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A Rails engine for queuing and managing maintenance tasks
 Project Readme


A Rails engine for queuing and managing maintenance tasks.

Table of Contents

  • Demo
  • Installation
    • Active Job Dependency
  • Usage
    • Creating a Task
    • Creating a CSV Task
    • Considerations when writing Tasks
    • Writing tests for a Task
    • Writing tests for a CSV Task
    • Running a Task
    • Monitoring your Task's status
    • How Maintenance Tasks runs a Task
      • Help! My Task is stuck
    • Configuring the gem
      • Customizing the error handler
      • Customizing the maintenance tasks module
      • Customizing the underlying job class
      • Customizing the rate at which task progress gets updated
  • Upgrading
  • Contributing
  • Releasing new versions


Watch this demo video to see the gem in action:

Link to demo video


Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'maintenance_tasks'

And then execute:

$ bundle
$ rails generate maintenance_tasks:install

The generator creates and runs a migration to add the necessary table to your database. It also mounts Maintenance Tasks in your config/routes.rb. By default the web UI can be accessed in the new /maintenance_tasks path.

In case you use an exception reporting service (e.g. Bugsnag) you might want to define an error handler. See Customizing the error handler for more information.

Active Job Dependency

The Maintenance Tasks framework relies on ActiveJob behind the scenes to run Tasks. The default queuing backend for ActiveJob is asynchronous. It is strongly recommended to change this to a persistent backend so that Task progress is not lost during code or infrastructure changes. For more information on configuring a queuing backend, take a look at the ActiveJob documentation.


Creating a Task

A generator is provided to create tasks. Generate a new task by running:

$ rails generate maintenance_tasks:task update_posts

This creates the task file app/tasks/maintenance/update_posts_task.rb.

The generated task is a subclass of MaintenanceTasks::Task that implements:

  • collection: return an Active Record Relation or an Array to be iterated over.
  • process: do the work of your maintenance task on a single record
  • count: return the number of rows that will be iterated over (optional, to be able to show progress)


# app/tasks/maintenance/update_posts_task.rb
module Maintenance
  class UpdatePostsTask < MaintenanceTasks::Task
    def collection

    def count

    def process(post)
      post.update!(content: 'New content!')

Creating a CSV Task

You can also write a Task that iterates on a CSV file. Note that writing CSV Tasks requires ActiveStorage to be configured. Ensure that the dependency is specified in your application's Gemfile, and that you've followed the setup instuctions.

Generate a CSV Task by running:

$ rails generate maintenance_tasks:task import_posts --csv

The generated task is a subclass of MaintenanceTasks::Task that includes a MaintenanceTasks::CsvTask module and implements:

  • process: do the work of your maintenance task on a CSV::Row
# app/tasks/maintenance/import_posts_task.rb
module Maintenance
  class ImportPostsTask < MaintenanceTasks::Task
    include MaintenanceTasks::CsvTask

    def process(row)
      Post.create!(title: row["title"], content: row["content"])
# posts.csv
My Title,Hello World!

Considerations when writing Tasks

MaintenanceTasks relies on the queue adapter configured for your application to run the job which is processing your Task. The guidelines for writing Task may depend on the queue adapter but in general, you should follow these rules:

  • Duration of Task#process: processing a single element of the collection should take less than 25 seconds, or the duration set as a timeout for Sidekiq or the queue adapter configured in your application. It allows the Task to be safely interrupted and resumed.
  • Idempotency of Task#process: it should be safe to run process multiple times for the same element of the collection. Read more in this Sidekiq best practice. It's important if the Task errors and you run it again, because the same element that errored the Task may well be processed again. It especially matters in the situation described above, when the iteration duration exceeds the timeout: if the job is re-enqueued, multiple elements may be processed again.

Writing tests for a Task

The task generator will also create a test file for your task in the folder test/tasks/maintenance/. At a minimum, it's recommended that the #process method in your task be tested. You may also want to test the #collection and #count methods for your task if they are sufficiently complex.


# test/tasks/maintenance/update_posts_task_test.rb

require 'test_helper'

module Maintenance
  class UpdatePostsTaskTest < ActiveSupport::TestCase
    test "#process performs a task iteration" do
      post =


      assert_equal 'New content!', post.content

Writing tests for a CSV Task

You should write tests for your #process method in a CSV Task as well. It takes a CSV::Row as an argument. You can pass a row, or a hash with string keys to #process from your test.

# app/tasks/maintenance/import_posts_task_test.rb
module Maintenance
  class ImportPostsTaskTest < ActiveSupport::TestCase
    test "#process performs a task iteration" do
      assert_difference -> { Post.count } do
          'title' => 'My Title',
          'content' => 'Hello World!',

      post = Post.last
      assert_equal 'My Title', post.title
      assert_equal 'Hello World!', post.content

Running a Task

You can run your new Task by accessing the Web UI and clicking on "Run".

