facebook friend saver when saved" do
     expect { }.to change(, :size).by(1)

Write a lifecycle method on Authentication that will enqueue the worker. We’re definitely getting close now!

Step 5: Putting it all together

Code wise, you are ready to go! We have a few more things to put in place before we can actually run the code and have everything work.

First, sidekiq requires redis, so let’s install that.

brew install redis

We don’t want redis to run all the time– it’s not as cool as postgres. It does need some configuration to run, so let’s save this file at config/redis.conf

Finally, add these two lines to your Procfile:

redis: redis-server config/redis.conf
worker: bundle exec sidekiq

Step 6:

bundle exec foreman start

And try it in your web browser!

You should see something in your server window like:

11:15:52 worker.1 | 2013-11-03T16:15:52Z 60093 TID-ovijid2f0 FacebookFriendWorker JID-afefbf22f98c6c4f37a82132 INFO: done: 4.197 sec

if it worked. You can then use the data in there to print out various things in the rest of your app. Try it out!