xmpl - the "healthz" API


A closer look to the implementation of the “healthz” API in xmpl. This is a series of posts.

In applications that aim to be deployed in Kubernetes, it is often good to provide an endpoint that the external platform can call to figure out whether the application is feeling good or not. In case it does not… the system will figure out.

This interface does not need to be anything complicated: setting the right HTTP status code suffices. In our case, we will provide back a 204 (No Content) when the health check is successful, and a 500 when it is not:

get '/healthz' => sub ($c) {
   if (is_healthy()) { $c->rendered(204) }
   else { $c->render(status => 500, text => "Internal Server Error\n") }

As we can see, the whole health check is encapsulated into a call to function is_healthy: depending on the outcome, we give back the relevant HTTP status code.

But… we are in an example application that should be useful for testing, right? What if we want to test the outer platform, then?

It’s useful to be able to tell the application to always appear as either healthy or unhealthy; for this reason, we can leverage the endpoint for the PUT verb:

put '/healthz' => sub ($c) {
   is_healthy(($c->req->text // '') =~ s{\A\s+|\s+\z}{}grmxs);

This calls the same is_healthy function, this time passing a value (taken from the body by stripping leading and trailing spaces) to set the desired output. This gives us a handle to externally control what the GET endpoint will respond back.

Now, of course, it’s time to take a look at is_healthy:

sub is_healthy {
   state $h;
   $h = shift if @_;
   defined($h) && length($h) ? $h : kvstore()->is_healthy;

It’s like a little singleton object with one single method, right? If the value of the internal state ($h) is set to a non-empty string, then it will be used as a regular Perl boolean; otherwise, the health of the key/value store will be assessed. This behaviour on an empty string allows resetting the behaviour from the PUT endpoint (i.e. just pass an empty body in the HTTP PUT request).

Stay healthy!

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