Phil Gengler

on software, development, and anything else

Configuring nginx for an Ember frontend and a Rails backend

One of the projects I'm working on at the moment is a todo list app, with an Ember.js frontend and a Rails API backend. Since it's something that only I'm going to be using (at least for the moment) I decided to keep things simple and just use basic HTTP authentication. With two pieces, I thought the easiest thing to do would be to host both parts on the same subdomain, so that I wouldn't have to deal with CORS and trying to forward the authentication.

I configured the routes for the Rails part to all start with api/v1, so that makes it easy to distinguish requests for the API from requests for the frontend. While I was at it, I also wanted to leave "real" URLs for the various routes in the Ember app, instead of using hashbang URLs.

upstream todo-api {
        server unix:/tmp/todo-api.unicorn.sock fail_timeout=0;

server {
        listen 80;
        server_name; # replace with the actual server name

        root /srv/sites/todolist/www;
        access_log /srv/sites/todolist/logs/access.log;
        error_log /srv/sites/todolist/logs/error.log;

        auth_basic "Todolist";
        auth_basic_user_file "/srv/sites/todolist/htpasswd";

        location /api {
                proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
                proxy_set_header Host $http_host;
                proxy_redirect off;
                proxy_pass http://todo-api;

        location / {
                try_files $uri $uri/ /index.html?/$request_uri;