Custom Filters

Custom filters (specifically, Custom On-Filters) limit the hosts that are being deployed to, in the same way as Host and Role filters, but the exact method used to filter servers is up to the user of Capistrano.

Filters may be added to Capistrano’s list of filters by using the Configuration#add_filter method. Filters must respond to a filter method, which will be given an array of Servers, and should return a subset of that array (the servers which passed the filter).

Configuration#add_filter may also take a block, in which case the block is expected to be unary. The block will be passed an array of servers, and is expected to return a subset of that array.

Either a block or object may be passed to add_filter, but not both.


You may have a large group of servers that are partitioned into separate regions that correspond to actual geographic regions. Usually, you deploy to all of them, but there are cases where you want to deploy to a specific region.

Capistrano recognizes the concept of a server’s role and hostname, but has no concept of a region. In this case, you can construct your own filter that selects servers based on their region. When defining servers, you may provide them with a region property, and use that property in your filter.

The filter could look like this:


    class RegionFilter

      def initialize(regions)
        @regions = Array(regions)

      def filter(servers) {|server|
          region = server.fetch(:region)
          region && @regions.include?(region)


You would add servers like this:


    server('', region: 'north-east')
    server('',     region: 'south-west')
    server('',         region: 'mid-west')

To tell Capistrano to use this filter, you would use the Configuration#add_filter method. In this example, we look at the REGIONS environment variable, and take it to be a comma-separated list of regions that we’re interested in:


    if ENV['REGIONS']
      regions = ENV['REGIONS'].split(',')
      filter =

We obtain a list of regions to deploy to from the environment variable, construct a new filter with those regions, and add it to Capistrano’s list of filters.

Of course, we’re not limited to regions. Any time you can classify or partition a list of servers in a way that you only want to deploy to some of them, you can use a custom filter. For another example, you might arbitrarily assign your servers to either an A group or a B group, and deploy a new version only to the B group as a simple variant of A/B Testing.

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