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An SSL-authenticated, durable, bidirectional, RESTful, client-server pipe that transports custom events.

Project description

Architectural Overview

A bidirectional pipe is established from N-clients to a central server. The pipes will aggressively try to remain connected (even after prolonged failure) and will allow all nodes to transmit events (queries) to each other via a local web-server on each. The pipe is SSL-encrypted and -authenticated.

Usage Overview

A request is made from a script, application, etc.. on the server or a client node to the local RestPipe webserver. The webserver converts the REST request to a wire-level message (‘event’) containing the noun, verb, post-data, and content-type. If the event is sent from the server, then a hostname for the client must be included at the front of the URL path. This hostname will be used to lookup the connection.

The message exchange of the receiving node will receive this message, and passed to the message-loop. The message-loop will derive a method on the configured event-handler class to be used to handle the event. The method will either return a 3-tuple of mime-type, return-code, and data, or just straight data (with a default mime-type of “application/json” and code of (0)). If the mime-type is JSON, the data will be encoded automatically.

The mime-type, return-code, and data will then be returned as an event back over the pipe. The message-exchange will receive this, see that it’s a reply, store it as such, and signal the original web-request that a reply has been received. The reply is collected by the web-request, and then returned with the content-type and data from the reply.

Event Handling

The method on the event-handler is derived from the noun and verb from the web- request. For example, a GET request is placed to the noun “time”. This will call a method named “get_time”. If you were to call a noun named “time/utc”, the handler would be named “get_time_utc”. The method will receive at least two arguments: connection context information, and post-data. The “post-data” will be a 2-tuple of mime-type and actual data. They will both be empty strings if not relevant.

There is also support for arguments to be passed by URL (like with normal REST requests, passed via URL or query parameters). The arguments are a single- slash-delimited list of strings separated from the noun using a double-slash. For example, if “/cat//hello%20/world” is the path and GET is the verb, then the handler will be “get_cat” and the parameters will be context, post-data, “hello “, and “world”.


Client and server nodes are functionally equivalent. The only difference are the following:

  1. Clients establish and maintain connections

  2. Clients always talk to one specific server, but in order for a server to send events to a client, it has to have a hostname or IP address of that client.

The general idea is that the client nodes may need access to data that’s only accessible to the server node, and the server node might need access to something that’s only accessible to one of the client nodes. Therefore, the website, backend application, or other miscellaneous processes that you have running on a particular node can use the local RestPipe interface to send an event to get what it needs.

We recommend Nginx as a webserver to receive and forward the local requests to RP. If a machine need not originate any requests, that instance of RP does not need a webserver.

Example Use-Case

A public-facing webserver needs access to the content of a file-server that does not allow any inbound connections. You will run RestPipe (RP) as a client on the file-server and RP as a server on the webserver. The RP client on the file-server will maintain a connection with the RP server on the webserver.

The application on the webserver will make web-requests to the RP server on the local machine, these requests will be translated to events and sent to the RP-client on the fileserver via the secure pipe, the event will be dispatched to the event-handler, the event-handler will find/read the requested file and return the data, the RP-server will receive the response, the web-request will return the response.



  • gevent

  • Protocol Buffers

  • SSL authentication

Design Decisions

It is expected that events and their responses are reasonably sized. As the HTTP requests and the event responses are being translated into contiguous, discrete messages and sent over a socket, there are no elegant ways to handle large events. If you need to, than use RestPipe only as a signaling solution, and have the handlers stage the data into a secondary location (like S3 for large files, if you’re working with AWS).

Getting Started

This is a walkthrough of how to get an RP server and client running on a development machine. When it comes to moving to production, the following things will probably change (aside from the client and server being on separate machines):

  • The webservers’ virtualhost hostnames.

  • The RP server and client webserver ports/bindings.

  • The RP server socket-server port/binding.

  • Use a corporate certificate authority to generate official server and client identities.

  • Running Gunicorn in production mode (it’s started in development mode, below).

  • Customized event-handlers.

Establishing SSL Identities

We’re going to use CaKit to establish keys and certificates. You may use any method that you prefer.

