Hardscrabble 🍫

By Max Jacobson

how to log all input in your pry rails console

14 Oct 2015

Many Rubyists use and love the pry gem for adding breakpoints to their programs and inspecting objects. Super useful. Some others use the pry-rails gem to use the pry REPL in place of irb for the rails console.

Let’s say you want to log all of the activity that occurs in your rails console. This could be a nice security thing. Maybe you’re just nostalgic for old times.

Pry has something called an “input object”, which you can override in your configuration. The object’s responsibility is to feed ruby code to Pry, line by line. By default, it uses the Readline module. I don’t know a ton about readline, but I gather that it’s wrapping some standard unix program, which means it sort of feels natural. For example, you can input Control+l and it will clear the screen; gets.chomp doesn’t do that kind of thing.

So, Readline is great. We want to use it. We just kind of want to wrap it. SO let’s see what that looks like.

First: where do we actually put our configuration?

You can put a .pryrc file in the root of your project. You can even put Ruby code in that file. I think that’s the official way to do it. But I don’t know… it doesn’t get syntax highlighting because it doesn’t have a .rb file extension… I put my configuration in a Rails initializer named config/initializers/pry.rb, and that works fine too.

class LoggingReadline
  delegate :completion_proc, :completion_proc=, to: Readline

  def readline(prompt)
    Readline.readline(prompt).tap do |user_input|


  def logger
    @logger ||= Logger.new('log/console.log')

Pry.config.input = LoggingReadline.new

The important thing for custom input objects is that they implement the readline method. The method takes in a string that holds the current user prompt, and it is expected to return a string that holds the next line of Ruby code for Pry to evaluate.

If pry is a REPL (read evaluate print loop), the custom input object assumes the responsibility of the first letter, and thats’ it.

It doesn’t strictly need to ask the user for input. It could just return some nonsense.

But, this one does. We can summarize what it does as: ask the dev for a line of input, but first log it to a file before returning it to pry for EPL-ing.

There’s one line that’s kind of strange:

delegate :completion_proc, :completion_proc=, to: Readline

What’s that about?

Well, I’ve learned, it’s just kind of a necessary thing to make sure your custom input object seamlessly behaves like the default pry input behavior. Let me explain.

Readline, by default, has some strategy for tab completing when you start to write something, and then press tab. That strategy is a proc object. The default one has something to do with irb I guess?

$ irb
>> Readline.completion_proc
=> #<Proc:0xb9964ce0@/home/max/.rubies/2.2.3/lib/ruby/2.2.0/irb/completion.rb:37>

But! When starting pry, it has a different completion proc!

$ pry
[1] pry(main)> Readline.completion_proc
=> #<Proc:0xb8a0c25c@/home/max/.gem/ruby/2.2.3/gems/pry-0.10.2/lib/pry/repl.rb:177>

But when you provide a custom input object, pry doesn’t replace the completion proc on readline because you seem not to even be using it, so why bother? But in this case we totally are using it, we’re just wrapping it.

At first, I thought this was a bug with Pry, and I opened an issue to complain about it, but while writing this blog post I realized that it’s kind of not a bug, and this delegation approach is probably fine.