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Google MobWrite is a “Real-time Synchronization and Collaboration Service”. The original project can be found at http://code.google.com/p/google-mobwrite. This tutorial is based on http://github.com/plasticine/google-mobwrite, which did the really important updates, like enabling MobWrite to run over WSGI instead of mod_python.

All the code of the tutorial is available on GitHub, at http://github.com/jpetazzo/google-mobwrite. To test it on dotCloud, all you have to do is:

git clone git://github.com/jpetazzo/google-mobwrite.git
cd google-mobwrite
dotcloud create mobwrite
dotcloud push

Moreover, you can read the instructions in two original ways:

  • using GitHub’s awesome compare view – click on each individual commit to see detailed explanations for each step;
  • or, if you prefer text mode (or offline inspection), fallback on git log --patch --reverse begin..end.

dotCloud Build File

The dotCloud Build File, dotcloud.yml, describes our stack.

Since MobWrite is a Python web app, we will use a single “python” service.

The role and syntax of the dotCloud Build File is explained with further detail in the documentation, at http://docs.dotcloud.com/guides/build-file/.


  type: python

wsgi.py File

The “python” service dispatches HTTP requests to a WSGI-compatible callable which must be found at wsgi.application. In other words, we need to have a application function in the wsgi.py file.

The MobWrite gateway has already been “WSGI-fied”, and contains a suitable application callable. However, the gateway code is located in the daemon directory, and expects to import other modules from this directory. Therefore, we will add the daemon directory to the Python Path (instead of doing e.g. from daemon.gateway import application).


import sys
from gateway import application

supervisord.conf File

The MobWrite “gateway” (the WSGI application that we enabled in the previous step) actually talks to the MobWrite “daemon”. We need to start this “daemon”. While we could use dotcloud run www to log into the service and start it manually, we will rather write a supervisord.conf file, as explained in the Background Processes Guide.



Update Shebangs

All the Python programs in the original code start with #!/usr/bin/python. That generally works, unless you are using a non-default Python install, or a wrapper like virtualenv. Guess what: dotCloud uses virtualenv, so we have to replace all those #!/usr/bin/python with the more standard #!/usr/bin/env python.

We modify daemon/mobwrite_daemon.py, lib/diff_match_patch.py, lib/json_validator_test.py, lib/mobwrite_core_test.py, tools/download.py, tools/loadtest.py, tools/nullify.py, and tools/upload.py.

Final Touch

At that step, you can already dotcloud push and get a working app; but you still need to display a custom HTML form to start it. To make testing more convenient, we will do a minor change to the code, so that going to the MobWrite app will show the editor if no valid POST parameter is supplied.

After this change, you can (re-)push the code, and this time, when you go to the app URL, you should see the edit form. Opening the app from multiple tabs or browsers will allow you to edit the form concurrently (like Etherpad or recent versions of Google Docs Text Editor).


             out_string = form['q'].value # Client sending a sync.  Requesting text return.
         elif form.has_key('p'):
             out_string = form['p'].value # Client sending a sync.  Requesting JS return.
+        else:
+            # Nothing. Redirect to the editor.
+            response_headers = [ ('Location', environ['SCRIPT_NAME']+'?editor') ]
+            start_response('303 See Other', response_headers)
+            return []

         in_string = ""
         s = socket.socket(socket.AF_INET, socket.SOCK_STREAM)