A Sinatra extension for keeping your <HEAD> straight.
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README.markdown New feature - media types in stylesheets (issue #1) May 20, 2010
sinatra-head.gemspec Regenerated gemspec for version 0.1.2 Jun 10, 2010



This is a simple asset and <head> tag manager for Sinatra projects. It allows dynamically adding or changing stylesheets, javascript includes, or the page title at any level of Sinatra class inheritance or within an action.

Setting Up

You should know this part:

$ gem install sinatra-head

(Or sudo gem install if you're the last person on Earth who isn't using RVM yet.)

If you're developing a Sinatra 'classic' application, then all you need to do is require the library:

# blah_app.rb
require 'sinatra'
require 'sinatra/head'

title << 'My Wonderful App'
stylesheets << 'main.css'

get '/blah' do
  title << 'Feeling blah'
  stylesheets << 'blah.css'

Then, in your layout, just call the head_tag helper:

# views/layout.haml

When called, you'll see a head that sets the charset to UTF-8, "Feeling blah | My Wonderful App" as the page title, and includes both /stylesheets/main.css and stylesheets/blah.css. You can override the default choices here with Sinatra settings.

If you're using the Sinatra::Base style, you also need to register the extension:

# bleh_app.rb
require 'sinatra/base'
require 'sinatra/head'

class BlehApp < Sinatra::Base
  register Sinatra::Head

  # Everything else is the same as the 'classic' example above.

See the Sinatra documentation on using extensions for more detail and rationale.

Head element

Tag helpers: head_tag

This extension is all about the head and the layout. Accordingly, there's a convenient head_tag helper that puts together the four other elements described below:

  <meta charset='UTF-8' />
  <title>All title elements | as appended using the 'title' call | in reverse order</title>
  <link rel='stylesheet' href='/stylesheets/first.css' />
  <!-- ...other stylesheets as declared in order... -->
  <script src="/javascript/first.js"></script>
  <!-- ...other javascripts as declared in order... -->

If you want something more or something different, you can of course skip this and call the other *_tag methods any way you want.

A note on style: My markup flavor of choice is HTML5. HTML5 is backwards compatible with everything and does not require self-closing tags. However, some of you may be using XHTML, and I don't want to break your stuff over a minor religious difference. So the meta and link tags are self-closed, to keep your validators from complaining and because it doesn't really hurt anyone else.


Sinatra settings: :charset
Tag helpers: charset_tag

It's best practice for all Web pages to declare their encoding -- even if the server should be doing it, even if you only use ASCII, etc. etc. Sinatra::Head makes an opinionated choice and sets this to utf-8 for you, but you can override it if you want:

set :charset, 'shift-jis'

You are of course responsible for making sure that the page output keeps any encoding promise you make. If you're using Ruby 1.9, it's a good idea to set the Encoding.default_internal value to utf-8 as well. Also note that using Sinatra's content_type helper will override this for any page by setting the HTTP headers directly, which take precedence over <meta> tags.

A note on meta tags: Someone is doubtless going to ask what happened to the http-equiv or content attributes. This is my short answer. If this fails to validate for any common use case, let me know.


Sinatra settings: :title, :title_separator
Data helpers: title, title=, title_string
Tag helpers: title_tag

Multi-part titles that describe the page, the category, and the site are standard practice for SEO and other reasons. Sinatra::Head manages this by setting up title as a Sinatra setting with an empty array and letting you add to it:

title << 'Site'
title << 'Page' # => 'Page | Site'

Note that the title chain unspools in LIFO order, not FIFO. (I.e., it's a stack, not a queue.)

If you want to blow away this chain for a single action, we do have a title= helper for the purpose. You can also change the separator from | to anything you want with the :title_separator setting.


Sinatra settings: :stylesheets, :stylesheet_path
Data helpers: stylesheets, expand_stylesheet_path
Tag helpers: stylesheet_tag, stylesheet_tags

Like the title setting, the stylesheets setting begins life as an empty array. Thus, you can add sheets to it at any time. Simple filenames will have the stylesheet_path setting prepended for a consistent relative path (it defaults simply to "stylesheets"); hyperlinks beginning with http: or https: will not be touched.

stylesheets << 'main.css'
stylesheets << 'http://someothersite.org/popular_css_extension.css'

get '/blah' do
  stylesheets << 'specific.css'

If your stylesheet string contains a space, the second and any following words will be used for the media attribute:

stylesheets << 'no_effects.css print braille'
# yields:
<link rel='stylesheet' href='/stylesheets/no_effects.css' media='print, braille' />

In your layout, you can call the stylesheet_tag helper for a single filename or URL you provide, or the stylesheet_tags helper which walks the array and creates a tag for each. (In FIFO or queue order, unlike title.)

Currently nothing is done for nicer asset packaging, fingerprinting, compressing, etc. There's Rack middleware for some of it, and future iterations may include these features. If you'd really really like to see them, create an issue and ask for them.


Sinatra settings: :javascripts, :javascript_path
Data helpers: javascripts, expand_javascript_path
Tag helpers: javascript_tag, javascript_tags

These helpers are functionally very similar to the stylesheets ones, allowing the addition of relative filenames (which will be expanded with the javascript_path setting) or full URLs. One wrinkle here is that you can also include inline code:

javascripts << 'main.js'
javascripts << 'http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.4.2/jquery.min.js'

get '/blah' do
  javascripts << %q[
    window.onload = function(){

Inline code is detected by the presence of a semicolon, and will be included as the body of the <script> tag rather than as the src= attribute. (So if you have semicolons in your scripts' filenames or URLs... What were you thinking?)

As noted above for stylesheets, right now there are no facilities to minify, compress, or recombobulate your Javascript. Also as noted, feel free to ask or contribute.

Credit, Support, and Contributions

This extension is the fault of Stephen Eley. You can reach me at sfeley@gmail.com. If you like science fiction stories, I know a good podcast for them as well.

If you find bugs, please report them on the Github issue tracker.

The documentation can of course be found on RDoc.info.

Contributions are welcome. This was a quick start to get me some features I needed in a complex stack of Sinatra apps. There's a lot more that can be done on this, but I'll keep sniffing the wind to find out what should be done.


This project is licensed under the Don't Be a Dick License, version 0.2, and is copyright 2010 by Stephen Eley. See the LICENSE.markdown file or the DBAD License site for elaboration on not being a dick.