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Retriable is a simple DSL to retry failed code blocks with randomized exponential backoff time intervals. This is especially useful when interacting external APIs, remote services, or file system calls.


Ruby 2.0.0+

If you need ruby 1.9.3 support, use the 2.x branch by specifying ~2.1 in your Gemfile.

If you need ruby 1.8.x to 1.9.2 support, use the 1.x branch by specifying ~1.4 in your Gemfile.


Via command line:

gem install retriable

In your ruby script:

require 'retriable'

In your Gemfile:

gem 'retriable', '~> 3.1'


Code in a Retriable.retriable block will be retried if an exception is raised.

require 'retriable'

class Api
  # Use it in methods that interact with unreliable services
  def get
    Retriable.retriable do
      # code here...


By default, Retriable will:

  • rescue any exception inherited from StandardError
  • make 3 tries (including the initial attempt) before raising the last exception
  • use randomized exponential backoff to calculate each succeeding try interval.

The default interval table with 10 tries looks like this (in seconds, rounded to the nearest millisecond):

Retry # Min Average Max
1 0.25 0.5 0.75
2 0.375 0.75 1.125
3 0.563 1.125 1.688
4 0.844 1.688 2.531
5 1.266 2.531 3.797
6 1.898 3.797 5.695
7 2.848 5.695 8.543
8 4.271 8.543 12.814
9 6.407 12.814 19.222
10 stop stop stop


Here are the available options, in some vague order of relevance to most common use patterns:

Option Default Definition
tries 3 Number of attempts to make at running your code block (includes initial attempt).
on [StandardError] Type of exceptions to retry. Read more.
on_retry nil Proc to call after each try is rescued. Read more.
sleep_disabled false When true, disable exponential backoff and attempt retries immediately.
base_interval 0.5 The initial interval in seconds between tries.
max_elapsed_time 900 (15 min) The maximum amount of total time in seconds that code is allowed to keep being retried.
max_interval 60 The maximum interval in seconds that any individual retry can reach.
multiplier 1.5 Each successive interval grows by this factor. A multipler of 1.5 means the next interval will be 1.5x the current interval.
rand_factor 0.5 The percentage to randomize the next retry interval time. The next interval calculation is randomized_interval = retry_interval * (random value in range [1 - randomization_factor, 1 + randomization_factor])
intervals nil Skip generated intervals and provide your own array of intervals in seconds. Read more.
timeout nil Number of seconds to allow the code block to run before raising a Timeout::Error inside each try. nil means the code block can run forever without raising error. The implementation uses Timeout::timeout, which may be unsafe and even dangerous. Proceed with caution.

Configuring Which Options to Retry With :on

:on Can take the form:

  • An Exception class (retry every exception of this type, including subclasses)
  • An Array of Exception classes (retry any exception of one of these types, including subclasses)
  • A Hash where the keys are Exception classes and the values are one of:
    • nil (retry every exception of the key's type, including subclasses)
    • A single Regexp pattern (retries exceptions ONLY if their message matches the pattern)
    • An array of patterns (retries exceptions ONLY if their message matches at least one of the patterns)


You can change the global defaults with a #configure block:

Retriable.configure do |c|
  c.tries = 5
  c.max_elapsed_time = 3600 # 1 hour

Example Usage

This example will only retry on a Timeout::Error, retry 3 times and sleep for a full second before each try.

Retriable.retriable(on: Timeout::Error, tries: 3, base_interval: 1) do
  # code here...

You can also specify multiple errors to retry on by passing an array of exceptions.

Retriable.retriable(on: [Timeout::Error, Errno::ECONNRESET]) do
  # code here...

You can also use a hash to specify that you only want to retry exceptions with certain messages (see the documentation above). This example will retry all ActiveRecord::RecordNotUnique exceptions, ActiveRecord::RecordInvalid exceptions where the message matches either /Parent must exist/ or /Username has already been taken/, or Mysql2::Error exceptions where the message matches /Duplicate entry/.

Retriable.retriable(on: {
  ActiveRecord::RecordNotUnique => nil,
  ActiveRecord::RecordInvalid => [/Parent must exist/, /Username has already been taken/],
  Mysql2::Error => /Duplicate entry/
}) do
  # code here...

You can also specify a timeout if you want the code block to only try for X amount of seconds. This timeout is per try.

The implementation uses Timeout::timeout, which may be unsafe and even dangerous. You can use this option, but you need to be very careful because the code in the block, including libraries or other code it calls, could be interrupted by the timeout at any line. You must ensure you have the right rescue logic and guards in place (Thread.handle_interrupt) to handle that possible behavior. If that's not possible, the recommendation is that you're better off impelenting your own timeout methods depending on what your code is doing than use this feature.

Retriable.retriable(timeout: 60) do
  # code here...

If you need millisecond units of time for the sleep or the timeout:

Retriable.retriable(base_interval: (200 / 1000.0), timeout: (500 / 1000.0)) do
  # code here...

Custom Interval Array

You can also bypass the built-in interval generation and provide your own array of intervals. Supplying your own intervals overrides the tries, base_interval, max_interval, rand_factor, and multiplier parameters.

Retriable.retriable(intervals: [0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 2.5]) do
  # code here...

This example makes 5 total attempts. If the first attempt fails, the 2nd attempt occurs 0.5 seconds later.

Turn off Exponential Backoff

Exponential backoff is enabled by default. If you want to simply retry code every second, 5 times maximum, you can do this:

Retriable.retriable(tries: 5, base_interval: 1.0, multiplier: 1.0, rand_factor: 0.0) do
  # code here...

