[ANN] Action Pack 0.7.5: On rails from request to response

Discussion in 'Ruby' started by David Heinemeier Hansson, Jul 24, 2004.

  1. It's with great pleasure that I present to you the first public release
    of
    Action Pack. I've been working on the framework for close to a year
    now, so
    it's a great relief to finally feel ready to share with the world.
    Alongside
    Active Record, this almost completes the release of the technology used
    to build
    Basecamp[1] -- a highly succesful and acclaimed web-application from
    the design
    masters at 37signals.

    Action Pack is a control-flow and template package for developing
    MVC-style
    web-applications. With Action Pack, you have the answer for the
    Controler and
    the View and is free to pick anything for the Model. If you were to
    pick Active
    Record, though, you'll enjoy a number of benefits from Action Pack,
    such as
    tailored view helpers and benchmarking integration.

    Download and learn more at:
    http://actionpack.rubyonrails.org (website, wiki)
    http://actionpack.rubyonrails.org (api, detailed documentation)

    P.S.: Tomorrow I'll release the first complete Rails package, which in
    addition
    to Action Pack and Active Record includes a ton of wiring to make it
    extremely
    easy to get started and follow best practices from day one.

    [1] http://www.basecamphq.com/

    / David Heinemeier Hansson


    How does Action Pack work?
    ==========================

    Action Pack splits the response to a web request into a controller part
    (performing the logic) and a view part (rendering a template). This
    two-step
    approach is known as an action, which will normally create, read,
    update, or
    delete (CRUD for short) some sort of model part (often backed by a
    database)
    before choosing either to render a template or redirecting to another
    action.

    Action Pack implements these actions as public methods on Action
    Controllers
    and uses Action Views to implement the template rendering. Action
    Controllers
    are then responsible for handling all the actions relating to a certain
    part
    of an application. This grouping usually consists of actions for lists
    and for
    CRUDs revolving around a single (or a few) model objects. So
    ContactController
    would be responsible for listing contacts, creating, deleting, and
    updating
    contacts. A WeblogController could be responsible for both posts and
    comments.

    Action View templates are written using embedded Ruby in tags mingled
    in with
    the HTML. To avoid cluttering the templates with code, a bunch of helper
    classes provide common behavior for forms, dates, and strings. And it's
    easy
    to add specific helpers to keep the separation as the application
    evolves.

    Note: Some of the features, such as scaffolding and form building, are
    tied to
    ActiveRecord[http://activerecord.rubyonrails.org] (an object-relational
    mapping package), but that doesn't mean that Action Pack depends on
    Active
    Record. Action Pack is an independent package that can be used with any
    sort
    of backend (Instiki[http://www.instiki.org], which is based on an older
    version
    of Action Pack, uses Madeleine for example). Read more about the role
    Action
    Pack can play when used together with Active Record on
    http://www.rubyonrails.org.


    A short rundown of the major features
    =====================================

    * Actions grouped in controller as methods instead of separate command
    objects
    and can therefore helper share methods.

    BlogController < ActionController::Base
    def display
    @customer = find_customer
    end

    def update
    @customer = find_customer
    @customer.attributes = @params["customer"]
    @customer.save ?
    redirect_to:)action => "display") :
    render("customer/edit")
    end

    private
    def find_customer() Customer.find(@params["id"]) end
    end

    Learn more in link:classes/ActionController/Base.html


    * Embedded Ruby for templates (no new "easy" template language)

    <% for post in @posts %>
    Title: <%= post.title %>
    <% end %>

    All post titles: <%= @post.collect{ |p| p.title }.join ", " %>

    <% unless @person.is_client? %>
    Not for clients to see...
    <% end %>

    Learn more in link:classes/ActionView.html


    * Filters for pre and post processing of the response (as methods,
    procs, and classes)

    class WeblogController < ActionController::Base
    before_filter :authenticate, :cache, :audit
    after_filter proc{|c| c.response.body =
    GZip::compress(c.response.body)}
    after_filter LocalizeFilter

    def list
    # Before this action is run, the user will be authenticated,
    the cache
    # will be examined to see if a valid copy of the results already
    # exist, and the action will be logged for auditing.

