make_resourceful

Take back control of your Controllers. Make them awesome. Make them sleek. Make them resourceful.

REST is a fine pattern for designing controllers, but it can be pretty repetitive. Who wants to write out the same actions and copy the same model lookup logic all over their application?

make_resourceful handles all that for you. It sets up all your RESTful actions and responses with next to no code. Everything has full, sensible default functionality.

Of course, no controller only uses the defaults. So make_resourceful can be massively customized, while still keeping your controllers trim and readable.

Get it!

Rails

$ ruby script/plugin install git://github.com/hcatlin/make_resourceful.git

Git

$ git clone git://github.com/hcatlin/make_resourceful.git

Use it!

The easiest way to start with make_resourceful is to run the resource_scaffold generator. It uses the same syntax as the Rails scaffold_resource generator:

$ script/generate resource_scaffold post title:string body:text

It does, however, require Haml. You are using Haml, right? No? I'll wait here while you go fall in love with it.

If you want to try make_resourceful on one of your current controllers, just replace the mess of repetition with this:

class FooController < ApplicationController
  make_resourceful do
    actions :all
  end
end

Those three lines will replace the entire default controller that comes out of the scaffold_resource generator.

Really?

Yes.

Can I do nested resources?

make_resourceful do
  actions :all
  belongs_to :post
end

What if I want to use fancy permalinks?

def current_object
  @current_object ||= current_model.find_by_permalink(params[:id])
end

What about paging?

def current_objects
  @current_objects ||= current_model.find(:all,
    :order => "created_at DESC", :page => {:current => params[:page], :size => 10 } )
end

What if I want to do something in the middle of an action?

before :show, :index do
  @page_title = "Awesome!"
end

after :create_fails do
  @page_title = "Not So Awesome!"
end

What about all of my awesome respond_to blocks for my XML APIs and RJS responses?

response_for :show do |format|
  format.html
  format.js
  format.xml
end

response_for :update_fails do |format|
  format.html { render :action => 'edit' }
  format.json { render :json => false.to_json, :status => 422 }
end

So I guess I have to write responses for all my actions?

Nope! make_resourceful makes them do the right thing by default. You only need to customize them if you want to do something special.

Seriously?!

Yes!

Grok it!

make_resourceful the Method

The make_resourceful block is where most of the action happens. Here you specify which actions you want to auto-generate, what code you want to run for given callbacks, and so forth.

You also use the block to declare various bits of information about your controller. For instance, if the controller is nested, you'd call belongs_to. If you wanted to expose your models as some sort of text format, you'd call publish.

Check out the documentation of Resourceful::Builder for more information on the methods you can call here.

Helper Methods

make_resourceful provides lots of useful methods that can be used in your callbacks and in your views. They range from accessing the records you're looking up to easily generating URLs for a record to getting information about the action itself.

Two of the most useful methods are current_object and current_objects (note the subtle plurality difference). current_objects only works for index, and returns all the records in the current model. current_object works for all actions other than index, and returns the record that's currently being dealt with.

The full documentation of the helper methods is in Resourceful::Default::Accessors and Resourceful::Default::URLs.

Nested Resources

make_resourceful supports easy management of nested resources. This is set up with the Resourceful::Builder#belongs_to declaration. Pass in the name of the parent model,

belongs_to :user

and everything will be taken care of. When index is run for GET /users/12/albums, parent_object will get User.find(params[:user_id]), and current_objects will get parent_object.albums. When create is run for POST /users/12/albums, the newly created Album will automatically belong to the user with id 12.

The normal non-scoped actions still work, too. GET /albums/15 runs just fine. make_resourceful knows that since there's no params[:user_id], you just want to deal with the album.

You can even have a single resource nested under several different resources. Just pass multiple parent names to the Resourceful::Builder#belongs_to, like

belongs_to :user, :artist

Then /users/15/albums and /artists/7/albums will both work.

This does, however, mean that make_resourceful only supports one level of nesting. There's no automatic handling of /users/15/collections/437/albums. However, this is really the best way to organize most resources anyway; see this article.

If you really need a deeply nested controller, it should be easy enough to set up on your own. Just override current_model. See the next section for more details.

Overriding Methods

Not only are helper methods useful to the developer to use, they're used internally by the actions created by make_resourceful. Thus one of the main ways make_resourceful can be customized is by overriding accessors.

For instance, if you want to only look up the 10 most recent records for index, you're override current_objects. If you wanted to use a different model than that suggested by the name of the controller, you'd override current_model.

When you're overriding methods that do SQL lookups, though, be a little cautious. By default, these methods cache their values in instance variables so that multiple SQL queries aren't run on multiple calls. When overriding them, it's wise for you to do the same. For instance,

def current_object
  @current_object ||= current_model.find_by_name(params[:name])
end

For More Information…

Haven't found all the information you need in the RDoc? Still a little confused about something? Don't despair, there are still more resources available!

  • Read the source code! It's very straightforward, and make_resourceful is built to encourage overriding methods and hacking the source.

  • Nathan Weizenbaum has some good blog posts about make_resourceful. They may be a little outdated, but they should still be useful and explanatory.

    • On nesting and associations: here.

    • An overview of make_resourceful 0.2.0 and 0.2.2: here.

    • On Resourceful::Builder#publish and Resourceful::Serialize: here and here.

  • There's an excellent, active Google Group groups.google.com/group/make_resourceful where people will be happy to answer your questions.


Copyright 2007-2010 Hampton Catlin and Nathan Weizenbaum. Contributions by:

  • Russell Norris

  • Jonathan Linowes

  • Cristi Balan

  • Mike Ferrier

  • James Golick

  • Don Petersen

  • Alex Ross

  • Tom Stuart

  • Glenn Powell

  • Johannes Jörg Schmidt