Shipping API extension for Active Merchant.
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Active Shipping

This library is meant to interface with the web services of various shipping carriers. The goal is to abstract the features that are most frequently used into a pleasant and consistent Ruby API. Active Shipping is an extension of Active Merchant, and as such, it borrows heavily from conventions used in the latter.

We are starting out by only implementing the ability to list available shipping rates for a particular origin, destination, and set of packages. Further development could take advantage of other common features of carriers' web services such as tracking orders and printing labels.

Active Shipping is currently being used and improved in a production environment for the e-commerce application Shopify. Development is being done by James MacAulay ( Discussion is welcome in the Active Merchant Google Group.

Supported Shipping Carriers


  • active_support
  • xml_node (right now a version of it is actually included in this library, so you don't need to worry about it yet)
  • mocha for the tests

Download & Installation

Currently this library is available on GitHub:

You will need to get Git if you don't have it. Then:

git clone git://

(That URL is case-sensitive, so watch out.)

Active Shipping includes an init.rb file. This means that Rails will automatically load it on startup. Check out git-archive for exporting the file tree from your repository to your vendor directory.

Sample Usage

Compare rates from different carriers

require 'active_shipping'
include ActiveMerchant::Shipping

# Package up a poster and a Wii for your nephew.
packages = [  100,                        # 100 grams
                [93,10],                    # 93 cm long, 10 cm diameter
                :cylinder => true),         # cylinders have different volume calculations  (7.5 * 16),                 # 7.5 lbs, times 16 oz/lb.
                [15, 10, 4.5],              # 15x10x4.5 inches
                :units => :imperial)        # not grams, not centimetres

# You live in Beverly Hills, he lives in Ottawa
origin =      :country => 'US',
                            :state => 'CA',
                            :city => 'Beverly Hills',
                            :zip => '90210')

destination = :country => 'CA',
                            :province => 'ON',
                            :city => 'Ottawa',
                            :postal_code => 'K1P 1J1')
# Find out how much it'll be.
ups = => 'auntjudy', :password => 'secret', :key => 'xml-access-key')
response = ups.find_rates(origin, destination, packages)

ups_rates = response.rates.sort_by(&:price).collect {|rate| [rate.service_name, rate.price]}
# => [["UPS Standard", 3936],
#     ["UPS Worldwide Expedited", 8682],
#     ["UPS Saver", 9348],
#     ["UPS Express", 9702],
#     ["UPS Worldwide Express Plus", 14502]]

# Check out USPS for comparison...
usps = => 'developer-key')
response = usps.find_rates(origin, destination, packages)

usps_rates = response.rates.sort_by(&:price).collect {|rate| [rate.service_name, rate.price]}
# => [["USPS Priority Mail International", 4110],
#     ["USPS Express Mail International (EMS)", 5750],
#     ["USPS Global Express Guaranteed Non-Document Non-Rectangular", 9400],
#     ["USPS GXG Envelopes", 9400],
#     ["USPS Global Express Guaranteed Non-Document Rectangular", 9400],
#     ["USPS Global Express Guaranteed", 9400]]

Track a FedEx package

fedex = => '999999999', :password => '7777777')
tracking_info = fedex.find_tracking_info('tracking-number', :carrier_code => 'fedex_ground') # Ground package

tracking_info.shipment_events.each do |event|
  puts "#{} at #{}, #{event.location.state} on #{event.time}. #{event.message}"
# => Package information transmitted to FedEx at NASHVILLE LOCAL, TN on Thu Oct 23 00:00:00 UTC 2008. 
# Picked up by FedEx at NASHVILLE LOCAL, TN on Thu Oct 23 17:30:00 UTC 2008. 
# Scanned at FedEx sort facility at NASHVILLE, TN on Thu Oct 23 18:50:00 UTC 2008. 
# Departed FedEx sort facility at NASHVILLE, TN on Thu Oct 23 22:33:00 UTC 2008. 
# Arrived at FedEx sort facility at KNOXVILLE, TN on Fri Oct 24 02:45:00 UTC 2008. 
# Scanned at FedEx sort facility at KNOXVILLE, TN on Fri Oct 24 05:56:00 UTC 2008. 
# Delivered at Knoxville, TN on Fri Oct 24 16:45:00 UTC 2008. Signed for by: T.BAKER

Generating a UPS Label

require 'base64'
require 'fileutils'
require 'tempfile'
require 'active_shipping'

class UpsLabelTest

  include ActiveMerchant::Shipping

  UPS_ORIGIN_NUMBER = "111111"
  UPS_LOGIN = 'xxxxxxx'
  UPS_PASSWORD = 'zzzzzzz'
  UPS_KEY = '0000000000000'

  TESTING = true
  SAVE_LABEL_LOCATION = "/path/to/save/test/labels/here"

