Some time ago, I got a RIPE Atlas probe from a friend of mine, Stéphane Bortzmeyer. For those who don’t know, these probes create a big friendly botnet that enables all users — including you, whether you have one or not — to create “measurements” on the global Internet. The more probes deployed, the better. It has been frequently used in the past to find out about DNS censorship; e.g. here, here and here.
The probes have a set of built-in measurements that get sent regularly to the RIPE servers and there is an API available to make queries out of these probes. There is of course an official tool available, but it is in Python. While I could just use that, I do not like Python. Various tools are also available in different languages, see here.
As a Golang fan, I’ve tried to use these and was never satisfied. Either the CLI sucks or the tool had too many dependencies or something else. So I thought I had to write one myself. That was also an excuse to play a bit more with Go as a language :)
The Go Gopher
And now I released version 0.21 of my so called ripe-atlas tool. After (way too many) commits, changes and test-by-errors, it is now usable.
Of course it is still lacking many features — mainly related to output formatting — but both the Go API and the CLI tool are usable. In the coming months, I plan to add templating support to the CLI tool while the API itself should be relatively stable.
The API itself is v2-only. While I was beginning to write the tool, the RIPE NCC moved from API v1 to API v2 and I decided to only implement v2, because v1 has been officially deprecated. I tried to play with Swagger to save myself some lines of code (LOC) as the documentation is generated by it, but while it is fine when you are designing an API (in which case you have re-create all the stuff yourself) it is cumbersome.
I started using one of these REST libraries (after testing a few, I settled on the Sendgrid one) but in the end, after writing the HTTP proxy code, I ended up using on the standard HTTP client which is fine for my usage.
The API itself is very rich and has a lot of parameters; that tends to complicate both the API usage and its configuration. It also makes the tool complicated, I’m sure there are improvements to be made to its UI.
RIPE Atlas CLI tool
I tried to implement as many unit tests as possible but I always get behind. TDD (Test-Driven Development) is a fine concept and I try to use it as much as possible, but when I’m writing I generally do not know exactly how I want to shape things which means I would spend way more time thinking about the tests and less on writing it. I am ok with the philosophy, but I can’t seem to be able to follow it strictly. Oh well.
One of the way I always do when using/defining an API is to have a way to test these things, but less formally. The RIPE Atlas CLI (Command-Line Interface) is such a way. In fact, the first goal of projects like this one is to have a nice CLI tool. That way, I was able to experiment and play with nice Go modules such as cli and TOML.
Everything is available on my GitHub account. As it is a publicly available Go program, the documentation is automatically generated on Godoc. As you can see, it is far from complete. I need to add many comments to structures and function calls throughout the program.
Most of the development is done on the develop branch as I’m trying to use the Git flow workflow to manage development and release management.
As usual, all comments, issues and pull request are welcome. Enjoy!