GSoC 2023: Week 2

Week #2 is still supposed to be dedicated to community bonding and other prepping stuff that’s going to be needed before the coding part starts (29th May).

This is not strictly enforced and nobody prevents you from actually writing some code before May 29th. I’ve indeed started coding this week, not a lot but the bare minimum project setup.

Let’s start by saying that the service is going to be almost identical to the current onionoo protocol, which currently exposes six different endpoints:

  1. /summary

  2. /details

  3. /bandwidth

  4. /weights

  5. /clients

  6. /uptime

Plus, the new service is adding historical data querying, so we’re introducing two more endpoints:

  1. /history/summary

  2. /history/clients

Well, actually this is not yet decided. We'll have to see if we want two more endpoints or just add more query params to handle this.

Each endpoint accepts HTTP GET methods. With all this info I went ahead and coded this very small part of the webserver.

Let’s start with the least number of dependencies which in this case are actix_web, sqlx, tokio and env_logger.

actix-web = "4"
tokio = { version = "1", features = ["macros", "rt-multi-thread"] }
reqwest = { version = "0.11", features = ["json"] }
serde = { version = "1", features = ["derive"] }
env_logger = "0.10.0"

version = "0.6"
default-features = false
features = [

For those of you who don’t know: actix_web is the web framework that I’m going to use for this project, tokio is the async runtime that integrates perfectly with actix_web and is the de-facto standard in Rust and sqlx is my framework of choice when I have to work with databases.

With all the above I should have the bare minimum configuration to get started with the basics of the project.

pub fn run(listener: TcpListener, db_pool: PgPool) -> Result<Server> {
    let db_pool = web::Data::new(db_pool);

    std::env::set_var("RUST_LOG", "actix_web=info");
    let _ = env_logger::try_init();

    let server = HttpServer::new(move || {


I’ve created this run method that spins up the server by taking a TcpListener and the database pool, this will come in handy for testing where we would like to bind the webserver to different ports and addresses and maybe use a local database instance.

As you can see, I’m creating multiple different services. Each one of those will get triggered when an HTTP GET request hits the endpoint as the web::get() points out (more on that in future articles). This is all you need to start a simple server with Rust and actix_web!

I’m currently not going to implement much more than this as I am still going through the current onionoo service and waiting for Postgres access.

I’ve also went ahead and wrote down the response structs along with their docs, that took a strong hour just to type everything out as some responses are pretty big and going back and forth to copy the documentation took a bit of time, no big deal.

Let’s take a look at the current onionoo project instead. It’s written in Java and it seems to be using Servlets. Since it’s a web protocol there must be an entry-point that handles HTTP requests

$ tree src/main/java/org/torproject/metrics/onionoo/ -L1
├── cron
├── docs
├── server
├── updater
├── util
└── writer

If we inspect the server package we can see that there’s a Java class named ServerMain that does start the server. Also, ResourceServlet is the class that handles the current HTTP GET requests. It wraps the request in an HttpServletRequestWrapper which exposes useful getters for the incoming request.

ResourceServlet determines which kind of request it received and then goes through a lot of logic, a lot of that involves building different kind of responses depending on which query parameters the requestor is providing, and eventually returns a response.

I’m not gonna bore you with the details, you can take a look at the servlet if you want to.

As I said before, I’m waiting for TLS access to the Postgres instance, but until that’s a thing I have the database schema so I can replicate it locally. This will be especially useful in the future when I’m going to use sqlx macros to statically check SQL queries.

That’s it for this week, things are still a bit quiet for the moment as I’m basically going through pre-existing codebases but that must be done to get the whole picture but it’s also a good exercise for every software dev, reading other’s people code is hard :) ! So, the more you do it, the better you get at it.

See you next week for more updates!