CarrierWave: How to generate versions with different file extensions

We use CarrierWave in many of our projects to store and serve files of various formats - mostly images. A common use case of CarrierWave's DSL is to "process" the original file in order to create multiple "versions", for example different resolutions of the same image.

Now we could go one step further: What if we want to create versions that have a different file extension than the original file? For example, let's assume we'd like to create a ve...

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Rails: Including HTML in your i18n locales

TL;DR Append your locale keys with _html to have them marked as html_safe.

When you're localizing a Rails application, sometimes there is this urge to include a little HTML. Be it some localized link, or a set of <em> tags, you'd like to have it included in the locale file. Example:

# Locale file
    text: 'Please visit our <a href="">corporate website</a> to learn more about <em>the corporation</em>.'
= t('.text')
# Desired output
Please visit our <a href="https://w...

HTML: Making browsers wrap long words

By default, browsers will not wrap text at syllable boundaries. Text is wrapped at word boundaries only.

This card explains some options to make browsers wrap inside a long word like "Donaudampfschifffahrt".

Option 1: Soft hyphens

Unicode has a soft hyphen character you can use to mark optional word division opportunities. The soft hyphen is an invisible character with zero width. Only when the browser decides to wrap at a soft hyphen, it is turned in...

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Ruby: A small summary of what return, break and next means for blocks


  • Use return to return from a method. return accepts a value that will be the return value of the method call.
  • Use break to quit from a block and from the method that yielded to the block. break accepts a value that supplies the result of the expression it is “breaking” out of.
  • Use next to skip the rest of the current iteration. next accepts an argument that will be the result of that block iteration.

The following method will serve as an example in the details below:

def example
  puts yield
  puts 'don...
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Five years of "Today I Learned" from Josh Branchaud

The linked GitHub repository is a bit like our "dev" cards deck, but groomed from a single person (Josh Branchaud). It includes an extensive list of over 900 TILs on many topics that might be interesting for most of us. (e.g. Ruby, Rails, Git, Unix..)


Here is an excerpt of all the Ruby TILs that were new to me. I encourage you to take your time to skim over the original list as well!


Async control flow in JavaScript: Promises, Microtasks, async/await

Slides for Henning's talk on Sep 21st 2017.

Understanding sync vs. async control flow

Talking to synchronous (or "blocking") API

print('script start')
html = get('/foo')
print('script end')

Script outputs 'script start', (long delay), '<html>...</html>', 'script end'.

Talking to asynchronous (or "evented") API

print('script start')
get('foo', done: function(html) {
print('script end')

Script outputs 'script start', `'...


How to use a local gem in your Gemfile

You can use local copies of gems in your Gemfile like this:

gem 'spreewald', :path => '~/gems/spreewald'

As soon as you have bundled your project with the local copy of the gem, all code changes in the copy will be available on your project. So you can for example set a debugger or add console output in the gem and use it from your project.
If you checked out the gem with your versioning tool, you can easily reset your changes afterwards or make a pull request for the gem if you improved it.

Don't commit a Gemfile with local pat...


How to simulate limited bandwidth in Google Chrome and Firefox

Your development machine is usually on a very good network connection.
To test how your application behaves on a slow network (e.g. mobile), you can simulate limited bandwidth.


  • Open the dev tools (Ctrl+Shift+I or F12) and switch to the "Network" tab
  • In the row below the dev tool tabs, there's a throttling dropdown which reads "Online" by default.
  • Inside the dropdown, you will find a few presets and an option to add your own download/upload/latency settings.


  • Open the dev tools (Ctrl+Shift+I or F12) and switc...

Video transcoding: Web and native playback overview (April 2020)


Embedding videos on a website is very easy, add a <video> tag to your source code and it just works. Most of the time.

The thing is: Both the operating system and Browser of your client must support the container and codecs of your video. To ensure playback on every device, you have to transcode your videos to one or more versions of which they are supported by every device out there.

In this card, I'll explore the available audio and video standards we have right now. The goal is to built a pipeline that transcodes unknown ...


