Part 4: Installing Apache Thrift: Linux Development Environment

Previously, we dealt with getting a working LAMP development environment up and running on a fresh CentOS 6 install.  We next dealt with the installation of PHPStorm and our JDK issues.

In this, and the next issue, I'm going to talk about the Thrift framework and getting it installed and running.

Thrift was originally developed by Facebook, was entered into open source in 2007, and became part of the Apache incubator the next year.

Thrift, according to Apache, is "a software framework for scalable cross-language services development. It combines a software stack with a code generation engine to build services that work efficiently and seamlessly between C++, Java, Python, PHP, Ruby, Erlang, Perl, Haskell, C#, Cocoa, JavaScript, Node.js, Smalltalk, and OCaml."

What it is in plainspeak is an API framework for your LAMP application.

Why I want it:  I want to use Thrift for our project because of the nature of the project.  (A social-networking concept.)  Because the application will rely heavily on data-storage calls, I've decided to implement the data access layer as an API instead of a more-traditional OOP model.  Thrift, as the API framework, allows me complete freedom on the back-end of the API.  I can implement the API in a variety of languages, although I'll probably use PHP.

Thrift also provides me with a strongly-typed interface to the API.  Like XML-RPC, calls to the API are well-defined beforehand and must comply with the typed definition of both the methods used, and the data exchanged to/from said methods.

My personal experience with Thrift is limited -- I used it as an API for a product concept at a former employer.  The calling application would invoke the API and make requests to the API which, in turn, would do a "bunch of stuff" and return a well-defined "data ball" (a json object) back to the calling stub for processing and display.

The other concept that makes me embrace Thrift as the controller for my LAMP application is that I can completely encapsulate the data layer from the front-end developers.  They do not need to know if the data is stored within mongodb, mysql, or a flat file.  All they need is the data.  The query language is hidden; front-end developers should not need to write data-access code.

I'll talk more about the glories of Thrift later.  For now, let's just get it installed and running...

On our Linux system, we have to do some preliminary installation of packages first.  Luckily, if you hit the Thrift Wiki, you'll find pretty much everything you need to do a successful install.  Be warned, however.  Sparseness of documentation could easily be one of the hallmarks of Thrift.  Read carefully, and then read again before punching the enter key on your keyboard.  Make sure you understand what it is you're about to do.

Ok.  Let's get some non-LAMP development tools installed.  Our first command will be to install most of the pre-requisite packages needed by Thrift:

[cc lang='bash' line_numbers='false']

#  sudo yum install automake libtool flex bison pkgconfig gcc-c++ boost-devel libevent-devel zlib-devel python-devel ruby-devel


This  will install the base development packages you're going to need.  Once this has completed, you should also install the open-SSL development libs as the build will fail without it.  (At least, if failed on my install.)

[cc lang='bash' line_numbers='false']

#  sudo yum install openssl-devel.x86_64


Installing this package will also pick-up all the dependent packages you'll need to complete the install.

Next, download the Thrift tarball from the site and move the package somewhere within what will become your DocumentRoot path for Apache2.

[cc lang='bash' line_numbers='false']

#  tar xvzf thrift-0.7.0.tar.gz


Once you've expanded the tarball, cd into the thrift directory and follow the instructions to make the Thrift packages and libraries.  I did this pretty much exactly as told and my installation went without a problem.

At this point, we've only built and installed the Thrift libraries (installed in /usr/lib, I believe...).  In the next installation, we're going to install the PHP src directory and make it visible to our application's docRoot.