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The spicy extension framework for Rails
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Chili Build Status

Have you ever wanted to test out a new feature on only a subset of users? Did that implementation end up being lots of if/else statements embedded in the main code? If so, Chili can help.

Chili is built on top of Rails Engines and Deface and allows you to conditionally add new/modify existing views, while leaving the main code untouched.

Tutorial & Examples


  • Rails 3.2+
  • Ruby 1.9.2+


First add Chili to your app's Gemfile:

gem 'chili'

and run bundle.


Chili extensions are like mini apps that are created inside your main app's vendor directory using using the "chili" generator.

Creating a new chili extension

As an example, assuming you want to add a new extension named "social" that exposes a new feature in the form of a like-button to a subset of users, first within your main app run:

$ rails g chili:extension social

This will:

  1. Create the directory vendor/chili/social_extension containing the basic structure for the extension
  2. Add a reference to the extension to the main app gemfile

Since the extension is mounted as a gem you'll have to restart the app.

Define who can see the extension

Use the active_if block to control whether new the extension is active for each user. The context of the active_if block is the application controller so you can use any methods available to that.

# lib/social_extension.rb
module SocialExtension
  extend Chili::Activatable
  active_if { logged_in? && current_user.admin? } # Extension is only visible to logged in admin users

Modifying view templates in main app

Chili uses Deface to dynamically modify existing view templates (see Deface docs for details) Add overrides to the app/overides directory mirroring the path of the view you want to modify. For example, assuming the main app has the partial app/views/posts/_post.html.erb:

<% # app/overrides/posts/_post/like_button.html.erb.deface (folder should mirror main app view path) %>
<!-- insert_bottom 'tr' -->
<td><%= link_to 'Like!', social_extension.likes_path(like: {post_id: post}), method: :post %></td>

Adding new resources

Run rails g scaffold Like from within the extension's directory. The new resource will be namespaced to SocialExtension::Like and automounted as an isolated engine in the main app at /chili/social_extension/likes, but will only be accessible when active_if is true.


Migrations are handled the same way as engines. Use the following commands after you've added a new migration to your extension:

$ rake social_extension:migrations:install
$ rake db:migrate

Modifying existing models

Create a model with the same name as the one you want to modify by running: rails g model User --migration=false inside your extension's directory and edit it to inherit from the original:

# app/models/social_extension/user.rb
module SocialExtension
  class User < ::User
    has_many :likes

Access in your overrides/extension views through the namespaced model:

<%= SocialExtension::User.first.likes %>
<%= current_user.becomes(SocialExtension::User).likes %>


Files added to the extension's app/assets/social_extension/javascripts|stylesheets directory are automatically injected into the layout using a pre-generated override:

<% # app/overrides/layouts/application/assets.html.erb.deface %>
<!-- insert_bottom 'head' -->
<%= stylesheet_link_tag 'social_extension/application' %>
<%= javascript_include_tag 'social_extension/application' %>

If you don't need any css/js in your extension, you can remove this file.


  • Chili will not be able to automount if you use a catch-all route in your main app (ie match '*a', to: 'errors#routing'), you will have to remove the catch-all or manually add the engine to the main app's routes file.
  • Just like normal engines, Chili requires you to prepend path helpers with main_app (ie main_app.root_path etc) in view templates that are shared with the main app (such as the main app's application layout file).
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