Alternatively, you can run your Task in the command line:

$ bundle exec maintenance_tasks perform Maintenance::UpdatePostsTask

You can also run a Task in Ruby by sending run with a Task name to Runner: 'Maintenance::UpdatePostsTask')

Monitoring your Task's status

The web UI will provide updates on the status of your Task. Here are the states a Task can be in:

  • new: A Task that has not yet been run.
  • enqueued: A Task that is waiting to be performed after a user has instructed it to run.
  • running: A Task that is currently being performed by a job worker.
  • pausing: A Task that was paused by a user, but needs to finish work before stopping.
  • paused: A Task that was paused by a user and is not performing. It can be resumed.
  • interrupted: A Task that has been momentarily interrupted by the job infrastructure.
  • cancelling: A Task that was cancelled by a user, but needs to finish work before stopping.
  • cancelled: A Task that was cancelled by a user and is not performing. It cannot be resumed.
  • succeeded: A Task that finished successfully.
  • errored: A Task that encountered an unhandled exception while performing.

How Maintenance Tasks runs a Task

Maintenance tasks can be running for a long time, and the purpose of the gem is to make it easy to continue running tasks through deploys, Kubernetes Pod scheduling, Heroku dyno restarts or other infrastructure or code changes.

This means a Task can safely be interrupted, re-enqueued and resumed without any intervention at the end of an iteration, after the process method returns.

By default, a running Task will be interrupted after running for more 5 minutes. This is configured in the job-iteration gem and can be tweaked in an initializer if necessary.

Running tasks will also be interrupted and re-enqueued when needed. For example when Sidekiq workers shuts down for a deploy:

  • When Sidekiq receives a TSTP or TERM signal, it will consider itself to be stopping.
  • When Sidekiq is stopping, JobIteration stops iterating over the enumerator. The position in the iteration is saved, a new job is enqueued to resume work, and the Task is marked as interrupted.

When Sidekiq is stopping, it will give workers 25 seconds to finish before forcefully terminating them (this is the default but can be configured with the --timeout option). Before the worker threads are terminated, Sidekiq will try to re-enqueue the job so your Task will be resumed. However, the position in the collection won't be persisted so at least one iteration may run again.

Help! My Task is stuck

Finally, if the queue adapter configured for your application doesn't have this property, or if Sidekiq crashes, is forcefully terminated, or is unable to re-enqueue the jobs that were in progress, the Task may be in a seemingly stuck situation where it appears to be running but is not. In that situation, pausing or cancelling it will not result in the Task being paused or cancelled, as the Task will get stuck in a state of pausing or cancelling. As a work-around, if a Task is cancelling for more than 5 minutes, you will be able to cancel it for good, which will just mark it as cancelled, allowing you to run it again.

Configuring the gem

There are a few configurable options for the gem. Custom configurations should be placed in a maintenance_tasks.rb initializer.

Customizing the error handler

Exceptions raised while a Task is performing are rescued and information about the error is persisted and visible in the UI.

If you want to integrate with an exception monitoring service (e.g. Bugsnag), you can define an error handler:

# config/initializers/maintenance_tasks.rb
MaintenanceTasks.error_handler = ->(error) { Bugsnag.notify(error) }

Customizing the maintenance tasks module

MaintenanceTasks.tasks_module can be configured to define the module in which tasks will be placed.

# config/initializers/maintenance_tasks.rb
MaintenanceTasks.tasks_module = 'TaskModule'

If no value is specified, it will default to Maintenance.

Customizing the underlying job class

MaintenanceTasks.job can be configured to define a Job class for your tasks to use. This is a global configuration, so this Job class will be used across all maintenance tasks in your application.

# config/initializers/maintenance_tasks.rb
MaintenanceTasks.job = 'CustomTaskJob'

# app/jobs/custom_task_job.rb
class CustomTaskJob < MaintenanceTasks::TaskJob
  queue_as :low_priority

The Job class must inherit from MaintenanceTasks::TaskJob.

Note that retry_on is not supported for custom Job classes, so failed jobs cannot be retried.

Customizing the rate at which task progress gets updated

MaintenanceTasks.ticker_delay can be configured to customize how frequently task progress gets persisted to the database. It can be a Numeric value or an ActiveSupport::Duration value.

# config/initializers/maintenance_tasks.rb
MaintenanceTasks.ticker_delay = 2.seconds

If no value is specified, it will default to 1 second.


Use bundler to check for and upgrade to newer versions. After installing a new version, re-run the install command:

$ rails generate maintenance_tasks:install

This ensures that new migrations are installed and run as well.


Would you like to report an issue or contribute with code? We accept issues and pull requests. You can find the contribution guidelines on

Releasing new versions

This gem is published to packagecloud. The procedure to publish a new version:

  • Update spec.version in maintenance_tasks.gemspec.
  • Run bundle install to bump the Gemfile.lock version of the gem.
  • Open a PR and merge on approval.
  • Create a release on GitHub with a version number that matches the version defined in the gemspec.
  • Deploy via Shipit and see the new version on