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rapns Build Status

Easy to use library for Apple's Push Notification Service with Rails 3.


  • Works with Rails 3 and Ruby 1.9 & 1.8.
  • Uses a daemon process to keep open a persistent connection to the Push Notification Service, as recommended by Apple.
  • Uses the enhanced binary format (Figure 5-2) so that delivery errors can be reported.
  • Records feedback from The Feedback Service.
  • Airbrake (Hoptoad) integration.
  • Support for dictionary alert properties (Table 3-2).
  • Reconnects to the APNs if connections are lost.
  • Reconnects to your database if the connect is lost.

Getting Started

Add rapns to your Gemfile:

gem 'rapns'

Generate the migration, rapns.yml and migrate:

rails g rapns
rake db:migrate

Generating Certificates

  1. Open up Keychain Access and select the Certificates category in the sidebar.

  2. Expand the disclosure arrow next to the iOS Push Services certificate you want to export.

  3. Select both the certificate and private key.

  4. Right click and select Export 2 items....

  5. Save the file as cert.p12, make sure the File Format is Personal Information Exchange (p12).

  6. If you decide to set a password for your exported certificate, please read the Configuration section below.

  7. Convert the certificate to a .pem, where <environment> should be development or production, depending on the certificate you exported.

    openssl pkcs12 -nodes -clcerts -in cert.p12 -out <environment>.pem

  8. Move the .pem file into your Rails application under config/rapns.


Environment configuration lives in config/rapns/rapns.yml. For common setups you probably wont need to change this file.

If you want to use rapns in environments other than development or production, you will need to create an entry for it. Simply duplicate the configuration for development or production, depending on which iOS Push Certificate you wish to use.


  • push this section contains options to configure the delivery of notifications.

    • host the APNs host to connect to, either or
    • port the APNs port. Currently 2195 for both hosts.
    • poll (default: 2) Frequency in seconds to check for new notifications to deliver.
    • connections (default: 3) the number of connections to keep open to the APNs. Consider increasing this if you are sending a very large number of notifications.
  • feedback this section contains options to configure feedback checking.

    • host the APNs host to connect to, either or
    • port the APNs port. Currently 2196 for both hosts.
    • poll (default: 60) Frequency in seconds to check for new feedback.
  • certificate The path to your .pem certificate, config/rapns is automatically checked if a relative path is given.

  • certificate_password (default: blank) the password you used when exporting your certificate, if any.

  • airbrake_notify (default: true) Enables/disables error notifications via Airbrake.

  • pid_file (default: blank) the file that rapns will write its process ID to. Paths are relative to your project's RAILS_ROOT unless an absolute path is given.

Starting the rapns Daemon

cd /path/to/rails/app
bundle exec rapns <Rails environment>


  • --foreground will prevent rapns from forking into a daemon.


rapns logs activity to rapns.log in your Rails log directory. This is also printed to STDOUT when running in the foreground. When running as a daemon rapns does not print to STDOUT or STDERR.

Sending a Notification

n =
n.device_token = "934f7a..."
n.alert = "This is the message shown on the device."
n.badge = 1
n.sound = "1.aiff"
n.expiry =
n.attributes_for_device = {"question" => nil, "answer" => 42}
n.deliver_after = 1.hour.from_now!
  • sound defaults to 1.aiff. You can either set it to a custom .aiff file, or nil for no sound.
  • expiry is the time in seconds the APNs (not rapns) will spend trying to deliver the notification to the device. The notification is discarded if it has not been delivered in this time. Default is 1 day.
  • attributes_for_device is the NSDictionary argument passed to your iOS app in either didFinishLaunchingWithOptions or didReceiveRemoteNotification.
  • deliver_after is not required, but may be set if you'd like to delay delivery of the notification to a specific time in the future.

Assigning a Hash to alert

Please refer to Apple's documentation (Tables 3-1 and 3-2).

Delivery Failures

The APNs provides two mechanism for delivery failure notification:

Immediately, when processing a notification for delivery.

Although rapns makes such errors highly unlikely due to validation, the APNs reports processing errors immediately after being sent a notification. These errors are all centred around the well-formedness of the notification payload. Should a notification be rejected due to such an error, rapns will update the following attributes on the notification and send a notification via Airbrake/Hoptoad (if enabled):

failed flag is set to true. failed_at is set to the time of failure. error is set to Apple's code for the error. error_description is set to a (somewhat brief) description of the error.

rapns will not attempt to deliver the notification again.

Via the Feedback Service.

rapns checks for feedback periodically and stores results in the Rapns::Feedback model. Each record contains the device token and a timestamp of when the APNs determined that the app no longer exists on the device.

It is your responsibility to avoid creating new notifications for devices that no longer have your app installed. rapns does not and will not check Rapns::Feedback before sending notifications.

Note: In my testing and from other reports on the Internet, it appears you may not receive feedback when using the APNs sandbox environment.

Updating rapns

After updating you should run rails g rapns to check for any new migrations or configuration changes.


Contributing to rapns

Fork as usual and go crazy!

When running specs, please note that the ActiveRecord adapter can be changed by setting the ADAPTER environment variable. For example: ADAPTER=postgresql rake.

Available adapters for testing are mysql, mysql2 and postgresql.


Thank you to the following wonderful people for contributing to rapns: