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Repeats

Difference between respond_to/format and params[:format]

To return non-HTML responses (like XLS spreadsheets), we usually use the

respond_to do |format|
  format.xls do
    # send spreadsheet
  end
end

This is often, but not always the same as checking for params[:format] == :xls, so don't rely on this when e.g. one format checks for authorization and the other doesn't.

params[:format] is only set when a user explicitly puts a .xls at the end of the URL.

The format.xls block also responds when the user's browser requests the application/excel MIME type.

If Intern…

Rails: How to provide a public link in a mail

Lets say we have a user with a contract whereas contract is a mounted carrierwave file.

Now we want to send the link to the contract in a mail. For this use case join the root_url with the public contract path in the mailer view:

Plain text email

URI.join(root_url, @user.contract.url)

HTML email

link_to('Show contract', URI.join(root_url, @user.contract.url).to_s)

Note: You need to follow [http://guides.rubyonrails.org/action_mailer_basics.html#g…

Repeats

Testing ActiveRecord callbacks with RSpec

Our preferred way of testing ActiveRecord is to simply create/update/destroy the record and then check if the expected behavior has happened.

We used to bend over backwards to avoid touching the database for this. For this we used a lot of stubbing and tricks like it_should_run_callbacks.

Today we would rather make a few database queries than have a fragile test full of stubs.

Example

Let's say your User model creates a first Project on cr…

Repeats

Common mistakes when storing file uploads with Rails

1. Saving files to a directory that is not shared between deploys or servers

If you save your uploads to a made up directory like "RAILS_ROOT/uploads", this directory goes away after every deploy (since every release gets a new). Also this directory is not shared between multiple application servers, so your uploads are randomly saved to one local filesystem or another. Fixing this afterwards is a lot of fun.

Only two folders are, by default, shared between our application servers and deployments: "RAILS_ROOT/storage" and `"RAILS…

Linked contentRepeats

Rails: Adding view paths on the fly

Rails offers a way to prepend (or append) view paths just for the current request.

Example

A use case of this is a different set of view templates that should be used under certain circumstances:

class UsersController < ApplicationController

  before_action :prepare_views
  
  def index
    ...
  end    
  
  private
  
  def prepare_views
    if <condition>
      prepend_view_path Rails.root.join('app', 'views', 'special')
    end
  end
  
end

If <condition> is true, Rails will first look into app/views/special to find a…

Repeats

FileIO: Writing strings as Carrierwave uploads

When you have string contents (e.g. a generated binary stream, or data from a remote source) that you want to store as a file using Carrierwave, here is a simple solution.

While you could write your string to a file and pass that file to Carrierwave, why even bother? You already have your string (or stream).
However, a plain StringIO object will not work for Carrierwave's ActiveRecord integration:

>> Attachment.create!(file: StringIO.new(contents))
TypeError: no implicit conversion of nil into String

This is because Carrierwave ex…

Repeats

Grep through the DOM using the Capybara API

When your Cucumber feature needs to browse the page HTML, and you are not sure how to express your query as a clever CSS or XPath expression, there is another way: You can use all and find to grep through the DOM and then perform your search in plain Ruby.

Here is an example for this technique:

Then /^I should see an image with the filename...
Linked contentRepeats

Showing a custom maintenance page while deploying

Add a custom maintenance page for each vhost (require capistrano 3.x):

Installation

Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'capistrano', '~> 3.0'
gem 'capistrano-maintenance', '~> 1.0'

Add this line to you application's Capfile:

require 'capistrano/maintenance'

Enable task

Present a maintenance page to visitors. Disables your application's web interface by writing a #{maintenance_basename}.html file to each web server. The servers must be configured to detect the presence of this file, and if it i…

Repeats

HTML5: disabled vs. readonly form fields

Form fields can be rendered as noneditable by setting the disabled or the readonly attribute. Be aware of the differences:

disabled fields

  • don’t post to the server
  • don’t get focus
  • are skipped while tab navigation
  • available for button, fieldset, input, select, textarea, command, keygen, optgroup, option

Browser specific behavior:

  • IE 11: text inputs that are descendants of a disabled fieldset appear disabled but the user can still interact with them
  • Firefox: selecting text in a disabled text field is no…
Repeats

Calling a helper method with the same name as your current partial

Partials always define a local variable with the same name as themselves. E.g. when you are in _recent_users.html.erb, a local variable recent_users will be defined and overshadow any helper method that is also called recent_users().

