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Part 1: Run Adobe Target NodeJS SDK for Experimentation and Personalization on Edge Platforms (Akamai Edge Workers)

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NimashaJain
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13-09-2021

Author: Artur Ciocanu ()

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Adobe Target always provided best-in-class experimentation and personalization. Our edge network is geographically distributed and we have points of presence in different parts of the world. This allows us to be closer to our customers' users, but sometimes this is not enough, since fundamentally Target always required a network call to retrieve personalized content.

We always knew that this is could be problematic for some of our customers who are looking for near-zero latency for experimentation and personalization. In November 2020 Adobe Target launched NodeJS SDK and Java SDK with On-Device Decisioning capabilities. In a nutshell, On-Device Decisioning allows you to evaluate Target activities on-device avoiding a network roundtrip. For more details please check the official documentation here.

Adobe Target On-Device Decisioning, while great for server-side use cases where you can use one of our SDKs like NodeJSJava, and soon Python and .NET, can also be used in a serverless setup.

Java and C# are awesome languages, but usually, in a serverless setup, we prefer something a little bit more lightweight like NodeJS or Python. We already mentioned that Adobe Target has an edge network, but it is incomparable to Edge Computing Platforms aka CDNs like AKamai, AWS Cloudfront, or Cloudflare.

This blog is Part 1 In this three-part series that will cover how anyone could use Adobe Target NodeJS SDK to run experimentation and personalization on an edge compute platform. The parts are:

  • Part 1: Akamai Edge Workers and Adobe Target NodeJS SDK
  • Part 2: AWS Lambd@Edge and Adobe Target NodeJS SDK
  • Part 3: Cloudflare Workers and Adobe Target NodeJS SDK

Step by Step Guide: Akamai Edge Workers and Adobe Target NodeJS SDK

At Adobe Target we are strong proponents of automation and Infrastructure as Code, that's why we love Hashicorp Terraform. For us Terraform provides the right amount of declarative vs imperative code and it has enough escape hatches in case something is missing.

Recently Akamai launched Akamai EdgeWorkers. This is a new offering from Akamai that allows us to create small pieces of logic that can be distributed worldwide and executed in more than 2000+ locations. While we can use. always Akamai Control Center to set up everything, we will be leveraging Terraform and Akamai CLI to ensure we have all the steps codified in Terraform scripts or Akamai CLI commands.

Before we begin there are a few prerequisites:

  • Akamai Access: You will need to have access to Akamai and a product that supports EdgeWorkers such as Ion. Also, you should have access to be able to create an API Client. Terraform relies on API Client to be able to authenticate all the API calls during resource provisioning.
  • Akamai CLI with EdgeWorkers Package: You will use it to create EdgeWorkers required configurations.
  • Terraform: You will use it to create all the required Akamai resources. Please check the official Hashicorp documentation on how to install Terraform on your particular OS. In this article, we will be showing examples using Mac OS X.
  • NodeJS: You will use NodeJS to get the Adobe Target NodeJS SDK dependency as well as using NPM to package JavaScript code and prepare it for Akamai EdgeWorkers.
Most of the resources that we will provision in Akamai require:
  • group ID
  • contract ID
  • product ID
  • product name
Note: It is recommended that you copy these values somewhere so you have them handy. If you can't find these values, please talk to your Akamai account representative.

Creating Akamai EdgeWorker ID

There are a couple of resources required in order to use Akamai EdgeWorkers and expose it via an HTTP endpoint. Here is the list:
  • Akamai EdgeWorker ID
  • Akamai property
To create an Akamai EdgeWorker ID we will use Akamai CLI. Here is the command to create an EdgeWorker ID:
$ akamai ew create-id <groupID> <EdgWorkerName>

Note: Depending on your Akamai setup you might get a menu where you’ll have to select the contract you want to use. Also you might have to select the resource tier for EdgeWorkers, just follow the Akamai CLI instructions it is pretty self-explanatory.

