Rails Needs an After Fork Hook

Posted on February 24, 2014 - Subscribe - Home

I don't write about Rails anymore. I don't use it in my personal projects. However I get daily exposure at the office. We use AMQP. AMQP is awesome but depending on how your client it has initialization requirements. We're using the amqp gem which is based on eventmachine. So depending on how & when the application is booted we connect to AMQP in different ways. This problem also gets worse because our rails application boots in different contexts. There are:

Also the AMQP connection needs to happen at different points in the boot process. In forking process the connection is made after fork. In single processes the connection can be made during the initialization process. I took care of the rake task an console uses cases by using a rake initializer and a console hook through a railtie. I cannot take care of the after_fork cases with a railtie. Rails can actually do something about this.

Rails is popular enough that popular projects provide integration (via a railtie). Forking web servers (unicorn/passenger) are not going away anytime soon. Resque is not going away either. There are plenty of popular projects that need this hook. I think Rails should add an after_fork hook to the Railtie class. This make it easier for any project or application requirement to tie into the boot process and execute code in a clean way. This would require two interfaces: one to declare hooks, and one to run the hooks. Here is my proposal:

class AMQPProject < Rails::Railtie
  # takes an argument like initializer to `after` and `before`
  # options work as well.
  after_fork 'amqp.connect' do

ActiveRecord::Railtie can register its after_fork handler to reconnect. Then everyone can remove that line from all their projects.

module ActiveRecord
  class Railtie < ::Rails::Railtie
    after_fork 'active_record.connect' do

Now on the project side you'd simply call Rails.application.forked to run the hooks.

module Resque
  class << self
    def boot
      # do stuff
      fork do
        ::Rails.application.forked if defined? ::Rails

I think this would benefit the community and keep the framework up-to-date with how it's used in the real world. What do you think?

— Adam Hawkins