Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rails v2.0 with IIS MSSQL ISAPI_Rewrite3


This is an update to my blog on running rails with IIS and Mondrel using MSSQL, This update details the steps for a rails v2.0 application (rather than 1.8)

My Rails app is not heavely used (2 full time, several casual users), so a proxy/redirect from IIS to single Mongrel seemed ideal.

IIS will still service up the static/public content, and all other requests are forwarded to Mongrel(s). Using ISAPI_Rewrite3 from Helicon Tech

ISAPI_Rewrite3 is cool it mimics Apache mod_rewrite.

Also I needed to re-document the install/set-up so here it is.

Install Software


  • Ruby is installed in C:\ruby
  • Rails applications are under C:\rails
  • Rails application is called "rapp" (Rails application). And in C:\rails\rapp
  • SQL Express is the database.
  • A install CD with all relevant software/gems is available on R:\downloads

Install MSSQL

Install MSSQL with a named instance SQL$RAPP this will allow you to shutdown one rails application DB, without affecting others.

> cd R:\downloads
> dotnetfx.exe  # Install .Net Frame work 2.0 
> SQLEXPR32-SP2.EXE # MS SQl Server 2005 Express with SP2,
Untick "Hide Advanced Options" to allow a named instance to be insalled  
# Used Named Instance "RAPP" based on name of rails application
# Used mixed authentication, "sa" passsword "*********"
> SQLServer2005_SSMSEE-SP2.msi # MS Sql Server Managment Studio  with SP2

Configure MSSQL

Rails connects to MSSQL using tcp/ip. This is not enabled by default

> SQLServerManager.msc # Start "SQL Server Configeration Manager"

SQL Server Network Configuration -> Protocols for RAPP -> Enable TCP/IP
SQL Native Client Configuration -> Client Protocols -> Enable TCP/IP 

Install Ruby

This is included for completeness

> cd R:\downloads
> ruby186-25.exe # Install ruby # source: ruby 
# Select Install "Ruby" and "Enable RubyGems"
# Install to "C:\ruby 
# Check C:\ruby\bin to your everyones path !!
# If not added, My Computer -> Properties -> 
        Advanced ->  Environment  Variables -> System Variables

> cd R:\downloads\rubygems-0.9.4  # source: rubygems   
# NOTE: Use 0.9.4 as mongrel does not install correctly with 0.9.5 
> ruby setup.rb # Install ruby gems

Install Rails/Mogrel

> cd C:\downloads
> gem install rake #
Successfully installed rake-0.7.3

> gem install rails # "
Successfully installed activesupport-2.0.1
Successfully installed activerecord-2.0.1
Successfully installed actionpack-2.0.1
Successfully installed actionmailer-2.0.1
Successfully installed activeresource-2.0.1
Successfully installed rails-2.0.1

> gem install mongrel # pick the win32, #
Successfully installed gem_plugin-0.2.3
Successfully installed cgi_multipart_eof_fix-2.5.0
Successfully installed mongrel-1.1.1-mswin32

> gem install mongrel_service --source  # pick the win32
Successfully installed win32-service-0.5.2-mswin32
Successfully installed mongrel_service-0.3.3-mswin32

Install MSSQL Drivers

Install MSSQL Drivers (DBI/ADO drivers)

> cd R:\downloads\ruby-dbi-0.1.1 #
> ruby setup.rb config --with=dbd_ado
> ruby setup.rb setup
> ruby setup.rb install

Install sqlserver adapter (as now packaged seperately) - this is available from

> gem install activerecord-sqlserver-adapter --source

Install RMagick / Faster CSV

NOTE: When including rmagic in your rails app. Use the full name rmagic.rb, as depending on your paths may be included rather than rmagic.rb

> cd R:\downloads\rmagick-1.15.9 # win32
> ImageMagick-6.3.5-8-Q8-windows-dll.exe
# Install to C:\ruby\ImageMagick
# Tick [x] Update executable search path.
> gem install rmagick-1.15.9-x86-mswin32-60.gem --local
# Note: Documentation is in 
# C:\ruby\lib\ruby\gems\1.8\gems\rmagick-x.x.x-win32\doc\index.html
> cd R:\downloads
> gem install fastercsv-1.2.0 --local

