Rails Plugin for Mimicking SSL requests and responses 1

Posted by ryan Fri, 14 Nov 2008 23:33:42 GMT

The Short

I've written a plugin for Ruby on Rails that allows you to test SSL-dependent application behavior that is driven by the ssl_requirement plugin without the need to install and configure a web server with SSL.

Learn more

The Long

A while back, I wanted the Selenium tests for a Ruby on Rails app I was working on to cover the SSL requirements and allowances of certain controller actions in the system, as defined using functionality provided by the ssl_requirement plugin. I also wanted this SSL-dependent behavior to occur when I was running the application on my local development machines. I had two options:

  1. Get a web server configured with SSL running on my development machines, as well as on the build server.

  2. Patch the logic used by the system to determine if a request is under SSL or not, as well as the logic for constructing a URL under SSL, so that the system can essentially mimic an SSL request without a server configured for SSL.

Since I had multiple Selenium builds on the build server, setting up an SSL server involved adding a host name to the loopback for each build, so that Apache could switch between virtual hosts for the different server ports. I also occasionally ran web servers on my development machines on ports other than the default 3000, as did everyone else on the team, so that we'd all have to go through the setup process for multiple servers on those machines as well. We would need to do all of this work in order to test application logic that, strictly speaking, didn't even require the use of an actual SSL server. Given that the only thing that I was interested in testing was that the requests to certain actions either redirected or didn't, depending on their SSL requirements, all I really needed was to make the application mimic an SSL request.

To mimic an SSL request in conjunction with using the ssl_requirement plugin without an SSL server consisted of patching four things:

  1. ActionController::UrlRewriter#rewrite_url - Provides logic for constructing a URL from options and route parameters

    If provided, the :protocol option normally serves as the part before the :// in the constructed URL.

    The method was patched so that the constructed URL always starts with "http://". If :protocol is equal to "https", this causes an "ssl" key to be added to the query string of the constructed URL, with a value of "1".

  2. ActionController::AbstractRequest#protocol - Provides the protocol used for the request.

    The normal value is one of "http" or "https", depending on whether the request was made under SSL or not.

    The method was patched so that it always returns "http".

  3. ActionController::AbstractRequest#ssl? - Indicates whether or not the request was made under SSL.

    The normal value is determined by checking if request header HTTPS is equal to "on" or HTTP\_X\_FORWARDED_PROTO is equal to "https".

    The method was patched so that it checks for a query parameter of "ssl" equal to "1".

  4. SslRequirement#ensure\_proper\_protocol - Used as the before\_filter on a controller that includes the ssl_requirement plugin module, which causes the redirection to an SSL or non-SSL URL to occur, depending on the requirements defined by the controller.

    This method was patched so that, instead of replacing the protocol used on the URL with "http" or "https", it either adds or removes the "ssl" query parameter.

For more information, installation instructions, and so on, please refer to the plugin directly at:


Bug: composite_primary_keys and belongs_to with :class_name option 2

Posted by ryan Sat, 17 Nov 2007 02:39:44 GMT

For those of you using the composite_primary_keys gem as of version 0.9.0, you may encounter an issue if you try to do something like:

class Reading < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :reader, :class_name => "User"

When a User is loaded up from the database via the reader association, the CPK modification to ActiveRecord::Reflection::AssociationReflection#primary\_key\_name incorrectly returns "user_id" as the primary key name. If you encounter this issue, I've submitted a patch against revision 124 that can be obtained here.

Hopefully this will get fixed in the next release. More hopefully, I won't need to care by then.

Passing Arrays and Nested Params to url_for in Rails 15

Posted by ryan Wed, 07 Feb 2007 21:12:00 GMT

A few weeks ago (okay, more than a few weeks ago, it took me a while to write this), I discussed the problems involved with passing nested hash parameters to named routes in Rails. My coding pair and I discovered another bug (still using rev 5522) when passing hash parameters to a named route in Rails, this time when the hash contains arrays. For example, consider the following call to a named route:

person_url(:name => ['Ryan', 'Kinderman'])
In order for the params hash to get decoded properly on the server, the resulting URL must be encoded to look like this:
Unfortunately, it gets encoded to look like this:
For those of you unfamiliar with CGI escaping, the %2F translates into the '/' character. So, you end up with a params hash in the controller where params[:name] == ['Ryan/Kinderman']. How disappointing. To get around this in the past, I've chosen to either split the hash value on '/', or use my own encoding of arrays that Rails can handle, and then simply decode them myself within the controller. In the above example, I could have done something like:
person_url(:name => {0 => 'Ryan', 1 => 'Kinderman})
Of course, without the patch I described a few weeks ago, this kind of thing would not be possible either, because Rails can't encode nested hash parameters.

What I present here is a detailed explanation of the problem, with instructions at the end on how to install my plugin patch to fix it. My explanation and patch address the issues for both nested and array parameters. There are a number of methods involved in the solution to this problem. It may be useful at this point for you to refer to Jamis Buck's excellent articles on the gory details of Rails route recognition and generation.

