Tag Archives: lua

3scale policy development – part 2 generate a policy scaffold

In first part of our multi-part blog series about 3scale policy development we looked into the setup of a development environment. Now we have a functioning development environment we can start the actual development of the 3scale policy. In this part we will take a look and use the scaffolding utility provided by APIcast to generate a policy scaffold.

The first thing we are going to do is create a new git branch of the APIcast source we have cloned in the previous part. This is an optional step, but developing a new feature or changing code in general in a new branch is a good habit to get into. So create a new branch and start up our development container.

$ git checkout -b policy-development-blog
Switched to a new branch 'policy-development-blog'
$ make development

To generate the scaffold of our policy we can use the apicast utility located in the bin/ directory of our development container.
So in the development container issue the following command:

$ bin/apicast generate policy hello_world

where hello_world is the name of the policy.

bash-4.2$ bin/apicast generate policy hello_world
source: /home/centos/examples/scaffold/policy
destination: /home/centos

exists: t
created: t/apicast-policy-hello_world.t
exists: gateway
exists: gateway/src
exists: gateway/src/apicast
exists: gateway/src/apicast/policy
created: gateway/src/apicast/policy/hello_world
created: gateway/src/apicast/policy/hello_world/hello_world.lua
created: gateway/src/apicast/policy/hello_world/init.lua
created: gateway/src/apicast/policy/hello_world/apicast-policy.json
exists: spec
exists: spec/policy
created: spec/policy/hello_world
created: spec/policy/hello_world/hello_world_spec.lua

As you can see from the output of the generate policy command a few files have been created. These artifacts related to our policy are located in three different directories:

  • t/ – this directory contains all Nginx integration tests
  • src/gateway/apicast/policy – this directory contains the source code and configuration schemas of all policies. Our policy resides in the subdirectory of hello_world
  • spec/policy – this directory contains the unit tests of all policies. The unit tests for our policy resides in the subdirectory of hello_world

So the policy scaffolding utility not only generates a scaffold for our policy, but also the files for a configuration schema, unit tests and integration tests. Let’s have a look at these files.

The source code of our policy residing in the directory src/gateway/apicast/policy/hello_world contains three files.

  • init.lua – all policies contain this init.lua file. It contains 1 line importing (require in Lua) our policy. It should not be modified.
  • aplicast-policy.json – The APIcast gateway is configured using a json document. Policies requiring configuration also use this json document. The apicast-policy.json file is a json schema file were configuration properties for the policy can be defined. We will look into configuration properties and this file in more detail in our next part of our policy development blog series.


  "$schema": "",
  "name": "hello_world",
  "summary": "TODO: write policy summary",
  "description": [
      "TODO: Write policy description"
  "version": "builtin",
  "configuration": {
    "type": "object",
    "properties": { }
  • hello_world.lua – This is the actual source code of our policy, which at the moment does not contain much.


-- This is a hello_world description.
local policy = require('apicast.policy')
local _M ='hello_world')
local new =
--- Initialize a hello_world
-- @tparam[opt] table config Policy configuration.
  local self = new(config)
  return self
return _M

The first two lines import the APIcast policy module an instantiate a new policy with hello_world as an argument. This returns a module itself which is implemented using a Lua table. Lua is not an Object Oriented language from itself but tables (and especially metatables) can mimic objects. The third line stores a reference to a function new which is defined below. The new function takes a config variable as argument, but as of now nothing is done with is. The new method simply returns itself. Finally the module representing our policy is returned. This is done so other components importing this policy module retrieve the table and can invoke all functions and variables stored in the policy.
We won’t cover all the files in details here since we are going to touch these in upcoming series when we flesh out our policy with functionality.
But as a final verification to see if we have something working let’s run the unit tests again.

The keen observer can see the number of successes in the unit test outcome has increased from 749 to 751 after we generated the scaffold for our policy.

In the next part we will take a closer look at the json configuration schema file and how we can read the configuration values from the json configuration as well as ENV vars to use in our policy.

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Posted by on 2019-03-22 in API Management


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3scale policy development – part 1 setting up a development environment

3scale policy development – part 1 setting up a development environment

In this multi part blog series we are going to dive into the development, testing and deployment of a custom 3scale APIcast policy. In this initial part we are going to setup a development environment so we can actually start the development of our policy.