Install Iaspi Rewriter

> cd R:\downloads
> ISAPI_Rewrite3_00xx.msi #
# Install to C:\Inetpub\ISAPI_Rewrite3\
> Run C:\Inetpub\ISAPI_Rewrite3\Helicon Manager.exe
# And Register product # See: serialno.txt for the serial number

Patch and Patch

Patch Active Record - SQL Server Adapter

SQL 2005 differs from previous versions, it reports null columns as uppercase NULL and you need to patch the sqlserver_adapter.rb

# Patch  sqlserver_adapter.rb (See Rails Ticket #7733) for server 2005
> cd C:\ruby\lib\ruby\gems\1.8\gems\activerecord-sqlserver-adapter-1.0.0\
> edit sqlserver_adapter.rb
# Line ~304: default = ...... "=~ /null/ ? nil"   ==> 
      "=~ /null/i ? nil"  # Case insensitive match on the word

Patch Action Controller - CGI Process

When preforming a re-direct the header is inspected for the real host when request has been forward, however rails does not strip any extra white space.

> cd C:\ruby\lib\ruby\gems\1.8\gems\actionpack-2.0.1\lib\action_controller
> edit cgi_process.rb

    def host_with_port_without_standard_port_handling
      if forwarded = env["HTTP_X_FORWARDED_HOST"]
      etc ...

# Line ~87: forwarded.split(/,\s?/).last  ==> 
#    forwarded.split(/,\s?/).last.strip # strip extra spaces/tabs 

Patch SQL Server Adapter - to handel dates prior to 1970

This is detailed in a seperate post, Check out SOLVED: Rails + MSSQL dates prior to 1970

Create/Configure Rails Application

Create Rails Application

> mkdir C:\rails
> cd C:\rails
> rails rapp # Create rails app called rapp

Add in some addins

Active record "acts_as_list" is now a plugin add it in, I also recommend annotate_models from "Agile Developemnt With Rails"

> cd C:\rails\rapp
> gem install acts_as_list  --source
> ruby script/plugin install file://C:\downloads\annotate_models 
> ruby script/plugin install

Create Rails "Hello World" Application

> ruby script/generate controller hello

Edit C:\rails\rapp\app\controllers\hello_controller.rb. And past in this code.

class HelloController < ApplicationController
   $render_count ||= 0
   def world
     $render_count += 1
     render :text =>  "<html><body><h1>Hello World</h1>
               Page rendered #{$render_count} times.</body</html>"

Woops: We dont have a database yet, so remove the requirement

  Edit \rails\rapp\config\environment.rb
  # No database support, remove active_record etc ..
  config.frameworks -= [ :active_record, :active_resource, :action_mailer ]

Test basic application works with WebBrick

> cd C:\rails\rapp
> ruby script/server # Run WebBrick to test 
> iexplore.exe http://localhost:3000/hello/world 
# Should get hello world page
> Ctrl+break # Close WebBrick

Host using mongrel service

Perform the following steps to host rapp using mongrel

NOTE: We will be hosting this rails application under the relative url "/rapp"

NOTE: We only bind to localhost (, since IIS will eventually forward locally to mongrel

The port chosen is 4004

> cd C:\rails\rapp
> mongrel_rails service::install -N rails_rapp -a 
         -c C:\rails\rapp -p 4004 -e production --prefix /rapp
# NOTE: adding --prefix /rapp, sets 
#      ActionController::AbstractRequest.relative_url_root = "/rapp"
> sc config rails_rapp start= auto
> net start rails_rapp
# To remove the service use: mongrel_rails service::remove -N rails_rapp


Mongrel service will be running as SYSTEM or NETWORK SERVICE, You need to check/give the following permissions.