    # After this action has run, the output will first be localized
    then
    # compressed to minimize bandwith usage
    end

    private
    def authenticate
    # Implement the filter will full access to both request and
    response
    end
    end

    Learn more in link:classes/ActionController/Filters/ClassMethods.html


    * Helpers for forms, dates, action links, and text

    <%= text_field "post", "title", "size" => 30 %>
    <%= html_date_select(Date.today) %>
    <%= link_to "New post", :controller => "post", :action => "new" %>
    <%= truncate(post.title, 25) %>

    Learn more in link:classes/ActionView/Helpers.html


    * Layout sharing for template reuse (think simple version of Struts
    Tiles[http://jakarta.apache.org/struts/userGuide/dev_tiles.html])

    class WeblogController < ActionController::Base
    layout "weblog_layout"

    def hello_world
    end
    end

    Layout file (called weblog_layout):
    <html><body><%= @content_for_layout %></body></html>

    Template for hello_world action:
    <h1>Hello world</h1>

    Result of running hello_world action:
    <html><body><h1>Hello world</h1></body></html>

    Learn more in link:classes/ActionController/Layout.html


    * Advanced redirection that makes pretty urls easy

    RewriteRule ^/library/books/([A-Z]+)([0-9]+)/([-_a-zA-Z0-9]+)$ \
    /books_controller.cgi?action=$3&type=$1&code=$2 [QSA] [L]

    Accessing /library/books/ISBN/0743536703/show calls
    BooksController#show

    From that URL, you can rewrite the redirect in a number of ways:

    redirect_to:)action => "edit") =>
    /library/books/ISBN/0743536703/edit

    redirect_to:)path_params => { "type" => "XTC", "code" => "12354345"
    }) =>
    /library/books/XTC/12354345/show

    redirect_to:)controller_prefix => "admin", :controller =>
    "accounts") =>
    /admin/accounts/

    Learn more in link:classes/ActionController/Base.html


    * Easy testing of both controller and template result through
    TestRequest/Response

    class LoginControllerTest < Test::Unit::TestCase
    def setup
    @request = ActionController::TestRequest.new
    @request.host = "http://somewhere"
    end

    def test_succesful_authentication
    @request.action = "authenticate"
    @request.request_parameters["user_name"] = "david"
    @request.request_parameters["password"] = "secret"

    response = LoginController.process_test(@request)

    assert_equal(
    "http://somewhere/clients/", response.headers["location"])
    assert_equal Person.find(1), response.session["person"]
    assert(response.body.split("\n").include?(
    "<h1>You've been logged in!</h1>"))
    end
    end

    Learn more in link:classes/ActionController/TestRequest.html


    * Automated benchmarking and integrated logging

    Processing WeblogController#index (for 127.0.0.1 at Fri May 28
    00:41:55)
    Parameters: {"action"=>"index", "controller"=>"weblog"}
    Rendering weblog/index (200 OK)
    Completed in 0.029281 (34 reqs/sec)

    If Active Record is used as the model, you'll have the database
    debugging
    as well:

    Processing WeblogController#create (for 127.0.0.1 at Sat Jun 19
    14:04:23)
    Params: {"controller"=>"weblog", "action"=>"create",
    "post"=>{"title"=>"this is good"} }
    SQL (0.000627) INSERT INTO posts (title) VALUES('this is good')
    Redirected to http://test/weblog/display/5
    Completed in 0.221764 (4 reqs/sec) | DB: 0.059920 (27%)

    You specify a logger through a class method, such as:

    ActionController::Base.logger = Logger.new("Application Log")
    ActionController::Base.logger = Log4r::Logger.new("Application Log")


    * Powerful debugging mechanism for local requests

    All exceptions raised on actions performed on the request of a
    local user
    will be presented with a tailored debugging screen that includes
    exception
    message, stack trace, request parameters, session contents, and the
    half-finished response.

