Usability - Productivity - Business - The web - Singapore & Twins

By Date: January 2023

learning how nginx proxy works

A common approach for web applications is to serve them behind a reverse proxy. My favorite there is nginx. It has a fairly understandable configuration, supports http/2 and is fully supported by Letsencrypt's certbot.

proxy_pass can be tricky

The configuration for reverse proxying is a combination of location and a proxy_pass statement, as well as some headers. In it simplest form the URL path and the proxy_path URL are the same, so you don't need a translation between direct access (e.g. local testing) and access through nginx. A configuration could look like this:

location /someurl {
        proxy_http_version 1.1;
        proxy_cache_bypass $http_upgrade;
        proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;
        proxy_set_header Connection "upgrade";
        proxy_set_header Host $host;
        proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto $scheme;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Host $host;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Port $server_port;

The headers ensure your application knows the original request source and allow upgrade from http to websockets.

It gets interesting when location and proxy_pass don't match. Differences can range from different url path to regex and rewrites. Especially when inheriting (or googling) configurations, understanding can be a challenge.

Express to the rescue

A few lines of expressjs will echo back what ends up at the backend. Together with curl it provides you a practical learning and testing environment.

const express = require('express');
const app = express();
const port = 3010;

app.get('*', (req, res) => {
  res.setHeader('Content-Type', 'text/json');
  let result = JSON.stringify(
      headers: req.headers,
      url: req.url,
      query: req.query,
      hostname: req.hostname

app.listen(port, () => {
  console.log(`Echo app listening for GET on port ${port}`);

Enjoy, as usual YMMV!

Posted by on 09 January 2023 | Comments (0) | categories: nginx WebDevelopment

Java style guide: Functions, Streams and Optionals

Over the years I developed a certain style developing in Java (and other languages) that made my code more readable. This isn't about the formatting style guide (Just stick to Google) or making code spotless, but about style.


Code needs to be testable, easy to adopt and understandable when someone else, like your future self, tries to read it. Starting with SOLID principles, the guidelines help to get there. They work for any style of development, while I strongly recommend looking at TDD, Dave agrees, so does Allen. In no particular order, let's dig in.

Read more

Posted by on 08 January 2023 | Comments (0) | categories: Development Java

Please wait until that HTTP service is ready

Our brave new world of containers and microservices runs on a combination of YAML and shell scripts.
Getting them to run in the desired sequence can be a challenge.

When ready isn't ready

All container environments have a "depends" clause, so the container runtime can determine the correct startup sequence for the zoo of containers comprising the application to be launched. Each container will usually signal when it is ready.

However ready can mean different things to different applications.

In the container world it should be: the service is available.
However it could be: service was successfully started, but might be busy with house keeping. In the later case the start scripts of the dependent services need to do their own waiting

curl to the rescue

Curl is the Swiss Army Knive of network tools. It probably takes a lifetime to understand all its possibilities. Make sure you have the current version, but at least 7.52.0 from 2016.

Whipping up a little shell script provides what we need:

# Wait for a http service to be available
export TARGET=http://baseservice.local/
curl -v \
     --retry 10 \
     --retry-delay 20 \
     --retry-connrefused \

if [ "$?" -ne 0 ]; then
  echo "Failed to reach $TARGET"
  exit 1
  echo "$TARGET has replied!"

Let's break it down:

  • export TARGET defines the URL you want to reach. Works for both http and https. Potentially works for other protocols supported by curl as well, but I haven't tested that (yet). You might swap it out for $1 to capture the first parameter called
  • \ denominates line continuation. The whole command needs to be on one line which is hard to read. \ tells Linux to treat the following line as belonging to the current one. On Windows you need to replace \ with ^ and alter the syntax according to Powershell
  • curl -v Verbose output, so the logs tell the full story. When you work with privat CA or self signed certificates (Don't do self signed, use your own CA), you need to add -k or --insecure to make this work
  • --retry 10 try the connection 10 times
  • --retry-delay 20 Wait 20 sec until the next try
  • --retry-connrefused retry even on "connection refused" responses. By default curl retries only http responses not in the 2xx range. Connection refused is HTTP's way telling you: there's nothing taking your call, which curl, without --retry-connrefused takes as final, fatal error and terminates retries. When you have curl v7.71.0 (from 2020 or later), you can use --retry-all-errors instead. The documentation warns This option is the "sledgehammer" of retrying. Use it wisely
  • if [ "$?" -ne 0 ]; then Commands usually return a numeric result. Anything other than 0 indicates a failure condition of some sort. When curl has exhausted the number of retries a value greater 0 will be returned. To capture the return value we us $?
  • return 1 We indicate that our script failed. So it can be called from other scripts

We could swap out $TARGET for $1 which makes the script callable handing over the target URL e.g waitforme.sh http://someURL

Beyond containers

The script is also useful in "classic" situations, where you start a service in the background (which by definition is asynchonous). Your local environment uses anything like:

  • ./startdb &
  • systemctl start myservice
  • domino[_container] start

You can use the curl retry for any automation. Adjust the wait time and the retry time to your needs.

As usual YMMV

Posted by on 02 January 2023 | Comments (0) | categories: Container Development K8S