Scheduled functions


⏱ This tutorial is an introductory walkthrough on creating scheduled functions with Begin. It should take less than 10 minutes.

Begin scheduled functions

Begin scheduled functions are an integral part of automating background processes of your app. They enable you to set up recurring tasks to run on an interval.

This gives you the ability to do things like regularly back up your application's database, or generate monthly reports based on user interactions. They are the serverless equivalent of a cron job.

In this tutorial, we'll show you how you can backup some data in your Begin app with scheduled functions. First, let's discuss how to set up your project and get started.

Prerequisites

You will need to have git and Node.js installed to your local computer to follow along with this tutorial. (Learn more about installing git and installing Node.js.)

You'll also need a GitHub account. (Learn more about signing up with GitHub.)

This tutorial also assumes some familiarity with such things as:

  • Text editors
  • Terminal / CLI
  • Git and version control
  • General software development using JavaScript

You do not need to be an expert in any of these things to follow along though.


Getting started

First, click the Deploy to Begin button below. This starts the process of authorizing Begin with your GitHub account. (You may be prompted to log in to GitHub, and/or be asked to create a Begin username.)

Deploy to Begin

Name your app & repo

You'll then be prompted to name your new app and repository – this is optional, feel free to use the default app and repo name if you like!

Note: your Begin app name and repository name cannot be changed later.

Name your Begin app and repo

Once you've clicked the Create... button, Begin will spin up your new project on GitHub (under github.com/{your GH username}/{your repo name}).

By default your Begin app repo is created as a public GitHub repo; it can be set to private by granting Begin additional permissions from this screen (or later from the Settings screen found in the left nav of your Begin app).


Your first deploy

After creating your app, you'll be taken to its Activity stream. Welcome to the main backend interface of your Begin app!

Begin Activity view

From the Activity view, you'll be able to watch your app build & deploy in real-time. Any time you push to master, you'll see a new build get kicked off in Begin.

Each build undergoes several predefined build steps (learn more about build steps here); these build steps may install your app's dependencies (install), test your code's syntax (lint), generate any files or assets needed to run your app (build), and/or run an automated test suite (test).

If no build steps fail, then the build containing your latest commit to master is automatically deployed to your staging environment.

Go ahead and click the Staging link in the upper left corner of your left nav to open your new app's staging URL. You should now see your new app:

Scheduled starter

Hit the refresh button in your browser to see the view count rise higher. We'll learn more about what this application is doing under the hood after we've set up our project locally.

πŸ’‘ Learn more! Head here to dig deeper into covers build pipelines, git tagging, and more.


Get set up locally

Next, let's get your new site running in your local environment (i.e. the computer you work on).

First, head to your GitHub repo (from the first card in your Activity, or the left nav). Find the clone or download button and copy the git URL.

Then head to your terminal and clone your repo to your local filesystem.

git clone https://github.com/your-github-username/your-new-begin-app.git

Once you've got your project cloned on your local machine, cd into the project directory and install your dependencies:

cd your-new-begin-app
npm install

Now you are all set to work on your app locally!


Project structure

Now that your app is live on staging and running locally, let's take a quick look into how the project itself is structured so you'll know your way around. Here are the key folders and files in the source (src/) tree of your new app:

.
β”œβ”€β”€ src/
β”‚   β”œβ”€β”€ http/
β”‚   β”‚   └── get-index/
β”‚   β”œβ”€β”€ scheduled/
β”‚   β”‚   └── backup/
β”‚   └── views/
β”‚       └── doc.js
└── app.arc

src/http/get-index/

This is the root function of our app that serves the view. We must note that we are getting the actual HTML from our shared views directory (src/views), which we'll discuss below. This function is also incrementing and storing each page view into your app's Begin Data database.