  • Give FULL permission for C:\rails\rapp\temp and C:\rails\rapp\log
  • Give FULL permission to TEMP (C:\WINDOWS\TEMP)
  • Give FULL permission to any other folders your rails app1 writes to (e.g C:\rails\app1\public\attachments )
  • Check Read/Execute permissions for C:\ruby\* and C:\ruby\ImageMagick
  • Check Read permission Under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\ADODB.Connection for both the ADODB.Connection and ADODB.Connection.X.X entries # mssql only

Test using mongrel service

Browse to http://localhost:4004/rapp/hello/world, Note all url's are now relative to rapp, This allows multiple rails apps to be hosted behind iis

> iexplore.exe http://localhost:4004/rapp/hello/world 
# Should get hello world page, Rendered for the 1st time 
# Press refresh a few times, See the counter grow.

Now to host behind IIS

Create a virtial directory, so IIS services up the public/static portion of the site, (i.e. C:\rails\rapp\public)

> mkdir C:\Inetpub\Logfiles
> inetmgr.exe # Change log file folder
  # Goto -> Default Web Site -> Properties -> Web Site Tab -> Logging properties
    Log file directory -> C:\Inetpub\Logfiles

> inetmgr.exe # Add in your application
  # Goto -> Default Web Site -> New -> Virtual Directory -> 
    Alias/Name -> rapp
    Directory/Path -> C:\rails\rapp\public
    Permissions -> Read + Scripts + Executables
    # Note: Need Execute otherwise proxy/forwarding does not work !!!! 

Test static portion

Browse to http://localhost/rapp/index.html - You should see the standard welcome to rails page

> iexplore.exe http://localhost/rapp/index.html 
# Should get the "Rails Welcome aboard" 

Configure ISAPI_Rewrite3 to forward to Mongrel

Confiure ISAPI_Rewrite to forward all http://host/rapp/* to mongrel on*. NOTE: We do not forward requests contining a full stop (.), So files like .js and .css etc will be serviced up by iis

> C:\Inetpub\ISAPI_Rewrite3\Helicon Manager.exe
    Click -> Edit
    Enter your new rule
        RewriteProxy rapp/([^.]+)$$1

Your "C:\Inetpub\ISAPI_Rewrite3\httpd.conf" file should look something like

# Helicon ISAPI_Rewrite configuration file
# Version
RewriteEngine on
RewriteBase /
RewriteProxy rapp/([^.]+)$$1

Rails .htaccess legacy
Remove/Rename the c:\rails\rapp\public\.htaccess file, as this is read by ISAPI_Rewrite but is designed for Apache !!!

> rename c:\rails\rapp\public\.htaccess c:\rails\rapp\public\apache.htaccess

Test mongrel/dynamic portion

Browse to http://localhost/rapp/hello/world - You should see the Hello World with counter from last test

> iisreset # restart iis
> iexplore.exe http://localhost/rapp/hello/world
# Should get hello world page, Rendered for the nth time 


You should now have a working rails application, behind IIS using Mongrel.
To add another application simply nominate a new relative url and repeat the above steps

Multiple Applications

When running multiple rails applications, Set the session key to be unique for each instance, otherwise you will be trying to share session keys across multiple apps.
> Edit \rails\rapp\controllers\application.rb
  config.action_controller.session = {
    :session_key => '_rapp_session',
    :secret      => '571 etc... a0263'

Notes on: SSL/HTTPS and ISAPI_Rewrite3 with RewriteProxy

If you are running IIS with SSL, You need to pass to the backend application than fact you are running https://

The header needs to contain "X-Forwarded-Proto: https", ISAPI_Rewrite3 does not add this for you as it does for X-Forward-Host etc. So we need to do it ourselves if using https

Edit your "C:\Inetpub\ISAPI_Rewrite3\httpd.conf" to contain the following, Before any RewriteProxy

# Add "X-Forwarded-Proto: https" to the header so back end knows if running with ssl/https
RewriteCond %{HTTPS} ^on$
RewriteHeader X-Forwarded-Proto: .* https

RewriteProxy etc ....


CresceNet said...

Gostei muito desse post e seu blog é muito interessante, vou passar por aqui sempre =) Depois dá uma passada lá no meu site, que é sobre o CresceNet, espero que goste. O endereço dele é . Um abraço.

Anonymous said...

Hi ... wich change are with rails 2.0.2 it is the same tutorial ... or i didnt more do the patch stuff ...

Tres Trantham said...

This is invaluable. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

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