    # services located in UPS::DEFAULT_SERVICES
    # "01" => "UPS Next Day Air",
    # "02" => "UPS Second Day Air",
    # "03" => "UPS Ground",
    # "07" => "UPS Worldwide Express",
    # "08" => "UPS Worldwide Expedited",
    # "11" => "UPS Standard",
    # "12" => "UPS Three-Day Select",
    # "13" => "UPS Next Day Air Saver",
    # "14" => "UPS Next Day Air Early A.M.",
    # "54" => "UPS Worldwide Express Plus",
    # "59" => "UPS Second Day Air A.M.",
    # "65" => "UPS Saver",
    # "82" => "UPS Today Standard",
    # "83" => "UPS Today Dedicated Courier",
    # "84" => "UPS Today Intercity",
    # "85" => "UPS Today Express",
    # "86" => "UPS Today Express Saver"

  def initialize
    @ups = => UPS_LOGIN, :password => UPS_PASSWORD, :key => UPS_KEY)
  end #end method initialize

  def run_tests
    #UPS::DEFAULT_SERVICES.keys.sort.each do |code|
    ["03"].each do |code|
        trk_num =  run_test_for_service(code)
        puts "Generated label for: #{UPS::DEFAULT_SERVICES[code]} => #{trk_num}"
      rescue => e
        puts "ERROR GENERATING: #{UPS::DEFAULT_SERVICES[code]} => #{e.message}"
  end #end method run_tests

  def get_packages
    #please refer Package class (lib/shipping/package.rb) for more info
    [ * 16),[12, 12, 12], :units => :imperial)
  end #end method get_packages

  def get_label_specification
    # Label print method code that the labels are to be generated for EPL2 formatted 
    # labels use EPL, for SPL formatted labels use SPL, for ZPL formatted labels use ZPL, 
    # for STAR printer formatted labels use STARPL and for image formats use GIF.

    {:print_code => "GIF", :format_code => "GIF", :user_agent => "Mozilla/4.5"}
  end #end method label_specification

  def get_options
    #create a options hash containing origin, destination. For test environment pass :test => true
    options = {
      :origin => {
        :address_line1 => "1 Arena Plaza", 
        :country => 'US', 
        :state => 'KY',
        :city => 'Louisville',
        :zip => '40202', 
        :phone => "(502) 555-1212", 
        :name => "My Destination Name", 
        :attention_name => "Receiving Department", 
        :origin_number => UPS_ORIGIN_NUMBER
      :destination => {
        :company_name => "Acme Co. Ltd.",
        :attention_name => "John Smith",
        :phone => "(555) 555-5555", 
        :address_line1 => "1234 No Street", 
        :country => 'US', 
        :state => 'KY', 
        :city => 'Louisville', 
        :zip => '40202'
      :test => TESTING

  end #end method get_options

  def create_confirm_response(carrier_service, packages, label_specification, options)
    #send the Shipment Confirm Request and catch the response. if successful then it will return an identification number, shipment charges and a shipment digest.
    @confirm_response = @ups.shipment_confirmation_request(carrier_service, packages, label_specification, options)
  end #end method create_confirm_response

  def create_shipment_request(confirm_response)
    #send the Shipment Accept Request and catch the response. if successful then it will return tracking number, base64 html label, base64 graphic label for each package and identification number for the shipment.
    @accept_response = @ups.shipment_accept_request(confirm_response.digest, {:test => TESTING})
  end #end method create_shipment_request(confirm_response)

  def run_test_for_service(carrier_service)

    packages = get_packages

    label_specification = get_label_specification

    options = get_options

    confirm_response = create_confirm_response(carrier_service, packages, label_specification, options)

    accept_response = create_shipment_request(confirm_response)

    out = []

    #To get label and other info of each package of the above shipment
    accept_response.shipment_packages.each do |package|
      #gives you the base64 code for html label
    	html_image = package.html_image 
    	#gives you the base64 code for graphic label
    	graphic_image = package.graphic_image 
    	#gives you the images format(gif/png)
    	label_image_format = package.label_image_format 
    	#gives you the tracking number of package
    	tracking_number = package.tracking_number 
    	#write out the GRAPHIC file
    	label_tmp_file ="shipping_label")
      label_tmp_file.write Base64.decode64(graphic_image)
      #write out the HTML file
      html_tmp_file ="shipping_label_html")
      html_tmp_file.write Base64.decode64(html_image)
      #save the GRAPHIC file
      graphic_filename = "#{SAVE_LABEL_LOCATION}/label#{tracking_number}.#{label_image_format.downcase}"
      gf =, "wb")
      #save the HTML file
      html_filename = "#{SAVE_LABEL_LOCATION}/#{tracking_number}.html"
      hf =, "wb")

    	out << tracking_number
    end #end shipment_packages.each

    return out
  end #end run_test_for_service

end #end class

test =
test.run_tests # <== Now go check your folder


  • proper documentation
  • carrier code template generator
  • more carriers
  • support more features for existing carriers
  • bin-packing algorithm (preferably implemented in ruby)
  • order tracking
  • label printing


Yes, please! Take a look at the tests and the implementation of the Carrier class to see how the basics work. At some point soon there will be a carrier template generator along the lines of the gateway generator included in Active Merchant, but carrier.rb outlines most of what's necessary. The other main classes that would be good to familiarize yourself with are Location, Package, and Response.

The nicest way to submit changes would be to set up a GitHub account and fork this project, then initiate a pull request when you want your changes looked at. You can also make a patch (preferably with git-diff) and email to


Legal Mumbo Jumbo

Unless otherwise noted in specific files, all code in the Active Shipping project is under the copyright and license described in the included MIT-LICENSE file.