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Thread-ed Background Workers on top of JRuby::Rack
Java Ruby
Branch: master


Thread based workers on top of JRuby-Rack.

With out of the box thread-safe JRuby "adapters" for:

... but one can easily write/adapt his own worker loop.

Build Status


Ruby attempts to stay pretty close to UNIX and most popular workers have been modeled the "spawn a background process" way. JRuby brings Java to the table, where "Young Java Knights" are taught to use threads whenever in a need to compute something in parallel with serving requests.

There's no right or wrong way of doing this. If you do expect chaos like Resque proclaims - have long running jobs that consume a lot of memory they have trouble releasing (e.g. due C extensions) run a separate process for sure. But otherwise (after all C exts usually have a native Java alternative on JRuby) having predictable thread-safely written workers, one should be fine with running them concurrently as part of the application in a (daemon) thread.

This does have the advantage of keeping the deployment simple and saving some precious memory (most notably with threadsafe! mode) that would have been eaten by the separate process. Besides, your application might warm up faster and start benefiting from JRuby's runtime optimalizations slightly sooner ...

On the other hand your jobs should be fairly simple and complete "fast" (in a rate of seconds rather than several minutes or hours) as they will live and restart with the lifecycle of the deployed application and application server.


Copy the jruby-rack-worker.jar into the lib folder or the directory being mapped to WEB-INF/lib (e.g. lib/java).

Configure your worker in web.xml, you will need to add a context listener that will start (daemon) threads when your application boots and a script to be executed (should be an "endless" loop-ing script). Sample configuration :

      <!-- any script with an end-less loop : ->
      require 'delayed/jruby_worker'


The WorkerContextListener needs to be executed (and thus configured) after the RailsServletContextListener/RackServletContextListener as it expects the JRuby-Rack environment to be booter and available.

For built-in worker support (if you're happy with the defaults) simply specify the jruby.worker context parameter (optionally with custom params supported by the worker) e.g. :



Sample deployment descriptor including optional parameters: web.xml.


Number of worker threads as well as their priorities can be configured (by default a single worker thread is started with the default NORM priority) :

  • jruby.worker.thread.count please be sure you do not start too many threads, consider tuning your worker settings if possible first e.g. for DJ/Resque the sleep interval if you feel like the worker is not performing enough work.
  • jruby.worker.thread.priority maps to standard (Java) thread priority which is a value where MIN == 1 and MAX == 10 (the NORM priority is 5), this is useful e.g. if you're load gets high (lot of request serving threads) and you do care about requests more than about executing worker code you might consider decreasing the priority (by 1).


If you're using Warbler to assemble your application you might simply declare a gem dependency with Bundler as your gems will be scanned for .jars among all gem files and packaged correctly :

gem 'jruby-rack-worker', :platform => :jruby, :require => nil

Otherwise copy the jar into your warble.rb configured config.java_libs.

Warbler checks for a config/web.xml.erb (or simply a config/web.xml) thus configure the worker there, e.g. :

  "-//Sun Microsystems, Inc.//DTD Web Application 2.3//EN"
<% webxml.context_params.each do |k,v| %>
    <param-name><%= k %></param-name>
    <param-value><%= v %></param-value>
<% end %>


    <listener-class><%= webxml.servlet_context_listener %></listener-class>

<% if webxml.jndi then [webxml.jndi].flatten.each do |jndi| %>
    <res-ref-name><%= jndi %></res-ref-name>
<% end; end %>

  <!-- jruby-rack-worker setup using the built-in libraries support : -->

    <param-value>delayed_job</param-value> <!-- or resque (navvy) -->



NOTE: on Warbler 1.4.x the .jar files from gems might no longer get packaged unless configured to do so, assuming you only need the defaults and the worker jar, setup a config/warble.rb file as follow :

# Warbler web application assembly configuration file do |config|
  # ...

  # Additional Java .jar files to include.  Note that if .jar files are placed
  # in lib (and not otherwise excluded) then they need not be mentioned here.
  # JRuby and JRuby-Rack are pre-loaded in this list.  Be sure to include your
  # own versions if you directly set the value
  # config.java_libs += FileList["lib/java/*.jar"]

  # If set to true, moves jar files into WEB-INF/lib.
  # Prior to version 1.4.2 of Warbler this was done by default.
  # But since 1.4.2 this config defaults to false.
  # Alternatively, this option can be set to a regular expression, which will
  # act as a jar selector -- only jar files that match the pattern will be
  # included in the archive.
  config.move_jars_to_webinf_lib = /jruby\-(core|stdlib|rack)/

  # Value of RAILS_ENV for the webapp -- default as shown below
  # config.webxml.rails.env = ENV['RAILS_ENV'] || 'production'

  #config.webxml.jruby.runtime.env = "DATABASE_URL=mysql://\n" <<
  #      'PATH=/home/tomcat/bin:/usr/local/bin:/opt/bin,HOME="/home/tomcat"'

If you're deploying a Rails application on JRuby it's highly recommended to uncomment config.threadsafe!. Otherwise, if unsure or you're code is not thread-safe yet you'll end up polling several JRuby runtimes in a single process, in this case however each worker thread will use (and thus block) an application runtime from the pool (consider it while setting jruby.min.runtimes and jruby.max.runtimes parameters).


Trinidad provides you with an extension so you do not have to deal with XML.

Custom Workers

There are a few gotchas to keep in mind when creating a custom worker, if you've got a worker spawning script (e.g. a rake task) start there to write the worker "starter" script. Some tips to keep in mind :

  • avoid native gems such as daemons (in DJ's case this means avoiding the whole Delayed::Command implementation)

  • remove command line processing - all your configuration should happen in an application initializer (or be configurable from web.xml)

  • make sure the worker code is thread-safe in case your application is running in threadsafe! mode (make sure no global state is changing by the worker or class variables are not being used to store worker state)

  • refactor your worker's exit code from a (process oriented) signal based trap to an at_exit hook - which respects the JRuby environment your workers are going to be running in

Keep in mind that if you do configure to use multiple threads the script will be loaded and executed for each thread, thus move your worker class definition into a separate file that you'll require from the script.

See the Delayed::Job JRuby "adapted" worker code for an inspiration.

If you'd like to specify custom parameters you can do so in the deployment descriptor as context init parameters or as java system properties, use the following code to obtain them :

require 'jruby/rack/worker/env'
env = JRuby::Rack::Worker::ENV

worker =
worker.queues = (env['QUEUES'] || 'all').split(',').map(&:strip)

If you need a logger JRuby-Rack-Worker sets up one which will be Rails.logger for in Rails or a STDOUT logger otherwise by default :

require 'jruby/rack/worker/logger'
  worker =
  worker.logger = JRuby::Rack::Worker.logger
rescue => e


JRuby 1.6.8+ is required to build the project.

The build is performed by rake which should be part of your JRuby installation, if you're experiencing conflicts with another Ruby and it's rake executable use jruby -S rake instead. Besides you will need ant installed for the Java part.

Build the jruby-rack-worker_[VERSION].jar using :

rake jar

Build the gem (includes the .jar packaged) :

rake gem


Copyright (c) 2014 Karol Bucek. See LICENSE ( for details.

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