    Learn more in link:classes/ActionController/Rescue.html


    * Scaffolding for Action Record model objects

    require 'account' # must be an Active Record class
    class AccountController < AccountController::Base
    scaffolding :account
    end

    The AccountController now has the full CRUD range of actions and
    default
    templates: list, show, destroy, new, create, edit, update

    Learn more in
    link:classes/ActionController/Scaffolding/ClassMethods.html


    * Form building for Active Record model objects

    The post object has a title (varchar), content (text), and
    written_on (date)

    <%= form "post" %>

    ...will generate something like (the selects will have more options
    of
    course):

    <form action="create" method="POST">
    <p>
    <b>Title:</b><br/>
    <input type="text" name="post[title]" value="<%= @post.title
    %>" />
    </p>
    <p>
    <b>Content:</b><br/>
    <textarea name="post[content]"><%= @post.title %></textarea>
    </p>
    <p>
    <b>Written on:</b><br/>
    <select name='post[written_on(3i)]'><option>18</option></select>
    <select name='post[written_on(2i)]'><option
    value='7'>July</option></select>
    <select
    name='post[written_on(1i)]'><option>2004</option></select>
    </p>

    <input type="submit" value="Create">
    </form>

    This form generates a @params["post"] array that can be used
    directly in a save action:

    class WeblogController < ActionController::Base
    def save
    post = Post.create(@params["post"])
    redirect_to :action => "display", :path_params => { "id" =>
    post.id }
    end
    end

    Learn more in link:classes/ActionView/Helpers/ActiveRecordHelper.html


    * Automated mapping of URLs to controller/action pairs through Apache's
    mod_rewrite

    Requesting /blog/display/5 will call BlogController#display and
    make 5 available as an instance variable through @params["id"]


    * Runs on top of CGI, FCGI, and mod_ruby

    See the address_book_controller example for all three forms
     
    David Heinemeier Hansson, Jul 24, 2004
    #1
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  2. David Heinemeier Hansson

    Jamis Buck Guest

    David Heinemeier Hansson wrote:
    > It's with great pleasure that I present to you the first public release of
    > Action Pack. I've been working on the framework for close to a year now, so
    > it's a great relief to finally feel ready to share with the world.
    > Alongside
    > Active Record, this almost completes the release of the technology used
    > to build
    > Basecamp[1] -- a highly succesful and acclaimed web-application from the
    > design
    > masters at 37signals.
    >


    Congrats, David! I know you've been working on this for awhile, and I
    look forward to trying this out in some of my own projects. :)

    Thanks for your hard work!

    --
    Jamis Buck

    http://www.jamisbuck.org/jamis

    "I use octal until I get to 8, and then I switch to decimal."
     
    Jamis Buck, Jul 24, 2004
    #2
    1. Advertising

  3. Woohoo! I've been waiting for this for a while. Thanks David! Just
    reading the brief overview makes me very excited to try it out.

    Carl
     
    Carl Youngblood, Jul 24, 2004
    #3
  4. il Sat, 24 Jul 2004 09:23:34 +0900, David Heinemeier Hansson
    <> ha scritto::

    I could join the general 'woowoo' mood, but I'll wait for the release
    of the full Rails pack :)

    Anyway, great stuff thank you.
    Oh, any plans to support WEBRick?
     
    gabriele renzi, Jul 24, 2004
    #4
  5. > I could join the general 'woowoo' mood, but I'll wait for the release
    > of the full Rails pack :)


    You need wait no longer :). It's out: http://www.rubyonrails.org.

    > Anyway, great stuff thank you.
    > Oh, any plans to support WEBRick?


    Most certainly. Instiki runs on an early fork of Action Pack that uses
    WEBrick, so it's certainly possible. The big stumbling block is that
    the current Action Pack relies quite a lot on mod_rewrite (or a similar
    URL rewriting mechanism), so I'd like to clone that for WEBrick to make
    it possible to run an AP app on WEBrick or Apache without changes.
    Ideas (or better yet, code) are very welcome.
    --
    David Heinemeier Hansson,
    http://www.rubyonrails.org/ -- Web-application framework for Ruby
    http://www.instiki.org/ -- A No-Step-Three Wiki in Ruby
    http://www.basecamphq.com/ -- Web-based Project Management
    http://www.loudthinking.com/ -- Broadcasting Brain
    http://www.nextangle.com/ -- Development & Consulting Services
     
    David Heinemeier Hansson, Jul 24, 2004
    #5
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