Sinatra for Rapid Prototyping

Recently, I’ve been working on a project that is mostly front-end work, but also communicates with some back-end web services.  I needed something to quickly respond to some basic GET requests at various endpoints and return either HTML fragments or JSON.  I’m not much of a big Ruby or Rails programer (although I do admire both), but I decided to try out a Ruby gem called Sinatrafor my basic web server needs.

Aside from being a famous American Crooner, Sinatra is a “DSL for quickly creating web applications in Ruby with minimal effort.” (as described in the intro)

After using it for a bit, I’d have to agree.  This is especially impressive to me because as I mentioned, I’m not much of a Ruby programmer. Sinatra let me do what I had to do on the back end (which wasn’t much) quickly so I could focus on the UI code.  I ran into a few things that I had some trouble with (like extracting a custom header), but after a bit of Googling, I found out how to do what I needed to do.

What I especially liked about using Ruby with Sinatra was the fast cycle times. I could make a change and restart Sinatra in less time than it took me to switch back to my web browser. Having a very short feedback loop really speeds up development.  I haven’t uses Sinatra extensivley or researched it too deeply, so I can’t comment on it’s appropriateness for larger projects, but it was great for my simple needs.

So if you find yourself needing a fast, lightweight web server for a simple app or prototype, give Sinatra an audition. You might even find it fun.

Continue the conversation by sharing your comments here on the blog and by following us on Twitter @CTCT_API

Leave a Comment