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Implementing a Circuit Breaker in Rails

Alessio Bussolari
2 min readOct 17, 2023


The Circuit Breaker pattern is a design pattern used in software development to improve the stability and resilience of a system. In a Rails application, using a circuit breaker can prevent your system from making unnecessary requests to external services when they are known to be failing. This pattern can be particularly useful when your Rails application interacts with external APIs, databases, or other microservices.

The Basics of the Circuit Breaker Pattern

Think of a circuit breaker in electrical systems. It trips or “breaks” the circuit when there’s too much current, preventing potential damage. Similarly, in software, a circuit breaker “trips” when certain conditions are met, usually after detecting that a particular service is unavailable or failing.

Here are the three primary states of a circuit breaker:

  1. Closed: Everything is functioning as expected. Requests are made to the external service.
  2. Open: The external service is down or unresponsive. Requests are not made; instead, failures are returned immediately.
  3. Half-Open: After a predetermined amount of time, the circuit breaker allows some requests to check if the service has recovered. If it’s stable, the state returns to Closed; otherwise, it remains Open.



Alessio Bussolari

Ruby on Rails programmer since 2009. Current CTO at COSMIC SRL, where I lead the team in creating innovative solutions.