Understanding Action Cable in Rails 7

Real-Time Web Applications Made Easy

Patrick Karsh

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Ruby on Rails has long been celebrated for its ability to simplify and expedite the web development process. With the introduction of Action Cable in Rails 5 and its continued evolution through Rails 7, Rails has firmly established its capability in handling real-time features, which are increasingly important in modern web applications. This article delves into the workings of Action Cable in Rails 7, highlighting its significance, functionality, and how it enhances the Rails ecosystem.

What is Action Cable?

Action Cable seamlessly integrates WebSockets with the rest of your Rails application. It allows for real-time communication between the client-side (typically a web browser) and the server. Prior to Action Cable, implementing real-time features in Rails required external services or complex setups, but now, it’s a built-in feature of the framework.

The Magic of WebSockets

At the heart of Action Cable is the WebSocket protocol. Unlike the traditional HTTP request-response cycle, WebSockets provide a persistent connection between the client and the server. This bidirectional communication channel enables the server to send data to the client without the client having to request it, ideal for chat applications, notifications, live updates, and more.

Components of Action Cable

Consumer:

This refers to the client-side JavaScript connection that establishes and maintains the WebSocket connection with the server.

Channel:

Channels are the core of Action Cable. They act as controllers, managing the logic around the WebSocket connection. Each channel corresponds to a specific area of functionality, such as chat messages or notifications.

Broadcasting:

This is the process of sending data from the server to the subscribed clients. When an event occurs in your Rails application, you can broadcast…

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Patrick Karsh

NYC-based Ruby on Rails and Javascript Engineer leveraging AI to explore Engineering. https://linktr.ee/patrickkarsh