New Rails App - 2012

August 18, 2012


I write one of these every couple of years, just to have a reference of things I like to have in a basic rails app. Anyone else reading this should probably look at or something similar.


  • git installed
  • rvm installed
  • ruby 1.9.3 installed for rvm
  • numerous alias for git
    • ga git-add
    • gca 'git commit -a
  • you will do Git commits for each action

Start with a folder and rvm

➥  mkdir newapp
➥  cd newapp
[andy@airy-deux ~/newapp] -♢
➥  git init
Initialized empty Git repository in /Users/andy/newapp/.git/
[andy@airy-deux ~/newapp] (master) -♢
➥  echo > .rvmrc 'rvm use --create 1.9.3@newapp > /dev/null'
➥  pushd ..
➥  popd
= NOTICE                                                                     =
= RVM has encountered a new or modified .rvmrc file in the current directory =
= This is a shell script and therefore may contain any shell commands.       =
=                                                                            =
= Examine the contents of this file carefully to be sure the contents are    =
= safe before trusting it! ( Choose v[iew] below to view the contents )      =
Do you wish to trust this .rvmrc file? (/Users/andy/newapp/.rvmrc)
y[es], n[o], v[iew], c[ancel]> yes
[andy@airy-deux ~/newapp] (master) @newapp-♢

Basic Gemfile so we can install rails in our gemset

Create a Gemfile that looks like:

source :rubygems
gem "rails"

Now install rails using bundler

➥  bundle
Fetching gem metadata from
Installing rails (3.2.8)
Your bundle is complete! ...

and create your rails application (using -T because we will use rspce and -f because we want to overwrite our Gemfile

➥  rails new . -T -f

This definitely deserves a git commit,

➥  ga .
[andy@airy-deux ~/newapp] (master) @newapp-♢
➥  gca -m 'ran "rails new . -T -f'

Test tools

Add the following to our Gemfile

group :test do
  gem 'coderay'
  gem 'debugger'
  gem 'cucumber-rails'
  gem 'rspec-rails'
  gem 'database_cleaner'

After another bundle command we can run the generators for cucumber and rspec, doing a commit for each one.

➥  rails g rspec:install
  create  .rspec
  create  spec
  create  spec/spec_helper.rb
➥  ga .
➥  gca -m "ran 'rails g rspec:install'"
[master 6877eb7] ran 'rails g rspec:install'
 2 files changed, 39 insertions(+)
 create mode 100644 .rspec
 create mode 100644 spec/spec_helper.rb

and now for cucumber

➥  rails g cucumber:install
➥  ga .
➥  gca -m "ran 'rails g cucumber:install'"
[master 93477a8] ran 'rails g cucumber:install'
 5 files changed, 146 insertions(+), 1 deletion(-)
 create mode 100644 config/cucumber.yml
 create mode 100644 features/support/env.rb
 create mode 100644 lib/tasks/cucumber.rake
 create mode 100755 script/cucumber

Its most important to be able to debug our features (and specs), to help with this I’ll add some step definitions for debugging that also use coderay to show pages in the console

Make a file features/step_definitions/debub_steps.rb with content

require 'coderay'
require 'ruby-debug'

module DebugStepHelper
  def peek
    output = CodeRay.scan(page.body, :html).term
    print '-- peeking at body'
    print output
    print '-- end peeking at body'

Then 'peek' do

Then /^pending (.+)/ do |msg|
  pending msg

Then "debug" do

Now create a feature to exercise this:

# features/home.feature
Feature: Visit site

  Scenario: Visit the site
    When I visit the site
    Then debug

and some steps for this:

# features/step_definitions/home_steps.rb
When /^I visit the site$/ do
  visit '/'

Now run your features and you should stop in the debugger. Using peek we can see the source for rails default homepage formatted by coderay

➥  c
Using the default profile...
Feature: Visit site

  Scenario: Visit the site # features/home.feature:3
    When I visit the site  # features/step_definitions/home_steps.rb:1
(rdb:1) peek
-- peeking at body<!DOCTYPE html>
<title>Ruby on Rails: Welcome aboard</title>

Template tools

I like haml so add following to Gemfile then run bundler.

gem "haml-rails", "~> 0.3.4"

If by now you’re thinking this is a hell of alot of work just to start a new rails application, well I agree. This is why there are so many rails templating tools out there. However we shouldn’t forget just how much we’ve got from this setup.

Markdown Handler

I love markdown and I want my rails apps to work with markdown templates.

create a markdown handler

require 'rdiscount'

module MarkdownHandler
  def self.erb
    @erb ||= ActionView::Template.registered_template_handler(:erb)

    compiled_source =

ActionView::Template.register_template_handler :md, MarkdownHandler

now register the handler using an initializer

require 'markdown_handler'

finally add the rdiscount gem to the Gemfile

gem 'rdiscount'

Now you can create containing Markdown, which will be rendered by RDiscount into html.