Http

Ruby has always been this extremely web-focused language, and yet despite the selection of HTTP libraries out there, I always find myself falling back on Net::HTTP, and Net::HTTP sucks.

Ruby should be simple and elegant and beautiful. Net::HTTP is not. I've often found myself falling back on the Perlish horrors of open-uri just because I found Net::HTTP to be too much of a pain. This shouldn't be!

HTTP should be simple and easy! It should be so straightforward it makes you happy with how delightful it is to use!

Making Requests

Let's start with getting things:

Http.get "http://www.google.com"

That's it! The result is the response body.

Don't like "Http"? No worries, this works as well:

HTTP.get "http://www.google.com"

After all, There Is More Than One Way To Do It!

Making POST requests is simple too. Want to POST a form?

Http.post "http://example.com/resource", :form => {:foo => "42"}

It's easy!

Adding Headers

The Http library uses the concept of chaining to simplify requests. Let's say you want to get the latest commit of this library from Github in JSON format. One way we could do this is by tacking a filename on the end of the URL:

Http.get "https://github.com/tarcieri/http/commit/HEAD.json"

The Github API happens to support this approach, but really this is a bit of a hack that makes it easy for people typing URLs into the address bars of browsers to perform the act of content negotiation. Since we have access to the full, raw power of HTTP, we can perform content negotiation the way HTTP intends us to, by using the Accept header:

Http.with_headers(:accept => 'application/json').
  get("https://github.com/tarcieri/http/commit/HEAD")

This requests JSON from Github. Github is smart enough to understand our request and returns a response with Content-Type: application/json. If you happen to have a library loaded which defines the JSON constant and implements JSON.parse, the Http library will attempt to parse the JSON response.

A shorter alias exists for HTTP.with_headers:

Http.with(:accept => 'application/json').
  get("https://github.com/tarcieri/http/commit/HEAD")

Content Negotiation

As important a concept as content negotiation is HTTP, it sure should be easy, right? But usually it's not, and so we end up adding ".json" onto the ends of our URLs because the existing mechanisms make it too hard. It should be easy:

Http.accept(:json).get("https://github.com/tarcieri/http/commit/HEAD")

This adds the appropriate Accept header for retrieving a JSON response for the given resource.

Contributing to Http

  • Fork Http on github
  • Make your changes and send me a pull request
  • If I like them I'll merge them and give you commit access to my repository

Copyright

Copyright (c) 2011 Tony Arcieri, Carl Lerche. See LICENSE.txt for further details.