When building web apps, utilize proper indexing
Rails does a lot of crazy wonderful stuff. The downside is that all that awesome power gives you the ability to make some pretty dumb moves. Just because I can get the URL for one of the sites my Am I Down? users get alerts for by using…[ruby language=”light="true”]current_user.sites.host.url[/ruby]…doesn’t mean that I necessarily should. That command generates some heavy SQL, running a join across several tables (after running a separate query to get the current user):[sql]SELECT "subscriptions"."id" AS t0_r0, "subscriptions"."user_id" AS t0_r1, "subscriptions"."host_id" AS t0_r2, "subscriptions"."alert_id" AS t0_r3, "subscriptions"."created_at" AS t0_r4, "subscriptions"."updated_at" AS t0_r5, "hosts"."id" AS t1_r0, "hosts"."url" AS t1_r1, "hosts"."created_at" AS t1_r2, "hosts"."updated_at" AS t1_r3 FROM "subscriptions" LEFT OUTER JOIN "hosts" ON "hosts".id = "subscriptions".host_id WHERE ("subscriptions".user_id = 35) ORDER BY subscriptions.updated_at DESC, hosts.url ASC[/sql]That’s going to take 21ms to run, just for a lookup. Is that a big deal? Perhaps not. Indexes (in the right situations) may make that SQL query run at an acceptable level.Real world problems===In the case of Am I Down?, my service that alerts you when your web sites go down, I run some pretty slick lookups back through the logs for a web site to see if the change we see in a sites’ status is significant enough to warrant an alert. Since there are thousands of web site checks going on every hour (currently over 20,000 each day), a 21ms SQL statement is seriously bad. You can see the result below:The solution===The logging table didn’t have an index on the host_id, so it took forever (20ms or so) to find only the log entries for the current host, which for various reasons happens 8-10 times per check. So almost a 1/4 second is taken up by SQL checks every time I checked a site. You do the math and that means you can only sustain about 1,200 sites (240 checks per minute, every 5 min) for each checking worker. Not good.You’ll see that the there’s a vertical bar towards the right of the graph, after which the bars drop off considerably. That would be the point I added an index for the host_id. Suddenly the time drops to about 3ms. That’s more like 3,600 sites for each checking worker. Much better!Improving your Rails app===For a Rails app, the Rails_Indexes plugin offers a great way to track down any obvious indexes you may be missing. To speed up queries and reduce the number of queries you make, take a look at Bullet.