Once everything has been executed successfully you should see the EdgeWorker ID being displayed in a table similar to this one:

---------------------------------------------------------------
--- Created new EdgeWorker Identifier: ------------------------
---------------------------------------------------------------
edgeWorkerId  name              groupId      resourceTierId
------------  ----------------  -------      ------------------
5628          <EdgWorkerName>  <groupID>   <resourcetierID>

Note: You’ll have to save the EdgeWorker ID since it will be used later in the Terraform scripts.

While developing with Akamai EdgeWorkers it is extremely important to be able to troubleshoot what is happening behind the scenes. For this, we will need to generate a debug secret. Here is the Akamai CLI command to generate an EdgeWorker debug secret:

$ akamai ew secret

Once the secret is generated we will have to copy it to Terraform variables file. So we could reference the secret in Akamai Property rules.

Once we have the EdgeWorker ID setup, the next step is to create a Content Provider code aka CP code. This resource is required to be able to create an Akamai Property.

The Terraform script to create a CP code looks like this:

resource "akamai_cp_code" "cp_code" {
  name        = var.cp_code_name
  contract_id = var.contract_id
  group_id    = var.group_id
  product_id  = var.product_id
}

As you can see, here we are using Terraform variables. This allows us to externalize all the values that might vary between different environments like staging vs production.

The next resource that is required for an Akamai Property is the edge hostname. Here is the Terraform script to create an edge hostname.

resource "akamai_edge_hostname" "hostname" {
  product_id    = var.product_id
  contract_id   = var.contract_id
  group_id      = var.group_id
  edge_hostname = var.edge_hostname
  ip_behavior   = "IPV6_COMPLIANCE"
  certificate   = var.certificate_enrollment_id
}

Here we use the same list of required IDs like product, contract, and group. Besides this, we also need a certificate enrollment ID. EdgeWorkers can be invoked ONLY via HTTPS, hence we need a certificate enrollment ID.

An Akamai Property can not be created without property rules. Property rules contain details like caching configurations, origin address, and different behaviors.

Terraform Akamai provider has a helper data element named akamai_property_rules_template that allows us to customize property rules via templates and variables. Here is the Terraform script for our property that references the EdgeWorker ID and EdgeWorker debug secret described earlier:

data "akamai_property_rules_template" "rules" {
  template_file = abspath("${path.root}/property-snippets/rules.json")
  variables {
    name  = "edge_worker_id"
    type  = "string"
    value = var.edge_worker_id
  }
  variables {
    name  = "edge_worker_debug_secret"
    type  = "string"
    value = var.edge_worker_debug_secret
  }
  variables {
    name  = "cp_code_id"
    type  = "number"
    value = replace(akamai_cp_code.cp_code.id, "cpc_", "")
  }
  variables {
    name  = "cp_code_name"
    type  = "string"
    value = var.cp_code_name
  }
  variables {
    name  = "origin_hostname"
    type  = "string"
    value = var.origin_hostname
  }
  variables {
    name  = "product_name"
    type  = "string"
    value = var.product_name
  }
}

As we can see we have a couple of variables that are required in property rules. We already mentioned we need EdgeWorker ID and EdgeWorker debug secret, we also need to add origin hostnameproduct nameCP code name and CP code IDCP code ID has to be adjusted a little bit, since by default the IDs returned by Akamai have prefixes. For CP code ID it is cpc_, hence we leverage Terraform replace to get rid of cpc_ and get the real CP code ID.

Finally, when we have EdgeWorker details, CP codeedge hostname and property rules we can create an Akamai property. Here is the Terraform script to create it:

resource "akamai_property" "property" {
  name        = var.property_name
  product_id  = var.product_id
  contract_id = var.contract_id
  group_id    = var.group_id
  hostnames {
    cname_from             = var.external_hostname
    cname_to               = var.edge_hostname
    cert_provisioning_type = "DEFAULT"
  }
  rule_format = "v2020-03-04"
  rules       = data.akamai_property_rules_template.rules.json
}

Nothing extraordinary here, we are using the same required IDs like group, contract, product, and we also reference the property rules template resource to get the final rules JSON value for this property.

Now that we have all the resources provisioned, we can look into how we can create an Akamai EdgeWorker bundle.

