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Adventures in RPC.

I wanted to play with Facebook's Thrift RPC tool tonight, but it doesn't seem happy on freebsd. It fails somewhere in ./configure and I have no patience to go swimming through automake/autoconf code to solve it. I'll just assume Thrift was designed in a linux-centric manner and that it's a waste of my time trying to fix something I may not even need.

So, I moved on and am going to play with ice. The manual isn't too scary, and I'd already be playing with it but the compile is taking ages. Maybe it won't suck ;)

I do enough ad-hoc data analysis with grok, it seems like a fun adventure to write some tool that accepts patterns and data input and gives you the results. Rather than reinvent the rpc wheel, it's probably worth learning a cross-platform rpc library.

Query parsing in JavaScript

For pimp, I want to be able to search a specific column, say, artist, without needing multiple fields for searching. The ability to specify more advanced searches than simple keywords is quite useful. How do we leverage this on the client and turn a search query into a set of key-value pairs?

I must confess I was hesitant to put this kind of logic into Javascript instead of Python. Furthermore, it makes me feel a little uneasy using /foo/ in anything other than Perl. Nonetheless, doing this in Javascript was simple and it's still fast (as it should be).

The particular type of query I want to parse come in the following (hopefully intuitive) formats:

  • foo
  • artist:Eminem
  • album:"Across a Wire"
  • artist:"Counting Crows" album:august
The following code does this for me. The parse_query function will return a dictionary of query terms. Values are lists.

Here's an example:

rain baltimore artist:"Counting Crows" album:august
Results of parse_query
    { "artist": ["Counting Crows"],
      "album": ["august"],
      "any": ["rain", "baltimore"],
I take the dictionary returned and pass it to jQuery's $.post function to execute an AJAX (I hate that term, it's such a misnomer these days) request. Here's the code:
query_re = /(?:"([^"]+)")|(?:\b((?:[a-z:A-Z_-]|(?:"([^"]+)"))+))/gi,

function parse_query(string) {
  dict = {}
  while (m = query_re.exec(string)) {
    val = (m[1] || m[2]).split(":",2)
    if (val[1]) { key = val[0]; val = val[1]; }
    else { key = "any"; val = val[0]; }

    val = val.replace(/"/g,"");

    dict[key] = dict[key] || [];
    // the following should be .append(val) but 
    // I don't think javascript lists have them
    dict[key][dict[key].length] = val;

  return dict;