Rails::Railtie is the core of the Rails framework and provides several hooks to extend Rails and/or modify the initialization process.

Every major component of Rails (Action Mailer, Action Controller, Active Record, etc.) implements a railtie. Each of them is responsible for their own initialization. This makes Rails itself absent of any component hooks, allowing other components to be used in place of any of the Rails defaults.

Developing a Rails extension does not require implementing a railtie, but if you need to interact with the Rails framework during or after boot, then a railtie is needed.

For example, an extension doing any of the following would need a railtie:

  • creating initializers

  • configuring a Rails framework for the application, like setting a generator

  • adding config.* keys to the environment

  • setting up a subscriber with ActiveSupport::Notifications

  • adding Rake tasks

Creating a Railtie

To extend Rails using a railtie, create a subclass of Rails::Railtie. This class must be loaded during the Rails boot process, and is conventionally called MyNamespace::Railtie.

The following example demonstrates an extension which can be used with or without Rails.

# lib/my_gem/railtie.rb
module MyGem
  class Railtie < Rails::Railtie

# lib/my_gem.rb
require "my_gem/railtie" if defined?(Rails::Railtie)


To add an initialization step to the Rails boot process from your railtie, just define the initialization code with the initializer macro:

class MyRailtie < Rails::Railtie
  initializer "my_railtie.configure_rails_initialization" do
    # some initialization behavior

If specified, the block can also receive the application object, in case you need to access some application-specific configuration, like middleware:

class MyRailtie < Rails::Railtie
  initializer "my_railtie.configure_rails_initialization" do |app|
    app.middleware.use MyRailtie::Middleware

Finally, you can also pass :before and :after as options to initializer, in case you want to couple it with a specific step in the initialization process.


Railties can access a config object which contains configuration shared by all railties and the application:

class MyRailtie < Rails::Railtie
  # Customize the ORM
  config.app_generators.orm :my_railtie_orm

  # Add a to_prepare block which is executed once in production
  # and before each request in development.
  config.to_prepare do

Loading Rake Tasks and Generators

If your railtie has Rake tasks, you can tell Rails to load them through the method rake_tasks:

class MyRailtie < Rails::Railtie
  rake_tasks do
    load "path/to/my_railtie.tasks"

By default, Rails loads generators from your load path. However, if you want to place your generators at a different location, you can specify in your railtie a block which will load them during normal generators lookup:

class MyRailtie < Rails::Railtie
  generators do
    require "path/to/my_railtie_generator"

Since filenames on the load path are shared across gems, be sure that files you load through a railtie have unique names.

Run another program when the Rails server starts

In development, it’s very usual to have to run another process next to the Rails Server. In example you might want to start the Webpack or React server. Or maybe you need to run your job scheduler process like Sidekiq. This is usually done by opening a new shell and running the program from here.

Rails allow you to specify a server block which will get called when a Rails server starts. This way, your users don’t need to remember to have to open a new shell and run another program, making this less confusing for everyone. It can be used like this:

class MyRailtie < Rails::Railtie
  server do

Application and Engine

An engine is nothing more than a railtie with some initializers already set. And since Rails::Application is an engine, the same configuration described here can be used in both.

Be sure to look at the documentation of those specific classes for more information.


ABSTRACT_RAILTIES = %w(Rails::Railtie Rails::Engine Rails::Application)


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