  1. Extract the CaKit project in order to easily generate keys:

    $ sudo git clone ca_kit
    Cloning into 'ca_kit'...
    remote: Counting objects: 38, done.
    remote: Compressing objects: 100% (23/23), done.
    remote: Total 38 (delta 19), reused 31 (delta 12)
    Unpacking objects: 100% (38/38), done.
    Checking connectivity... done.
  2. Build identities:

    $ cd ca_kit/
    $ sudo ./
    $ sudo ./ -n server
    $ sudo ./ -n server
    $ sudo ./ -n client
    $ sudo ./ -n client
    $ ls -1 output/

Configure Nginx

  1. Define rpclient.local and rpserver.local in your /etc/hosts file as

  2. Added example Nginx configs:

    upstream rp_client {
        server unix:/tmp/rpclient.gunicorn.sock fail_timeout=0;
    server {
            server_name rpclient.local;
            keepalive_timeout 5;
            location /favicon.ico {
                return 404;
            location / {
                proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
                proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
                proxy_redirect off;
                proxy_pass http://rp_client;
    upstream rp_server {
        server unix:/tmp/rpserver.gunicorn.sock fail_timeout=0;
    server {
            server_name rpserver.local;
            keepalive_timeout 5;
            location /favicon.ico {
                return 404;
            location / {
                proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
                proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
                proxy_redirect off;
                proxy_pass http://rp_server;

Installing RestPipe

  1. Install RestPipe:

    $ sudo pip install restpipe
  2. Load identities:

    $ cd /usr/local/ca_kit/output/
    $ sudo rp_server_set_identity server.key.pem server.crt.pem ca.crt.pem
    $ sudo rp_client_set_identity client.key.pem client.crt.pem
  3. Start the RestPipe server:

    $ rp_server_start_gunicorn_dev
  4. Start the RestPipe client (in another window):

    $ rp_client_start_gunicorn_dev

The server and the client can actually be started in any order. Also, just as the scripts above are meant to development (notice the “dev” suffix), there are production versions as well.

At this point, you have a pipe between a single server and a single client. There’s not a whole lot of verbosity by default, but you can see the underlying mechanics if the environment variable “DEBUG” is set to “1”.

Example Events

Obviously, you’re responsible for implementing any event-handlers that you might need. However, there are two event handlers defined by default, as an example, on both the server side and client side. The commands and responses below correlate to the example Nginx configs, above.

  • time (GET)

    From client:

    $ curl http://rpclient.local/server/time && echo
    {"time_from_server": 1402897823.882672}

    From server:

    $ curl http://rpserver.local/client/localhost/time && echo
    {"time_from_client": 1402897843.879908}
  • cat (GET)

    From client:

    $ curl http://rpclient.local/server/cat//hello%20/world && echo
    {"result_from_server": "hello world"}

    From server:

    $ curl http://rpserver.local/client/localhost/cat//hello%20/world && echo
    {"result_from_client": "hello world"}


To set the server hostname and port for the client, set the RP_CLIENT_TARGET_HOSTNAME and RP_CLIENT_TARGET_PORT environment variables.

The set the interface binding on the server, set the BIND_IP and BIND_PORT environment variables.

When you’re ready to implement your own event-handler, start your own project, write your module, make sure it inherits properly, and set the right environment variable with the fully-qualified name of your module.

If you’re writing a server event-handler, make sure it inherits from rpipe.server.connection.ServerEventHandler, and set the fully-qualified module name as the RP_EVENT_HANDLER_FQ_CLASS environment variable. If you’re writing a client event-handler, use the ClientEventHandle class from the same package and the RP_EVENT_HANDLER_FQ_CLASS environment variable.

Many of the configurables can be overriden via environment variables. If you need to override more than a handful of values, you might prefer to set any number of values in your own module, and then set the fully-qualified name of the module into the RP_CLIENT_USER_CONFIG_MODULE or RP_SERVER_USER_CONFIG_MODULE environment variable(s). All of the values from your module will overwrite the defaults.

You may also inherit from rpipe.connection_state_events.ConnectionStateEvents and override the connection_success and connection_fail methods.

Error Handling

When an uncaught exception occurs on the side of the pipe that is handling an event, it will be captured and forwarded via the HTTP body with a non-zero return-code (which is set into the X-Event-Return-Code response header):

    "exception": {
        "message": "<message>",
        "traceback": "<traceback>",
        "class": "<class>",

If you’re using the requests client, you can call rpipe.event_response.raise_for_exception with the response, and, if there was an error, it’ll build a PipeFailError exception with the information from the response and raise it.


RestPipe will emit statsd events to localhost:8125 by default. To override this, set the RP_STATSD_HOST and RP_STATSD_PORT environment variables. To disable this, set them to empty.

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