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Ably Documentation Overview

Ably is a scalable, fast, and secure hosted realtime messaging service for web-enabled devices.

The static site generated from this repository is hosted at and deployed automatically when the main branch is updated.

We frequently publish updates from this repository so is typically more up to date than the official Ably documentation which can be found at

This Git repository uses the Textile format with Nanoc used to build the static site from the main branch.

For more information on writing documentation for Ably, please see the Documentation Formatting Guide.

Running locally

  1. Clone a local version of the repo, or a local version of your forked repo.
  2. Checkout the main branch.
  3. Create and checkout your feature or fix branch.

At this point you can either run the repo using Docker or directly with Ruby.

Running with Docker

Using Docker, run the following command:

  • docker-compose up

This starts up a web server at http://localhost:4000, builds the static site and allows you to view changes live.

This has been tested with Docker version See Docker installation instructions.

Note: On Windows you will need to re-run the docker-compose up command to see changes, unless you are using WSL.

Updated gems

From time to time the Gemfile or Gemfile.lock might change and this will cause docker-compose to fail with something similar to this:

webserver_1  | The Gemfile built for this container does not match the current Gemfile i.e. they have changed
webserver_1  | You must rebuild the container with: $ ./docker-run build
docs_webserver_1 exited with code 2

When this happens, you need to tell docker-compose to rebuild the containers by running docker-compose up --build.

Publishing to JSBin

This section is only applicable to Ably staff.

This configuration is not required for basic documentation creation and modification, so most editors can simply skip to Forking and running locally.

If you will be creating or modifying code within this repository that is to be uploaded automatically to JSBin, for our "Try it now code editor", then you will need to create yourself a JSBin config file:

To obtain the API key you need to run this command in the terminal, you must ensure you have installed the heroku-cli tools (Instructions on installing the Heroku toolbelt ) and postgresl (PostgreSQL Downloads)

$ heroku pg:psql -a ably-jsbin -c "select name, api_key from ownership"

When you execute this command a browser window will open and you will need to login using your Ably email address, only Ably staff members will be granted permission to access this resource.

If you are a staff member and you are receiving this message

$ heroku pg:psql -a ably-jsbin -c "select name, api_key from ownership"
 ▸    You do not have permission to view addon resources on ably-jsbin. You need to
 ▸    have the deploy or operate permission on this app.

then ask your admin to check you have permission on Heroku, then re-authenticate with.

$ heroku login

If everything goes smoothly you will be given the API key.

 name |      api_key
 ably | 12345678901234567
(1 row)

Create the jsbin_config file

To create the jsbin_config file from the example file, run the following command:

$ cp config/jsbin_config.example.yaml config/jsbin_config.yaml

Compile the JSBin code snippets

Once you have finished creating your code snippet you will need to add the new assets to the existing ones. This is essentially a table of hashed documents and corresponding file names, ./jsbins.yaml if you are interested in the entire list.

Using Ruby

$ bundle exec nanoc compile

Using Docker

docker-compose up

This will output a huge list that looks similar to this, as each file is checked

Published new JsBin for hub-product/http-javascript at,live
Copied,live to clipboard
    create  [0.49s]  output/code/realtime/channel-deltas-sse/index.html
    update  [1.10s]  output/sse/index.html
    update  [1.02s]  output/concepts/socketio/index.html

This process has added a record to jsbin.yaml Please notice the ID string in the Published URL (above) which isujehow By hashing the contents, we don't need to contact the JSBin API on every static build. We only do this if a hash does not exist, and thus we need to notify JSBin to create a JSBin which contains the HTML, CSS & JS.

    Rh81oraUHHJ3PrrvwdJAOrVBqA8=: ujehow <-- hash: ID
    eBxLJU1YqdX+JW9JQY70S4iQfmU=: omedab
    pzHKfCW4/o2wDnCfbg1m0Pkl7v8=: ovucin
    adapters/pusher-pub-sub: eBxLJU1YqdX+JW9JQY70S4iQfmU=
    adapters/pubnub-pub-sub: pzHKfCW4/o2wDnCfbg1m0Pkl7v8=
    hub-product/http-javascript: Rh81oraUHHJ3PrrvwdJAOrVBqA8= <-- file: hash

NOTE: if you take that ID and use the format, you will get the JSBin matching that code sample,

One of the nifty things it does is replace API keys with live API keys dynamically. So for example, currently has API key xVLyHw.mDQnPQ:IXCte59B2XjpNRV4. Now change the extension to .textile i.e., and voilà - you now have a file you can copy & paste back into the docs repo, but importantly, it is intelligent enough to detect a docs or demo API key, and replace it with a variable {{API_KEY}}.

