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Stateful Collectors

Some collectors need to preserve their state between consecutive runs. The usual case is that we want to remember some information that allows us to identify the data we have already downloaded as to not download it again and make a mess out of our database with redundant data.

The most important thing to note here is that each collector is used as an OS process. So it can be run to download some data, then end its life; then it is supposed to be run again – by some scheduler like e.g. cron – after a few hours to check if some new data have been added to the source. So now we know that we cannot store our state in the process memory as it will be deallocated when the process ends. And so we need some kind of persistent storage.


N6DataSources’s module n6datasources.collectors.base comes with a class mixin StatefulCollectorMixin which saves the state as a pickle (so it can be almost any Python object) inside the n6’s state directory.

StatefulCollectorMixin consist of 4 methods and an __init__. We will care only about 3 of them:

  • save_state(self, state) - saves the given state as a pickle in the state directory.
  • load_state(self) - tries to load and returns a previously saved state from the state directory. If it failed it calls make_default_state (see below) to obtain the default state.
  • make_default_state(self) - creates the default state object of the collector. The default implementation just returns None.

This class is a mixin, so it does not modify the run_collection method of a collector in any way whatsoever. So it is your responsibility to call load_state before starting collecting data and save_state just before the exiting (or after each state update, this method ensures that in case of the collector’s crash, we will recover at point right before the error has occurred).

Note that StatefulCollectorMixin does some initialization in __init__ which is later used by the load_state and save_state methods. So make sure to call it (typically just using the super() technique).

What does init do?

You can skip this part and jump to the example, but if you are curious:

__init__ basically just sets the path of the state file by joining state_dir path with the generated state’s file name.

How does the object know the path of the state directory? From the config attribute under the state_dir key. So make sure it is specified in the configuration.


class MyStatefullCollector(StatefulCollectorMixin, BaseCollector):


    raw_type = 'stream'

    config_spec = '''
        state_dir :: path
        url :: str

    def make_default_state(self):
        return {}

    def run(self):
        self.state = self.load_state()
        super(MyStatefullCollector, self).run()  # <- main activity of the collector

    def start_publishing(self):
        output_rk, output_data_body, output_prop_kwargs = self.get_output_components()
        self.publish_output(output_rk, output_data_body, output_prop_kwargs)

    def get_source_channel(self, **processed_data):
        return 'example-channel'

    def get_output_data_body(self, **kwargs):
        data = self._collect_data()
        return data

    def _collect_data(self):
        data = self._download(url=self.config['url'], only_newer_than=self.state.get('last_utc'))
        self.state['last_utc'] = data.time_utc
        return data

    def _download(self, url, only_newer_than):
        # download some data newer than the `only_newer_than` time

In the example above a state is a simple dictionary (note that an empty dictionary is returned by the above implementation of make_default_state). Here we load the state in an extended version of the LegacyQueuedBase’s method run. Note that this example is focused on showing how the state works and should not be treated as working-kind example cause of lack of implementation in some methods (e.g. _download()).

In the _collect_data (called in get_output_data_body, which is, in turn, called in start_publishing), we update our state with the just downloaded data. In this case, it is just the creation time of the processed chunk, so we will not try to download older bits of data.

In the case of this collector, only when the communication with RabbitMQ has been properly closed, we save our state (see again our extended version of the run method).


Some base classes (but not BaseCollector) already implement state management by themselves; in those cases you do not need to derive from StatefulCollectorMixin. Instead, read their documentation.