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On-the-spot is a Rails3+ compliant unobtrusive javascript in-place-editing plugin, using jEditable, and depends on jQuery.


  • built on proven jQuery plugin jEditable
  • works on index-pages, nested objects, ...
  • can generate simple edit-boxes, textareas, dropdown lists, checkboxes
  • will check your server-side validations and show the error
  • you can check the access-rights before doing any update (to check against tampering)
  • you can use custom display methods, e.g when using markdown
  • watch the demo-project here (source)


Inside your Gemfile add the following:

gem "on_the_spot"

Run the installation task:

rails g on_the_spot:install

This will copy the default translation files, and for rails 3.0 it will also copy the needed assets (javascript files).

Rails 3.1+/4/5

Add the following to application.js so it compiles to the asset_pipeline

//= require on_the_spot

Or, inside your application.html.haml you could still include the needed javascripts, using

= javascript_include_tag :on_the_spot

To use the default styling, add the following to application.css so it compiles to the asset_pipeline

*= require on_the_spot

Or, inside your application.html.haml you could still include the needed css, using

= stylesheet_link_tag :on_the_spot

Rails 3.x

Breaking changes: since rails 5 render :text is deprecated and removed, this means that starting from 1.1.0 this gem is no longer compatible with rails 3, but is compatible with rails 4 and 5. So if you are still using rails 3.x you need the fixate the version to 1.0.6

 gem 'on_the_spot', '1.0.6'

Rails 3.0.x

Inside your application.html.haml you will need to add below the default javascripts:

= javascript_include_tag :on_the_spot

or using erb, you write

<%= javascript_include_tag :on_the_spot %>

To use the default styling, inside your application.html.haml you will need to add below the default CSS:

= stylesheet_link_tag :on_the_spot

or using erb, you write

<%= stylesheet_link_tag :on_the_spot %>

Routes (for all Rails versions)

Inside your routes.rb you need to provide the following route :

resources :posts do
  collection do
    put :update_attribute_on_the_spot
    get :get_attribute_on_the_spot

You need to do this for each controller that uses the on-the-spot editing.

You only need to specify the route for get_attribute_on_the_spot if you make use of the :display_method option, and do not want to supply your own load-function.

That is all you need to do to start using it!


Inside your controller you write:

class YourController < ApplicationController


  ... leave the rest of your controller alone ...


And inside your view you will have to specify the fields you want to be "editable" :

Username: <%= on_the_spot_edit @user, :name %>

It should be as simple as that :)

Detailed options

The on_the_spot_edit also accepts options:

  • :type : :textarea, :select or :checkbox (none means default edit)
  • :ok_text : the text for the ok-button
  • :cancel_text : the text for the cancel-button
  • :display_text: if you want to overrule the displayed text, especially useful when using your own :url or :loadurl
  • :tooltip : the tooltip-text
  • :rows: for textarea, the number of rows, defaults to 5
  • :columns: for textarea, the number of columns, defaults to 40
  • :data: for select, the lookup-data, should be in an array of id-value pairs. E.g. [[1, 'ok'], [2, 'not ok'], [3, 'not decided']].
  • :loadurl: for select, an url that will return the data in JSON format (use instead of :data)
  • :url: URL to post to if you don't want to use the standard routes
  • :selected: Text selected by default on edit (boolean, default is false)
  • :callback: The name of a javascript function that is called after form has been submitted
  • :display_method: the name of a method that is used to get the value to display of a field. When you use this, we will automatically attempt to look up the raw value of the field to edit. This differs from the :display_text option, as this will also be called after update. This supersedes the :display_text option.
  • :raw: if set to true, evaluate the field value as raw HTML.

For the texts: if a text is not specified, the default is taken from the on_the_spot.en.yml (or your current language).


Each element that is editable will have the on_the_spot_editing class.

When an element is moused over, it will get the on_the_spot_over class.

You can use these classes to style the elements.

Example Usages

Edit field

<%= on_the_spot_edit @user, :name %>


<%= on_the_spot_edit @user, :description, :type => :textarea, :rows => 10, :columns => 55 %>


<%= on_the_spot_edit @user, :rating, :type => :select, :data => [[1, 'good'], [2, 'mediocre'], [3, 'bad']] %>


Somewhere in a .js file:
function testCallback(object, value, settings) {

<%= on_the_spot_edit @user, :name, :callback => 'testCallback' %>

Using together with cancan

When using on_the_spot together with cancan, you will have to explicitly exclude the on_the_spot method, like so:

load_and_authorize_resource :except => [:update_attribute_on_the_spot, :get_attribute_on_the_spot]

The load_and_authorize_resource will try to find the object, based on the id in the parameters, but on_the_spot uses a different encoding to store the object, field and id in one attribute. So if you exclude that, there will not be a problem.

Using together with an authorization system (e.g. Cancan)

If you want to test access-rights, you can do so by specifying a method which will be called

In your controller write:

can_edit_on_the_spot :check_access

def check_access(object, field)
  # verify that the current user has access to edit/see the field of given object

Example project

There is an example rails3-project called on_the_spot_tester


As jEditable depends on jQuery, your rails3 project needs to use jQuery. It will not work if you use Prototype instead, in your rails3 project. I have written an article here how to start a fresh rails3 project, using jQuery. In short, you add the following to your Gemfile:

gem "jquery-rails"

and, after a bundle install, you run

rails g jquery:install

That will download and install all the necessary files for you.

Note on Patches/Pull Requests

  • Fork the project.
  • Make your feature addition or bug fix.
  • Add tests for it. This is important so I don't break it in a future version unintentionally.
  • Commit, do not mess with rakefile, version, or history. (if you want to have your own version, that is fine but bump version in a commit by itself I can ignore when I pull)
  • Send me a pull request. Bonus points for topic branches.


Copyright (c) 2010 nathanvda. See LICENSE for details.