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Super Exception Notifier

The Super Exception Notifier (SEN) gem provides a mailer object and a default set of templates for sending email notifications when errors occur in a Rails application, as well as a default set of error page templates to render based on the status code assigned to an error. The gem is configurable, allowing programmers to customize (all on a per environment basis!):

  • the sender address of the email

  • the recipient addresses

  • text used to prepend and append the subject line

  • the HTTP status codes to send emails for

  • the error classes to send emails for

  • alternatively, the error classes to not send emails for

  • whether to send error emails or just render without sending anything

  • the HTTP status and status code that gets rendered with specific errors

  • the view path to the error page templates

  • custom errors, with custom error templates

  • fine-grained customization of error layouts (or no layout)

New features:

  • get error notification for errors that occur in the console, using notifiable method

  • Hooks into `git blame` output so you can get an idea of who (may) have introduced the bug

  • Hooks into other website services (e.g. you can send exceptions to to

  • Specify which level of notification you would like with an array of optional styles of notification:

[:render, :email, :web_hooks]

The email includes information about the current request, session, and environment, and also gives a backtrace of the exception.

This gem is based on the wonderful exception_notification plugin created by Jamis Buck. I have modified it extensively and merged many of the improvements from a dozen or so other forks. It remains a (mostly) drop in replacement with greatly extended functionality and customization options. I keep it up to date with the work on the core team's branch.

The original is here:

The current version of this gem is a git fork of the original and has been updated to include the latest improvements from the original, including compatability with Rails 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, as well as many improvements from the other forks on github. I merge them in when I have time, and when the changes fit nicely with the enhancements I have already made.

This fork of Exception Notifier is in production use on several large websites (top 5000).


Gem Using Git building from source:

mkdir -p ~/src
cd ~/src
git clone git://
cd exception_notification
gem build exception_notification.gemspec
sudo gem install super_exception_notification-1.7.1.gem # (Or whatever version gets built)

Then cd to your rails app to optionally freeze the gem into your app:

rake gems:freeze GEM=super_exception_notifier

Then in your environment.rb:

config.gem 'super_exception_notifier',
    :version => '~> 1.7.1',
    :lib => "exception_notifier"

Installing Gem from Github's Gem Server:

gem sources -a
sudo gem install pboling-super_exception_notifier

Then in your environment.rb:

config.gem 'pboling-super_exception_notifier',
    :version => '~> 1.7.1',
    :lib => "exception_notifier",
    :source => ''

Plugin using Git:

# Installation as plugin might work... I haven't tried it, but others have told me it works!
./script/plugin install git://

SVN Plugin (very deprecated, no longer updated, install Git!):

./script/plugin install


  1. Include the ExceptionNotifiable mixin in whichever controller you want

to generate error emails (typically ApplicationController):

class ApplicationController < ActionController::Base
  include ExceptionNotifiable
  1. Specify the email recipients in your environment:

ExceptionNotifier.configure_exception_notifier do |config|
  config[:exception_recipients] = %w(
  1. Make sure you have your ActionMailer server settings correct if you are using the e-mail features.

  2. That's it! The defaults take care of the rest.

Basic Environment Configuration

These are settings that are global for SEN wherever it is used in your project. You can tweak other values to your liking, as well. In your environment file, just set any or all of the following values (defaults are shown):

ExceptionNotifier.configure_exception_notifier do |config|
  # If left empty web hooks will not be engaged
  config[:web_hooks]                = []
  config[:app_name]                 = "[MYAPP]"
  # NOTE: THERE IS A BUG IN RAILS 2.3.3 which forces us to NOT use anything but a simple email address string for the sender address.
  config[:sender_address]           = %("#{(defined?(Rails) ? Rails.env : RAILS_ENV).capitalize} Error" <>)
  config[:exception_recipients]     = []
  # Customize the subject line
  config[:subject_prepend]          = "[#{(defined?(Rails) ? Rails.env : RAILS_ENV).capitalize} ERROR] "
  config[:subject_append]           = nil
  # Include which sections of the exception email?
  config[:sections]                 = %w(request session environment backtrace)
  # Only use this gem to render, never email
  #defaults to false - meaning by default it sends email.  Setting true will cause it to only render the error pages, and NOT email.
  config[:skip_local_notification]   = true
  # Example:
  #config[:view_path]               = 'app/views/error'
  config[:view_path]                = nil
  # Error Notification will be sent if the HTTP response code for the error matches one of the following error codes
  config[:notify_error_codes]   = %W( 405 500 503 )
  # Error Notification will be sent if the error class matches one of the following error error classes
  config[:notify_error_classes] = %W( )
  # What should we do for errors not listed?
  config[:notify_other_errors]  = true
  # If you set this SEN will
  config[:git_repo_path]            = nil
  config[:template_root]            = "#{File.dirname(__FILE__)}/../views"

