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= Action Web Service -- Serving APIs on rails
Action Web Service provides a way to publish interoperable web service APIs with
Rails without spending a lot of time delving into protocol details.
== Features
* SOAP RPC protocol support
* Dynamic WSDL generation for APIs
* XML-RPC protocol support
* Clients that use the same API definitions as the server for
easy interoperability with other Action Web Service based applications
* Type signature hints to improve interoperability with static languages
* Active Record model class support in signatures
== Defining your APIs
You specify the methods you want to make available as API methods in an
ActionWebService::API::Base derivative, and then specify this API
definition class wherever you want to use that API.
The implementation of the methods is done seperately to the API
==== Method name inflection
Action Web Service will camelcase the method names according to Rails Inflector
rules for the API visible to public callers. What this means, for example
is that the method names in generated WSDL will be camelcased, and callers will
have to supply the camelcased name in their requests for the request to
If you do not desire this behaviour, you can turn it off with the
ActionWebService::API::Base +inflect_names+ option.
==== Inflection examples
:add => Add
:find_all => FindAll
==== Disabling inflection
class PersonAPI < ActionWebService::API::Base
inflect_names false
==== API definition example
class PersonAPI < ActionWebService::API::Base
api_method :add, :expects => [:string, :string, :bool], :returns => [:int]
api_method :remove, :expects => [:int], :returns => [:bool]
==== API usage example
class PersonController < ActionController::Base
web_service_api PersonAPI
def add
def remove
== Publishing your APIs
Action Web Service uses Action Pack to process protocol requests. There are two
modes of dispatching protocol requests, _Direct_, and _Delegated_.
=== Direct dispatching
This is the default mode. In this mode, controller actions implement the API
methods, and parameters for incoming method calls will be placed in
<tt>@params</tt> (keyed by name), and <tt>@method_params</tt> (ordered list).
The return value of the action is sent back as the return value to the
In this mode, a special <tt>api</tt> action is generated in the target
controller to unwrap the protocol request, forward it on to the relevant action
and send back the wrapped return value. <em>This action must not be
==== Direct dispatching example
class PersonController < ApplicationController
web_service_api PersonAPI
def add
def remove
class PersonAPI < ActionWebService::API::Base
For this example, protocol requests for +Add+ and +Remove+ methods sent to
<tt>/person/api</tt> will be routed to the actions +add+ and +remove+.
=== Delegated dispatching
This mode can be turned on by setting the +web_service_dispatching_mode+ option
in a controller to <tt>:delegated</tt>.
In this mode, the controller contains one or more web service objects (objects
that implement an ActionWebService::API::Base definition). These web service
objects are each mapped onto one controller action only.
==== Delegated dispatching example
class ApiController < ApplicationController
web_service_dispatching_mode :delegated
web_service :person,
class PersonService < ActionWebService::Base
web_service_api PersonAPI
def add
def remove
class PersonAPI < ActionWebService::API::Base
For this example, all protocol requests for +PersonService+ are
sent to the <tt>/api/person</tt> action.
The <tt>/api/person</tt> action is generated when the +web_service+
method is called. <em>This action must not be overridden.</em>
Other controller actions (actions that aren't the target of a +web_service+ call)
are ignored for ActionWebService purposes, and can do normal action tasks.
=== Layered dispatching
This mode can be turned on by setting the +web_service_dispatching_mode+ option
in a controller to <tt>:layered</tt>.
This mode is similar to _delegated_ mode, in that multiple web service objects
can be attached to one controller, however, all protocol requests are sent to a
single endpoint.
This mode is only usable by XML-RPC. In this mode, method names can contain
_prefixes_, which will indicate which web service object implements the API
identified by that prefix.
The _prefix_ can be any word, followed by a period.
==== Layered dispatching example
class ApiController < ApplicationController
web_service_dispatching_mode :layered
web_service :mt,
web_service :blogger,
web_service :metaWeblog,
class MovableTypeService < ActionWebService::Base
class BloggerService < ActionWebService::Base
class MetaWeblogService < ActionWebService::API::Base
For this example, a remote call for a method with a name like
<tt>mt.getCategories</tt> will be dispatched as the <tt>getCategories</tt>
method on the <tt>:mt</tt> service.
== Using the client support
Action Web Service includes client classes that can use the same API
definition as the server. The advantage of this approach is that your client
will have the same support for Active Record and structured types as the
server, and can just use them directly, and rely on the marshaling to Do The
Right Thing.
*Note*: The client support is intended for communication between Ruby on Rails
applications that both use Action Web Service. It may work with other servers, but
that is not its intended use, and interoperability can't be guaranteed, especially
not for .NET web services.
Web services protocol specifications are complex, and Action Web Service client
support can only be guaranteed to work with a subset.
==== Factory created client example
class BlogManagerController < ApplicationController
web_client_api :blogger, :xmlrpc, 'http://url/to/blog/api/RPC2', :handler_name => 'blogger'
class SearchingController < ApplicationController
web_client_api :google, :soap, 'http://url/to/blog/api/beta', :service_name => 'GoogleSearch'
See ActionWebService::API::ActionController::ClassMethods for more details.
==== Manually created client example
class PersonAPI < ActionWebService::API::Base
api_method :find_all, :returns => [[Person]]
soap_client =, "http://...")
persons = soap_client.find_all
class BloggerAPI < ActionWebService::API::Base
inflect_names false
api_method :getRecentPosts, :returns => [[Blog::Post]]
blog =, "http://.../xmlrpc", :handler_name => "blogger")
posts = blog.getRecentPosts
See ActionWebService::Client::Soap and ActionWebService::Client::XmlRpc for more details.
== Dependencies
Action Web Service requires that the Action Pack and Active Record are either
available to be required immediately or are accessible as GEMs.
It also requires a version of Ruby that includes SOAP support in the standard
library. At least version 1.8.2 final (2004-12-25) of Ruby is recommended, this
is the version tested against.
== Download
The latest Action Web Service version can be downloaded from
== Installation
You can install Action Web Service with the following command.
% [sudo] ruby setup.rb
== License
Action Web Service is released under the MIT license.
== Support
The Ruby on Rails mailing list
Or, to contact the author, send mail to
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