This works by starting at a 1 second base_interval. Setting the multipler to 1.0 means each subsequent try will increase 1x, which is still 1.0 seconds, and then a rand_factor of 0.0 means that there's no randomization of that interval. (By default, it would randomize 0.5 seconds, which would mean normally the intervals would randomize between 0.5 and 1.5 seconds, but in this case rand_factor is basically being disabled.)

Another way to accomplish this would be to create an array with a fixed interval. In this example,, 1) creates an array with 5 elements, all with the value 1. The code block will retry up to 5 times, and wait 1 second between each attempt.

#, 1) # => [1, 1, 1, 1, 1]

Retriable.retriable(intervals:, 1)) do
  # code here...

If you don't want exponential backoff but you still want some randomization between intervals, this code will run every 1 seconds with a randomization factor of 0.2, which means each interval will be a random value between 0.8 and 1.2 (1 second +/- 0.2):

Retriable.retriable(base_interval: 1.0, multiplier: 1.0, rand_factor: 0.2) do
  # code here...


#retriable also provides a callback called :on_retry that will run after an exception is rescued. This callback provides the exception that was raised in the current try, the try_number, the elapsed_time for all tries so far, and the time in seconds of the next_interval. As these are specified in a Proc, unnecessary variables can be left out of the parameter list.

do_this_on_each_retry = do |exception, try, elapsed_time, next_interval|
  log "#{exception.class}: '#{exception.message}' - #{try} tries in #{elapsed_time} seconds and #{next_interval} seconds until the next try."

Retriable.retriable(on_retry: do_this_on_each_retry) do
  # code here...


What if I want to execute a code block at the end, whether or not an exception was rescued (ensure)? Or what if I want to execute a code block if no exception is raised (else)? Instead of providing more callbacks, I recommend you just wrap retriable in a begin/retry/else/ensure block:

  Retriable.retriable do
    # some code
rescue => e
  # run this if retriable ends up re-raising the exception
  # run this if retriable doesn't raise any exceptions
  # run this no matter what, exception or no exception


Contexts allow you to coordinate sets of Retriable options across an application. Each context is basically an argument hash for Retriable.retriable that is stored in the Retriable.config as a simple Hash and is accessible by name. For example:

Retriable.configure do |c|
  c.contexts[:aws] = {
    tries: 3,
    base_interval: 5,
    on_retry: { puts 'Curse you, AWS!' }
  c.contexts[:mysql] = {
    tries: 10,
    multiplier: 2.5,
    on: Mysql::DeadlockException

This will create two contexts, aws and mysql, which allow you to reuse different backoff strategies across your application without continually passing those strategy options to the retriable method.

These are used simply by calling Retriable.with_context:

# Will retry all exceptions
Retriable.with_context(:aws) do
  # aws_call

# Will retry Mysql::DeadlockException
Retriable.with_context(:mysql) do
  # write_to_table

You can even temporarily override individual options for a configured context:

Retriable.with_context(:mysql, tries: 30) do
  # write_to_table with :mysql context, except with 30 tries instead of 10

Kernel Extension

If you want to call Retriable.retriable without the Retriable module prefix and you don't mind extending Kernel, there is a kernel extension available for this.

In your ruby script:

require 'retriable/core_ext/kernel'

or in your Gemfile:

gem 'retriable', require: 'retriable/core_ext/kernel'

and then you can call #retriable in any context like this:

retriable do
  # code here...

retriable_with_context(:api) do
  # code here...

Short Circuiting Retriable While Testing Your App

When you are running tests for your app it often takes a long time to retry blocks that fail. This is because Retriable will default to 3 tries with exponential backoff. Ideally your tests will run as quickly as possible.

You can disable retrying by setting tries to 1 in the test environment. If you want to test that the code is retrying an error, you want to turn off exponential backoff.

Under Rails, you could change your initializer to have different options in test, as follows:

# config/initializers/retriable.rb
Retriable.configure do |c|
  # ... default configuration

  if Rails.env.test?
    c.tries = 1

Alternately, if you are using RSpec, you could override the Retriable confguration in your spec_helper.

# spec/spec_helper.rb
Retriable.configure do |c|
  c.tries = 1

If you have defined contexts for your configuration, you'll need to change values for each context, because those values take precedence over the default configured value.

For example assuming you have configured a google_api context:

# config/initializers/retriable.rb
Retriable.configure do |c|
  c.contexts[:google_api] = {
      tries:         5,
      base_interval: 3,
      on:            [

Then in your test environment, you would need to set each context and the default value:

# spec/spec_helper.rb
Retriable.configure do |c|
  c.multiplier    = 1.0
  c.rand_factor   = 0.0
  c.base_interval = 0

  c.contexts.keys.each do |context|
    c.contexts[context][:tries]         = 1
    c.contexts[context][:base_interval] = 0

Proxy Wrapper Object

@julik has created a gem called retriable_proxy that extends retriable with the ability to wrap objects and specify which methods you want to be retriable, like so:

# api_endpoint is an instance of some kind of class that connects to an API
RetriableProxy.for_object(api_endpoint, on: Net::TimeoutError)


The randomized exponential backoff implementation was inspired by the one used in Google's google-http-java-client project.


Running Specs

bundle exec rspec


Retriable is an simple DSL to retry failed code blocks with randomized exponential backoff.







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