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Real-time Search Indexing with Turbine and Algolia

· 5 min read
@anaptfox
Developer Advocate

Developers often consider using operational databases (e.g. PostgreSQL, MySQL) to perform search. However, search engines like Algolia are more efficient for the searching problem because they provide low-latency search querying/filtering and search-specific features such as ranking, typo tolerance, and more.

Once you have decided on a search engine, your next step is to inevitably answer: How do you send and continuously sync data to Algolia?

This is where Turbine comes in. With Turbine, you can properly test, review, and build data integrations in a code-first way. Then, you can easily deploy your data application to Meroxa. No more fragile deployments, no more manual testing, no more suprise maintenance, just code.

Here is what a Turbine Application looks like:

const { updateIndex } = require('./algolia.js');

exports.App = class App {
sendToAlgolia(records) {
records.forEach(record => {
updateIndex(record);
});
return records;
}

async run(turbine) {

let source = await turbine.resources('postgresql');

let records = await source.records("User");

await turbine.process(records, this.sendToAlgolia, {
ALGOLIA_APP_ID: process.env.ALGOLIA_APP_ID,
ALGOLIA_API_KEY: process.env.ALGOLIA_API_KEY,
ALGOLIA_INDEX: process.env.ALGOLIA_INDEX,
});

}
};

In this article, we are going to create a data application to ingest and sync data from PostgreSQL to Algolia.

This application uses JavaScript,but Turbine also has Go and Python SDKs.

Here is a quick overview of the steps we will take to get started:

How it works?

A data application responds to events from your data infrastructure. You can learn more about the anatomy of a Javascript data application in the documentation.

Application Diagram

This data application will:

Setup

Before we begin, you need to setup a few things:

  1. Sign up for a Meroxa account and install the latest Meroxa CLI.
meroxa login
  1. Clone the example to your local machine:
git clone [email protected]:meroxa/turbine-js-examples.git

Since this example uses Javascript, you will need to have Node.js installed.

  1. Copy the search-indexing-algolia directory to your local machine:
cp -r ~/turbine-js-examples/search-indexing-algolia ~/
  1. Install NPM dependencies:
cd search-indexing-algolia
npm install

Now we are ready to build.

Data Application

A data application responds to events from our data infrastructure. For example, as the customer interacts with PostgreSQL, we need to update the Algolia index.

You can learn more about the anatomy of a Javascript data application in the documentation.

Entrypoint

Within index.js we will create a data application that will listen to the User table in PostgreSQL.

const { updateIndex } = require('./algolia.js');

exports.App = class App {
sendToAlgolia(records) {
records.forEach(record => {
updateIndex(record);
});
return records;
}

async run(turbine) {

let source = await turbine.resources('postgresql');

let records = await source.records("User");

await turbine.process(records, this.sendToAlgolia, {
ALGOLIA_APP_ID: process.env.ALGOLIA_APP_ID,
ALGOLIA_API_KEY: process.env.ALGOLIA_API_KEY,
ALGOLIA_INDEX: process.env.ALGOLIA_INDEX,
});

}
};

Here is what the code does:

export.App - This is the entrypoint for your data application. It is responsible for identifying the upstream datastore, the upstream records, and the code to execute against the upstream records. This is the data pipline logic (move data from here to there).

exports.SendToAlgolia - This is the function that is executed against the upstream records. It is responsible for indexing the records.

Indexing to Alogila

The updateIndex function is responsible updating the index in Algolia.

const algoliasearch = require('algoliasearch')

const client = algoliasearch('APPLICATION_ID', 'APPLICATION_KEY')
const index = client.initIndex('dev_users')

function updateIndex(record) {
const { payload } = record.value
const { before, after, op } = payload

if (op === 'r' || op === 'c' || op === 'u') {
console.log(`operation: ${op}, id: ${after.id}`)

after.objectID = after.id
index
.saveObject(after)
.then(() => {
resolve(after)
console.log(`saved ${after.id}`)
})
.catch((err) => {
console.log(`error saving ${after.id}`)
reject(err)
})
} else if (op === 'd') {
console.log(`operation: d, id: ${before.id}`)
index
.deleteObject(before.id)
.then(() => {
console.log(`deleted ${before.id}`)
resolve(before)
})
.catch((err) => {
console.log(`error deleting ${before.id}`)
reject(err)
})
}
}

// exports
module.exports = {
updateIndex,
}

This method will saveObject if the record was created, or updated. It will deleteObject if the record was deleted. This allows Algolia to stay perfectly in sync with your data infrastructure.

Secrets

You will need to update the Algolia credentials.

Running

Next, you may run your data application locally:

meroxa app run

Turbine will uses fixtures to simulate your data infrastructure locally. This allows you to test without having to worry about the infrastructure. Fixtures are JSON-formatted data records you can develop against locally. To customize the fixtures for your application, you can find them in the fixtures directory.

Verifying

You can verify the success of your data application by verifying the data in your Algolia index specified in the updateIndex function.

const client = algoliasearch('APPLICATION_ID', 'APPLICATION_KEY')
const index = client.initIndex('dev_users')

Deployment

After you test the behavior locally, you can deploy it to Meroxa.

Meroxa is the data platform to run and execute your Turbine apps. Meroxa takes care of maintaining the connection to your database and executing your application as changes. All you need to worry about is the data application itself.

Here is how you deploy:

  1. Add a PostgreSQL resource to your Meroxa environment:
meroxa resource create postgresql \
--type postgres \
--url postgres://$PG_USER:[email protected]$PG_URL:$PG_PORT/$PG_DB
  1. Deploy to Meroxa:
meroxa app deploy

Now, as changes are made to the upstream data infrastructure, your data application will be executed.

What's next?

In this guide, we have covered the basics of how to build a data application and deploy to Meroxa. This application will move data from your PostgreSQL database to your Algolia index.

Here are some additional resources:

I can't wait to see what you build 🚀. If you have any questions or feedback: Join the Community