Build realtime Ruby web applications
Ruby CoffeeScript
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Build Realtime web applications in Ruby

What is Firehose?

Firehose is both a Rack application and JavasScript library that makes building scalable real-time web applications possible.

Getting Started

First, you'll need to install and run RabbitMQ.

$ apt-get install rabbitmq    # Install on Ubuntu
$ brew install rabbitmq       # Install on Mac Homebrew

Then install the gem.

$ gem install firehose

The Server

Now fire up the server.

$ firehose server
>> Thin web server (v1.3.1 codename Triple Espresso)
>> Maximum connections set to 1024
>> Listening on, CTRL+C to stop

In case you're wondering, the Firehose application server runs the Rack app inside of Thin.

Publish a message to a bunch of subscribers

Lets test it out! Open two terminal windows. In one window, curl:

$ curl "http://localhost:7474/hello"

Then run the following in the other terminal:

$ curl -X PUT -d "Greetings fellow human being..." "http://localhost:7474/hello"

and you should see the message in the other terminal.

Greetings fellow human being...

Yeah, so?

You have a dirt simple HTTP pub-sub feed. You could setup an after_commit hook on ActiveRecord to push JSON to an end-point. On the other side, you could have a Backbone.js application that picks up the changes and updates the client-side UI.

Holy mackerel! Its a nice, clean, RESTful way to build real-time web applications.

The JavaScript Consumer

Firehose doesn't just stop at curl; it has a full-featured JavaScript client that lets you subscribe to channels for live updates.

Still have the server running? Copy and paste the code below into Firebug or the WebKit console.

new Firehose.Consumer({
  message: function(msg){
  connected: function(){
    console.log("Great Scotts!! We're connected!");
  disconnected: function(){
    console.log("Well shucks, we're not connected anymore");
  error: function(){
    console.log("Well then, something went horribly wrong.");
  // Note that we do NOT specify a protocol here because we don't
  // know that yet.
  uri: '//localhost:7478/hello'

Then publish another message.

$ curl -X PUT -d "This is almost magical" "http://localhost:7478/hello"

How is it different from attempts to store connection state per node instance. Firehose makes no attempt to store connection state.

Also, attempts to abstract a low-latency full-duplex port. Firehose assumes that its impossible to simulate this in older web browsers that don't support WebSockets. As such, Firehose focuses on low-latency server-to-client connections and encourages the use of existing HTTP transports, like POST and PUT, for client-to-server communications.

Finally, Firehose attempts to solve data consistency issues and authentication by encourage the use of proxying to the web application.