Multi-threaded job backend with database queuing for ruby.
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.travis.yml Update changelog Dec 19, 2018

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Multi-threaded job backend with database queuing for ruby.


How it works:

  • Jobs are instances of classes that support the perform method.
  • Jobs are persisted in the database using ActiveRecord.
  • Each job has a priority, the default being 0. Jobs with higher priorities (lower is higher, 0 the highest) get processed first.
  • Each job can be set to execute after a certain date / time.
  • You can start one or more worker processes.
  • Each worker is configurable as to which queue(s) it processes. Jobs in the same queue never run simultaneously. Jobs with no queue can always run in parallel.
  • Each worker polls the database and spawns a configurable number of threads to execute jobs of different queues simultaneously.

What it does not do:

  • It does not spawn new processes on the fly. Jobs are run in separate threads but not in separate processes (unless you manually start multiple worker processes).
  • It does not support timeouts and timed execution.



  • Ruby >= 2.0.0
  • Rails >= 3.2
  • A database and table handler that properly supports row-level locking (such as MySQL with InnoDB, PostgreSQL, or Oracle).
  • If you are planning on using the daemons handler:
    • An operating system and file system that supports file locking.
    • MRI ruby (aka "CRuby") as jRuby does not support fork. See the FAQ for possible workarounds.

Installing under Rails

  1. Add workhorse to your Gemfile:

    gem 'workhorse'

    Install it using bundle install as usual.

  2. Run the install generator:

    bundle exec rails generate workhorse:install

    This generates:

    • A database migration for creating a table named jobs
    • The initializer config/initializers/workhorse.rb for global configuration
    • The daemon worker script bin/workhorse.rb

    Please customize the initializer and worker script to your liking.

Queuing jobs

Basic jobs

Workhorse can handle any jobs that support the perform method and are serializable. To queue a basic job, use the static method Workhorse.enqueue. You can optionally pass a queue name and a priority.

class MyJob
  def initialize(name)
    @name = name

  def perform
    puts "Hello #{@name}"

Workhorse.enqueue'John'), queue: :test, priority: 2

RailsOps operations

Workhorse allows you to easily queue RailsOps operations using the static method Workhorse.enqueue_op:

Workhorse.enqueue_op Operations::Jobs::CleanUpDatabase, { quiet: true }, queue: :maintenance, priority: 2

Params passed using the second argument will be used for operation instantiation at job execution.

If you do not want to pass any params to the operation, just omit the second hash:

Workhorse.enqueue_op Operations::Jobs::CleanUpDatabase, queue: :maintenance, priority: 2


Workhorse has no out-of-the-box functionality to support scheduling of regular jobs, such as maintenance or backup jobs. There are two primary ways of achieving regular execution:

  1. Rescheduling by the same job after successful execution and setting perform_at

    This is simple to set up and requires no additional dependencies. However, the time taken to execute a job and the time delay caused by the polling interval cannot easily be factored into the calculation of the interval, leading to a slight shift in effective execution date. (This can be mitigated by scheduling the job before knowing whether the current run will succeed. Proceed down this path at your own peril!)

    Example: A job that takes 5 seconds to run and is set to reschedule itself after 10 minutes is started at 12:00 sharp. After one hour it will be set to execute at 13:00:30 at the earliest.

    In its most basic form, the perform method of a job would look as follows:

    class MyJob
      def perform
        # Do all the work
        # Perform again after 10 minutes (600 seconds)
        Workhorse.enqueue, perform_at: + 600
  2. Using an external scheduler

    A more elaborate setup requires an external scheduler, but which can still be called from Ruby. One such scheduler is rufus-scheduler. A small example of an adapted bin/workhorse.rb to accommodate for the additional cog in the mechanism is given below:

    #!/usr/bin/env ruby
    require './config/environment' do
      worker = 5, polling_interval: 10, logger: Rails.logger)
      scheduler =
      scheduler.cron '0/10 * * * *' do
      Signal.trap 'TERM' do
        scheduler.shutdown do

    This allows starting and stopping the daemon with the usual interface. Note that the scheduler is handled like a Workhorse worker, the consequence of which is that only one 'worker' should be started by the ShellHandler. Otherwise there would be multiple jobs scheduled at the same time.

    Please refer to the documentation on rufus-scheduler (or the scheduler of your choice) for further options concerning the timing of the jobs.

Configuring and starting workers

Workers poll the database for new jobs and execute them in one or more threads. Typically, one worker is started per process. While you can start workers manually, either in your main application process(es) or in a separate one, workhorse also provides you with a convenient way of starting one or multiple worker processes as daemons.

Start workers manually

Workers are created by instantiating, configuring, and starting a new Workhorse::Worker instance:

  pool_size: 5,                           # Processes 5 jobs concurrently
  quiet:     false,                       # Logs to STDOUT
  logger:    Rails.logger                 # Logs to Rails log. You can also
                                          # provide any custom logger.

See code documentation for more information on the arguments. All arguments passed to start_and_wait are passed to the initialize. All arguments passed to start_and_wait are in turn passed to the initializer of Workhorse::Worker.

Start workers using a daemon script

Using Workhorse::Daemon::ShellHandler, you can spawn one or multiple worker processes automatically. This is useful for cases where you want the workers to exist in separate processes as opposed to your main application process(es).

For this case, the workhorse install routine automatically creates the file bin/workhorse.rb, which can be used to start one or more worker processes.

The script can be called as follows:

RAILS_ENV=production bundle exec bin/workhorse.rb start|stop|status|watch|restart|usage

Background and customization

Within the shell handler, you can instantiate, configure, and start a worker as described under Start workers manually: count: 5 do
  # This will be run 5 times, each time in a separate process. Per process, it
  # will be able to process 3 jobs concurrently.
  Workhorse::Worker.start_and_wait(pool_size: 3, logger: Rails.logger)

Exception handling

Per default, exceptions occurring in a worker thread will only be visible in the respective log file, usually production.log. If you'd like to perform specific actions when an exception arises, set the global option on_exception to a callback of your linking, e.g.:

# config/initializers/workhorse.rb
Workhorse.setup do |config|
  config.on_exception = proc do |e|
    # Use gem 'exception_notification' for notifying about exceptions

Frequently asked questions

Please consult the FAQ.


  • ActiveJob integration for Rails


Copyright © 2019 Sitrox. See LICENSE for further details.