Use handlebars.js templates with the asset pipeline and/or sprockets

Are your handlebars.js templates littering your Rails views with script tags? Wondering why the nifty Rails 3.1 asset pipeline streamlines all your JavaScript except for your Handlebars templates? Wouldn't it be nice to have your Handlebars templates compiled, compressed, and cached like your other JavaScript?

Yea, I think so too. That is why I wrote handlebars_assets. Give your Handlebars templates their own files (including partials) and have them compiled, compressed, and cached as part of the Rails 3.1 asset pipeline!

Using sprockets with Sinatra or another framework? handlebars_assets works outside of Rails too (as of v0.2.0)


@AlexRiedler has made some larger changes to this repository for going forward; If you have existing monkey patches they may not work, and the configuration schema has changed slightly to handle multiple extensions for the same compilation pipeline.

If you have any problems, please post an issue! I will attempt to fix ASAP


My pull request to allow / in partials was pulled into Handlebars. The hack that converted partial names to underscored paths (shared/_time -> _shared_time) is no longer necessary and has been removed. You should change all the partial references in your app when upgrading from a version prior to v0.9.0.

Version of handlebars.js

handlebars_assets is packaged with the current stable release of handlebars.js. See the section on using another version if that does not work for you.


Rails 4.0+

Load handlebars_assets in your Gemfile

gem 'handlebars_assets'

Then follow Javascript Setup

Side Note: As of Rails 4.0, the assets group is not supported in the Gemfile (source).

Rails 3.1+

Load handlebars_assets in your Gemfile as part of the assets group

group :assets do
  gem 'handlebars_assets'

Then follow Javascript Setup

Sprockets (Non-Rails)

handlebars_assets can work with earlier versions of Rails or other frameworks like Sinatra.

Load handlebars_assets in your Gemfile

gem 'handlebars_assets'

Add the HandlebarsAssets.path to your Sprockets::Environment instance. This lets Sprockets know where the Handlebars JavaScript files are and is required for the next steps to work.

env =

require 'handlebars_assets'
env.append_path HandlebarsAssets.path

Javascript Setup

Require handlebars.runtime.js in your JavaScript manifest (i.e. application.js)

//= require handlebars.runtime

If you need to compile your JavaScript templates in the browser as well, you should instead require handlebars.js (which is significantly larger)

//= require handlebars

Templates directory

Generally you want to locate your template with your other assets, for example app/assets/javascripts/templates. In your JavaScript manifest file, use require_tree to pull in the templates


//= require_tree ./templates

This must be done before //= require_tree . otherwise all your templates will not have the intended prefix; and after your inclusion of handlebars/handlebars runtime.

Rails Asset Precompiling

handlebars_assets also works when you are precompiling your assets.

rake assets:precompile

If you are using rake assets:precompile, you have to re-run the rake command to rebuild any changed templates. See the Rails guide for more details.

Heroku & other cloud hosts

If you are deploying to Heroku, be sure to read the Rails guide and in your config/application.rb set:

config.assets.initialize_on_precompile = false

This avoids running your initializers when compiling assets (see the guide for why you would want that).

However, that does mean that you cannot set your configuration in an initializer. This issue has a workaround, or you can set:

config.assets.initialize_on_precompile = true

This will run all your initializers before precompiling assets.


The template files

Write your Handlebars templates as standalone files in your templates directory. Organize the templates similarly to Rails views.

For example, if you have new, edit, and show templates for a Contact model


Your file extensions tell the asset pipeline how to process the file. Use .hbs to compile the template with Handlebars.

If your file is templates/contacts/new.hbs, the asset pipeline will generate JavaScript code

  1. Compile the Handlebars template to JavaScript code
  2. Add the template code to the HandlebarsTemplates global under the name contacts/new

You can then invoke the resulting template in your application's JavaScript

NOTE: There will be no javascript object HandlebarsTemplates unless at least ONE template is included.



If you begin the name of the template with an underscore, it will be recognized as a partial. You can invoke partials inside a template using the Handlebars partial syntax:

Invoke a {{> path/to/_partial }}


The template namespace

By default, the global JavaScript object that holds the compiled templates is HandlebarsTemplates, but it can be easily renamed. Another common template namespace is JST. Just change the template_namespace configuration option when you initialize your application.

HandlebarsAssets::Config.template_namespace = 'JST'

Ember Support

To compile your templates for use with Ember.js simply turn on the config option:

HandlebarsAssets::Config.ember = true

If you need to compile templates for Ember and another framework then enable multiple frameworks:

HandlebarsAssets::Config.multiple_frameworks = true

After mutliple_frameworks has been enabled templates with the .ember.hbs extension will be made available to Ember.

