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Mechanism for safely aborting long-running requests after a specified timeout.



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 Project Readme

Safe Request Timeout

Continuous Integration Regression Test Ruby Style Guide Gem Version

This gem provides a safe and convenient mechanism for adding a timeout mechanism to a block of code. The gem ensures that the timeout is safe to call and will not raise timeout errors from random places in your code which can leave your application in an indeterminate state.

It is designed to work in situations where there is a general timeout needed on some kind of request. For instance, consider a Rack HTTP request. This request may be behind a web server running in a separate process with it's own timeout where it sends an error back to the client when the application is taking too long to process the request. However, your Ruby application won't know anything about this and will continue processing the request and generating a response for a client that is no longer going to receive the response which just wastes server resources.

When requests start timing out due to an external issue like a slow database query, then it is more difficult to recover and can cascade an isolated issue into a general site outage. Often the timeouts you have on resources like database connections won't cover this case either since individual queries might never hit the timeout limit.

Unlike the Timeout class in the Ruby standard library, this code is very explicit about where timeout errors can be raised, so you don't need to worry about a timeout error in an unexpected place leaving your application in an indeterminate state.

There is built in support for Rails applications. For other frameworks you will need to add some middleware and hooks to implement the timeout mechanism.


You can wrap code in a timout block.

SafeRequestTimeout.timeout(15) do

By itself, this won't do anything. Unlike normal timeouts, there is no background process that will kill the operation after a defined period. Instead, you will need to periodically call SafeRequestTimeout.check_timeout! from within your code. Calling this method within a timeout block will raise an error if the time spent in that block has exceeded the max allowed. Calling it outside of a timeout block will do nothing.

It is generally best to call the check_timeout! method before doing an expensive operation since there's no point in timing out after the work has already been done. This method will also clear the current timeout, so you don't have to worry about it generating a cascading series of timeout errors in any error handling code.

SafeRequestTimeout.timeout(5) do
  1000.times do
    # This will raise an error if the loop takes longer than 5 seconds.

You can also set a timeout value retroactively from within a timeout block. You can use this feature to change the timeout based on application state.

# Setting a timeout of nil will set up a block that will never timout.
SafeRequestTimeout.timeout(nil) do
  # Set the timeout duration to 5 seconds for non-admin users
  SafeRequestTimeout.set_timeout(5) unless current_user.admin?


You can also set the timeout duration with a Proc that will be evaluated at runtime.

SafeRequestTimeout.timeout(lambda { ? nil : 5 })

You can clear the timeout if you want to ensure a block of code can run without begin timed out (i.e. if you need to run cleanup code).

SafeRequestTimeout.timeout(5) do


You can add hooks into other classes to check the current timeout if you don't want to have to sprinkle SafeRequestTimeout.check_timeout! throughout your code. To do this, use the SafeRequestTimeout.add_timeout! method. You need to specify the class and methods where you want to add the timeout hooks:

# Add a timeout check to the MyDriver#make_request method.
SafeRequestTimeout::Hooks.add_timeout!(MyDriver, [:make_request])

Rack Middleware

This gem ships with Rack middleware that can set up a timeout block on all Rack requests. In a Rack application you would use this code to add a 15 second timeout to all requests to app. do
  use SafeRequestTimeout::RackMiddleware, 15
  run app

If you want to customize the timeout per request, you can call SafeRequestTimeout.set_timeout inside your request handling to change the value for the current request. You can also define the timeout duration with a Proc which will be called at runtime with the env object passed for the request. do
  use SafeRequestTimeout::RackMiddleware, lambda { |env|
    10 unless"/admin")
  run app

Sidekiq Middleware

This gem ships with Sidekiq middleware that can add timeout support to Sidekiq workers. The middleware needs to be added to the server middleware in the Sidekiq initialization.

Sidekiq.configure_server do |config|
  config.server_middleware do |chain|
    chain.add SafeRequestTimeout::SidekiqMiddleware

You can then specify a timeout per worker with the safe_request_timeout sidekiq option.

class SlowWorker
  include Sidekiq::Worker

  # Set a 15 second timeout for the worker to finish.
  sidekiq_options safe_request_timeout: 15


This gem comes with built in support for Rails applications.

  • The Rack middleware is added to the middleware chain. There is no timeout value set by default. You can specify a global one by setting safe_request_timout.rack_timeout in your Rails configuration.

  • If Sidekiq is being used, then the Sidekiq middleware is added. Sidekiq workers can specify a timeout with the safe_request_timeout option.

  • A timeout block is added around ActiveJob execution. Jobs can specify a timeout by calling SafeRequestTimeout.set_timeout in the perform method or in a before_perform callback.

  • A timeout check is added on all ActiveRecord queries. The timeout is cleared when a database transaction is committed so that you won't unexpectedly timeout a request after making persistent changes. You can disable these hooks by setting safe_request_timeout.active_record_hook to false in your Rails configuration.


Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'safe_request_timeout'

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself as:

$ gem install safe_request_timeout


Open a pull request on GitHub.

Please use the standardrb syntax and lint your code with standardrb --fix before submitting.


The gem is available as open source under the terms of the MIT License.