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I'm currently writing a pure ruby webserver, and one of the things that I have to do is parse a HTTP request. The method I've pasted below takes a HTTP request, and puts it in a map keyed by the header field names.

The biggest issue I faced while doing this was dealing with the lack of an EOF from the TCPSocket on requests with bodies (basically every POST request). This meant that I couldn't just keep doing file.gets until I reached the end of the file, because there was no end. What I ended up doing instead, was to create a while true loop that breaks when it finds '\r\n', which are the last characters before the Body, then read the Body separately using the number I get from Content-length.

Is there a more elegant way in ruby to do this? I feel like it's unnecessary to use a infinite loop, but I can't think of anything else that would work.

   # Takes a HTTP request and parses it into a map that's keyed
   # by the title of the heading and the heading itself.
   # Request should always be a TCPSocket object.
   def self.parse_http_request(request)
      headers = {}

      #get the first heading (first line)
      headers['Heading'] = request.gets.gsub /^"|"$/, ''.chomp
      method = headers['Heading'].split(' ')[0]

      #parse the header
      while true
         #do inspect to get the escape characters as literals
         #also remove quotes
         line = request.gets.inspect.gsub /^"|"$/, ''

         #if the line only contains a newline, then the body is about to start
         break if line.eql? '\r\n'

         label = line[0..line.index(':')-1]

         #get rid of the escape characters
         val = line[line.index(':')+1..line.length].tap{|val|val.slice!('\r\n')}.strip
         headers[label] = val
      end 

      #If it's a POST, then we need to get the body
      if method.eql?('POST')
         headers['Body'] = request.read(headers['Content-Length'].to_i) 
      end 

      return headers
   end 
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I know this is a bit dated, but I have been working on the same issue. I think the method that you are looking for is request.readpartial. You can see the docs here.

This takes a maxlen of bytes as an argument. If you reach the end of the data from calling IO.readpartial(maxlen), or hit the max length of bytes before the end of the incoming data on the TCPSocket, it will return the data.

This can replace the while true and \r\n logic needed to find the end of the incoming data.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The check for \r\n is there to check the end of the header, not the end of the input stream. But readpartial might be necessary to read the whole body when no EOF is send. \$\endgroup\$ – David Ongaro Mar 12 '15 at 1:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ One Tip: If I were about to write a ruby webserver I would take a serious look into Ragel. That is a special DSL to write write a parsing state machine and it can be compiled to Ruby (and also to C if Perfomance becomes an issue). Zed Shaw used this for Mongrel and it was the most popular ruby webserver for a while. \$\endgroup\$ – David Ongaro Mar 12 '15 at 1:58
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I don't know if this is the best method to parse an HTTP request. You probably should have a look into one of the simpler ruby http servers out there to get some ideas. I do know though that you're doing some strange things here:

headers['Heading'] = request.gets.gsub /^"|"$/, ''.chomp

It looks like you're calling the #chomp method on '' here, which doesn't make sense. You really should use parenthesis here:

headers['Heading'] = request.gets.gsub(/^"|"$/, '').chomp

But on the other hand I can't see what the gsub is doing here, you probably can just get rid of it.

method = headers['Heading'].split(' ')[0]

Probably nitpicking but you can make this easier (and a little faster) by using:

method = headers['Heading'][/[^ ]*/]

That translates to: get the substring till the first space character (so no need to create an array here).

line = request.gets.inspect.gsub /^"|"$/, ''

That is really strange, you don't need to "inspect" a string just to parse control characters. You can match control characters with double quoted strings (e.g. "\r\n").

label = line[0..line.index(':')-1]

#get rid of the escape characters
val = line[line.index(':')+1..line.length].tap{|val|val.slice!('\r\n')}.strip

The ruby god weeps. You can make this much simpler (and more efficient) by using a regexp here:

line =~ /(.*?): (.*)/
label = $1
val = $2.strip

Modifying the stream inside #tap is bad style and the #strip removes surrounding whitespace like "\n" and "\r" anyway.

For the loop you can do the most natural thing and just write the break condition in the while condition part:

while (line = request.gets) != "\r\n"
  ...
end
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