.hamlbars and .slimbars Support

If you name your templates with the extension .hamlbars, you can use Haml syntax for your markup! Use HandlebarsAssets::Config.haml_options to pass custom options to the Haml rendering engine.

For example, if you have a file widget.hamlbars that looks like this:

%h1 {{title}}
%p {{body}}

The Haml will be pre-processed so that the Handlebars template is basically this:

<h1> {{title}} </h1>
<p> {{body}} </p>

The same applies to .slimbars and the Slim gem. Use HandlebarsAssets::Config.slim_options to pass custom options to the Slim rendering engine.

Note: To use the hb handlebars helper with Haml, you'll also need to include the Hamlbars gem in your Gemfile:

  gem 'hamlbars', '~> 2.0'

This will then allow you to do things like Haml blocks:

= hb 'each authors' do
    = succeed ',' do
      = hb 'lastName'
    = hb 'firstName'

Reference hamlbars for more information.

Using another version of handlebars.js

Occasionally you might need to use a version of handlebars.js other than the included version. You can set the compiler_path and compiler options to use a custom version of handlebars.js.

HandlebarsAssets::Config.compiler = 'my_handlebars.js' # Change the name of the compiler file
HandlebarsAssets::Config.compiler_path = Rails.root.join('app/assets/javascripts') # Change the location of the compiler file

Patching handlebars.js

If you need specific customizations to the handlebars.js compiler, you can use patch the compiler with your own JavaScript patches.

The patch file(s) are concatenated with the handlebars.js file before compiling. Take a look at the test for details.

HandlebarsAssets::Config.patch_files = 'my_patch.js'
HandlebarsAssets::Config.patch_path = Rails.root.join('app/assets/javascripts') # Defaults to `Config.compiler_path`


This gem is standing on the shoulders of giants.

Thank you Yehuda Katz (@wycats) for handlebars.js and lots of other code I use every day.

Thank you Charles Lowell (@cowboyd) for therubyracer and handlebars.rb.


This gem is maintained by Alex Riedler Github.


Les Hill, follow me on Github and Twitter.


  • Matt Burke (@spraints) : execjs support
  • (@kendagriff) : 1.8.7 compatibility
  • Thorben Schröder (@walski) : 3.1 asset group for precompile
  • Erwan Barrier (@erwanb) : Support for plain sprockets
  • Brendan Loudermilk (@bloudermilk) : HandlebarsAssets.path
  • Dan Evans (@danevans) : Rails 2 support
  • Ben Woosley (@empact) : Update to handlebars.js 1.0.0.beta.6
  • (@cw-moshe) : Remove 'templates/' from names
  • Spike Brehm (@spikebrehm) : Config.template_namespace option
  • Ken Mayer (@kmayer) : Quick fix for template_namespace option
  • Brad Murray (@wyaeld) : Generic options support
  • Blake Williams (@BlakeWilliams) : .handlebars extension
  • Tristan Koch (@trkoch) : Strip leading whitespace from compiled templates
  • Brian Cardarella (@bcardarella) : Ember support
  • David Lee (@davidlee) : Slim support
  • Phil Cohen (@phlipper) : README cleanup
  • Akshay Rawat (@akshayrawat) : Update to handlebars.js 1.0.0-rc.3
  • Turadg Aleahmad (@turadg) : Update to handlebars 1.0.0-rc.4
  • Mark Rushakoff (@mark-rushakoff) : Synchronize Sprockets engine registers with Rails
  • Alex Riedler (@AlexRiedler) : Pass scope and locals up the chain
  • lee (@lee) : Update to handlebars 1.0.0
  • Ken Collins (@metaskills) : Register with Sprockets
  • Blake Hitchcock (@rbhitchcock) : Support ember and other handlebars use simultaneously
  • ajk (@Darep) : Fix .hbs extension for multi-framework support
  • (@mattmenefee) : README section for hamlbars
  • Parker Selbert (@sorentwo) : README section for multiple_frameworks
  • Francisco QV (@panchoqv) : README clarification
  • Dylan Markow (@dmarkow) : README cleanup
  • Peter Boling (@pboling) : AMD Loading


Pull requests are welcome! Please do not update the version number.

In a nutshell:

  1. Fork
  2. Create a topic branch - git checkout -b my_branch
  3. Push to your branch - git push origin my_branch
  4. Create a Pull Request from your branch
  5. That's it!