When you call link_to or url_for, either explicitly, either explicitly or through the named route *_url and *_path methods, they roughly follow the following call sequence for processing route parameters:

The problems start in the call to options_as_params. This method is not recursive, and processing nested parameters is a recursive problem. The next issue with options_as_params is not actually in the method, but in the to_param method that it calls. If you look at the Rails implementation of Array#to_param, you'll see that all it's doing is joining the elements into a '/' separated string. This doesn't get processed back into separate array elements when the request is received by the controller. So, in the case when value is an Array instance during a call to options_as_params, the resulting string is encoded incorrectly.

The other specific issue lies in the Route#build_query_string method. Take a look at the method, and notice the part that looks like:

if value.class == Array
  key <<  '[]'
  value = [ value ] 
The check for the Array class causes a problem when passing an array to url_for as an option parameter when that array comes from the params hash from within a controller action (*whew*, that was a mouthful!). This is because what you thought was an array is actually an instance of ActionController::Routing::PathSegment::Result. To be honest, I don't know why this is happening. I looked at the code and realized that it'd take me longer to figure out than what I wanted to spend at the time. However, if someone could explain it to me, I'd love to hear it. In any case, to solve this particular problem, the conditional needs to be changed from a check for only Array to Array and any subclasses using something like the is_a? method.

So, those are the issues involved in why array and nested hash parameters don't work properly in calls to url_for. Rather than going through my solution, I'm offering it as a Rails plugin with full unit test coverage, and plan to submit it as an actual patch to the Rails team, with the code cleaned up a bit more. Maybe there are reasons why this sort of thing isn't supported, but I can't think what they might be. I'll post updates here if and when I get more information on this. If you have comments or questions on this patch or parts of the code, please let me know.

You can install the Rails plugin by typing the following into your command-line: ruby script/plugin install git://github.com/ryankinderman/nested_params_patch.git To see the issues I've discussed first-hand, after installing the plugin, take a look at controller_test.rb.

Addendum: I checked, and as of revision 6141 of Rails, the issues covered by this article are still present, and the plugin still fixes them.

Addendum (2007/04/03): I've just got around to confirming that, as rwd's commented, the bug has been fixed. If you're using revision 6343 or later of Rails, you probably aren't going to need this patch. Yay!

Nested Hash Params with Named Routes in Ruby on Rails 5

Posted by ryan Fri, 17 Nov 2006 04:41:00 GMT

I've never (as of rev 5522) been able to pass a nested hash as parameters to url_for and have it flatten it properly on the generated URL. I encountered the problem again the other day and, having had just about enough, decided to try and nip it in the bud.

The problem I was having occurred when tried to make an HTTP request to a named route such as:

people_url(:person => { :name => 'Bob', :profession => 'Developer' })
This translates to a URL such as http://localhost:3000/people?person=nameBobprofessionDeveloper for a POST request. This obviously doesn't decode the hash in a format that can be encoded back its original form.

When I've encountered this problem in the past, I could never find any information from someone who's actually solved the problem. There are a few patches submitted as tickets to the Rails devs, but one seems to be a duplicate of the other, and neither seems to fix this problem on Edge, at least not for my particular use case.

The root of this particular problem lies in a method in the action_controller/routing.rb file within actionpack/actioncontroller, in the options_as_params of the RoutingSet class. The method, without comments, looks like this:

def options_as_params(options)
  options_as_params = options[:controller] ? { :action => "index" } : {}
  options.each do |k, value|
    options_as_params[k] = value.to_param
The problem lies on line 4 in the case where value is a Hash. In that case, the to_param method simply converts the Hash instance into its String representation, which is just a pile of keys and values mashed together, as in my people_url example.

To solve this problem, I changed the method to look like this:

def options_as_params(options)
  options_as_params = options[:controller] ? { :action => "index" } : {}
  options.parameterize do |param_key, param_value|
    options_as_params[param_key] = param_value.to_param
The parameterize method is an extension I made to the Hash class that essentially flattens a hash like:
  :person => {
    :name => 'Bob',
    :profession => 'Developer'
into a new Hash that looks like:
  :'person[name]' => 'Bob',
  :'person[profession]' => 'Developer'
The new Hash is in a format that can be decoded into a URL query string that will be properly encoded back into a Hash on the request. My Hash extension for the solution looks like this:
class Hash

  def flatten(superkey)
    flattened_hash = {}
    self.each do |key, value|
      flattened_hash["#{superkey}[#{key}]".to_sym] = value
  def parameterize
    self.each do |k, value|
      if value.is_a?(Hash)
        value.flatten(k).each { |fk, fv| yield fk, fv }
        yield k, value

Note that this has only been tested to work for a single-level nested Hash, as that satisfied my needs at the time I developed the solution.