Huxley 2 Release

Following on from my announcement of Huxley 2, it’s now time to release the source code so that you can host your own instances (guide below). Thanks for all of the positive feedback!

Please get in touch with any bug reports, feature requests and suggestions. I’d be particularly interested in if there is demand for a paid pro/premium version with extra functionality. Or maybe you would like a subscription-based hosted service version (with better uptime than the demo server and email support).

Some ideas that I have in mind are:

  • Advanced caching
    • In-memory or distributed cache
    • Flexible duration configuration
  • Tools to manage NRE API quota
    • Analytics / counters
    • Rate limits
    • Multiple client tokens
  • GraphQL endpoint
    • Request only that data that you need
    • Good for React apps
  • TfL API integration
  • Delay repay flags when train exceeds a late threshold (per TOC)
  • NRE Knowledge Base API integration
  • Multiple stations in a single request
  • Container and serverless support
    • Pre-built Docker containers
    • Support for Azure Functions (or AWS Lambda)
  • Full coverage of the staff and reference API surface area
  • Alternative client authentication methods
    • Cookies
    • HTTP basic auth
    • JWT bearer token in local storage
  • Configurable custom CORS domains
    • Restrict access to your web app
    • Allow authentication
  • A web UI for configuring Huxley settings
  • Geographical lookup for CRS codes
    • Latitude and longitude or OS grid reference
    • Postcode
  • SignalR push updates to reducing polling of API

Let me know what you think.

License

There’s a licensing change for Huxley 2 but this isn’t very significant. Huxley 1 was licensed under the GNU Affero General Public License v3.0 but Huxley 2 is licensed under the European Union Public License 1.2 (or later).

These are broadly the same in what you can do but the EUPL has advantages over the AGPL, such as being shorter and available in 22 languages. The EU does great work.

The EUPL still covers distribution through a network or SaaS (like the AGPL). This means that if you make changes to Huxley and host the result then you must share those changes (even if you don’t distribute the application).

Huxley is also treeware. You don’t pay for it but I’d love you to buy a tree if you find it useful. Or you could buy one in the form of the paperback version of my book on building web apps.

Buy me a tree!

Guide

This is a quick guide on how to get Huxley 2 up and running on Microsoft Azure (with a Linux host).

Token

You will need a Darwin API access token(s) / key(s) from National Rail Enquires. You can get a public token here and a staff token here. You can get and use both if you like, for full functionality. They are both GUID strings.

GitHub

Sign up to GitHub, if you haven’t already got an account.

Sign up to GitHub

Fork

Fork my Huxley2 repository to create a copy in your own account.

Fork

You should then have a copy of the repository in your account.

Huxley2 Fork

Do not create a Pull Request, unless you actually have changes to share back to me upstream.

Azure

Sign up to Azure if you haven’t already. You can get a free trial but you will need to enter credit card details.

Web App

Create a new App Service.

Azure App Services

Create a new resource group (or select an existing one) and give the instance a unique name. Select .NET Core 3.1 (LTS) as the stack and Linux as the OS. North Europe (it’s a UN naming thing) is the closest region to the public Darwin servers and has a wide selection of SKUs.

You can select the free SKU but if you want to set it to be always on then you will need something a bit bigger, such as a B1. You may need to create a new service plan.

Azure App Services Configuration

Confirm everything and wait for the instance provisioning deployment to complete.

Edit Config

If you don’t want to pass your tokens in the query string then you will need to add them as application settings.

Add the tokens with the name as DarwinAccessToken or DarwinStaffAccessToken and the value as your GUID token(s). If you have both then add them as separate settings.

Azure App Services Settings

You can also set ClientAccessToken if you want to provide a different token in the URL. This can be any string.

There are a few other settings that you can tweak too. Take a look at the appsettings.json file for more details.

On the general settings tab you can set always on if your SKU supports it. Don’t forget to save the configuration.

Azure DevOps

Sign up for Azure DevOps if you haven’t already.

New Pipeline

Create a new build (multi-stage) pipeline (not release).

Azure DevOps New Pipeline

Select GitHub YAML.

Azure DevOps New Pipeline GitHub YAML

Authorise Azure Pipelines with GitHub.

Azure Pipelines GitHub Auth Azure Pipelines GitHub Auth Button

Select your fork of Huxley 2.

Select Fork

Approve and install Azure Pipelines for your fork of the Huxley 2 repository.

Azure Pipelines GitHub Approve

Edit YAML

Follow the wizard and when you get to review your pipeline YAML you will need to make a couple of changes. Find the deployment task entry (the last one) and click settings.

Azure Pipelines YAML

In the sidebar, change the dropdowns for Azure subscription to yours and App Service name to the one you just created.

Azure Pipelines YAML Edit

Click add to apply the change to the code (yes, this is unintuitive).

Run

Finally, click the run button at the top right.

Azure Pipelines YAML Run

You may need to authorise with GitHub and you’ll need to grant permission for the pipeline run to access your Azure subscription.

Azure Pipelines Permit Azure Pipelines Permit

If all goes well you should get a green run.

Azure Pipelines Success

Test

You can now visit the URL of your web app and should see Huxley 2 up and running. This should be at https://[your App Service name].azurewebsites.net unless you have set a custom domain.

Huxley 2

Simple.

Get Ready For Actions

You should also see an Azure Pipelines build run tick next to the latest commit on your Huxley 2 GitHub repository. You might be able to use GitHub Actions directly to do the build and release but I’ve not tried it. It shares a lot of code with Azure Pipelines.

GitHub Actions

Feedback

Please get in touch with any feedback. I’d be particularly interested in if there is demand for a paid pro/premium version/service with extra functionality.


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