[erlang-questions] to supervise or not to supervise

Ulf Wiger <>
Sun Mar 22 23:28:39 CET 2009


So when this question comes up it is customary for me to mention
my extension of the supervisor behavior to allow tracking the number
of restarts... (:

http://erlang.org/pipermail/erlang-questions/2003-November/010763.html

The way restart escalation currently works, I think it's wise in most cases
to escalate all the way up as soon as the nearest supervisor is unable
to resolve the situation. I've rarely seen an escalated issue resolve itself
in the middle management layer. You either solve it close to the problem
itself, or you solve it at the top - and try to expedite the work in the
middle.

(We're of course only talking Erlang supervisors here.)

BR,
Ulf W


2009/3/22 steve ellis <>:
> Thanks Lennart and Mihai! Very helpful information. Lennart it's good to
> know about the intent behind supervisor's orignial design.
>
> I like Mihai's suggestion of having one supervisor supervise each process.
> This would get us most of the way there and it would be easy to implement.
>
> But is there any way in OTP to see when a supervisor reaches its max
> restarts? I know this is logged by the sasl error logger. But how would I
> trap/detect this event in my code to do something with it?
>
> It doesn't look like supervisor has a function like gen_server's handy
> terminate/2.
>
> Maybe it would make more sense in our case to have one gen_server process
> monitor a child gen_server process. The child could call a function in the
> parent when it terminates. This way we'd have access to the terminate
> function of the monitoring/supervising gen_server. The problem with this
> though is that we'd have to implement our own restart strategy behavior,
> which is what is so great about supervisor.
>
> This might be related to something more general that I've been wondering
> about (which I should post as a question in a new thread). How to tap into
> the sasl error logger so my system can do stuff with those events. For
> example I'd like to send these events to another machine via tcp.
>
> Thanks!
>
> Steve
>
> On Fri, Mar 20, 2009 at 5:29 PM, Mihai Balea <> wrote:
>>
>> On Mar 20, 2009, at 3:42 PM, steve ellis wrote:
>>
>>> New to supervision trees and trying to figure out when to use them (and
>>> when not to)...
>>>
>>> I have bunch of spawned processes created through spawn_link. Want these
>>> processes to say running indefinitely. If one exits in an error state, we
>>> want to restart it N times. After N, we want to error log it, and stop
>>> trying to restart it. Perfect job for a one_to_one supervisor right?
>>>
>>> Well sort of. The problem is that when the max restarts for the error
>>> process is reached, the supervisor terminates all its children and itself.
>>> Ouch! (At least in our case). We'd rather that the supervisor just keep
>>> supervising all the children that are ok and not swallow everything up.
>>>
>>> The Design Principles appear to be saying that swallowing everything up
>>> is what supervisors are supposed to do when max restarts is reached which
>>> leaves me a little puzzled. Why would you want to kill the supervisor just
>>> because a child process is causing trouble? Seems a little harsh.
>>>
>>> Is this a case of me thinking supervisors are good for too many things?
>>> Is it that our case is better handled by simply spawning these processes and
>>> trapping exits on them, and restarting/error logging in the trap exit?
>>
>> As far as I know, the standard supervisor cannot behave the way you want
>> it to.
>>
>> So, at least until this type of behavior is added to the standard
>> supervisor, you can work around it with double layers of supervision.
>>  Basically have one dedicated supervisor for each process you want to
>> supervise and, in turn, each dedicated supervisor is set up as a transient
>> child to one big supervisor.
>>
>> Mihai
>>
>
>
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