Announcing Awk on Rails

Awk on Rails is a new kind of web application development framework, with a distinction that no other framework has: Awk on Rails is fully POSIX compliant.

Awk on Rails brings the best practices of modern web application development to the ALAS stack (Apache, Linux, Awk, Shell). This stack is entirely new to the field of web development, yet already brings decades of maturity.

  • Installation is a breeze — in fact, it’s unnecessary, because Awk on Rails uses commands and tools already provided by your operating system.
  • Develop web applications that leverage the power of high-speed interprocess I/O pipelining, utilizing POSIX regular expressions to optimize request routing through common gateway interfaces.
  • Generate your Awk on Rails application code–using awk! A sophisticated script-based front-end called wreak takes care of it for you.
  • You get unlimited flexibility to customize the base application scripts, using your choice of development environment: vi or emacs.
  • SQL? We got NoSQL! We don’t need no stinking SQL! Tired of being confused by relational databases? Manage your data in an “X-treme” non-relational data store exclusive to Awk on Rails. It’s called Hammock, and it’s based on the POSIX key-value system NDBM. To initialize your data store, it’s as simple as running the command: wreak hammock.
  • Design and render application views using the simple and popular M4 language. We all know we need to keep application design separate and free from logic. Awk on Rails can make sure this happens!
  • Embedded source code documentation is easy using a custom macro package. Create ready-to-typeset manuals with one simple command: nroff -Mawkdoc.
  • Awk on Rails comes with example applications to get you started, including a blogging & content management platform AwkWord, and a syndication provider AWRY.
  • Does it scale? Of course! Thanks to the power of Moore’s Law, you’ll stay ahead of the curve over the long haul.
  • Development, deployment, and distribution are all powered by a convenient set of three distinct software licenses. No other framework supports this many licenses! Contributing back to the Awk on Rails project? You get to sign and submit a fourth license — at no charge!

You will soon be able to download source for Awk on Rails and join its development community, at the social source repository As soon as we figure out whether the licenses allow us to distribute our own source code, you may be able to use it in your projects too!

Look for future Awk on Rails developments and announcements in 2010.* Also look for an innovative cloud computing extension to Awk on Rails, called VaporWare.

Awk on Rails: Not Really Rapid, Not Exactly Agile, More Like Dodgy.

* Awk on Rails comes with no guarantee of release dates or timeliness of announcements. Check your calendars.



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9 responses to “Announcing Awk on Rails”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Check out werc:

  2. Gareth Bowles Avatar

    Awksome ! But, rather than jumping on the NoSQL bandwagon, I think Awk on Rails should use the ultimate database: APDB (

  3. Bill Karwin Avatar

    @Gareth: APDB looks promising! It seems to be a synthesis of the Singleton design pattern, with Martin Fowler's Serialized BLOB.

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    I bought it!
    And my first question was why awk, why not sed?

  5. Bill Karwin Avatar

    @ccpro: Hey! This is opinionated software; you don't get to ask questions.

  6. hi_saito Avatar

    I am a leader of "Japan AWK Users' Club". I hope your "AWK on Rails" will be success.

  7. JJ Parker Avatar

    Assuming this is not an April Fools joke and truly "vaporware" I find this very exciting. I have been extolling the virtues of using basic UNIX commands like awk for web development work. Why keep learning stuff that simply complicates matters with more overhead when you have such powerful utilities built into the OS.

    One quick question/concern about NDBM. I thought it's size (key/match) was limited to one block or has this limitation been removed?

    I can't wait to see the actual product!

    Best wishes,


  8. Bill Karwin Avatar

    Sorry for getting your hopes up Jeff. You might notice that this was my post on April 1, 2010.

    I thought it would be obvious that this was an April fool's joke. There are a number of in-jokes in the post. For example, the logo is a takeoff on the Ruby on Rails "train tracks" logo, but rendered to look like tractor-feed paper from old teletype printers I used in the 1980's.

  9. JJ Parker Avatar

    And here I thought I was kidding about it being an "April Fool's Joke" … you got me good! I actually liked the idea as I have used awk quite successfully in a number of website development projects. More of a hobby for me but I have used asp and php in the past and thought, why are we redeveloping the wheel?

    And awk is small and fast. This really did sound like a neat idea from my perspective. Wait until I tell my wife as I kept saying someone finally thinks as I do.

    I guess this is as good a place for using that obnoxious LOL symbol!

    Bill, thanks for the momentary hope and the subsequent good laugh! I'm still smiling and chuckling and LOL!

    Best wishes,


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