From bundling perspective Akamai EdgeWorkers requires the following:

  • main.js: This is the EdgeWorker entry point.
  • bundle.json: This contains metadata related to EdgeWorker like version and description. For every code change, we will have to update the version. Otherwise, we won't be able to upload the code.
  • tgz archive: This the actual bundle that contains main.js and bundle.json and is uploaded to Akamai network.

To automate the bundling process we will be using NPM and Rollup bundler. NPM will allow us to get all the required dependencies and Rollup will make sure that we bundle everything into a single main.js file. We will use NPM scripts to automate all of the builds and bundling steps. To build the final Akamai EdgeWorker bundle we will execute:

$ npm run build

This will create a tgz archive under dist folder.

To upload the newly created bundle we will use Akamai CLI and run the following command:

$ akamai ew upload --bundle=<pathtotgzarchive> <edgeworkerID>

Once a new version of the bundle has been uploaded we can activate it using Akamai CLI and running this command:

$ akamai ew activate <edgeworkeriD> <network> <version>

Note: It is important to first activate the new version on a staging environment and ensure that everything is looking good and then activate it on the production network.

Akamai EdgeWorker environment is based on v8 engine, so we can use most of the modern JavaScript constructs like async/await, Promise, etc. However there are some limitations, all these are covered here.

When starting to develop using Akamai EdgeWorkers it is important to decide which event handler we want to implement. More details around event handlers can be found here.

For the sample code, I have decided to use responseProvider, since I want the EdgeWorker code to react to incoming HTTP GET requests and build an HTTP response. We will be using the Adobe Target NodeJS SDK, so we'll have to get the dependency via NPM using:

$ npm i /target-nodejs-sdk -P

The sample code looks like this:

import { httpRequest } from "http-request";
import { createResponse } from "create-response";
import { logger } from "log";
import TargetClient from "@adobe/target-nodejs-sdk";
import RULES from "./rules";
const STATUS = 200;
const HEADERS = {
  "Content-Type": ["application/json"]
};
const createTargetClient = () => {
  return new Promise(resolve => {
    const result = TargetClient.create({
      client: "<client code>",
      organizationId: "<organization ID>",
      decisioningMethod: "on-device",
      artifactPayload: RULES,
      pollingInterval: 0, // "0" prevents polling, if artifactPayload is provided
      targetLocationHint: "<location hint>", // prevent cluster discovery
      logger: logger, // use Akamai EdgeWorker provided logger
      fetchApi: httpRequest,
      events: {
        clientReady: () => resolve(result)
      }
    });
  });
};
export async function responseProvider(request) {
  const deliveryRequest = {      
    execute: {
      mboxes: [{
        index: 0,
        name: "mbox-params",
        parameters: {
          foo: "bar"
        }
      }]
    }
  };
  logger.log("Received request", JSON.stringify(request));
  const client = await createTargetClient();
  const { response } = await client.getOffers({ request: deliveryRequest });
  logger.log("Sending response", JSON.stringify(response));
  return createResponse(STATUS, HEADERS, JSON.stringify(response));
}

Note: The RULES constant references the On-Device Decisioning artifact rules.json file. This file can be downloaded from https://assets.adobetarget.com/<client code>/production/v1/rules.json. This file will be available only after you have enabled On-Device Decisioning for your Adobe Target account.

It is important to highlight that Akamai EdgeWorkers environment is a little bit different from NodeJS or browser, hence when using Rollup we have to opt-in to bundle all the code for the browser environment and make sure that all the global objects like window, global or anything like that are declared and properly initialized to avoid runtime errors.

The sample Akamai EdgeWorker leverages the Rollup banner configuration to prepend to the final JavaScript file all the necessary declarations like window, etc. Here is the sample Rollup banner text:

// All these are required to ensure everything runs smoothly in an Akamai EdgeWorker
var window = {};
var TextDecoder = function() {};
var setTimeout = function(callback) { callback(); };

If everything was set up properly, then you should have an Akamai property configured with Akamai EdgeWorker behavior that can be accessed at a specific domain name. Using the domain name you could run a simple cURL command to check that everything is looking good. Here is a sample:

curl --location --request GET 'https://target-odd-dev.test.edgekey.net/v1/personalization' \
--header 'Pragma: akamai-x-ew-debug' \
--header 'Pragma: akamai-x-ew-debug-rp' \
--header 'Akamai-EW-Trace: st=1618421957~exp=1618425557~acl=/*~hmac=6b8f31571c646d01ad5155407775f5b5b07ef237848164f745ca86c3e938dad5'

