HTTP Headers and Ruby 3

Upgrading your libraries and dependencies regularly is a must if you want to keep up with application security and performance. Sometimes though, things do not go as planned and part of your code breaks because of the upgrade.

This happened when we upgraded our Ruby version from 2.7 to 3.0. Suddenly, all of our requests to Amazon’s API started failing. As this was a critical part of the business, we had to investigate the root cause of the problem. Continue Reading

Autovivification in Ruby

Recently, I came across a problem where I need to store values inside a nested Hash. The catch is, the keys within that Hash are unknown, and each key can also have a nested Hash within. In addition to that, the final value of this nested Hash is an Integer that needs to be accumulated.

In Ruby, we need to define the Hash keys first before we can get or modify the value. If you try and access a key that does not exist yet, it will return nil. When you try and access another key within that non-existent key, it raises an exception: Continue Reading

Simple Web Applications using Rack

As Ruby developers, we are familiar with popular web frameworks such as Rails, Sinatra and Hanami. These frameworks make our lives much easier due to the built-in features, conventions that allow others to easily understand our code, and the use of the vast Ruby ecosystem.

Knowledge of these frameworks enable developers to create feature-rich web applications in a short amount of time. But do you know the layer beneath that framework? Are you aware that these frameworks use a mini-framework within? As part of the series on Web Application Basics, we will introduce Rack and why it is important for developers to know how it works. Continue Reading

Web Development Basics: Server

Once a web request traveled through the Internet and reached the server, it can now be processed, right? Not so fast! In a production setup, the request does not reach the application right away. We will introduce the different services that support a web application: Content Delivery Networks, Load Balancers, Reverse Proxies, Web Servers, and Application Servers.

Why do we need all of this?

Technically, it is possible to connect an application directly to the Internet and start serving requests. While this will suffice for a small Internet-of-Things home service, this is going to be problematic in a real-world production use. Continue Reading

Web Development Basics: Security

In the previous article we discussed how requests through the Internet are protected using HTTPS. This is made possible through the use of TLS Certificates. In this article we will discuss what these certificates are, the different types, and how anyone can use them for their own web application.

TLS certificates

To establish a secure communication between a browser and the server, the first step is to do what is called a TLS handshake. In this process, the public key of the server is used to generate the key that is used for symmetric encryption. This public key is shared using a TLS certificate. Continue Reading