Sinatra: The Framework Within

Sinatra has been getting a lot of hype lately as the next great (micro)-framework. In writing apps, diving in, and contributing the reasons for its existence have become more clear. Sinatra is not just a toy or a neat trick, its the best way to create simple and non-obtrusive web interfaces to sit on top of a new or existing ruby project.

Sinatra is less then a framework – it’s a web library. This isn’t a slap in the face – it’s truly a compliment. Sinatra’s size and portability make it extremely easy to incorporate to existing Ruby apps. I’m talking BEYOND Rails. I’m talking about command line tools, complex C bindings, you name it. Sinatra can be required and a script can be fashioned to give a dusty ol’ code-base new life in a browser.

I decided not to just preach and tried to take my own advice. What came out of my first attempt is gembox. Gembox is a very light interface built on top of Ruby Gems. Download it, start it with:

$ gembox

That’s it. Ruby Gems is great starting point because it has a well defined API and a huge user-base (rubygems users === ruby users). What it doens’t have is a great web interface. Just booting up this little app gives you a pretty (albiet currently shallow) interface to your gems. This app is tiny. I chose to split it out over multiple files, but with your app could have put this all in a single file and included it in your library’s name-space. It’s that easy.

So here’s my pitch: Give your gems/libraries/code bundles beautiful web interfaces with minimal effort using Sinatra.

I think gembox was a successful little experiment and over the next weeks I’ll be updating my gems with simple interfaces.

Currently, I’m in the running for a spot to speak at GoGaRuCo. I like the idea of the attendee’s being able to vote for what presentations to have at the conference, but I think having a truncated synopsis listed might not give me the best chance. So I’d like to try to explain what I plan to talk about a little further. If you like what you hear please vote!

Photo Credit:

3 Responses to “Sinatra: The Framework Within”

Aaron, this seems to me like an *awesome idea*.

This “Sinatra-based, embeddable frontend” stuff could be pushed even further, let’s imagine: you can make your own Git-based issue-tracking/ticketing system for a piece of software, storing data in separate branch. The same applies for eg. specification. If you would “embed” a web GUI for this stuff inside, you could manage it not only from command line, but in a GUI as well.

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, following the trail of Ticgit or Github pages ideas. This is another piece of the puzzle. Great idea.


cs Says: #

sorry, it took me some time to figure out the install, i’ll copy here the steps:

1. install dependencies:
* rubygems >= 1.3.1
* haml >= 2.0.9
* sinatra >= 0.9.1
* activesupport >= 2.2.2
* mislav-will_paginate >=2.3.7
* hoe

2. sudo gem install quirkey-static_model
3. download gembox from
4. untar && ./bin/gembox


I totally agree. Sinatra opens up a bunch of possibilities, just by making it easy and lightweight to expose your functionality via http.

Exciting stuff!


QuirkeyBlog is Aaron Quint's perspective on the ongoing adventure of Code, Life, Work and the Web.




QuirkeyBlog is proudly powered by WordPress