Using Bundler with Sinatra

If you plan to deploy your sinatra application to a PaaS like Heroku or any other service, you will benefit a whole lot from using Bundler. In rails you simply add all your application’s dependency to a file called Gemfile and then run $ bundle install this is made possible with bundler.

Bundler provides a consistent environment for Ruby projects by tracking and installing the exact gems and versions that are needed.


In summary, bundler exist for the following reasons

  1. To combat Dependency hell
  2. To provide easy gem management for the various applicaiton environment. This could be test, development, staging, production or whatever a team/developer choose to call it.

To use bundler on your current sinatra application, just create a file Gemfile and add all your dependency. For instance, if we had a sinatra app in a file called app.rb with the following content

require 'sinatra'

get '/about' do
  halt 200, 'This is a sinatra application'

You can get rid of the require statements and add this to your Gemfile instead

gem 'sinatra'
gem 'redis'

So you end up with app.rb that looks like this.

get '/about' do
  halt 200, 'This is a sinatra application'

Next run $ bundle install this will create another file Gemfile.lock file in your current directory - more about this later.

Note: You don’t need to get rid of the require statement if you are loading core ruby classes e.g ruby require net/http but if you application depends on a custom library then you can get rid of that and add it straight to the Gemfile.

How do you run your app?

$ ruby app.rb that was how you ran your app before bundler. That approach would not work now that we are using bundler. To run your app, you will need to use the rackup command, this is needed for all rack based apps. This command only works if a file is present in your application directory. So lets create one with the following content

require 'rubygems'
require 'bundler'


require_relative './app'
run Sinatra::Application

Now if you run the command $ rackup your application should boot up and let you know what port its running on. This approach runs your sinatra app using sinatra’s classical style. If you app is extending either Sinatra::Base or Sinatra::Application like in the example below

class Application < Sinatra::Base
  get '/about' do
    halt 200, 'This is a sinatra application'

Then the last line in your would be

run Application

Benefits of this approach

Without bundler, if we ship our application to another machine, and we try to run our app, ruby would use whatever version of our application’s gem it finds on that machine.

This can cause a lot of problems which could be very hard to debug and that is the reason bundler creates a Gemfile.lock file, so when you deploy your application to a new machine, if the user runs bundle install to install dependencies, bundler will pull the exact version(s) you app requires. This very technique prevents you from dependency hell.

Here is a detailed article on how bundler achieves this with the help of rubygems.

Thank you for reading.

Published 23 Mar 2018