SimplePages plugin

22 Feb 2007

Rails is great. I love it. I want it to have my babies. But it’s not so good at making folks who are stuck in the world of PageMaker and Dreamweaver feel at home. I have some clients who have bricks of html and they just want it to go web-side. Some are actually pretty web-savvy but they don’t have any interest in learning rhtml. Or Liquid. They don’t want to re-write their html in markdown or textile. And they certainly don’t want every revision of a page to go through me and have me charge them just for Railsifying their document. They want to make a page in one of their WYSIWYG editors and post it online. That’s it.

Any app is bound to get to a size where it needs an ‘About’ page, a Privacy Policy, or a Terms of Service. These are not worth their own controllers and often should be managed by the site’s owners - not the developer. Ergo: the SimplePages plugin.

Update: The plugin now uses page caching - so you get all the benefits of a db-powered Rails app and all the performance of a static page!

View Plugin in SVN

note: Simple Pages requires the new-and-awesomeproved Engines plugin. Engines is now lightweight and allows any plugin to behave more like a Django app (a feature sorely needed in Rails).

What is SimplePages?

SimplePages provides a full controller/model/view/helper/migration/test stack for managing plain html pages that are editable right from your browser. You paste in your html and everybody else sees your Rails layout with the html inside. It’s cake.

How to install SimplePages:

    ruby script/plugin install -x http://svn.rails-engines.org/plugins/engines
    ruby script/plugin source http://svn.6brand.com/projects/plugins/
    ruby script/plugin install -x simple_pages

Add the following line to your config/routes.rb file:

    ActionController::Routing::Routes.draw do |map|
      # all your important routes
      map.from_plugin :simple_pages
      # some lower-priority routes
    end

And, finally, install the migration with the following command:

    ruby script/generate plugin_migration

If you navigate to yoursite.com/pages you’ll find you can now start doin’ stuff.

Enhancements you should do:

One of the first things you might notice is that errors start popping up with helpful messages. They’ll guide you to figuring out how to integrate your authentication scheme into the plugin and they’ll remind you if you forgot to do any of the necessary installation. The most important change you should make is to add a method in application.rb called can\_manage\_pages? and have it test for whether the current user should be allowed to do stuff.

Version control your pages!

SimplePages has built-in support for techno-weenie’s acts_as_versioned. Simply install his plugin (and run SimplePage.create_versioned_table if you’ve already installed SimplePages) and now you’ll have access to all changes you make for your pages.

  • Daniel Azuma said: Hey Danger, I just discovered you're back on line after last summer. If you're at all contemplating moving from contracting/consulting to a full-time salaried position, the company I co-founded is looking for a Sr. engineer/Rails developer. It'd be cool to have a fellow IV alum here. "http://jobs.rubynow.com/jobs/show/941":http://jobs.rubynow.com/jobs/show/941
  • C K said: Should this work in Rails 2.0.2?
  • Jack Danger said: I'm not sure if this is 2.0.2 compatible or not. The next version certainly will be. What I need to do is convert this to a generator that just adds the right files to your app. Coming soon :-)
  • Ulf said: Rename the views (rhtml -> html.erb) and change line 91 in engine's plugin.rb to something like ActionController::Base.append_view_path(view_path)

Please if you found this post helpful or have questions.