But before we begin, let’s first take a look what a 3scale APIcast policy is. We are not going into too much detail here, since better and more detailed descriptions about 3scale APIcast policies already exist.

For those unfamiliar 3scale is a full API Management solution of Red Hat. It exists of an API Manager used for account management, analytics and overall configuration. A developer portal used for outside developers for gaining access to API’s and viewing the documentation. And the API gateway named APIcast. The APIcast gateway is based on Nginx and more specifically Openresty, which is a distribution of Nginx compiled with various modules, most notable the lua-nginx-module.

The lua-nginx-module provides the ability to enhance a Nginx server by executing scripts using the Lua programming language. This is done by providing a Lua hook for each of the Nginx phases. Nginx works using an event loop and a state model where every request (as well as the starting of the server and its worker processes) goes through various phases. Each phase can execute a specific Lua function.

An overview of the various phases and corresponding Lua hooks was kindly in the README of the lua-nginx-module:

Since the APIcast gateway uses Openresty 3scale provided a way to leverage these Lua hooks in the Nginx server using something called policies. As described in the APIcast README:

“The behaviour of APIcast is customizable via policies. A policy basically tells APIcast what it should do in each of the nginx phases.”

A detailed explanation of policies can be found in the same README:

Setting up the development enviroment

As was clear from the introduction, APIcast policies are created in the Lua programming language. So we need to setup an environment to do some Lua programming. Also, an actual APIcast server would be very nice to perform some local tests.

Luckily the guys from 3scale made it very easy to setup a development environment for APIcast using Docker and Docker Compose.


This means both Docker and Docker compose must be installed.

The version of Docker I currently use is:

Docker version 18.09.2, build 6247962

Instructions for installing Docker can be found on the Docker website.

With Docker compose version:

docker-compose version 1.23.1, build b02f1306

Instructions for installing Docker-compose can also be found on the Docker website.

Setting up the APIcast development image:

Now that we have both Docker and Docker-compose installed we an setup the APIcast development image.

Firstly the APIcast git repostitory must be cloned so we can start the development of our policy. Since we are going to base our policy on the latest 3scale release we are switching to the stable branch of APIcast.

$ git clone

when done switch to a stable branch, I am using 3.3

$ cd apicast/

$ git checkout 3.3-stable

To start the APIcast containers using Docker-compose we can use the Make file provided by 3scale. In the APIcast directory simply execute the command:

$ make development

The Docker container starts in the foreground with a bash session. The first thing we need to do inside the container is installing all the dependencies.

This can also be done using a Make command, which again must be issued inside the container.

$ make dependencies

It will now download and install a plethora of dependencies inside the container.

The output will be very long, but if everything went well you should be greeted with an output that looks something like this:

Now as a final verification we can run some APIcast unit tests to see if we are up and running and ready to start the development of our policy.

To run the Lua unit tests run the following command inside the container:

$ make busted

Now that we can successfully run unit tests we can start our policy development!

The project’s source code will be available in the container and sync’ed with your local apicast directory, so you can edit files in your preferred environment and still be able to run whatever you need inside the Docker container.

The development container for APIcast uses a Docker volume mount to mount the local apicast directory inside the container. This means all files changed locally in the repository are synced with the container and used in the tests and runtime of the development container.

It also means you can use your favorite IDE or editor develop your 3scale policy.

Optional setup an IDE for policy development:

The use of an IDE or text editor and more specifically which one is very personal so there is definitely no one size fits all here. But for those looking for a dedicated Lua IDE ZeroBraneStudio is a good choice.

Since I come from a Java background I am very used to working with IntelliJ IDEA, and luckily there are some plugins available that make Lua development a little bit nicer.

These are the plugins I installed for developing Lua code and 3scale policies in particular:

And for Openresty/Nginx there is also a plugin:

As a final step, but this is more relevant if you are also planning on developing some Openresty based applications locally (outside the APIcast development container), you can install Openresty, based on the instructions on their website.

What I did was I linked the Lua runtime engine of Openresty, which is LuaJIT, to the SDK of my IntelliJ IDEA so that I am developing code against the LuaJIT engine of Openresty.

As I already mentioned these steps are not required for developing policies in APIcast, and you definitely do not need to use IntelliJ IDEA. But having a good IDE or Text editor, whatever your choice, can make your development life a little bit easier.

Now we are ready to create a 3scale APIcast policy, which is the subject of the next part!

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Posted by on 2019-03-01 in API Management


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