How to set up AWS Cloudfront to serve Assets for Rails App

Agustin Vilaseca
Jan 26, 2016 · 2 min read

If you are wondering “why use a CDN to serve assets in the first place?”, then this article is not for you. However, if you have already decided you want to use cloudfront, then I hope you will find this helpful.

There are a lot of good write ups out there already on how to go about doing this. One good example is from Happy Bear Software.

However there are a few additional gotcha’s that you might run into. I’ll attempt to summarize all the necessary steps here.

Getting your rails App to serve assets

First step is to have a rails app that is serving your assets. You can do so by setting serve_static_assets = true on production, which in turns adds the middleware ActionDispatch::Static or alternately by using Rack::Static.

Next, if your app will be also serving fonts make sure to provide CORS support. An easy way to do this is to use rack/cors middleware making sure that it is before Rack::Static on your middleware stack.

e.g. first thing on your

Create a AWS cloudfront distribution

Create a new cloudfront distribution making sure that you point the origin domain to your domain.

And for CORS, make sure to whitelist the origin header, like so:

After your distribution is done provisioning, test that things are working by loading (look at your manifesto or some file from public/assets). Check that headers are correctly set for origin and max-age, etc. Hint: use your fav tool here e.g. Dev Console in Chrome

Have your App point to the new cloudfront distribution

Change your production.rb config to point assets to

and do the same for action mailer.

You dont have to use an Env variable here, but I found it useful that you can change domains without having to deploy new code.

Another tip is that you might want to add the link to a dns prefetch on your page head to speed up page loads.


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