Is Ruby on Rails Web Server?


Scott Campbell

Is Ruby on Rails Web Server?

Ruby on Rails is a powerful web development framework that allows developers to build dynamic and robust web applications. However, it is important to note that Ruby on Rails is not a web server itself, but rather a framework that runs on top of a web server.

The Role of a Web Server

Before we dive into the specifics of Ruby on Rails, let’s first understand the role of a web server in the context of web development. A web server is responsible for handling incoming requests from clients (such as browsers) and returning the appropriate responses. It acts as an intermediary between the client and the application code.

Ruby on Rails and Web Servers

When it comes to Ruby on Rails, it can run on various web servers such as Apache, Nginx, and even its own built-in server called WEBrick. These web servers handle the HTTP requests and responses necessary for communication between clients and Ruby on Rails applications.

Apache and Nginx are popular choices for hosting Ruby on Rails applications in production environments. They provide advanced features like load balancing, caching, and SSL encryption. These servers are often used in combination with other tools like Passenger or Unicorn to enhance performance.

On the other hand, WEBrick is a simple web server that comes bundled with Ruby by default. It is primarily used for development purposes due to its limited capabilities compared to Apache or Nginx. WEBrick lacks some advanced features but provides an easy way to quickly set up a local development environment without additional configuration.

The Rack Middleware

In addition to running on web servers, Ruby on Rails utilizes Rack middleware to handle incoming requests. Rack provides an interface between web servers and Ruby applications, allowing developers to build web applications that are independent of the underlying web server.

Rack middleware acts as a layer between the web server and the Ruby on Rails application. It allows for various functionalities such as URL routing, session management, and request/response manipulation. This modular approach enables developers to customize the behavior of their applications without directly modifying the web server configuration.


In summary, Ruby on Rails is not a web server itself but a framework that runs on top of various web servers. Whether it’s Apache, Nginx, or the built-in WEBrick server, these servers handle the HTTP communication necessary for Ruby on Rails applications to function. Additionally, Rack middleware plays a crucial role in bridging the gap between the web server and the application code.

Understanding this distinction is important when working with Ruby on Rails as it allows developers to choose the most suitable web server for their specific needs and leverage its features to optimize their application’s performance.

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