Reactive Neo4j using .NET

Version 4.0 of Neo4j is being actively worked on, and aside from the new things in the database itself, the drivers get an update as well – and one of the big updates is the addition of a Reactive way to develop against the DB.

Now – I’ve not done reactive programming for a long time, I think I did play around with it when .NET 4 was first released, but I have no idea where that blog post has gone – so I may as well start as new.

I found it! Not the post, but the application – MousePath – which is now on GitHub: MousePath – aside from it ‘working’ it’s not performant in any way.

What is Rx/Reactive?

Reactive in .NET is all about the IObservable<T>/IObserver<T> interfaces. They’ve been around since .NET 4, but personally I’ve never really used them. They allow application code to react to data being pushed to it, rather than the more traditional way of requesting the data.

There’s a good book (Intro to Rx) which I will been using to work this out, which is freely available online: http://introtorx.com/ .

Starting off

For this project, we’re going to need the nuget package – which in this case isn’t Neo4j.Driver – but Neo4j.Driver.Reactive. When we add this to our project – and create a driver in the normal way- we can see we now have an ‘RxSession‘ which is an extension method of the IDriver.

So let’s create a reactive session and see what we can see.

RxSession

We get IObservable as opposed to the AsyncSession giving us Tasks

AsyncSession

Doing a Run-ner

So, back to our RxSession, lets do a basic version, just using Run

var session = Driver.RxSession();
var rxStatementResult = session.Run("MATCH (m:Movie) RETURN m.title");
rxStatementResult
    .Records()
    .Subscribe(
        record => Console.WriteLine("Got: " + record.Values["m.title"].As<string>())
    );

In here, we’re hooking up to the ol’ classic Movies database, and simply writing the titles to the screen. NB – Driver is a static property of type IDriver I have defined elsewhere.

The first two lines look pretty much like our normal code – the only real difference being the use of the ‘RxSession‘ as opposed to just ‘Session‘.

Run on an RxSession returns an IRxStatementResult – which has 3 methods we’re interested in, (well actually only 1 at the moment) – Records(), Consume() and Keys().

Records() gets us the records from the database, so the stuff we want to do things with, Consume() whips through those records so we can get an IResultSummary telling us what is going on, and Keys() gets us the keys that are returned, in the simple statement I’ve done – ‘m.title‘ is the only key.

Records() is what we’re using, as we want to deal with the data, Records() return us an IObservable<IRecord> and being IObservable – we need to Subscribe() to it to get the data. Subscribing means we will provide an IObserver that will be notified whenever an IRecord arrives.

In this case, we have the contents being written to the console. Aces.

Quitting

Being a console app – doing tiny amounts of work – I largely don’t need to worry about disposing of my resources, but let’s imagine resource usage is something we do care about. How do you go about disposing of your resources?

IDisposable? INosable! – the IRxSession doesn’t implement IDisposable, instead we have to Close<T>() it – and this is where things have got a little fuzzy for me – I’m not entirely sure I’m closing it correctly.

var session = Driver.RxSession();
var rxStatementResult = session.Run("MATCH (m:Movie) RETURN m.title");
rxStatementResult
    .Records()
    .Subscribe(
        record => Console.WriteLine("Got: " + record.Values["m.title"].As<string>()));

session.Close<IRecord>();

Now, I expect to get either no results, or a smaller subset (depending on the speed of the code running) – what I get is the close being called, but still getting the full amount of data – I suspect I misunderstand what is going on here.

Let’s say I do want a smaller subset – or to quit – how do I do it? Well, the Subscribe() method actually returns an IObservable<IRecord> – which is also IDisposable – so we ‘unsubscribe’ by disposing of our subscriber:

var session = Driver.RxSession();
var rxStatementResult = session.Run("MATCH (m:Movie) RETURN m.title");
var subscription = rxStatementResult
    .Records()
    .Subscribe(record => Console.WriteLine("Got: " + record.Values["m.title"].As<string>()));

await Task.Delay(220);
subscription.Dispose();
session.Close<IRecord>();

The ‘delay’ magic number there is enough time to get some records, but not all, anything less than that gave no results, anything more – all the results. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Ooook So – Why Rx?

It seems more complex right? Subscribe(), unsubscribe – no foreach in sight! What’s the point?

My understanding – and this could be/probably is wrong – is that by using Rx – we’re reducing our overheads – i.e. instead of streaming everything, we can just stream what we’re consuming at the time.

The other key benefits come from things like ‘.Buffer‘ and the other commands (Skip, Last, etc) allowing you to stream things in a better way.

One nice thing about Rx in .NET is that it’s not the same as async – you don’t have to have your entire stack in Rx to get the benefits – you can do bits and pieces where you need to – if you’ve got a lot of data maybe it makes sense for a given query.

