Twitter Bootstrap on Rails

in rails

In the past weeks I saw a lot of interest for the twitter bootstrap framework, and for good reasons. If you’re not familiar with it, go straight to the site. I guess you’ll like it. As for me I’m very enthusiastic about it because I’m neither a design guru nor a good one. So having a framework that gives nice results in such a little time is like watching a small dream come true. Now, as I said, I witnessed a lot of interest for the framework in Rails community, I also read a couple of good articles about how to play with the framework and the shiny new asset pipeline we recently got. But I have found little information on the aspect I find most interesting about this framework and the Rails community. It works great with the Rails ecosystem. So here I am to write down a couple of things I learnt while integrating twitter bootstrap into my recent projects.

First of all, I focused a little on a simple layout that I’ve used as the base of some projects. I’ve just adopted an example from the site and modified the application layout of a fresh new rails 3.1.1 app in the following way:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
    <title><%= content_for?(:title) ? yield(:title) : "Twitter Bootstrap" %></title>
    <link rel="stylesheet" href="http://twitter.github.com/bootstrap/1.3.0/bootstrap.min.css">
    <%= stylesheet_link_tag "application" %>
    <%= javascript_include_tag "application" %>
    <%= csrf_meta_tag %>
    <%= yield(:head) %>
  </head>
  <body>
    <div class="topbar">
      <div class="fill">
        <div class="container">
          <%= render :partial => 'common/menu' %>
        </div>
      </div>
    </div>
    <div class="container">
      <div class="content">
        <div class="page-header">
          <%= render :partial => 'common/header' %>
        </div>
        <div class="row">
          <div class="span12">
            <%= render :partial => 'common/flashes' %>
            <%= yield %>
          </div>
        </div>
        <footer>
        <%= render :partial => 'common/footer' %>
        </footer>
      </div>
    </div>
  </body>
</html>

The partials contain just a paragraph to say what they are but the flashes one is interesting:

<% unless flash[:notice].blank? %>
  <div class="alert-message info">
    <%= content_tag :div, flash[:notice] %>
  </div>
<% end %>

<% unless flash[:error].blank? %>
  <div class="alert-message error">
    <%= content_tag :div, flash[:error] %>
  </div>
<% end %>

<% unless flash[:alert].blank? %>
  <div class="alert-message warning">
    <%= content_tag :div, flash[:alert] %>
  </div>
<% end %>

Now the flashes use nice styles kindly provided by the framework. I know I could have been more DRY here but I prefer it this way.

Well, I’ve got a nice layout within the application but let’s focus on forms and show pages. I use two wonderful gems to simplify my work with this kind of stuff. And it turned out that they both play wonderfully with twitter bootstrap:

  • simple_form

I don’t think simple_form needs a presentation. By the way take a look at the README to understand how this gem can help you in case you’re not familiar with it. Well, there is even a wiki page on how to integrate the gem with twitter bootstrap.

  • show_for

Citing the README “ShowFor allows you to quickly show a model information with I18n features”. And the nice thing is that the default output already works well with twitter bootstrap. I’ve just added the css for making links like twitter buttons.

When I got shows and forms, I had just the index page remaining. I modified the page a bit to include buttons and pagination. In order to make kaminari and twitter bootstrap play well together I used https://github.com/gabetax/twitter-bootstrap-kaminari-views.

To wrap up the work done, here’s the list of crucial commits:

Just the rails new twitter-bootstrap-on-rails-demo command

I added the simple_form and the show_for gems

I created a gist to make simple the process of starting a twitter bootstrap project.

I simply copied the kaminari views into the project.

Furthermore, if you use the twitter tabs in a form, you would like to open the tab with fields with errors when the model you’re trying to save is not valid. Well, I wrote a little chunk of CoffeeScript (with jQuery) to solve this problem:

$ ->
  if $('.help-inline, .field_with_errors').length
    $id=$('.help-inline, .field_with_errors').first().closest('.tab-pane').attr('id')
    $('.active').removeClass('active')
    $('a[href=#'+$id+']').click()

As you can see from this demo with a minimum effort I was able to get a very nice integration with the twitter bootstrap framework and the Rails ecosystem. Obviously, this is just a way of doing it and I’d like to read about other ways of getting twitter bootstrap on Rails.

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