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RethinkDB is a modern NoSQL database that makes it easy to build realtime web services. One of its standout features is called Changefeeds. Applications can query tables for ongoing changes, and RethinkDB will push any changes to applications as they happen. The Changefeeds feature is interesting for many reasons:
- You don’t need a separate message queue to wake up workers that operate on new data.
- Database writes made from anywhere will propagate out as changes. Use the RethinkDB dashboard to muck with data? Run a migration script? Listeners will hear about it.
- Filtering/squashing of change events within RethinkDB. In many cases it may be easier to filter events using ReQL than using a message queue and filtering workers.
This makes RethinkDB a compelling part of a realtime web service stack. In this article, we’ll describe how to use RethinkDB to implement a leaderboard API with realtime updates. Emphasis on API. Unlike other leaderboard examples you may have seen elsewhere, the focus here will be to create a clean API definition and use RethinkDB as part of the implementation. If you’re not sure what it means for an API to have realtime capabilities, check out this guide.
We’ll use the following components to build the leaderboard API:
- Database: RethinkDB, hosted on a Rackspace server.
- Web service: Django, hosted by Heroku.
- Realtime push to clients: Pushpin, hosted by Fanout Cloud.
Since the server app targets Heroku, we’ll be using environment variables for configuration and foreman for local testing.
Read on to see how it’s done. You can also look at the source.
Django is an awesome framework for building web services using the Python language. However, it is not well-suited for handling long-lived connections, which are needed for realtime data push. In this article we’ll explain how to pair Django with Fanout Cloud to reach realtime nirvana.