CoAP server with Rack interface.
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David is a CoAP server with Rack interface to bring the illustrious family of Rack compatible web frameworks into the Internet of Things. It is tested with MRI >= 2.2, and JRuby >= 9.1. David version ~> 0.5.0 aims for Rack 2 (and Rails 5). Compatibility to Rails 4 is available in version ~> 0.4.5.

Quick Start

Just include David in your Gemfile!

gem 'david'

It will hook into Rack and make itself the default handler, so running rails s starts David. If you want to start WEBrick for example, you can do so by executing rails s webrick.

For now, you have to remove the web-console gem from the Gemfile (which is HTTP specific anyway) if you use Rails/David in CoAP only mode. You probably also want to disable CSRF protection by removing the protect_from_forgery line from app/controllers/application_controller.rb (or use :null_session if you know what you are doing).

The coap-rails-dummy repository documents changes to a newly generated Ruby on Rails application for a quick start.

After the server is started, the Rails application is available at coap://[::1]:3000/ by default. (Although you have to set a route for / in config/routes.rb, of course.)

Copper is a CoAP client for Firefox and can be used for development. The Ruby coap gem is used by David for example for message parsing and also includes a command line utility (named coap) that can also be used for development.

As CoAP is a protocol for constrained environments and machine to machine communications, returning HTML from your controllers will not be of much use. JSON for example is more suitable in that context. The Accept header is set to "application/json" by default, so that Rails responds with the JSON resource representation. David works well with the default ways to handle JSON responses from controllers such as render json:. You can also utilize Jbuilder templates for easy generation of more complex JSON structures.

CBOR can be used to compress your JSON. Automatic transcoding between JSON and CBOR is activated by setting the Rack environment option CBOR or config.coap.cbor in your Rails application config to true.

Tested Rack Frameworks

By providing a Rack interface, David does not only work with Rails but also with the following Rack compatible web frameworks.


The following table lists available configuration options for the CoAP server. Rack keys can be specified with the -O option of rackup. The listed Rails keys can be accessed for example from the config/application.rb file of your Rails application.

Rack key Rails key Default Semantics
Block coap.block true Blockwise transfers
CBOR coap.cbor false JSON/CBOR transcoding
DefaultFormat coap.default_format Default Content-Type
Host ::1 / :: Server listening host
Log info Log level (none or debug)
MinimalMapping false Minimal HTTP status codes mapping
Multicast coap.multicast true Multicast support
Observe coap.observe true Observe support
coap.only true Removes (HTTP) middleware
Port 5683 Server listening port
coap.resource_discovery true Provision of .well-known/core

The server can be started with debug log level for example with the following command provided that a rackup config file ( exists like in a Rails application.

rackup -O Log=debug

In a Rails application, CBOR transcoding is activated for any controller and action by inserting the third line of the following code into config/application.rb.

module Example
  class Application < Rails::Application
    config.coap.cbor = true

In Copper for example the default block size for Blockwise Transfers is set to 64 bytes. That's even small for most exception messages. It is recommended to set the block size to the maximum (1024B) during development.


The CoAP Discovery will be activated by default. A .well-known/core resource automatically returns the resources you defined in Rails. You can annotate this resources with attributes like an interface description (if) or the content type (ct). (See RFC6690 or the code for further documentation.)

class ThingsController < ApplicationController
  discoverable \
    default: { if: 'urn:things', ct: 'application/cbor' },
    index:   { if: 'urn:index' }

  def show
    render json: Thing.find(params[:id])

  def index
    render json: Thing.all

Rack environment

David sets the following server (and protocol) specific Rack environment entries that can be read from your Rack application if necessary.

Key Value class Semantics
coap.version Integer Protocol version of CoAP request
coap.multicast Boolean Marks whether request was received via multicast
coap.dtls String DTLS mode (as defined in section 9 of RFC7252) String DTLS identity
coap.cbor Object Ruby object deserialized from CBOR


David handles about 12,500 requests per second in MRI and 14,000 in JRuby (tested in MRI 2.3.0 and JRuby 1.7.19 with up to 10,000 concurrent clients on a single core of a Core i7-3520M CPU running Linux 3.18.6).


The code is published under the MIT license (see the LICENSE file).