For a mobile project I required a background worker which sents an email with 300 generated QR codes zipped together as attachment. This costs quite some time so we need a background worker to execute this task.

I wanted to achieve the following result:

  • When the user wants to generate qr codes, Start the celery worker process with scale(1)
  • Delay the celery task to be executed by the celeryworker
  • After our task is finished, stop the celeryworker with scale(0)

Why I want this? Well workers costs quite some money if they are running constantly, which is in our case maybe only 1 hour a month. Saving us about \$30 / month.

For more information about how to run a worker check the Official Heroku Django documentation, which shows you how to setup Django with celery. Here you can find how to create the task itself in celery: Django-celery tutorial.

To talk with the Heroku REST API we are using Heroku.py. This API let's us scale and stop / start proccesses with Python. The official documentation tells to do it this way:

import heroku  
cloud = heroku.from_key(settings.HEROKU_APIKEY)  
app.processes['celeryd'].scale(1)  
# now execute our celerytask  
generate_qr_codes.delay(product_id=product.id)

The only problem is that this line actually does not work:

app.processes['celeryd'].scale(1)

It will give an KeyError exception, because the celeryd is not running which is kind of a bug, thats why I want to scale it to 1 in the first place...

So I got stuck on that problem, but after checking out the Heroku Python library I decided to use their internal API as they have an easy way of calling Heroku HTTP resources. It's a quick work around to do what I wanted:

cloud._http_resource(method='POST',
                    resource=('apps', 'heroku_processname', 'ps', 'scale'),  
data={'type': 'celeryd', 'qty': 0})
# qty 0 is scale to 0 processes, if you want 1 process running change to qty 1

I have created an issue in the github repo about not being able to scale a non running process: https://github.com/heroku/heroku.py/issues/10

This is how our celery task looks like:

import logging  
from celery.decorators import task

@task()  
def generate_qrs(product_id):  
    try:  
        y = x + product_id  
        # this is where your code will be that gets executed in the background  
    except Exception, e:  
        logging.exception('Exception occured in the celery task to generate QR codes')  
    if settings.DEBUG == False:
        import heroku
        cloud = heroku.from_key(settings.HEROKU_APIKEY)  
        app = cloud.apps['appname']  
        cloud._http_resource(method='POST', resource=('apps', 'heroku_processname', 'ps', 'scale'),
                             data={'type': 'celeryd', 'qty': 0})
        # the above line will stop the celeryd worker, so we dont have to pay
        # for the woker only when it's actually executing tasks

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