Building your own framework with Rack and Ruby sounds super complicated, but its suprisingly easy to get off the ground with just a few lines of code. Granted, this isn't going to be the next rails competitor, but hopefully in the process we can learn the basics of rack and expand our knowledge of web requests. I can't promise this architecture is going to handle millions of requests, but I can say that it WILL be able to handle at least YOUR request.

First things first, lets build a gemfile out so we can use bundler with our project.

# Gemfile
source ""
ruby '2.0.0'
gem 'rack', '~> 1.5.2'

Don't forget to bundle after you save the Gemfile!

Notice we're going to use Ruby 2.0 for this because its super fast and hip. So lets dive into the basics. Rack is very simple. Give it an object, it will call the "call" method on that object and pass it information about the web request. The return of that method should be an array with information about the response. Thats all there is to it. Simple huh? Ok lets build a simple class to handle this. Open up a file called request_controller.rb and insert the following lines.

class RequestController
  def call(env)
    [200, {}, ["Hello World"]]

So lets examine our response. The first index of the array should contain the response code for the response. In this case we're sending a 200 ok back, but we could send anything in the HTTP spec (404, 500, 301, etc). The second index of the array should contain a hash with header information in it. In this case we aren't sending any headers back. The third index in the array is another array containing the response. Keep in mind that at its very core, Rails is responding in a very similar fasion to this. There is a lot of power in these few lines of code.

This class alone doesn't do anything for us though. We need to tell rack about this class, and you do that in a rack up file. We'll build one now, open up a file named and insert the following:

#!/usr/bin/env ruby
require 'rack'
load 'request_controller.rb',
  :Port => 9000

This is fairly straight forward if you're familar with ruby. The first 3 lines are the shebang, and requiring the various files we need. The last lines instantiate our RequestHandler class and tell Rack that we want to use port 9000. In this case we're using WEBrick which is built into ruby.

Now lets run the thing:


and the output should be

[2013-04-29 22:50:59] INFO  WEBrick 1.3.1
[2013-04-29 22:50:59] INFO  ruby 2.0.0 (2013-02-24) [x86_64-darwin12.3.0]
[2013-04-29 22:50:59] INFO  WEBrick::HTTPServer#start: pid=9931 port=9000

Now going to localhost:9000 in a browser should give the output Hello World! We built our first simple rack app. Stay tuned for the next parts of the series and we'll flesh out our framework more.


Adam has worked with Isotope 11 for 4 years and has been a professional software developer for over 12 years. He has been lead developer on multiple Fortune 500 projects. He is the author of "Beginning Rails 4" which was published by Apress in September 2013.