When you want to format only line breaks, you probably do not want simple_format

For outputting a given String in HTML, you mostly want to replace line breaks with <br> or <p> tags.
You can use simple_format, but it has side effects like keeping some HTML.

If you only care about line breaks, you might be better off using a small, specialized helper method:

def format_linebreaks(text)
  safe_text = h(text)
  paragraphs = split_paragraphs(safe_text).map(&:html_safe)

  html = ''.html_safe
  paragraphs.each do |paragraph|
    html << content_tag(:p, paragraph)
  end    ...

Stop writing "require 'spec_helper'" in every spec

Simply add this to your .rspec instead:

--require spec_helper

If you are on rspec >= 3 and use a rails_helper.rb require this instead of the spec_helper:

--require rails_helper

If you are using parallel_tests and this is not working for you, .rspec might be ignored. Try using a .rspec_parallel file.


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.


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


Rails: Adding view paths on the fly

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

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


Showing a custom maintenance page while deploying

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


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…


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…


simple_format does not escape HTML tags

simple_format ignores Rails' XSS protection. Even when called with an unsafe string, HTML characters will not be escaped or stripped!

Instead simple_format has a whitelist of tags it allows. These are:

=> #<Set: {"small", "dfn", "sup", "sub", "pre", "blockquote", "ins", "ul", "var", "samp", "del", "h6", "h5", "h4", "h3", "h2", "h1", "span", "br", "hr", "em", "address", "img", "kbd", "tt", "a", "acronym", "ab...

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

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…

Auto-destruct in 24 days

Unpoly 0.54.0 released

There were a number of Unpoly releases addressing issues that we encountered in our current development projects:


Passive updates

  • [up-hungry] elements will now also be updated when the server responds with an error code. This helps when [up-hungry] is used to display error messages.


  • When a form is submitted you can now consistently refer to that form element as ampersand (&) in CSS selectors ([like in Sass](…

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:
TypeError: no implicit conversion of nil into String

This is because Carrierwave ex…


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…

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…

You don't need each, collect or select in Coffeescript

Working with lists in Javascript is painful because the native Array class is so poorly designed.

One way to reduce the pain is to to use Underscore.js's functions like _.each, or, which unfortunately clutters your code with awkward calls to the _ helper.

Fortunately when you use CoffeeScript you don't need any of that. CoffeeScript has a very versatile for keyword that can do anything that each, collect or select can do. Enjoy!



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 […


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…


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...

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 %>

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
     # renders default HTML view

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 "…