Spring Boot: Hystrix and ThreadLocals

Foreward

Last time I have described a quite useful, at least from my perspective extensions for RxJava, but overall it defined only a syntactic sugar so that you could easily specify your custom RxJava Scheduler. One of the mentioned applications was very relevant to this blog post and it’s was related to be able to pass around ThreadLocal variables. As in case of RxJava whenever we will spawn a new thread, through subscribing to Scheduler, it’s going to lose any context that was stored within the ThreadLocal variables of the “outer” thread that initiated the task.

The same applies to Hystrix commands.

Initially, the credit for this idea should go to the development team back in my previous company – Allegro Tech, but it so much recurring problem that others has solve it in the past. Yet again I had the need to solve it once again.

Let’s say that I would like to execute the fallowing command, lets put a side for a moment the sense of doing so, only to illustrate the problem:

new HystrixCommand<Object>(commandKey()) {
    @Override
    protected Object run() throws Exception {
        return RequestContextHolder.currentRequestAttributes().getAttribute("RequestId", SCOPE_REQUEST);
    }
}.execute();

Puff – the data is gone.

Even when run in server container in “context” of request bound thread the above code will end with exception. This happens because Hystrix by default will spawn a new thread for executing the code, a side from the Semaphore mode that can be also used. Hystrix manages it’s own thread pools for the commands which will have no relocation to the any context stored in ThreadLocal of the triggering thread.

Overall ThreadLocal variables might be considered as anti-pattern by some, but it’s really so useful in many practical scenarios that it’s really not such uncommon that quite a few libraries depend on those.

Typically your logging MDC context or in case Spring Framework the security Authentication/Principal or the request/session scoped beans etc. So it quite important for some use cases to be able to correctly pass such information. Imagine a typical use case that you are trying to use OAuth2RestTemplate  in @HystrixCommand annotated method. Sadly this isn’t going to work.

The solution

Fortunately the designers of Hystrix library have anticipated such use case and designed the proper extension points. Basically the idea is to enable to decorate the executing task with your own logic, once it’s going to invoked by the thread.

On top of that I’ve prepared a small Spring Boot integration module:

https://github.com/jmnarloch/hystrix-context-spring-boot-starter

At this point the implementation is fairly simple and a bit limited. In order to pass the specific thread bounded value you need to provided a your custom implementation of HystrixCallableWrapper.

For instance to “fix” the above snippet we can register as a bean fallowing class:

@Component
public class RequestAttributeAwareCallableWrapper implements HystrixCallableWrapper {

    @Override
    public <T> Callable<T> wrapCallable(Callable<T> callable) {
        return new RequestAttributeAwareCallable<>(callable, RequestContextHolder.currentRequestAttributes());
    }

    private static class RequestAttributeAwareCallable<T> implements Callable<T> {

        private final Callable<T> callable;
        private final RequestAttributes requestAttributes;

        public RequestAttributeAwareCallable(Callable<T> callable, RequestAttributes requestAttributes) {
            this.callable = callable;
            this.requestAttributes = requestAttributes;
        }

        @Override
        public T call() throws Exception {

            try {
                RequestContextHolder.setRequestAttributes(requestAttributes);
                return callable.call();
            } finally {
                RequestContextHolder.resetRequestAttributes();
            }
        }
    }
}

Adding Java 8 syntactic sugar

It quite soon struck me that this is rather boilerplate implementation, because for every variable that we would like to share we would have to implement pretty much similar class.

So why not to try a bit different approach, simply create a “template” implementation that could be conveniently filled with specific implementation at the the defined “extension” points. Considerably the Java 8 method reference could be quite useful here, mostly because in typical scenario the operations that would be performed would be rather limited to: retrieving value, setting it and finally clearing any track of it.

public class HystrixCallableWrapperBuilder<T> {

    private final Supplier<T> supplier;

    private Consumer<T> before;

    private Consumer<T> after;

    public HystrixCallableWrapperBuilder(Supplier<T> supplier) {
        this.supplier = supplier;
    }

    public static <T> HystrixCallableWrapperBuilder<T> usingContext(Supplier<T> supplier) {
        return new HystrixCallableWrapperBuilder<>(supplier);
    }

    public HystrixCallableWrapperBuilder<T> beforeCall(Consumer<T> before) {
        this.before = before;
        return this;
    }

    public HystrixCallableWrapperBuilder<T> beforeCallExecute(Runnable before) {
        this.before = ctx -> before.run();
        return this;
    }

    public HystrixCallableWrapperBuilder<T> afterCall(Consumer<T> after) {
        this.after = after;
        return this;
    }

    public HystrixCallableWrapperBuilder<T> afterCallExecute(Runnable after) {
        this.after = ctx -> after.run();
        return this;
    }

    public HystrixCallableWrapper build() {
        return new HystrixCallableWrapper() {
            @Override
            public <V> Callable<V> wrapCallable(Callable<V> callable) {
                return new AroundHystrixCallableWrapper<V>(callable, supplier.get(), before, after);
            }
        };
    }

    private class AroundHystrixCallableWrapper<V> implements Callable<V> {

        private final Callable<V> callable;

        private final T context;

        private final Consumer<T> before;

        private final Consumer<T> after;

        public AroundHystrixCallableWrapper(Callable<V> callable, T context, Consumer<T> before, Consumer<T> after) {
            this.callable = callable;
            this.context = context;
            this.before = before;
            this.after = after;
        }

        @Override
        public V call() throws Exception {
            try {
                before();
                return callable.call();
            } finally {
                after();
            }
        }

        private void before() {
            if (before != null) {
                before.accept(context);
            }
        }

        private void after() {
            if (after != null) {
                after.accept(context);
            }
        }
    }
}

Above code is not part of the described extension, but you may use it freely as you wish.

Afterwards we may instantiate as many wrappers as we would like to:

HystrixCallableWrapperBuilder
                .usingContext(RequestContextHolder::currentRequestAttributes)
                .beforeCall(RequestContextHolder::setRequestAttributes)
                .afterCallExecute(RequestContextHolder::resetRequestAttributes)
                .build();

As a result we would be able to pass for instance MDC context or Spring Security Authentication or any other data that would be needed.

Separation of concerns

This is clearly a cleaner solution, but still has one fundamental drawback: it requires to specify the logic for every single ThreadLocal variable separately. It would be way more convenient to have only  define the logic of passing the variables across boundaries of threads between the Hystrix or any other library like for instance RxJava. The only catch is that in order to do so those variables would have be first identified and encapsulated in proper abstraction.

I think such idea would be worth implementing, though I don’t have yet a complete solution for it.

Plans

Nevertheless I would be interested in developing PoC of such generic solution and as done in the past, once again prepare a pull request for instance to Spring Cloud to provide such end to end functionality.

2 comments

  1. Thibaud Lepretre · July 12

    Great post! You save my day I had same issue by using RequestContextHolder on HystrixCommand.

    Like

  2. Russell Scheerer · October 20

    Thanks for the published jar from Github. This was very useful.

    Like

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