This will execute an Akamai EdgeWorker that will run Adobe Targte NodeJS SDK On-Device Decisioning. The output would look something like this:

{
  "status": 200,
  "requestId": "2e412eb3dc594a198030097772fd1a8c",
  "id": {
      "tntId": "2b6b95529c8f418f877504cca96710dc.34_0"
  },
  "client": "targettesting",
  "execute": {
    "mboxes": [
      {
        "name": "mbox-params",
        "options": [
          {
            "type": "json",
            "content": {
              "foo": "bar",
              "isFooBar": true,
              "experience": "A"
            },
            "responseTokens": {
              "activity.id": 125874,
              "activity.name": "[unit-test] mbox-params",
              "experience.id": 0,
              "experience.name": "Experience A",
              "offer.id": 246852,
              "offer.name": "/_unit-test_mbox-params/experiences/0/pages/0/zones/0/1612386851217",
              "option.id": 2,
              "option.name": "Offer2",
              "activity.decisioningMethod": "on-device"
            }
          }
        ],
        "index": 0
      }
    ]
  }
}

Normally we would stop here, but we all know that nothing works the way we want the first time. So it is crucial to have proper troubleshooting tools at our disposal. Thankfully Akamai EdgeWorker allows you to get the logs that we write in the JavaScript code via HTTP headers. In order to enable this capability we have to add a few debug HTTP headers to the outgoing request, these are:

  • Pragma: akamai-x-ew-debug
  • Pragma: akamai-x-ew-debug-rp - used for responseProvider
  • Aakamai-EW-Trace: st=...... - contains the HMAC used for handshaking to ensure request is authorized to get the logs.

Akamai CLI for EdgeWorkers has a convenient command named auth that allows us to generate the value required for Akamai-EW-Trace. The auth command needs the Akamai EdgeWorker debug secret one that we have set up earlier. To create the HMAC for Akamai-EW-Trace we can use this command:

$ akamai ew auth <debugsecret>

The output would look something like this:

Akamai-EW-Trace: st=1619377928~exp=1619378828~acl=/*~hmac=<generatedHMAC>

When enabling debug headers, our sample response will look like this:

--yguZ36SBeirJVeeQGLblT7
content-type: application/json
content-disposition: form-data; name="response-provider-body"
{"status":200,"requestId":"20605b03b80d47c9be5351b650d2630b","id":{"tntId":"80d1734703214647967607a938f8e1fe.34_0"},"client":"targettesting","execute":{"mboxes":[{"name":"mbox-params","options":[{"type":"json","content":{"foo":"bar","isFooBar":true,"experience":"B"},"responseTokens":{"activity.id":125874,"activity.name":"[unit-test] mbox-params","experience.id":1,"experience.name":"Experience B","offer.id":246851,"offer.name":"/_unit-test_mbox-params/experiences/1/pages/0/zones/0/1612386851213","option.id":3,"option.name":"Offer3","activity.decisioningMethod":"on-device"}}],"index":0}]}}
--yguZ36SBeirJVeeQGLblT7
content-type: text/plain;charset=UTF-8
content-disposition: form-data; name="stream-trace"
X-Akamai-EdgeWorker-ResponseProvider-Info: ew=5536 v0.24:target-odd-edgeworker; status=Success; status_msg=-; wall_time=35.778; cpu_time=28.696
X-Akamai-EdgeWorker-ResponseProvider-Log: D:main.js:1635 Received request {"sandboxId":null,"cpCode":1171899,"url":"/v1/personalization","query":"","scheme":"https","path":"/v1/personalization","method":"GET","host":"target-odd-dev.test.edgekey.net","userLocation":{"continent":"EU","country":"MD","region":"","zipCode":"","city":"CHISINAU"},"device":{"isMobile":false,"isWireless":false,"isTablet":false}}|D::1642 Sending response {"status":200,"requestId":"20605b03b80d47c9be5351b650d2630b","id":{"tntId":"80d1734703214647967607a938f8e1fe.34_0"},"client":"targettesting","execute":{"mboxes":[{"name":"mbox-params","options":[{"type":"json","content":{"foo":"bar","isFooBar":true,"experience":"B"},"responseTokens":{"activity.id":125874,"activity.name":"[unit-test] mbox-params","experience.id":1,"experience.name":"Experience B","offer.id":246851,"offer.name":"/_unit-test_mbox-params/experiences/1/pages/0/zones/0/1612386851213","option.id":3,"option.name":"Offer3","activity.decisioningMethod":"on-device"}}],"index":0}]}}
--yguZ36SBeirJVeeQGLblT7--