Neo4j with Azure Functions

Recently, I’ve had a couple of people ask me how to use Neo4j with Azure functions, and well – I’d not done it myself, but now I have – let’s get it done!

  1. Login to your Azure Portal

  2. Create  a new Resource, and search for ‘function app’:

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  1. Select ‘Function App’ from the Market Place:

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  1. Press ‘Create’ to actually make one:

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  1. Fill in your details as you want them

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I’m assuming you’re reasonably au fait with the setting here, in essence if you have a Resource Group you want to put it into (maybe something with a VNet) then go for it, in my case, I’ve just created a new instance of everything.

  1. Create the function, and wait for it to be ready. Mayhaps make a tea or coffee, have a break from the computer for a couple of mins – it’s all good!

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  1. When it’s ready, click on it and go into the Function App itself (if it doesn’t take you there!)

  2. Create a new function:

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  1. We want to create an HttpTrigger function in C# for this instance:

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  1. This gives us a ‘run.csx’ file, which will have a load of default code, you can run it if you want,

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and you’ll see an output window appear which will say:

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Well – good – Azure Functions work, so let’s get a connection to a Neo4j instance – now – for this I’m assuming you have an IP to connect to – you can always use the free tier on GrapheneDB if you want to play around with this.

  1. Add references to a driver

We need to add a reference to a Neo4j client, in this case, I’ll show the official driver, but it will work as well with the community driver. First off, we need to add a ‘project.json’ file, so press ‘View Files’ on the left hand side –

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Then add a file:

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Then call it project.json – and yes it has to be that name:

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With our new empty file, we need to paste in the nuget reference we need:

{
   "frameworks": {
     "net46":{
       "dependencies": {
         "neo4j.driver": "1.5.2"
       }
     }
    }
}

Annoyingly if you copy/paste this into the webpage, the function will add extra ‘closing’ curly braces, so just delete those.

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If you press ‘Save and Run’ you should get the same response as before – which is good as it means that the Neo4j.Driver package has been installed, if we look at files, we’ll see the ‘project.json.lock’ file which we want to.

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  1. Code

We want to add our connection information now, we’re going to go basic, and just return the COUNT of the nodes in our DB. First we need to add a ‘using’ statement to our code:

So add,

using Neo4j.Driver.V1;

Then replace the code in the function with:

public static async Task<HttpResponseMessage> Run(HttpRequestMessage req, TraceWriter log)
{
     using (var driver = GraphDatabase.Driver("bolt://YOURIP:7687", AuthTokens.Basic("user", "pass")))
     {
         using (var session = driver.Session())
         {
             IRecord record = session.Run("MATCH (n) RETURN COUNT(n)").Single();
             int count = record["COUNT(n)"].As<int>();
             return req.CreateResponse(HttpStatusCode.OK, "Count: " + count);                  
         }
     }
}

Basically, we’ll create a Driver, open a session and then return a 200 with the count!

  1. Run

You can now ‘Save and Run’ and your output window should now tell you the count:

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  1. Done

Your first function using Neo4j, Yay!

Neo4jClient 1.1.0.1

Originally posted on: http://geekswithblogs.net/cskardon/archive/2015/08/07/neo4jclient-1.1.0.1.aspx

Big milestone this one, Neo4jClient now supports Transactions, Authentication and some other little changes.

Transaction info is all here: https://github.com/Readify/Neo4jClient/wiki/Transactions

You can find the connecting stuff here (at the bottom):

https://github.com/Readify/Neo4jClient/wiki/connecting

And the other big(ish) change is the change to make the ‘CollectAs’ method return the class type specified (<T>) instead of Node<T>.

Big thanks for this go to Arturo Sevilla (https://github.com/arturosevilla) for the original Pull request that has been merged in.

There’ll be more info in a while. But for now, download the new version via nuget: https://www.nuget.org/packages/Neo4jClient and have graphy fun!

Ternary operators don’t work with nullable value types?

I’ve got the following situation:

DateTime? myDt = (DateTime) row["Column"];

This fails when retrieving a DBNull value, so we check for that:

DateTime? myDT = (row["Column"] == DBNull.Value) ? null : (DateTime) row["Column"];

This won’t compile, however doing:


DateTime? myDT;
if(row["Column"] == DBNull.Value)
myDT = null;
else
myDT = row["Column"];

works fine, now, I realise I can simplify that statement, but, for the purposes of this post, it is a closer match to the ternary operator.

Why won’t the ternary op work with the value type? It works perfectly with a string…

Production LINQ!

I’m happy today as I’ve written my first bit of Production LINQ code in the form of LINQ-to-XML.
It’s not the most complicated bit of code – only a grabbing of data from a file, but it does do what it says on the tin – uses C# 3.0 and (unfortunately) causes Resharper to complain on a constant basis 🙂