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The FaaS watchdog is designed to marshal a HTTP request between your public HTTP URL and a individual function.

Every FaaS function should embed this binary and uses it as its entrypoint. It is in effect a tiny web-server or shim that will fork your desired process for every HTTP request.

Create a new function:

  • [x] Use an existing or a new Docker image
  • [x] Add the fwatchdog binary from the Releases page via curl or ADD https://
  • [x] Set an fprocess environmental variable with the function you want to run for each request
  • [x] Expose port 8080
  • [x] Set the CMD to fwatchdog

Example Dockerfile:

FROM alpine:3.5

ADD /usr/bin
RUN chmod +x /usr/bin/fwatchdog

# Define your UNIX binary here
ENV fprocess="/bin/cat"

CMD ["fwatchdog"]

Implementing the a healthcheck

Docker swarm will keep your function out of the DNS-RR / IPVS pool if the task (container) is not healthy.

Here is an example of the echo function implementing a healthcheck with a 5-second checking interval.

FROM functions/alpine

ENV fprocess="cat /etc/hostname"

HEALTHCHECK --interval=5s CMD [ -e /tmp/.lock ] || exit 1

The watchdog process creates a .lock file in /tmp/ on starting its internal Golang HTTP server. [ -e file_name ] is shell to check if a file exists.

Swarm tutorial on Healthchecks:

Environmental overrides:

A number of environmental overrides can be added for additional flexibility and options:

Option Usage
fprocess The process to invoke for each function call. This must be a UNIX binary and accept input via STDIN and output via STDOUT.
cgi_headers HTTP headers from request are made available through environmental variables - Http_X-Served-By etc. See section: Handling headers for more detail. Enabled by default.
marshal_requests Instead of re-directing the raw HTTP body into your fprocess, it will first be marshalled into JSON. Use this if you need to work with HTTP headers and do not want to use environmental variables via the cgi_headers flag.
content_type Force a specific Content-Type response for all responses.
write_timeout HTTP timeout for writing a response body from your function (in seconds)
read_timeout HTTP timeout for reading the payload from the client caller (in seconds)
suppress_lock The watchdog will attempt to write a lockfile to /tmp/ for swarm healthchecks - set this to true to disable behaviour.
exec_timeout Hard timeout for process exec'd for each incoming request (in seconds). Disabled if set to 0.

Advanced / tuning

Handling headers

You can get hold of the HTTP headers by enabling the cgi_headers environmental variable.

Here's an example of a POST request with an additional header and a query-string.

$ cgi_headers=true fprocess=env ./watchdog &
2017/06/23 17:02:58 Writing lock-file to: /tmp/.lock

$ curl "localhost:8080?q=serverless&page=1" -X POST -H X-Forwarded-By:

This is what you'd see if you had set your fprocess to env on a Linux system:


You can also use the GET verb:

$ curl "localhost:8080?action=quote&qty=1&productId=105"

The output from the watchdog would be:


You can now use HTTP state from within your application to make decisions.

HTTP methods

The HTTP methods supported for the watchdog are:

With a body:


Without a body:

  • GET

Content-Type of request/response

By default the watchdog will match the response of your function to the "Content-Type" of the client.

  • If your client sends a JSON post with a Content-Type of application/json this will be matched automatically in the response.
  • If your client sends a JSON post with a Content-Type of text/plain this will be matched automatically in the response too

To override the Content-Type of all your responses set the content_type environmental variable.

Tuning auto-scaling

Auto-scaling starts at 1 replica and steps up in blocks of 5:

  • 1->5
  • 5->10
  • 10->15
  • 15->20

You can override the upper limit of auto-scaling by setting the following label on your container:

com.faas.max_replicas: "10"

If you want to disable scaling, set the com.faas.max_replicas value to "1".

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