Basic Object Configuration

In any controller you do this:

include ExceptionNotifiable

Then that controller (or all of them if you put it in the application controller) will have its errors handled by SEN. You can customize how each controller handles exceptions on a per controller basis, or all together in the application controller. The availalbe configuration options are shown with their default settings:

#  HTTP status codes and what their 'English' status message is
self.http_error_codes = {
  "400" => "Bad Request",
  "403" => "Forbidden",
  "404" => "Not Found",
  "405" => "Method Not Allowed",
  "410" => "Gone",
  "418" => "IÕm a teapot",
  "422" => "Unprocessable Entity",
  "423" => "Locked",
  "500" => "Internal Server Error",
  "501" => "Not Implemented",
  "503" => "Service Unavailable"

# error_layout:
#   can be defined at controller level to the name of the desired error layout,
#   or set to true to render the controller's own default layout,
#   or set to false to render errors with no layout
#   syntax is the same as the rails 'layout' method (which is to say a string)
self.error_layout = nil

# Rails error classes to rescue and how to rescue them (which error code to use)
self.rails_error_classes = {
  # These are standard errors in rails / ruby
  NameError => "503",
  TypeError => "503",
  RuntimeError => "500",
  # These are custom error names defined in lib/super_exception_notifier/custom_exception_classes
  AccessDenied => "403",
  PageNotFound => "404",
  InvalidMethod => "405",
  ResourceGone => "410",
  CorruptData => "422",
  NoMethodError => "500",
  NotImplemented => "501",
  MethodDisabled => "200"

# Highly dependent on the verison of rails, so we're very protective about these'
self.rails_error_classes.merge!({ ActionView::TemplateError => "500"})             if defined?(ActionView)       && ActionView.const_defined?(:TemplateError)
self.rails_error_classes.merge!({ ActiveRecord::RecordNotFound => "400" })         if defined?(ActiveRecord)     && ActiveRecord.const_defined?(:RecordNotFound)
self.rails_error_classes.merge!({ ActiveResource::ResourceNotFound => "404" })     if defined?(ActiveResource)   && ActiveResource.const_defined?(:ResourceNotFound)

if defined?(ActionController)
  self.rails_error_classes.merge!({ ActionController::UnknownController => "404" })          if ActionController.const_defined?(:UnknownController)
  self.rails_error_classes.merge!({ ActionController::MissingTemplate => "404" })            if ActionController.const_defined?(:MissingTemplate)
  self.rails_error_classes.merge!({ ActionController::MethodNotAllowed => "405" })           if ActionController.const_defined?(:MethodNotAllowed)
  self.rails_error_classes.merge!({ ActionController::UnknownAction => "501" })              if ActionController.const_defined?(:UnknownAction)
  self.rails_error_classes.merge!({ ActionController::RoutingError => "404" })               if ActionController.const_defined?(:RoutingError)
  self.rails_error_classes.merge!({ ActionController::InvalidAuthenticityToken => "405" })   if ActionController.const_defined?(:InvalidAuthenticityToken)

# Verbosity of the gem (true or false) mainly useful for debugging
self.exception_notifier_verbose = false

# Do Not Ever send error notification emails for these Error Classes
self.silent_exceptions = []
self.silent_exceptions << ActiveRecord::RecordNotFound if defined?(ActiveRecord)
if defined?(ActionController)
  self.silent_exceptions << ActionController::UnknownController
  self.silent_exceptions << ActionController::UnknownAction
  self.silent_exceptions << ActionController::RoutingError
  self.silent_exceptions << ActionController::MethodNotAllowed

# Notification Level
# Web Hooks, even though they are turned on by default, only get used if you actually configure them in the environment (see above)
# Email, even though it is turned on by default, only gets used if you actually configure recipients in the environment (see above)
self.notification_level = [:render, :email, :web_hooks]

Environmental Behavior

Email notifications will only occur when the IP address is determined not to be local. You can specify certain addresses to always be local so that you'll get a detailed error instead of the generic error page. You do this in your controller (or even per-controller):

consider_local "", ""

You can specify subnet masks as well, so that all matching addresses are considered local:

consider_local ""

The address “” is always considered local. If you want to completely reset the list of all addresses (for instance, if you wanted “” to NOT be considered local), you can simply do, somewhere in your controller:


Error Layout Customization

SEN allows you to specify the layout for errors at several levels:

