November 6, 2014

Service Design Patterns in Rails: Client-Service Interaction styles

I have started reading this book that have been on my shelf for several months accumulating dust. The book is called "Service Design Patterns" by Robert Daigneau. Actually it looked cool on my shelf next to the "Design Patterns in Ruby".

Anyway, I started reading it some days ago and while reading it, I've been trying to match the patterns described in it with what I know from having worked on Rails for the last few years. The examples in the book are Java and C#. It was a nice surprise to see that a typical Rails application already implements most of them, thus if you use Rails, you are already using them, the same way you use the MVC pattern.

Thus, today I'll write a post on how Rails implements the Client-Service Interaction Styles patterns described in this book. Hopefully, I won't put the book back to the shelf for more dust and this post will be followed by other posts on the other patterns.

Client-Service Interaction Styles patterns are:

  • Request/Response
  • Request/Acknowledge
  • Media Type Negotiation
  • Linked Service


This is the simplest pattern and the default one. The Request/Response is nothing more than sending a Response to a Request. For example, if we take the typical Rails example application for maintaining a Product, the product controller would contain:

class ProductsController < ApplicationController
  def index
    @products = Product.all

Thus, a request like 

GET /products.json

will return a Response with all the Products.


Request Acknowledge means that a Request will return without actually processing the data and no returning any data but an acknowledge code, and the data will get processed by another process in the background.

This can be accomplish with the delayed_job gem. In short, the delayed_job stores a task in the database instead of running that task, and then a background job will get that task and run it. This is very appropriate for long-running tasks so that you can give back control to the client and do the task later in the background.

For a task to be delayed, you just call:


where some_long_running_task is the task you want to be delayed.

This is the typical architecture of having a worker dyno running a delayed job in Heroku.

Media Type Negotiation

Getting back to the typical Products example, media type negotiation means that the client asks for a media type and the server creates a different response. In rails this means that these two requests:

GET /products.json
GET /products.xml

will produce different responses with the same data. For example:

class ProductsController < ApplicationController
  def index  
    @products = Products.all        
    respond_to do |format|                                                             format.xml  { render xml  @products}
      format.json { render json @products}                                           end

Linked Service

The Linked Service patterns means that the response includes links to other services, so that the client should parse that information before deciding the next request.

Unfortunately, I haven't found any example nor in the rails itself nor in the gems that I know of such a pattern. If you know of a linked service example typically used in Rails, please respond to this post.