Ruby on Rails, often shortened to Rails, is a popular web application framework for the Ruby programming language. In this blog post, we will explore one of the essential components of Rails, Action View. We will start with a brief introduction, then dive into how Action View works, provide some code examples, and finally, we will share some intuitions and analogies to help you better understand this powerful tool.
Introduction to Action View
In a typical web application, there are two main parts: the backend (server-side) and the frontend (client-side). The backend is responsible for processing data, handling user inputs, and managing the database, while the frontend is responsible for displaying the data to the user in a visually appealing and functional way.
Action View is the part of the Rails framework that handles the frontend side of things. It is responsible for rendering the templates that make up the user interface (UI) of the web application. In Rails, these templates are called "views" and they are usually written in a language called Embedded Ruby, or ERB for short.
When a user interacts with a Rails application, the application processes the request and then prepares the appropriate data to be displayed in the UI. This is where Action View comes in. It takes the data prepared by the backend, combines it with the templates written by the developer, and generates the final HTML code that is sent to the user's browser.
To see how this works in practice, let's dive into some code examples.
Let's imagine a simple blog application built with Rails. The application has two main parts: posts and comments. Users can create new posts, read existing posts, and leave comments on posts.
Creating a New Post
To create a new post, the user needs to fill out a form with the post's title and content. In Rails, we would start by creating a new view file for this form. This file would be located in the
app/views/posts directory and would be called
Here's what the form might look like in ERB:
<%= form_with(model: @post, local: true) do |form| %> <div> <%= form.label :title %> <%= form.text_field :title %> </div> <div> <%= form.label :content %> <%= form.text_area :content %> </div> <%= form.submit "Create Post" %> <% end %>
This code creates a form with two input fields: one for the post's title and another for its content. The
form_with helper is used to build the form, and we pass in the
@post instance variable, which is an instance of the
Post model. This instance variable is typically set in the corresponding controller action, like this:
def new @post = Post.new end
When the user submits the form, the data is sent to the server, where it is processed and stored in the database.
To display a list of all posts, we need another view file, typically called
index.html.erb. This file would also be located in the
app/views/posts directory. In this file, we would loop through all the posts and display their titles and content.
Here's an example of how to display a list of posts in ERB:
<% @posts.each do |post| %> <div> <h2><%= post.title %></h2> <p><%= post.content %></p> </div> <% end %>
In this example, we use the
@posts instance variable, which contains an array of all the posts. This variable is usually set in the corresponding controller action like this:
def index @posts = Post.all end
To add a comment to a post, we would create another form similar to the one for creating a new post. This form would be located in a view file called
<%= form_with(model: [post, Comment.new], local: true) do |form| %> <div> <%= form.label :content %> <%= form.text_area :content %> </div> <%= form.submit "Add Comment" %> <% end %>
In this example, we pass in an array containing the
post and a new instance of the
Comment model to the
form_with helper. This tells Rails that we want to create a new comment associated with the given post.
To display the comments for a post, we would loop through the post's comments in the
show.html.erb view file for the posts, like this:
<% @post.comments.each do |comment| %> <div> <p><%= comment.content %></p> </div> <% end %>
Intuitions and Analogies
Now that we have seen some code examples, let's try to develop a better intuition for how Action View works.
You can think of Action View as a painter who creates beautiful paintings (the web pages) based on the instructions given by the artist (the developer). The artist provides the painter with sketches (the ERB templates) and a palette of colors (the data from the server). The painter then combines these elements to create the final artwork that is displayed in the user's browser.
In this analogy, the ERB templates are like the sketch of the painting. They provide the basic structure and layout of the page but don't include any of the actual data. The data from the server is like the colors on the palette. It provides the specific information needed to complete the painting, such as the titles and content of the blog posts.
When a user requests a page, the Rails application prepares the data (colors) and passes it to Action View (the painter). Action View then combines the data with the appropriate ERB template (sketch) and generates the final HTML code (painting) that is sent to the user's browser.
By using Action View, developers can focus on creating clean, maintainable templates that provide the basic structure and layout of the page, while Rails takes care of combining these templates with the data from the server and generating the final HTML code.
In this blog post, we have explored the basics of Action View in Ruby on Rails. We have seen how Action View is responsible for rendering the templates that make up the user interface of a Rails application and how it combines these templates with the data from the server to generate the final HTML code.
We have also looked at some code examples for creating and displaying posts and comments in a simple blog application and discussed some intuitions and analogies to help better understand Action View's role in a Rails application.
Action View is a powerful tool that enables developers to create clean, maintainable, and visually appealing web applications with ease. By understanding how it works and how to use it effectively, you can unlock the full potential of the Rails framework and build more advanced and sophisticated web applications.