* all errors use same layout site-wide
* customize a single controller
* can use the same layout as the controller
* no layout at all

By default it will render the error with the layout the controller is using. You just need to set in application.rb (assuming you included ExceptionNotifiable in applicaiton.rb) (or per-controller):

# All Same site-wide (in application.rb)
self.error_layout = 'my_error_layout'
# customize a single controller
self.error_layout = 'example_controller_error_layout'
# Same layout as the current controller is using
self.error_layout = true
# No layout at all
self.error_layout = false

SuperExceptionNotifier allows customization of the error classes that will be handled, and which HTTP status codes they will be handled as: (default values are shown) Example in application.rb or on a per-controller basis:

self.http_error_codes = { "200" => "OK"
        "400" => "Bad Request",
        "403" => "Forbidden",
        "404" => "Not Found",
        "405" => "Method Not Allowed",
        "410" => "Gone",
        "500" => "Internal Server Error",
        "501" => "Not Implemented",
        "503" => "Service Unavailable" }

Q: Why is “200” listed as an error code?

A: You may want to have multiple custom errors that the standard HTTP status codes weren't designed to accommodate, and for which you need to render customized pages. Explanation and examples are a little further down…

Then you can specify which of those should send out emails! By default, the email notifier will only notify on critical errors (405 500 503 statuses). For example, ActiveRecord::RecordNotFound and ActionController::UnknownAction errors will simply render the contents of #{this gem's root}/rails/app/views/exception_notifiable/###.html file, where ### is 400 and 501 respectively.

ExceptionNotifier.config[:send_email_error_codes] = %w( 400 405 500 503 )

You can also configure the text of the HTTP request's response status code: (by default only the last 6 will be handled, the first 6 are made up error classes) Example in application.rb or on a per-controller basis:

self.rails_error_classes = { 
  NameError => "503",
  TypeError => "503",
  ActiveRecord::RecordNotFound => "400",


To make up your own error classes, you can define them in environment.rb, or in application.rb, or wherever you need them. These are defined by the gem and are available to you in controllers once ExceptionNotifiable is included in application.rb or the current controller:

class AccessDenied < StandardError; end
class ResourceGone < StandardError; end
class NotImplemented < StandardError; end
class PageNotFound < StandardError; end
class InvalidMethod < StandardError; end
class CorruptData < StandardError; end
class MethodDisabled < StandardError; end

These error classes can be raised in before filters, or controller actions like so:

def owner_required
  raise AccessDenied unless == @photo.user_id

They can also be wrapped in methods in application.rb (or a mixin for it) like so:

def access_denied
  raise AccessDenied

And then used like so (as before filter in a controller):

def owner_required
  access_denied unless == @photo.user_id

You may also configure which HTTP status codes will send out email: (by default = [], email sending is defined by status code only)

ExceptionNotifier.config[:send_email_error_classes] = [	

Email will be sent if the error matches one of the error classes to send email for OR if the error's assigned HTTP status code is configured to send email!

You can also customize what is rendered. SuperExceptionNotifier will render the first file it finds in this order:

#{this gem's root}/rails/app/views/exception_notifiable/#{status_cd}.html

And if none of those paths has a valid file to render, this one wins:


You can configure ExceptionNotifier.config[:view_path] in your environment file like this:

ExceptionNotifier.config[:view_path] = 'app/views/error'

So public trumps your custom path which trumps the gem's default path.

Custom Error Pages

You can render CUSTOM error pages! Here's how:

1. Make sure 200 is one of your status codes (optional)
  * self.http_error_codes = { "200" => "OK" }
2. Setup your custom error class, e.g. in config/environment.rb:
  * class InsufficientFundsForWithdrawal < StandardError; end
3. Setup SuperExceptionNotifier to handle the error, in app/controllers/application.rb:
  * self.rails_error_classes = { InsufficientFundsForWithdrawal => "200" }
4. Set your custom error's view path:
  * ExceptionNotifier.config[:view_path] = 'app/views/error'
5. Create a view for the error. SuperExceptionNotifier munges the error's class by converting to a string and then replacing consecutive ':' with '' and then downcases it:
  * touch app/views/error/insufficient_funds_for_withdrawal.html
6. If you want a custom layout (by default it will render the error with the latout the controller is using) you just need to set, in application.rb (or per-controller):
  * self.error_layout = 'my_error_layout' #or = true for the same layout as the controller, or = false for no layout
7. That's it! All errors that are set to be handled with a status of "200" will render a custom page.
8. If you want to have errors that render custom pages also send emails then you'll need to:
  * ExceptionNotifier.config[:send_email_error_classes] = [ InsufficientFundsForWithdrawal ]


By default, the notification email includes four parts: request, session, environment, and backtrace (in that order). You can customize how each of those sections are rendered by placing a partial named for that part in your app/views/exception_notifier directory (e.g., _session.rhtml). Each partial has access to the following variables:

  • @controller: the controller that caused the error

  • @request: the current request object

  • @exception: the exception that was raised

  • @host: the name of the host that made the request

  • @backtrace: a sanitized version of the exception's backtrace

  • @rails_root: a sanitized version of RAILS_ROOT

  • @data: a hash of optional data values that were passed to the notifier

  • @sections: the array of sections to include in the email

You can reorder the sections, or exclude sections completely, by altering the ExceptionNotifier.config[:sections] variable.