Checklist: Rails Authentication

Authentication is a special part of web applications. On the one hand, it usually is a crucial security mechanism restrict access to certain people and roles. On the other hand, most users authenticate only once, so it is very unlikely to spot issues by accident.

So, here comes a quick checklist to help you verifying your authentication solution is all set.

  • This should be default: use HTTPS with HSTS. The HSTS part is important.
  • Use a reliable authentication solution, e.g. Clearance or [Devise...

Devise: How to allow only HTTP Basic Auth and disable the HTML sign-in form

By default, Devise redirects to a sign-in form when accessing a route that requires authentication. If for some reason you do not want this, but use Basic Authentication (and the corresponding browser username/password dialog) instead, this is a simple change.

Note that Devise's default configuration actually only redirects requests for HTML content (as requested by the HTTP Accept header).
For all other formats (like JSON) it would use Basic Auth if the http_authenticatable setting was enabled. So you can simply enable that flag and cl...

Letting a DOM element fade into transparency

You can use the CSS property mask-image to define an "alpha channel" for an element.

E.g. to let an element start at full opacity at the top and gradually fade into transparency at the bottom:

.box {
  -webkit-mask-image: linear-gradient(to bottom, black 0%, transparent 100%);
  mask-image: linear-gradient(to bottom, black 0%, transparent 100%);
  • A fully opaque black pixel will render the masked pixel fully opaque
  • A fully transparent black pixel will render the ...
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Rails: Overriding view templates under certain conditions only

Rails offers a way to prepend (or append) view paths for the current request. This way, you can make the application use different view templates for just that request.


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
  def prepare_views
    if <condition>
      prepend_view_path Rails.root.join('app', 'views', 'special')

Escape a string for transportation in a URL

To safely transport an arbitrary string within a URL, you need to percent-encode characters that have a particular meaning in URLs, like & or =.

If you are using Rails URL helpers like movies_path(:query => ARBITRARY_STRING_HERE), Rails will take care of the encoding for you. If you are building URLs manually, you need to follow this guide.


In Ruby, use CGI.escape:

=> "foo%3Dfoo%26bar%3Dbar"

Do not ever use URI.encode or ...

Rails: Rest API post-mortem analysis

This is a personal post-mortem analysis of a project that was mainly build to provide a REST API to mobile clients.

For the API backend we used the following components:

  • Active Model Serializer (AMS) to serializer our Active Record models to JSON.
  • JSON Schema to test the responses of our server.
  • SwaggerUI to document the API.

It worked

The concept worked really good. Here are two points that were extraordinary compared to normal Rails project with many UI components:

  • Having a Rails application, that has no UI components (only...

How to: Validate dynamic attributes / JSON in ActiveRecord

PostgreSQL and ActiveRecord have a good support for storing dynamic attributes (hashes) in columns of type JSONB. But sometimes you are missing some kind of validation or lookup possibility (with plain attributes you can use Active Record's built-in validations and have your schema.rb).

One approach about being more strict with dynamic attributes is to use JSON Schema validations. Here is an example, where a project has the dynamic attributes analytic_stats, that we can use to store analytics from an external measurement tool.

  • A g...
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Structuring Rails applications: the Modular Monorepo Monolith

Root Insurance runs their application as a monolithic Rails application – but they've modularized it inside its repository. Here is their approach in summary:


  • Keep all code in a single repository (monorepo)
  • Have a Rails Engine for each logical component instead of writing a single big Rails Application
  • Build database-independent components as gems
  • Thus: gems/ and engines/ directories instead of app/
  • Define a dependency graph of components. It should have few edges.
  • Gems and Engines can be extracted easier once nece...
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Taking screenshots in Capybara

Capybara-screenshot can automatically save screenshots and the HTML for failed Capybara tests in Cucumber, RSpec or Minitest.

Requires Capybara-Webkit, Selenium or poltergeist for making screenshots. They're saved into $APPLICATION_ROOT/tmp/capybara

The attached files contain config for cucumber integration and a Then show me a screenshot step.

Including assets for prettier presentation

Make sure to add this to config/environments/test.rb

# Do not generate digests fo...
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