Rack app with uri and HTTP specific responses

mattetti edited this page Dec 8, 2011 · 1 revision


Show how to write a simple Rack application responding differently if the request is a POST or a GET request. Also show how to use the map method to implement a simple router.


Save the following code in a file named: rack_example.ru

class Idea
  attr_accessor :title, :body, :created_at

  # Memory store, gets cleared as the process is restarted
  def self.store
    @ideas ||= []

  class InvalidParams < StandardError; end
  # create an instance based on some passed params
  def initialize(params)
    raise InvalidParams, "You need to provide at least a title" unless params['title']
    self.title = params['title']
    self.body = params['body']
    self.created_at = Time.now

  # Converts an instance into a string
  def to_s
    "#{title} at #{created_at.to_s}\n#{body}"

class IdeaAPI
  def call(env)
    request = Rack::Request.new(env)
    case request.request_method
    when 'POST'
        idea = Idea.new(request.params)
      rescue Idea::InvalidParams => error
        [400, {"Content-Type" => "text/plain"}, [error.message] ]
        Idea.store << idea
        [200, {"Content-Type" => "text/plain"}, ["Idea added, currently #{Idea.store.size} ideas are in memory!"]]
    when 'GET'
      [200, {"Content-Type" => "text/plain"}, [Idea.store.map{|idea, idx| idea.to_s }.join("\n\n") + "\n"]]
      [404, {}, ["Did you get lost?"]]

map '/ideas' do
  run IdeaAPI.new

The code is pretty straight forward, but let me walk you through it nonetheless. We have an Idea class which is just there for the demo. It creates an instance of itself when calling #new with a hash of params. If the pass hash doesn't have a value for the 'title' key, then an exception is raised.

At the bottom of the file, we can see that I'm mapping incoming requests for the '/ideas' uri to an instance of IdeaAPI. The run method does what you expect, it runs the instance of the IdeaAPI passing it the Rack environment.

The IdeaAPI class implements the Rack protocol by providing a call(env) method which gets triggered when the request is dispatched to an instance of itself. The environment object is then converted into a Rack::Request object which provides the developer with a few helpers. Using one of these helpers, we check on the HTTP verb using the request_method instance method on our newly created object. Finally using a case statement, we can provide a response based on the HTTP verb. Note that the response follows the usual Rack response format.


  • In real life, you probably don't want to raise an exception and rescue it. This is an expensive approach and should be avoided.
  • Using map the way is shown doesn't prevent uris such as '/ideas/foo' to be routed to our API. This is by design, you can also lose map all together and got for an approach such as: https://gist.github.com/1447478