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Introducing Lotus::Router

For me, the first step in the long path of building a web framework was an HTTP router. By understanding requests coming from an user, it pays back with an immediate gratification: start it, open a browser and see a result.

My hope was to embark on a short journey, and reuse as much as possible existing libraries. But I soon discovered that the biggest problem of Ruby web frameworks is reusability of components. Rails uses journey, which is coupled with ActionPack code base. Sinatra has its own hardcoded routing system. Plain Rack apps require the developer to fiddle with low level details of env.

All those solutions work great for the narrowed problem they are solving: HTTP routing for a given system. What if I wanted to build an high-level router, not just for a specific framework, but for all the Ruby web apps?

That’s where the idea of Lotus::Router came in.

Lotus::Router is an HTTP Router for Ruby, it’s fast, lightweight and compatible with the Rack protocol.

It’s designed to work as a standalone software or within a context of a Lotus application, and provides features such as: fixed and partial URL matching, redirect, namespaces, named routes and RESTful resource(s).

Usage

During the design process of this software I had in mind two main goals: simplicity and employ well known ideas. Ease of use is crucial to software adoption, but also meet a developer’s acquaintance with what he (or her) already utilize is critical as well. This is a pattern that you will notice often during the discover of Lotus: on one hand, it leverages on well established concepts, on the other one, it adds value by bringing fresh ideas.

require 'rubygems'
require 'lotus-router'

router = Lotus::Router.new do
  get  '/hello', to: ->(env) { [200, {}, ['Hello, World!']] }
  get  '/dashboard',   to: 'dashboard#index'
  get  '/middleware',  to: RackMiddleware
  get  '/rack-app',    to: RackApp.new

  redirect '/legacy', to: '/'

  namespace 'admin' do
    get '/users', to: UsersController::Index
  end

  resource  'identity'
  resources 'users'
end

For those who are unfamiliar with this (I hope none of you), let me explain the basic usage.

We have an HTTP verb as method, #get in the example. This method is invoked with a string which is the relative URL to match ("/hello"), and with an endpoint (to: #...) that is where a request will be routed to. Thanks to the Ruby’s weak typing nature, an endpoint can be a proc, a string, a class or an object. According to simple conventions, Lotus::Router is able resolve that option in a Rack endpoint, which must be provided by your application.

I would like you to notice that the DSL is implemented with a block accepted by the constructor, and it uses public methods of the object, there is no magic here. I could write the previous example like this:

router = Lotus::Router.new
router.get  '/', to: ->(env) { [200, {}, ['Hello, World!']] }
# ...

Another aspect that is important is that we obtain a router object. Instead of being relegated to a secondary role and hidden behind the opaque mechanisms of other frameworks, this is the first time that a router it’s promoted to a first class citizenship. This is a pillar of the Lotus architecture: let components to emerge. In this way developers can be better understand, introspect and test.

router = Lotus::Router.new(scheme: 'https', host: 'host.com')
router.get '/login', to: 'sessions#new', as: :login

router.path(:login) # => "/login"
router.url(:login)  # => "https://host.com/login"

Imagine how much it would be easy ‐ with a system like this ‐ to implement routing helpers.

This is only a taste of what Lotus::Router can do: please have a look at the README and the API doc, for a detailed explanation.

Roadmap

The experiment of releasing a Lotus component on the 23rd of every month is going well. On February will be the turn of Lotus::Controller.

To stay updated with the latest releases, to receive code examples, implementation details and announcements, please consider to subscribe to the Lotus mailing list.


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Developer, music connisseur and avid tea lover.