Writing on Ruby on Rails, software teams, and solo building

Live reloading with Ruby on Rails and esbuild

As you may have heard by now, Rails 7 comes out of the box with importmap-rails and the mighty Webpacker is no longer the default for new Rails applications.

For those who aren’t ready to switch to import maps and don’t want to use Webpacker now that it is no longer a Rails default, jsbundling-rails was created. This gem adds the option to use webpack, rollup, or esbuild to bundle JavaScript while using the asset pipeline to deliver the bundled files.

Of the three JavaScript bundling options, the Rails community seems to be most interested in using esbuild, which aims to bring about a “new era of build tool performance” and offers extremely fast build times and enough features for most users’ needs.

Using esbuild with Rails, via jsbundling-rails is very simple, especially in a new Rails 7 application; however, the default esbuild configuration is missing a few quality of life features. Most important among these missing features is live reloading. Out of the box, each time you change a file, you need to refresh the page to see your changes.

Once you’ve gotten used to live reloading (or its fancier cousin, Hot Module Replacement), losing it is tough.

Today, esbuild doesn’t support HMR, but with some effort it is possible to configure esbuild to support live reloading via automatic page refreshing, and that’s what we’re going to do today.

We’ll start from a fresh Rails 7 install and then modify esbuild to support live reloading when JavaScript, CSS, and HTML files change.

Before we get started, please note that this very much an experiment that hasn’t been battle-tested. I’m hoping that this is a nice jumping off point for discussion and improvements. YMMV.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get started!

Read the rest 17-minute read

Rendering view components with Turbo Stream broadcasts

View components, via Github’s view_component gem, are growing in popularity in the Rails community but until recently, view components and Turbo Stream broadcasts didn’t play well together. This made using both view components and Turbo Streams in the same application clunky and a little frustrating.

While there were ways to get components working with streams, thanks to a recent addition to turbo-rails, rendering view components from Turbo Streams now works seamlessly out of the box.

To demonstrate how to connect these two powerful tools together, we’ll be building a very simple Rails application that allows users to manage a list of Spies.

Each spy in the list of spies will be rendered using a view component, and when new spies are added to the database, the newly created spy record will be rendered and broadcast via a callback in the spy model.

When we’re finished, it’ll work like this:

A screen recording of a user with two open browser windows. In one, a list of spies is shown. In the other, the user is typing into a form to create a new spy. They finish typing, click a button to create a spy, and the browser window the list of spies is updated to include the newly created spy

Beautiful, I know.

This article assumes that you’re comfortable building Rails applications. You won’t need any previous experience with Turbo Streams or view components to follow along.

If you want to skip right to the end the complete code for this article can be found on Github.

Let’s start building!

Read the rest Nine-minute read

Hotwiring Rails Newsletter - November 2021

This newsletter went out via email to the Hotwiring Rails subscriber list, but I know that not everyone wants another email cluttering up their inbox. For those folks, I’ll always publish the full content of the newletter here too, so you can get all the content with none of the emails. If you’d like to get the next edition of this (monthly) newletter in your inbox, you can subscribe here. Always tracker-free.

Thoughts or feedback on how I can make this newsletter more valuable? Have something you’d like to include in next month’s edition? Send me an email, or find me on Twitter.

Read the rest Four-minute read

Filter, search, and sort tables with Rails and Turbo Frames

Today we are going to build a table that can be sorted, searched, and filtered all at once, using Ruby on Rails, Turbo Frames, a tiny Stimulus controller, and a little bit of Tailwind for styling.

We will start with a sortable, Turbo Frame-powered table that displays a list of Players from a database. We built this sortable table in a previous article — you might find it helpful to start with that article, especially if you are new to Turbo.

When we are finished, users will be able to search for players by name, filter them by their team, and sort the table. Sorting, searching, and filtering all work together, in any combination, and they each occur without a full page turn. The end result will work like this:

A screen recording of a user interacting with a table on a website. They click column headers to sort the table, use a drop down menu to filter the table by a specific team, and type in a search box to filter the table by name

This article is intended for folks who are comfortable with Ruby and Rails code. You won’t need any prior experience with Turbo Frames or Stimulus.

Let’s dive in!

Read the rest 27-minute read

Turbo Frames on Rails

Turbo, part of the Hotwire tripartite, gives you the tools to write dramatically less custom JavaScript than you would otherwise need to build modern, performant web applications.

Turbo is composed of Turbo Drive, Turbo Frames, Turbo Streams, and Turbo Native. Each is a valuable piece of the puzzle but today we’re going to focus on Turbo Frames.

Turbo Frames “allow predefined parts of a page to be updated on request.” Used wisely, frames allow developers to decompose their UI into independently updated pieces, quickly.

Why should I use Turbo Frames?

Turbo Frames unlock a huge amount of potential with minimal changes to existing code and they can be gradually introduced to existing projects without necessitating major architectural changes.

In greenfield projects designed with Turbo Frames in mind, a small team of developers can use frames to deliver fast, efficient user interfaces in dramatically less time than would be required when build a SPA-powered front end.

While Turbo Frames can be used with many different tech stacks, Rails developers will find the tight integration of frames into Rails (via the turbo-rails gem) makes using frames in Rails a breeze.

The Turbo documentation gap

As with many new technologies, one of the barriers to getting started with Turbo Frames is inconsistent/incomplete documentation. Along with problems in the official documentation, much of the tutorial content written about Turbo Frames is already out of date.

Turbo has evolved quickly since its release in December of 2020, and the documentation and supporting tutorials from content creators have struggled to keep pace.

As an example of the documentation gap, turbo-rails doesn’t have any dedicated usage documentation, instead just linking to the base Turbo docs and letting users figure out the rest.

This means that learning to use Turbo Frames in your Rails application today often requires reading the docs, then digging through source code, and then Googling your way through Github issues and forum posts. Turbo Frames can be difficult to approach.

In time the documentation will improve and the community will coalesce around best practices and standards that can be more easily communicated to new users.

In the meantime, here we are.

Read the rest 23-minute read