This ensures our JSBin demo's are always rendered with working API keys.

Adding a link to the JSBin resource

To make retrieving the URL easy we created a Ruby helper which does all the work

<%= JsBins.url_for("hub-product/native-sdks-javascript") %>

The creation of code content for JSBin is further documented in our document formatting guide which gets published here. The code that is published to JSBin can be found in content/code/.

IMPORTANT: You must git commit the updated jsbin.yaml with your new assets.


Redirects are implemented using the nanoc-redirector gem.

To setup a redirect, add the following to the frontmatter of the template to where the redirect should be done:

  - /redirect-from-this-path/

Then, when accessing /redirect-from-this-path/, you'll be redirected to the affected template.

IMPORTANT: The values used in the redirect_from list should be the URL without the file extension. E.g. general/versions/v0.8/webhooks not general/versions/v0.8/webhooks.textile.

Updating the redirects YAML file

The website uses the redirects YAML file to handle redirects in the documentation. After setting up a redirect just run the following commands, depending on how you are running the docs, and the redirects YAML file will be automatically updated.


$ bundle exec nanoc compile


docker-compose up

Forking and running locally

  • bundle install

This installs the necessary gems, including nanoc. You can then run the web server by running the following command:

  • bundle exec nanoc live -p 4000

This starts up a web server at http://localhost:4000, builds the static site and allows you to view changes live.

The Ruby version required is outlined in the .ruby-version file.

For those who use ASDF or compatible tooling to manage their Ruby runtime versions, we have included a .tool-versions file.

Pull requests

  1. Assuming you have followed the steps above, prior to making a PR, make your changes locally.
  2. Commit your changes, push your branch and send us a pull request.
  3. All pull requests will automatically launch a static review site that will be linked to at the bottom of the PR.

Publishing to JSBin

If you will be creating or modifying code within this repository that is to be uploaded automatically to JSBin, for our "Try it now code editor", then you will need to create yourself a JSBin config file:

cp config/jsbin_config.example.yaml config/jsbin_config.yaml

And then you will need to populate the api_key property in that file with a JSBin API key.

The creation of code content for JSBin is further documented in our document formatting guide which gets published here. The code that is published to JSBin can be found in content/code/.

Branch and tag scheme for features spec

The main branch contains the most recent version of the spec, as amended by any subsequent fixes and non-breaking improvements. This is the version that a client library developer who is implementing a feature now should use as a reference. It is also the version that is deployed to

When proposing a spec change, changes that you would be happy to have incorporated into the current version of client libraries should be made against main. Changes that should not be incorporated until the next minor or major version should be made against the correspondingintegration/<major>.<minor> branch, e.g. integration/1.2 (which ideally should be regularly rebased on top of main).

When a new minor or major version of the spec is released, it is tagged with a tag such as v1.2. Conformance to the spec at that tag is what defines whether a library can be released with the library version with that major/minor version.

Client library developers are not expected to monitor the docs repo for spec fixes that occur after the release tag. If a given spec fix needs to be made to client libraries at that time, on merging the PR to main you should open a GitHub issue in each individual client lib repo to request that. If this is not done, it is not mandatory for the fix to be incorporated until the next spec release.When updating a client lib to a spec version, client lib developers should work from a diff from the tag of the previous release, so as to incorporate all changes since that tag.

Deploying to website (

The website consumes this repo through a Ruby gem. The gem points at the main branch and saves the revision as a version. To release to /documentation, follow these steps:

  1. Check if the changes that are already on main in this repository are ok to be released
  2. Merge your PR
  3. Clone the website repo
  4. Run bundle update ably-docs in the website repo
  5. Check in Gemfile.lock that the SHA saved by the above command is the SHA of the commit you expected (in most cases this should be the merge/top commit of your PR)
  6. Open PR & ask the website team to review
  7. Follow the deployment process for website (if in doubt, ask the website team for help)

Running on Heroku

This repo will automatically run on Heroku, but relies on the following buildpacks (see

$ heroku buildpacks
=== ably-docs Buildpack URLs

Help and contact

If you have any questions or suggestions, please get in touch with us at Ably.

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