If you would like to use a helper method recent_users() in a partial _recent_users.html.erb you can say this in the partial template:

<% recent_users = self.recent_users() %>
<% recent_users.each do |user| %>
  ...
<% end %>
Deprecated

How to stub class constants in RSpec

Hint: There's another card with this helper for Cucumber features.


Sometimes you feel like you need to stub some CONSTANT you have defined in an other class. Since actually constants are called constants because they're constant, there's no way to easily stub a constant.

Here are three solutions for you.

Easiest solution

Rethink! Do you really need CONSTANT = %w[foo bar] to be constant? In many cases, setting it as a…

Chrome: Making high-resolution website screenshots without add-ons

If you want to make a screenshot of a website that works well in print or on a high-DPI screen (like Apple Retina displays), here is how you can capture a high-resolution screenshot.

You can do this without an addon:

  • Open the website
  • If you have multiple monitoros:
    • Resize the Chrome window so it covers multiple monitors (in Linux you can hold ALT and resize by dragging with the right mouse button)
    • Zoom into the page using CTRL + and CTRL - so it covers most of the window area. Leave generous padding on the left and right so…
Repeats

XHR is not JSON

When a Rails controller action should handle both HTML and JSON responses, do not use request.xhr? to decide that. Use respond_to.

I've too often seen code like this:

def show
  # ...
  if request.xhr?
    render json: @user.as_json
  else
     # renders default HTML view
  end
end

This is just plain wrong. Web browsers often fetch JSON via XHR, but they (should) also send the correct Accept HTTP header to tell the server the data they expect to receive.

If you say request.xhr? as a means for "…

Deprecated

Centering with CSS vertically and horizontally (all options overview)

There are a million ways to center <div>s or text in CSS, horizontally or vertically. All the ways are unsatisfying in their own unique way, or have restrictions regarding browser support, element sizes, etc.

Here are two great resources for finding the best way of aligning something given your use case and browser support requirements:

How to center in CSS
A long form that lets you define your use case and browser support requirements, then shows you the preferred way of aligning.

[Centering CSS: A com…

Sprites with Compass

Using CSS sprites for background images is a technique for optimizing page load time by combining smaller images into a larger image sprite.

There are ongoing arguments on how useful this still is, as modern browsers become more comfortable to load images in parallel. However, many major websites still use them, for example amazon, [facebook](…

Repeats

How to write complex migrations in Rails

Rails gives you migrations to change your database schema with simple commands like add_column or update.
Unfortunately these commands are simply not expressive enough to handle complex cases.

This card outlines three different techniques you can use to describe nontrivial migrations in Rails / ActiveRecord.

Note that the techniques below should serve you well for tables with many thousand rows. Once your database tables grows to millions of rows, migration performance becomes an iss…

Repeats

Carrierwave: Deleting files outside of forms

TL;DR Use the #remove_<mounted_attribute>! method to delete attachments. Also, save the record after removing the file!


As you know, Carrierwave file attachments work by mounting an Uploader class to an attribute of the model. Though the database field holds the file name as string, calling the attribute will always return the uploader, no matter if a file is attached or not. (Side note: use #present? on the uploader to check if the file exists.)

class User < ApplicationRecord
  mount :avatar, AvatarUploader
end

Form letters with LibreOffice Writer

This is painful. Consider using Microsoft Office or switching careers. If you need to write < 20 letters consider doing it manually.

So you didn't listen and here it comes:

  1. Ignore the Mail Merge Wizard. It will crash or destroy your document.
  2. Export your addresses, recipient names, etc. as a .ods spreadsheet (.xls, .xlsx, .ods). Use any columns that work for you, but be consistent. I like to use one column for the address, one column for the salutation line.
  3. Import the spreadsheet as an address book source: *Tools => Add…
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