Note: In this response we see JSON response, along with all the logs we have added to our Akamai EdgeWorker script. This approach can be invaluable when trying to debug Akamai EdgeWorkers.

In this article, we have proved that Adobe Target NodeJS SDK can be used successfully from an Akamai EdgeWorker. We have seen how Terraform and Akamai CLI can be used to create the necessary Akamai resources to be able to invoke the Akamai EdgeWorker using a simple HTTP GET.

While I am very pleased with the result, there are a few roadblocks and things I wish we could improve in the future:

  • Terraform Akamai provider recently released v1. Most of my previous knowledge about Akamai provider wasn't really applicable and I had to redo most of the property configuration from scratch. Thankfully the provider documentation is really good, but it still required some trial and error.
  • Terraform Akamai provider doesn't know about EdgeWorkers. My guess is because this is a recent product and the provider hasn't been updated. It's not that bad, since we can use Akamai CLI, but ideally, we should keep everything under one single tool.
  • Akamai EdgeWorkers debugging/troubleshooting could be better. At this point in time, the only way to debug anything in Akamai EdgeWorkers is to use log statements. It works, but it is slow, since every code change requires uploading the bundle and activating it. We can and should use staging network for development, but still we are talking about minutes here. An alternative would be to use an Akamai sandbox, but there are some limitations related to sandbox and EdgeWorkers like inability to fire HTTP requests from within the EdgeWorker.

The biggest issue I have faced while working with Akamai EdgeWorker is the caching of Akamai EdgeWorker response. I haven't found anything in the documentation related to this behavior. During development, I have created more than 20+ versions of an Akamai EdgeWorker and I was testing everything using the staging network. After awhile I would get a cached JSON response and it didn't matter if I activated a new version or not. After some head-scratching, I decided to purge the cache for Akamai EdgeWorker and after that everything got back to normal and I was able to see my code changes again. I was lucky enough that I had access to purge cache functionality, in other setups developers might be restricted from purging the cache.

After all this, should anyone try to use Akamai EdgeWorker, my answer would be YES, as long as you can work around the limitations imposed by Akamai EdgeWorker. The ability to run logic as closely as possible to your users can not be underestimated. Akamai has the biggest network of points of presence, so using Akamai you can deliver outstanding performance. While Akamai EdgeWorkers event handlers might be confusing at first, they provide a lot of flexibility and you hav more control around how a particular request should be processed.

Follow the Adobe Experience Platform Community Blog for more developer stories and resources, and check out Adobe Developers on Twitter for the latest news and developer products. Sign up here for future Adobe Experience Platform Meetup.

  1. Source code — https://github.com/artur-ciocanu/odd-akamai-edge-workers
  2. Adobe Target — https://business.adobe.com/products/target/adobe-target.html
  3. Adobe Experience Platform — https://business.adobe.com/products/experience-platform/adobe-experience-platform.html
  4. Adobe Target NodeJS SDK — https://adobetarget-sdks.gitbook.io/docs/sdk-reference-guides/nodejs-sdk
  5. Terraform — https://www.terraform.io/
  6. Akamai Terraform provider — https://registry.terraform.io/providers/akamai/akamai/latest/docs
  7. Akamai EdgeWorkers — https://developer.akamai.com/akamai-edgeworkers-overview#resources
  8. Akamai CLI — https://developer.akamai.com/getting-started/cli
  9. Akamai CLI EdgeWorkers package — https://developer.akamai.com/cli/packages/edgeworkers.html

Originally published: May 6, 2021