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http.rb: a fast Ruby HTTP client with a chainable API and full streaming support

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The HTTP Gem

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SEO Note

This Gem has the worst name in the history of SEO. But perhaps we can fix that if we all refer to it as "The HTTP Gem", or even better, the "Ruby HTTP Gem".


The HTTP Gem is an easy-to-use client library for making requests from Ruby. It uses a simple method chaining system for building requests, similar to Python's Requests

Under the hood, The HTTP Gem uses http_parser.rb, a fast HTTP parsing native extension based on the Node.js parser and a Java port thereof.


Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'http'

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself as:

$ gem install http

Inside of your Ruby program do:

require 'http' pull it in as a dependency.


Please see the HTTP Gem Wiki for more detailed documentation and usage notes.


For help with The HTTP Gem, either open a Github Issue or discuss it on the Celluloid mailing list:

You can also find us on IRC at #celluloid on freenode

Basic Usage

Here's some simple examples to get you started:

GET requests

>> HTTP.get("").to_s
=> "<html><head><meta http-equiv=\"content-type\" content=..."

That's all it takes! To obtain an HTTP::Response object instead of the response body, all we have to do is omit the #to_s on the end:

>> HTTP.get("")
=> #<HTTP/1.0 200 OK @headers={"Content-Type"=>"text/html; charset=UTF-8", "Date"=>"Fri, ...>
 => #<HTTP::Response/1.1 200 OK @headers={"Content-Type"=>"text/html; ...>

We can also obtain an HTTP::ResponseBody object for this response:

>> HTTP.get("").body
 => #<HTTP::ResponseBody:814d7aac @streaming=false>

The response body can be streamed with HTTP::ResponseBody#readpartial:

>> HTTP.get("").body.readpartial
 => "<!doctype html><html "

In practice you'll want to bind the HTTP::ResponseBody to a local variable (e.g. "body") and call readpartial on it repeatedly until it returns nil.

POST requests

Making POST requests is simple too. Want to POST a form? "", :form => {:foo => "42"}

Making GET requests with query string parameters is as simple.

HTTP.get "", :params => {:foo => "bar"}

Want to POST with a specific body, JSON for instance? "", :body => JSON.dump(:foo => '42')

It's easy!

Adding Headers

The HTTP gem 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 ""

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').

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 gem will attempt to parse the JSON response.

Shorter aliases exists for HTTP.with_headers:

HTTP.with(:accept => 'application/json').

HTTP[:accept => 'application/json'].

Content Negotiation

As important a concept as content negotiation is to 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:


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

Celluloid::IO Support

The HTTP Gem makes it simple to make multiple concurrent HTTP requests from a Celluloid::IO actor. Here's a parallel HTTP fetcher with the HTTP Gem and Celluloid::IO:

require 'celluloid/io'
require 'http'

class HttpFetcher
  include Celluloid::IO

  def fetch(url)
    HTTP.get(url, socket_class: Celluloid::IO::TCPSocket).response

There's a little more to it, but that's the core idea!

Supported Ruby Versions

This library aims to support and is tested against the following Ruby versions:

  • Ruby 1.8.7
  • Ruby 1.9.2
  • Ruby 1.9.3
  • Ruby 2.0.0
  • Ruby 2.1.0

If something doesn't work on one of these versions, it's a bug.

This library may inadvertently work (or seem to work) on other Ruby versions, however support will only be provided for the versions listed above.

If you would like this library to support another Ruby version or implementation, you may volunteer to be a maintainer. Being a maintainer entails making sure all tests run and pass on that implementation. When something breaks on your implementation, you will be responsible for providing patches in a timely fashion. If critical issues for a particular implementation exist at the time of a major release, support for that Ruby version may be dropped.

Contributing to The HTTP Gem

  • Fork the HTTP gem on github
  • Make your changes and send me a pull request
  • If we like them we'll merge them
  • If we've accepted a patch, feel free to ask for commit access!


Copyright (c) 2014 Tony Arcieri, Erik Michaels-Ober. See LICENSE.txt for further details.

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