Rack, a modular Ruby webserver interface

Rack provides a minimal, modular and adaptable interface for developing web applications in Ruby. By wrapping HTTP requests and responses in the simplest way possible, it unifies and distills the API for web servers, web frameworks, and software in between (the so-called middleware) into a single method call.

The exact details of this are described in the Rack specification, which all Rack applications should conform to.

Supported web servers

The included handlers connect all kinds of web servers to Rack:

  • Mongrel

  • Mongrel/Swiftcore (require it before requiring rack)

  • WEBrick

  • FCGI

  • CGI

  • SCGI

  • LiteSpeed

These web servers include Rack handlers in their distributions:

  • Ebb

  • Fuzed

  • Thin

Any valid Rack app will run the same on all these handlers, without changing anything.

Supported web frameworks

The included adapters connect Rack with existing Ruby web frameworks:

  • Camping

These frameworks include Rack adapters in their distributions:

  • Coset

  • Halcyon

  • Maveric

  • Merb

  • Racktools::SimpleApplication

  • Ramaze

  • Sinatra

  • Vintage

Ruby on Rails can be run with the adapter included with Thin, which will be merged into a later Rack version.

Current links to these projects can be found at ramaze.net/#other-frameworks

Available middleware

Between the server and the framework, Rack can be customized to your applications needs using middleware, for example:

  • Rack::URLMap, to route to multiple applications inside the same process.

  • Rack::CommonLogger, for creating Apache-style logfiles.

  • Rack::ShowException, for catching unhandled exceptions and presenting them in a nice and helpful way with clickable backtrace.

  • Rack::File, for serving static files.

  • …many others!

All these components use the same interface, which is described in detail in the Rack specification. You can choose to use them exactly in the way you want.

Convenience

If you want to develop outside of existing frameworks, implement your own ones, or develop middleware, Rack provides many helpers to create Rack applications quickly and without doing the same web stuff all over:

  • Rack::Request, which also provides query string parsing and multipart handling.

  • Rack::Response, for convenient generation of HTTP replies and cookie handling.

  • Rack::MockRequest and Rack::MockResponse for efficient and quick testing of Rack application without real HTTP round-trips.

rackup

rackup is a useful tool for running Rack applications, which uses the Rack::Builder DSL to configure middleware and build up applications easily.

rackup automatically figures out the environment it is run in, and runs your application as FastCGI, CGI, or standalone with Mongrel or WEBrick—all from the same configuration.

Quick start

Try the lobster!

Either with the embedded WEBrick starter:

ruby -Ilib lib/rack/lobster.rb

Or with rackup:

bin/rackup -Ilib example/lobster.ru

By default, the lobster is found at localhost:9292.

Installing with RubyGems

A Gem of Rack is available. You can install it with:

gem install rack

I also provide a local mirror of the gems (and development snapshots) at my site:

gem install rack --source http://chneukirchen.org/releases/gems

Running the tests

Testing Rack requires the test/spec testing framework:

gem install test-spec

The full set of tests also test FCGI access with lighttpd so you will need lighttpd installed as well as the FCGI libraries and the fcgi gem installed:

Download and install lighttpd:

http://www.lighttpd.net/download

Installing the FCGI libraries:

curl -O http://www.fastcgi.com/dist/fcgi-2.4.0.tar.gz
tar xzvf fcgi-2.4.0.tar.gz
cd fcgi-2.4.0
./configure --prefix=/usr/local
make
sudo make install
cd ..

Installing the Ruby fcgi gem:

gem install fcgi

There are two rake-based test tasks:

rake test       tests all the fast tests (no Handlers or Adapters)
rake fulltest   runs all the tests

History

  • March 3rd, 2007: First public release 0.1.

  • May 16th, 2007: Second public release 0.2.

    • HTTP Basic authentication.

    • Cookie Sessions.

    • Static file handler.

    • Improved Rack::Request.

    • Improved Rack::Response.

    • Added Rack::ShowStatus, for better default error messages.

    • Bug fixes in the Camping adapter.

    • Removed Rails adapter, was too alpha.

  • February 26th, 2008: Third public release 0.3.

    • LiteSpeed handler, by Adrian Madrid.

    • SCGI handler, by Jeremy Evans.

    • Pool sessions, by blink.

    • OpenID authentication, by blink.

    • :Port and :File options for opening FastCGI sockets, by blink.

    • Last-Modified HTTP header for Rack::File, by blink.

    • Rack::Builder#use now accepts blocks, by Corey Jewett. (See example/protectedlobster.ru)

    • HTTP status 201 can contain a Content-Type and a body now.

    • Many bugfixes, especially related to Cookie handling.

  • XXX, 2008: Fourth public release 0.4.

    • New Memcache sessions, by blink.

    • Rack::Reloader is not loaded in rackup development mode.

    • Many bugfixes, especially for pool sessions and URLMap.

Contact

Please mail bugs, suggestions and patches to <[email protected]>.

Darcs repository (“darcs send” is welcome for patches): chneukirchen.org/repos/rack

You are also welcome to join the #rack channel on irc.freenode.net.

Thanks to

  • blink for the Pool sessions, OpenID support, many tweaks, patches and bugreports.

  • Michael Fellinger, for the helpful discussion, bugfixes and a better Rack::Request interface.

  • Adrian Madrid, for the LiteSpeed handler.

  • Christoffer Sawicki, for the Rails adapter.

  • Tim Fletcher, for the HTTP authentication code.

  • Luc Heinrich for the Cookie sessions, the static file handler and bugfixes.

  • Armin Ronacher, for the logo and racktools.

  • Aredridel, for bug fixing.

  • Stephen Bannasch, for bug reports and documentation.

  • Gary Wright, for proposing a better Rack::Response interface.

  • Jonathan Buch, for improvements regarding Rack::Response.

  • Armin Röhrl, for tracking down bugs in the Cookie generator.

  • Alexander Kellett for testing the Gem and reviewing the announce.

  • Marcus Rückert, for help with configuring and debugging lighttpd.

  • The WSGI team for the well-done and documented work they've done and Rack builds up on.

Copyright (C) 2007, 2008 Christian Neukirchen <purl.org/net/chneukirchen>

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED “AS IS”, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

Rack

<rack.rubyforge.org/>

Rack's Rubyforge project

<rubyforge.org/projects/rack>

Camping

<camping.rubyforge.org/>

Ramaze

<ramaze.rubyforge.org/>

Maveric

<maveric.rubyforge.org/>

racktools

<lucumr.pocoo.org/trac/repos/racktools/>

Christian Neukirchen

<chneukirchen.org/>