The will_paginate Ruby library

Pagination is just limiting the number of records loaded and displayed. Why should you let it get in your way while developing?

This is how you paginate on an ActiveRecord model:

Post.paginate :page => 1, :order => 'created_at DESC'

Most of the time it's as simple as replacing “find” with “paginate” and specifying the page you want.

Some resources to get you started:

I'm not using Rails; can I still use will_paginate?

Absolutely – although will_paginate started off as a Rails plugin, now it is a completely framework-agnostic library with support for Rails and Merb built-in. The core library doesn't have any dependences and you can safely use it in any Ruby code.

When will_paginate is loaded in an environment where ActiveRecord and ActionView are present, it automatically hooks into these frameworks to provide easy pagination on your models and in your views. The same mechanism works for Merb applications, too. But, if no known framework is present then you have absolute control over what parts of will_paginate do you want to load and where you want them mixed in.


The recommended way is that you get the gem hosted on

gem install mislav-will_paginate

In Rails 2.1, add a gem dependency:

# for Rails 2.1 and newer
config.gem 'mislav-will_paginate', :lib => 'will_paginate', :version => '~> 3.0'

If you're using Rails 2.0 or older, or any other Ruby framework, just add a simple require to a file that initializes your application. For example, in Rails you would put this at the end of “config/environment.rb”.

gem 'mislav-will_paginate', '~> 3.0'
require 'will_paginate'

That's it. Remember to install the gem on <strong>all</strong> machines that you are deploying to.

There are extensive installation instructions on the wiki.

Example usage

Typical usage involves a paginating find in the controller:

@posts = Post.paginate :page => params[:page], :order => 'updated_at DESC'

It's true: paginate works just like find – it just doesn't fetch all the records. Don't forget to tell it which page you want, or it will complain! Read more in WillPaginate::Finders.

Render the posts in your view like you would normally do, and when you need to render pagination, just stick this in:

<%= will_paginate @posts %>

You're done. Read more in WillPaginate::ViewHelpers::Base.

How does it know how much items to fetch per page? It asks your model by calling its per_page class method. You can define it like this:

class Post < ActiveRecord::Base
  self.per_page = 50

… or don't worry about it at all. WillPaginate defines it to be <strong>30</strong> by default. You can always specify the count explicitly when calling paginate:

Post.paginate :page => params[:page], :per_page => 50

The paginate finder wraps the original finder and returns your result set that now has some new properties. You can use the collection as you would use any other array. WillPaginate view helpers also need that collection object to be able to render pagination:

  <% for post in @posts -%>
    <li>Render `post` in some nice way.</li>
  <% end -%>

<p>Now let's render us some pagination!</p>
<%= will_paginate @posts %>

Authors and credits

The original author of will_paginate is PJ Hyett, who later handed over development to Mislav Marohnić. The library was almost completely rewritten twice since then.

All these people helped making will_paginate what it is now with their code contributions or just simply awesome ideas:

Chris Wanstrath, Dr. Nic Williams, K. Adam Christensen, Mike Garey, Bence Golda, Matt Aimonetti, Charles Brian Quinn, Desi McAdam, James Coglan, Matijs van Zuijlen, Maria, Brendan Ribera, Todd Willey, Bryan Helmkamp, Jan Berkel, Lourens Naudé, Rick Olson, Russell Norris, Piotr Usewicz, Chris Eppstein, Brandon Arbini, Denis Barushev, Paul Barry, Ben Pickles, Ken Collins, Lida Tang and Pieter Noordhuis.

Usable pagination in the UI

There are example CSS styles to get you started on the will_paginate project page.

More reading about pagination as design pattern:

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