The online Analytics service for Rowing in Motion has some intense data processing requirements. A typical logfile that users may want to work with for a 90minutes training session is about 5 megabytes in compressed size. The in-memory models we need to work with for data analysis need to encompass millions of data points and can easily exceed 30mb of memory when fully unfold.
It’s pretty clear we could not offer a good user experience when processing all this data locally on a device, so we decided to build the data analysis software as an online service. There are some other benefits to this model too, especially in the space of data archival and historical comparisons. F# excels at expressing our calculation models in a short and concise manner and makes parallellizing these calculations easy, which is crucial to achieve acceptable response times in our scenario.
Deciding to use F# was easy, but it turns out I faced some problems integrating with our cloud hosting platform of choice AppHarbor. This post will explain what needs to be done to get F# code to compile on AppHarbor and also how to run unit tests there.
Compiling F# 3.0 code on AppHarbor
Visual Studio 2012 installs the F# “SDK” (there is no official one for F#3.0) into C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\F#, and that’s where the default F# project templates point to.
<Import Project="$(MSBuildExtensionsPath32)\..\Microsoft SDKs\F#\3.0\Framework\v4.0\Microsoft.FSharp.Targets" Condition=" Exists('$(MSBuildExtensionsPath32)\..\Microsoft SDKs\F#\3.0\Framework\v4.0\Microsoft.FSharp.Targets')" />
We will fix this (and another issue) by copying the whole “SDK” folder into our source repository at tools/F# (yes, everything). Next up, we will create a Custom.FSharp.Targets file, that we will reference instead. Replace the project line above with:
<Import Project="$(SolutionDir)\build\RowingInMotion.FSharp.Targets" />
We will also have to delete the FSharp.Core reference from the fsproj file. Since the AppHarbor build machines don’t have FSharp.Core 4.3.0 in the GAC (or in a ReferenceAssemblies location), we have to include this into the project too. I copied mine from C:\Program Files (x86)\Reference Assemblies\Microsoft\FSharp to lib\FSharp
The Custom.FSharp.Targets we created earlier will take care of including the correct reference, as well as pointing the Microsoft.FSharp.Targets to the correct F# compiler directory in our source tree.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?> <Project xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/developer/msbuild/2003"> <!--Include a default reference to the correct FSharp.Core assembly--> <ItemGroup> <Reference Include="FSharp.Core, Version=22.214.171.124, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a"> <HintPath>$(SolutionDir)\lib\FSharp\3.0\Runtime\v4.0\FSharp.Core.dll</HintPath> </Reference> </ItemGroup> <!--Override the Path to the FSharp Compiler to point to our tool dir--> <PropertyGroup> <FscToolPath>$(SolutionDir)\tools\F#\3.0\Framework\v4.0</FscToolPath> </PropertyGroup> <Import Project="$(SolutionDir)\tools\F#\3.0\Framework\v4.0\Microsoft.FSharp.Targets" /> </Project>
One last thing that needs to be fixed is that the F# compiler (itself written in F#) also needs a copy of FSharp.Core, so I simply dropped one right next to it. That’s it, now you should be able to compile F# 3.0 projects on AppHarbor. It’s nice that F# is “standalone” enough from the rest of the .NET Framework that it can be pulled apart this easily, but it would be even better if Microsoft offered a F# SDK that the guys at AppHarbor could install on their build servers.
Running F# xUnit tests on AppHarbor
AppHarbor uses Gallio to run unit tests. Unfortunately, Gallio is not able to detect static test methods. That means you cannot write tests as modules. Instead you have to resort to declaring normal types with members, which is a bit heavier on the syntax and feels considerably less idiomatic (and its more typing…). I have filed a bug with the Gallio Team, which can be tracked here: http://code.google.com/p/mb-unit/issues/detail?id=902. It should be noted that the xUnit Visual Studio runner can run F# Xunit tests just fine. We’ll see if I see the need to switch to a more specific F# testing framework in the future.