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Handle pub/sub messaging through private channels in Rails using Faye.
Ruby JavaScript
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Private Pub

THIS PROJECT IS CURRENTLY VAPORWARE. I am writing the readme first.

This is a Ruby gem for use in a Rails application to publish and subscribe to messages through a separate server such as Faye.


Add the gem to your Gemfile.

gem "private_pub"

Run the generator to create the JavaScript file and initializer.

rails g private_pub:install

Add the JavaScript file to your layout file.

<%= javascript_include_tag "private_pub" %>

Next, setup Faye and configure the generated initializer file to point to the faye server. DON'T add the faye.js file to your layout because this will be done by private_pub.js when subscribing to a channel.

PrivatePub.server = "http://localhost:9292/faye"

Finally add the PrivatePub extension through the Faye rackup file. You'll need to load the initializer file there too so it sets the secret token (or you can set it some other way).

require "private_pub"
require File.expand_path("../config/initializers/private_pub.rb", __FILE__)


This adds two helper methods to Rails: subscribe_to and publish_to. Let's say you're building a chat application. On the page displaying a chat you can subscribe to anything incoming on a channel.

<%= subscribe_to "/messages/new" %>

And then publish to that channel when a new message is added in the Rails app.

<% publish_to "/messages/new" do %>
  $("#chat").append("<%= escape_javascript render(@messages) %>");
<% end %>

That bit of JavaScript will be published and executed to all subscribing clients.

Alternatively you can pass anything you want to the publish_to method (it will be converted to_json).

publish_to "/messages/new", :chat_message => "hello world"

And then handle that in a callback in JavaScript.

var private_pub = new PrivatePub;
private_pub.subscribe("/messages/new", function(data) {

Note: the subscribe_to call is still necessary with this approach to grant the user access to that channel. The JavaScript is just a callback.


Security is handled automatically for you. Only the Rails app is able to publish. Users are only able to receive messages on the channels you subscribe them to. This means every channel is private.

Here's how it works. The subscribe_to helper will output an element containing data information about the channel.

<span class="private_pub_subscription" data-channel="/messages/new" data-key="2aae6c35c94fcfb415dbe95f408b9ce91ee846ed" data-timestamp="13019431281234"></span>

The data-key is a combination of the channel, timestamp, and secret token set in the Rails app. This is checked by the Faye extension when subscribing to a channel to ensure the key is correct. The key is automatically expired after 1 hour but this can be configured.

PrivatePub.key_expiration = 10.minutes

Or nil for no expiration. Note: if Faye is on a separate server from the Rails app it's important that the time is in sync.

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