// src/http/get-index/index.js

let data = require('@begin/data')
let HTML = require('@architect/views/doc')

exports.handler = async function http (req) {
  let { path } = req
  let visits

  if (path === '/') {
    let result = await data.incr({
      table: 'my-data',
      key: 'site',
      prop: 'visits'
    })
    visits = result.visits
    console.log('Stored a visit')
  }


  return {
    headers: {
      'cache-control': 'no-cache, no-store, must-revalidate, max-age=0, s-maxage=0',
      'content-type': 'text/html; charset=utf8'
    },
    body: HTML({ visits })
  }
}

src/scheduled/backup/

This is our scheduled function – the star of the app! We use this function to back up the view counts collected in Begin Data. This backup function's rate is defined in our app.arc file.

// src/scheduled/backup/index.js

const data = require('@begin/data')

exports.handler = async function scheduled (event) {
  console.log(JSON.stringify(event, null, 2))
  let pages = await data.page({
    table: 'my-data',
    limit: 100
  })

  let count = 0
  for await (let page of pages) {
    count = count + 1
    console.log(
      'Page: ', page, '\n',
      'Count: ', count, '\n'
    )
  }
  // Now save a copy wherever you like (S3, POST to an external endpoint, etc.)!
  return
}

src/views/doc.js

This file is serving the HTML view of our app. Every module inside our views folder is available to all of our GET functions. Note: for brevity, the actual HTML contents of this file are truncated.

// src/views/doc.js

module.exports = function Doc({ visits }) {
  visits = visits || ''
  return `
<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  ...
</html>
  `
}

app.arc

Your app.arc file is where you'll provision new scheduled functions and other infra for your app. (In this particular app, you'll see that we have provisioned a scheduled function named backup with a rate every 6 hours.)

Infrastructure-as-code is the practice of provisioning and maintaining cloud infrastructure using a declarative manifest file. It’s like package.json, except for cloud resources like API Gateway, Lambda, and DynamoDB (all of which Begin apps use).

By checking in your Begin app’s project manifest (app.arc) file with your code, you can ensure you have the cloud resources your code depends on. This is crucial for guaranteeing reproducibility and improving iteration speed.

πŸ’‘ Learn more! Head here to dig deeper into provisioning and working with scheduled functions in Begin apps.


How scheduled functions work in this app

This app is designed to demonstrate the power of scheduled functions and Begin data.

Scheduled

Inside the app.arc file in the root of your project, we've added an entry to the @scheduled pragma to provision a new scheduled function named backup. This function runs on a 6 hour interval (rate(6 hours)) that backs up the current number of page views (which are written to the database by our get-index function). You can save this backup wherever you'd like, such as an S3 bucket.

⚠️ Scheduled function names are lowercase alphanumeric and can contain dashes. They must declare a rate with a number, and a time period with the appropriate singular / plural form, e.g. rate(1 day), rate(2 weeks)

Read more about the rate syntax here

You'll notice below the view count that there is a link to your scheduled functions logs inside the your Begin console. Clicking the link will take you this page to view these logs for your scheduled functions!

Awesome! Now let's move on to deploying this app to production.


Deploy your site

While not required, it's always a good idea to lint and run tests before pushing just to make sure you catch any errors:

npm run lint
npm t

Everything set? Now let's push this commit (and deploy the build to staging):

git add -A
git commit -am 'Just customizing my Begin site!'
git push origin master

Head on back to Begin and open your staging URL once your build is complete. Looking good? Excellent.

Now let's deploy to production: click the Deploy to production button in the upper left, pick a version, leave an optional message summarizing your changes, and Ship it!

When your next build is done, click the production link in the upper left corner to see the latest release of your app.

✨Tip: You can also deploy to production from your terminal by bumping your npm version (npm version [patch|minor|major] && git push origin) or by cutting a git tag (git tag -a 1.0.0 -m "1.0, here we come" && git push origin --tags)


Congratulations!

You now have a good idea of how scheduled functions work within Begin. Your next task is to learn Begin Data!

Now go show it off – people need to see this thing!

Additional resources