Job processing with pluggable backends made easy
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Employer Build Status

There comes a time in the life of an application that async job processing becomes a requirement. If you want something flexible that you can easily adapt to fit in with your application's infrastucture, then Employer may be what you are looking for.


Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'employer'

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself as:

$ gem install employer


To use Employer to run jobs you need to do the following:

  • Define your jobs as classes that include the Employer::Job module
  • Hook up Employer with a backend to manage the jobs

Defining your own jobs

Implementing your own jobs is simple, here's a silly example:

class NamePutsJob
  include Employer::Job

  attribute :first_name
  attribute :last_name
  attribute :tries

  def initialize
    tries ||= 0 

  def try_again?
    true if tries < 3

  def perform
    puts "#{first_name} #{last_name}"

The attribute class method will define an attr_accessor and will ensure that the attribute is part of the serialized data that is sent to the backend when a job is enqueued.

The perform method is what will get executed when Employer picks up a job for processing.

If a job fails the try_again? method will determine whether or not the job gets tried again, if this method returns false the job will be marked as failed and won't be attempted again.

Hooking up a backend

Employer manages its jobs through its pipeline, in order to feed jobs into the pipeline and to get jobs out of the pipeline you need to connect a backend to it. You can either use a backend that someone has built already (if you're using ActiveRecord 3.2.x you can use the employer-activerecord gem, and if you're using Mongoid 3 you can use the employer-mongoid gem), or implement your own. A valid pipeline backend must implement the methods shown in the below code snippet:

class CustomPipelineBackend
  # job_hash is a Hash with the following keys:
  # - class: The class of the Job object
  # - attributes: A Hash with attribute values set on the Job object
  def enqueue(job_hash)

  # dequeue must return a job_hash in the same format as is passed into 
  # enqueue, except that it must add the key id with the Job's unique 
  # identifier (such as a record id)
  def dequeue

  # clear must clear the backend of all its jobs
  def clear

  # complete accepts a Job object, using its id the pipeline backend should
  # mark the job as complete
  def complete(job)

  # fail accepts a Job object, using its id the pipeline backend should
  # mark the job as failed
  def fail(job)

  # reset accepts a Job object, using its id the pipeline backend should
  # reset the job by marking it as free
  def reset(job)

In the event that your backend needs to do something special before forking or starting a new thread to perform a job you can add in hooks on the appropriate Employee class:

Employer::Employees::ForkingEmployee.before_fork { # your code here }

Employer::Employees::ThreadingEmployee.before_fork { # your code here }

You can add multiple hooks, they are executed in the order they were added.

To hook up the backend to Employer you must generate and edit a config file by running employer config (or more likely bundle exec employer config). If you don't specify a custom path (with -c /path/to/employer_config.rb) this will generate config/employer.rb, the file will look something like this:

# If you're using Rails the below line requires config/environment to setup the
# Rails environment. If you're not using Rails you'll want to require something
# here that sets up Employer's environment appropriately (making available the
# classes that your jobs need to do their work, providing the connection to
# your database, etc.)
# require "./config/environment"

require "employer-activerecord"

# Setup the backend for the pipeline, this is where the boss gets the jobs to
# process. See the documentation for details on writing your own pipeline
# backend.

# Add loggers to log. Logged output will go to all of the loggers defined here.

# Use employees that fork subprocesses to perform jobs. You cannot use these
# with JRuby, because JRuby doesn't support Process#fork.
forking_employees 4

# Use employees that run their jobs in threads, you can use these when using
# JRuby. While threaded employees also work with MRI they are limited by the
# GIL (this may or may not be a problem depending on the type of work your jobs
# need to do).
# threading_employees 4

The comments in the file pretty much explain how you should edit it.

When setup properly you can start processing jobs by running employer (or employer -c /path/to/employer_config.rb, likely prepended with bundle exec)

In your application code you can obtain a pipeline to enqueue jobs with like so:

# Obtain the pipeline
pipeline = Employer::Workshop.enqueue("/path/to/employer_config.rb")

# Enqueue a job
job =
job.first_name = "Mark"
job.last_name = "Kremer"


  1. Fork it
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Add some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create new Pull Request