Not working due to nature of gem vs plugin

This might work if you install the gem as a plugin.

You can even add new sections that describe application-specific data – just add the section's name to the list (whereever you'd like), and define the corresponding partial. Then, if your new section requires information that isn't available by default, make sure it is made available to the email using the exception_data macro:

class ApplicationController < ActionController::Base
    exception_data :additional_data

    def additional_data
      { :document => @document,
        :person => @person }

In the above case, @document and @person would be made available to the email renderer, allowing your new section(s) to access and display them. See the existing sections defined by the gem for examples of how to write your own.

Exceptions Without a Controller

You may also use ExceptionNotifier to send information about exceptions that occur while running application scripts without a controller. Simply wrap the code you want to watch with the notifiable method:

/PATH/TO/APP/script/runner -e production "notifiable { run_billing }"

Advanced Customization

If you want to seriously modify the rules for the notification, you will need to implement your own rescue_action_in_public method. You can look at the default implementation in ExceptionNotifiable for an example of how to go about that.

HTTP Error Codes Used by Exception Notifier by default

For reference these are the error codes that Exception Notifier can inherently handle.
Official HTTP 1.1 Error Codes:
Not all the error codes in use today are on that list, so here's Apache's list:

400 Bad Request
  * The request could not be understood by the server due to malformed syntax. 
  * The client SHOULD NOT repeat the request without modifications.
403 Forbidden
  * The server understood the request, but is refusing to fulfill it
404 Not Found
  * The server has not found anything matching the Request-URI
405 Method Not Allowed
  * The method specified in the Request-Line is not allowed for the resource identified by the Request-URI
  * This is not implemented entirely as the response is supposed to contain a list of accepted methods.
410 Gone
  * The requested resource is no longer available at the server and no forwarding address is known. This condition is expected to be considered permanent
418 I'm a teapot
  * ErrorDocument I'm a teapot | Sample 418 I'm a teapot
  * The HTCPCP server is a teapot. The responding entity MAY be short and stout. Defined by the April Fools specification RFC 2324. See Hyper Text Coffee Pot Control Protocol for more information.
422 Unprocessable Entity
  * ErrorDocument Unprocessable Entity | Sample 422 Unprocessable Entity
  * (WebDAV) (RFC 4918 ) - The request was well-formed but was unable to be followed due to semantic errors.
423 Locked
  * ErrorDocument Locked | Sample 423 Locked
  * (WebDAV) (RFC 4918 ) - The resource that is being accessed is locked
500 Internal Server Error
  * The server encountered an unexpected condition which prevented it from fulfilling the request.
501 Not Implemented
  * The server does not support the functionality required to fulfill the request.
503 Service Unavailable
  * The server is currently unable to handle the request due to a temporary overloading or maintenance of the server.


All the standard error pages that come in the gem render a div with a class of “dialog”, so put this in a stylesheet you are including in your app to get you started (like stardard rails error style):

<style type=“text/css”>

div.dialog {
  width: 25em;
  padding: 0 4em;
  margin: 4em auto 0 auto;
  border: 1px solid #ccc;
  border-right-color: #999;
  border-bottom-color: #999;
h1 { font-size: 100%; color: #f00; line-height: 1.5em; }


Copyright (c) 2008 Peter H. Boling, released under the MIT license
Portions Copyright (c) 2005 Jamis Buck, released under the MIT license

jamescook changes

Hooks into `git blame` output so you can get an idea of who (may) have introduced the bug :) – Usage: set ExceptionNotifier.config[:git_repo_path] to the path of your git repo.

ismasan changes

POST exception data in JSON format to the specified services for processing – Usage:

ExceptionNotifier.configure_exception_notifier do |config|
    config[:web_hooks]            = %w( # defaults to []
    config[:app_name]             = "[APP]" # defaults to [MYAPP]
    config[:exception_recipients] = %w( # defaults to []
    config[:sender_address]       = %("Application Error" <>) # defaults to
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