Recently I coded up a controller and view that produces a large data file. It was done this way because it needs to generate the proper URL's and take into account a fair bit of stuff at the view level in our application (like pagination, and the custom URL's we have, so extensive use of our URL helpers and other things at this level). The action takes a long time to run (about 3 minutes), so of course I page cache it. However, 3 minutes breaks the web server and/or Mongrel timeouts in our environment, so won't get served up in production and staging environments.
The solution, and I'd love to hear other ways, as I certainly won't claim this is the best way, was to create a small script/runner script that simply executed this route within our app. However, script/runner doesn't normally give you controller and view layer access, plus it doesn't have the context of a web request, so it won't know say the host it's being run against and so on. However, one can leverage an Integration::Session and manually set the host to get that. Thus, the script becomes as simple as:
session = ActionController::Integration::Session.new
session.host = 'www.yourdomain.com'
Note, I'm using get_via_redirect here because the particular action I call does a redirect after it expires the cached page of the action it's redirecting to. If you don't have a redirect going on, then you can just call
getinstead. This does not output anything of course, but for us, just caches the resulting page, which is exactly what we want.