Rest Client

http ruby restclient rest

Sun Mar 09 20:03:00 -0700 2008

REST is part of the Ruby Way. Which is why I’m surprised that every time I go to access a RESTful resource, I find myself writing some sort of ad-hoc rest client. Net::HTTP is too low level - you’ve got to write at least three or four fairly dense lines of code even for a relatively simple GET or PUT.

I was banking on ActiveResource being the defacto solution starting with Rails 2, but I was a bit disappointed when it was finally released. Its purpose is fairly narrow - accessing resources that are database-recordish and which operate completely in a certain XML format. But further, it doesn’t (as near as I can tell) support nested resources, which cuts out about 70% of what I might want to use it for.

The only other thing I can find is this, which monkey patches open-uri to handle other kinds of verbs. Fine, but still a bit too low level.

While I was toying with Sinatra the other day, I realized that what I wanted was just the client-side equivalent of its controller syntax. So I threw together rest-client.

require 'rest_client'

RestClient.get '' '','pic.jpg'), :content_type => 'image/jpg'

RestClient.destroy ''

The middle one - post (or put) with a payload an non-xml content-type - is the one that interests me the most, and that I find hardest to do with other libraries. Particularly for a one-off on the command line. I’ll usually hobble together a curl command with a bunch of obscure switches that I can never remember. But now, I’ve just added require ‘rest_client’ to my .rush/env.rb, so at the rush command line I can instantly access any REST resource on the web with an easy-to-remember one-liner.

I also threw together a test server at, to try out all the different verbs. It just echoes back the verb, resource you requested (wildcard routing will match anything), and info about the payload. Here’s a session from my rush shell:

rush> RestClient.get ""
rush> RestClient.put "", home['pic.jpg'].contents, :content_type => 'image/jpg'
PUT with a 70335 byte payload, content type image/jpg
rush> RestClient.delete ""

gem install rest-client if you’d like to give it a try. RDocs here.