# Views

# Structure

As Rails follows the MVC pattern Views are where your "templates" are for your actions.

Let's say you have a controller articles_controller.rb. For this controller you would have a folder in views called app/views/articles:

|-- controllers
|   '-- articles_controller.rb
'-- views
    '-- articles
    |   |- index.html.erb
    |   |- edit.html.erb
    |   |- show.html.erb
    |   |- new.html.erb
    |   '- _partial_view.html.erb
    '-- [...]

This structure allows you to have a folder for each controller. When calling an action in your controller the appropriate view will be rendered automatically.

// articles_controller.rb
class ArticlesController < ActionController::Base
  def show

// show.html.erb
<h1>My show view</h1>

# Partials

Partial templates (partials) are a way of breaking the rendering process into more manageable chunks. Partials allow you to extract pieces of code from your templates to separate files and also reuse them throughout your templates.

To create a partial, create a new file that begins with an underscore: _form.html.erb

To render a partial as part of a view, use the render method within the view: <%= render "form" %>

  • Note, the underscore is left out when rendering
  • A partial has to be rendered using its path if located in a different folder

To pass a variable into the partial as a local variable, use this notation:

<%= render :partial => 'form', locals: { post: @post } %>

Partials are also useful when you need to reuse exactly the same code (DRY philosophy).

For example, to reuse <head> code, create a partial named _html_header.html.erb, enter your <head> code to be reused, and render the partial whenever needed by: <%= render 'html_header' %>.

# Object Partials

Objects that respond to to_partial_path can also be rendered, as in <%= render @post %>. By default, for ActiveRecord models, this will be something like posts/post, so by actually rendering @post, the file views/posts/_post.html.erb will be rendered.

A local named post will be automatically assigned. In the end, <%= render @post %> is a short hand for <%= render 'posts/post', post: @post %>.

Collections of objects that respond to to_partial_path can also be provided, such as <%= render @posts %>. Each item will be rendered consecutively.

# Global Partials

To create a global partial that can be used anywhere without referencing its exact path, the partial has to be located in the views/application path. The previous example has been modified below to illustrate this feature.

For example, this is a path to a global partial app/views/application/_html_header.html.erb:

To render this global partial anywhere, use <%= render 'html_header' %>

# AssetTagHelper

To let rails automatically and correctly link assets (css/js/images) in most cases you want to use built in helpers. (Official documentation (opens new window))

# Image helpers

# image_path

This returns the path to an image asset in app/assets/images.

image_path("edit.png") # => /assets/edit.png

# image_url

This returns the full URL to an image asset in app/assets/images.

image_url("edit.png") # => http://www.example.com/assets/edit.png

# image_tag

Use this helper if you want to include an <img src="" />-tag with the source set.

image_tag("icon.png") # => <img src="/assets/icon.png" alt="Icon" />

# JavaScript helpers

# javascript_include_tag

If you want to include a JavaScript-file in your view.

javascript_include_tag "application" # => <script src="/assets/application.js"></script>

# javascript_path

This returns the path of your JavaScript-file.

javascript_path "application" # => /assets/application.js

# javascript_url

This returns the full URL of your JavaScript-file.

javascript_url "application" # => http://www.example.com/assets/application.js

# Stylesheet helpers

If you want to include a CSS-file in your view.

stylesheet_link_tag "application" # => <link href="/assets/application.css" media="screen" rel="stylesheet" />

# stylesheet_path

This returns the path of you stylesheet asset.

stylesheet_path "application" # => /assets/application.css

# stylesheet_url

This returns the full URL of you stylesheet asset.

stylesheet_url "application" # => http://www.example.com/assets/application.css

# Example usage

When creating a new rails app you will automatically have two of these helpers in app/views/layouts/application.html.erb

<%= stylesheet_link_tag    'application', media: 'all', 'data-turbolinks-track': 'reload' %>
<%= javascript_include_tag 'application', 'data-turbolinks-track': 'reload' %>

This outputs:

// CSS
<link rel="stylesheet" media="all" href="/assets/application.self-e19d4b856cacba4f6fb0e5aa82a1ba9aa4ad616f0213a1259650b281d9cf6b20.css?body=1" data-turbolinks-track="reload" />
// JavaScript
<script src="/assets/application.self-619d9bf310b8eb258c67de7af745cafbf2a98f6d4c7bb6db8e1b00aed89eb0b1.js?body=1" data-turbolinks-track="reload"></script>

# Replace HTML code in Views

If you ever wanted to determine the html content to be printed on a page during run time then, rails has a very good solution for that. It has something called the content_for which allows us to pass a block to a rails view. Please check the below example,

Declare content_for

  <%= yield :header %>

<% content_for :header do %>
   <li>Line Item 1</li>
   <li>Line Item 2</li>
<% end %>

# HAML - an alternative way to use in your views

HAML (HTML abstraction markup language) is a beautiful and elegant way to describe and design the HTML of your views. Instead of opening- and closing tags, HAML uses indentation for the structure of your pages. Basically, if something should be placed within another element, you just indent it by using one tab stop. Tabs and white space are important in HAML, so be sure that you always use the same amount of tabs.


<h1><%= @the_title %></h1>
<p>This is my form</p>
<%= render "form" %>

And in HAML:

%h1= @the_title
    This is my form
= render 'form'

You see, the structure of the layout is much clearer than using HTML and ERB.


Just install the gem using

gem install haml

and add the gem to the Gemfile

gem "haml"

For using HAML instead of HTML/ERB, just replace the file extensions of your views from something.html.erb to something.html.haml.

Quick tipps

Common elements like divs can be written in a short way


<div class="myclass">My Text</div>



HAML, shorthand




<p class="myclass" id="myid">My paragraph</p>


%p{:class => "myclass", :id => "myid"} My paragraph

Inserting ruby code

You can insert ruby code with the = and - signs.

= link_to "Home", home_path

Code starting with = will be executed and embedded into the document.

Code starting with - will be executed, but not inserted into the document.

Full documentation

HAML is very easy to start with, but is also very complex, so that I'll recommend reading the documentation (opens new window).