Some Notes

I want to point out the excellent reference project for Ratpack called example-books. This is what I reference when I need to figure out how to do something or what has changed in a Ratpack release. It is updated for every Ratpack release.

Lastly, I’ve been considering switching the examples in this blog series from Groovy to Java. One advantage of Ratpack is the Groovy DSL and how simple it is to create a quick application with it, but I do think it hides what is really happening in Ratpack a bit. I’ve decided to stay with Groovy, but to post the equivalent Java once I’m done with the main series.

You can find all the code for this post on github with the tag ‘config-and-testing’


Previously, the Reverse Proxy was hard coded to proxy all requests to cellarhq. That isn’t very useful, it would be better to based on an external config file. Ratpack’s configuration is excellent. It supports yaml, properties files, system properties, and environment variables to name a few, and more formats can be supported easily.

serverConfig { d -> d
  .require('/proxyConfig', ProxyConfig)

Loading configuration from a file and then layering on environment variables and system properties happens in the ratpack block of ratpack.groovy. The ServerConfig is available globally to anything that has access to the registry. The configuration specific to the reverse proxy is stored in a plain old groovy object, and is also added to the registry.

package reverseproxy.config

class ProxyConfig {
	String forwardToHost = 'InvalidHost'
	Integer forwardToPort = 80
	String forwardToScheme = 'http'

Finally, the ProxyConfig instance can be accessed from the registry and then used in handlers.

all { HttpClient httpClient, ProxyConfig proxyConfig ->
  URI requestURI = new URI(request.rawUri)
  URI proxyUri = new URI(

  httpClient.requestStream(proxyUri) { RequestSpec spec ->
  }.then { StreamedResponse responseStream ->


So far the reverse proxy is very basic and doesn’t do much. Before additionally functionality is layered on, it is important to have a functional test to ensure everything keeps working. Testing is an important part of Ratpack and I previously wrote about how Ratpack can actually improve the testing of Grails and other frameworks.

A functional test of the reverse proxy requires a proxy target and it is best to avoid external dependencies in tests. Ratpack provides a fantastic feature to overcome this using an EmbeddedApp in the test itself.

class ReverseProxyBasicTest extends Specification {
  ApplicationUnderTest aut = new GroovyRatpackMainApplicationUnderTest()

  TestHttpClient client = aut.httpClient

  EmbeddedApp proxiedHost = GroovyEmbeddedApp.of {
    handlers {
      all {
        render "rendered ${request.rawUri}"

  def setupSpec() {
    System.setProperty('ratpack.proxyConfig.forwardToPort', Integer.toString(proxiedHost.address.port))
    System.setProperty('ratpack.proxyConfig.forwardToScheme', proxiedHost.address.scheme)

  def "get request to ratpack is proxied to the embedded app"() {
    client.getText(url) == "rendered /${url}"

    url << ["", "api", "about"]

This tests starts the Reverse Proxy application, that’s the application under test, creates a test http client to call the reverse proxy and then creates an embedded app that is separate from the application under test in order to proxy requests to that embedded application. The embedded app is just rendering text back to the proxy. The setupSpec() is setting several system properties. Those system properties are being used by the ConfigData instance in the Ratpack application to set configuration for the embedded application. There’s no need for a test configuration file because of this. Each test can easily specify the configuration it needs and no more.

Finally the test makes an http request to the Reverse Proxy and verifies the result is as expected. This is a simple but powerful test and each new feature added to the reverse proxy will begin with a test.

Adding a second handler

It would be nice to be able to view the configuration for the reverse proxy via a simple html page rendered by the application itself. It’s an easy first feature to add, and demonstrates adding a path specific handler.

First though, a test.

class ConfigPageTest extends GebReportingSpec {
  ApplicationUnderTest aut = new GroovyRatpackMainApplicationUnderTest()

  def setupSpec() {
    System.setProperty('ratpack.proxyConfig.forwardToHost', 'testhost')
    System.setProperty('ratpack.proxyConfig.forwardToPort', '123')
    System.setProperty('ratpack.proxyConfig.forwardToScheme', 'https')

  def setup() {
    browser.baseUrl = aut.address.toString() + 'reverseProxyAdmin'

  def "admin page displays config"() {
    to ConfigPage

    host == "Proxied Host: testhost"
    port == "Proxied Port: 123"
    scheme == "Proxied Scheme: https"

This test uses Geb to functionally test a page through firefox. Geb is beyond the scope of this article, but it is an easy (and default) way to test html generated by Ratpack. Here, we verify that there is a page that responds to /reverseProxyAdmin and has 3 <li> elements which include the configuration data.

The handler and template to generate this are simple. You will need to add the Handlebars module to the application. Modules are the method Ratpack uses to add functionality not included in Ratpack core. Most functionality is in a module, because Ratpack tries to be as unopinionated as possible. Simple add module HandlebarsModule to the bindings block of ratpack.groovy and add the build dependency compile ratpack.dependency('handlebars') to build.gradle.

Create a handlebars directory inside of the ratpack source directory then create a reverseProxyAdmin.html.hbs file. Remove the spaces between the braces, I couldn’t get octopress to render them correctly without it.

      <title>Reverse Proxy Config</title>
    <h1>Config Data</h1>
      <li>Proxied Host: { { config.forwardToHost } }</li>
      <li>Proxied Port: { { config.forwardToPort } }</li>
      <li>Proxied Scheme: { { config.forwardToScheme } }</li>

Finally the new handler must be added to handlers block of ratpack.groovy.

get('reverseProxyAdmin') { ProxyConfig proxyConfig ->
    render handlebarsTemplate('reverseProxyAdmin.html', config: proxyConfig)

The handler itself is very simple. It just renders a handlebars template and passes a map containing the configuration to the template. Using get with a path instead of all means that this handler will be invoked only when there is an HTTP GET request to /reverseProxyAdmin. Technically this means the application can’t reverse proxy anything to that path, but I think we can live with that for now. Try adding this handler below the original handler and then start the application and navigate to the page.

It didn’t work did it? That’s because handlers are executed in order and only 1 handler may render a response. So the all handler intercepted the request and proxied it. Most likely you received a 404 from the proxied host. To fix this, just reverse the order of the handlers and try again. This is an important thing to remember when building Ratpack applications! It is quite different than MVC frameworks like grails or rails which have a routing definition which says which controller to call for which URLs.


We layered some additional functionality into the application and added tests. It’s almost a real application now! In the next series we will start to move code out of the Ratpack.groovy file and see how a larger application can be structured. In doing so, we’ll add a few new features to the application and explore logging and more handler composition with Ratpack.