Book: Getting Started

Henry edited this page Jun 25, 2016 · 5 revisions

Start a new text file called nuts.rb. Here’s what you put inside:

ruby do Camping.goes :Nuts end

Save it. Then, open a command prompt in the same directory. You’ll want to run:

camping nuts.rb

And you should get a message which reads:

** Camping running on

This means that right now The Camping Server is running on port 3301 on your machine. Open your browser and visit http://localhost:3301/.

Your browser window should show:

Camping Problem!

/ Not found

No problem with that. The Camping Server is running, but it doesn’t know what to show. Let’s tell him.

Hello clock

So, you’ve got Camping installed and it’s running. Keep it running. You can edit files and The Camping Server will reload automatically. When you need to stop the server, press Control-C.

Let’s show something. At the bottom of nuts.rb add:

ruby do module Nuts::Controllers class Index < R '/' def get end end end end

Save the file and refresh the browser window. Your browser window should show the time, e.g.

Sun Jul 15 12:56:15 +0200 2007

Enjoying the view

The Camping microframework allows us to separate our code using the MVC (Model-View-Controller) design pattern. Let’s add a view to our Nuts application. Replace the module Nuts::Controllers with:

ruby do module Nuts::Controllers class Index < R '/' def get @time = render :sundial end end end

module Nuts::Views def layout html do head do title { "Nuts And GORP" } end body { self << yield } end end

def sundial
  p "The current time is: #{@time}"

end end

Save the file and refresh your browser window and it should show a message like:

The current time is: Sun Jul 15 13:05:41 +0200 2007

And the window title reads "Nuts And GORP".

Here you can see we call render :sundial from our controller. This does exactly what it says, and renders our sundial method. We’ve also added a special method called layout which Camping will automatically wrap our sundial output in. If you’re familiar with HTML, you'll see that our view contains what looks HTML tag names. This is Markaby, which is like writing HTML using Ruby!

Soon enough, you’ll find that you can return anything from the controller, and it will be sent to the browser. But let’s keep that for later and start investigating the routes.


You probably noticed the weird R '/' syntax in the previous page. This is an uncommon feature of Ruby that is used in our favorite microframework, to describe the routes which the controller can be accessed on.

These routes can be very powerful, but we’re going to have look at the simplest ones first.

ruby do module Nuts::Controllers class Words < R '/welcome/to/my/site' def get "You got here by: /welcome/to/my/site" end end

class Digits < R '/nuts/(\d+)'
  def get(number)
    "You got here by: /nuts/#{number}"

class Segment < R '/gorp/([^/]+)'
  def get(everything_else_than_a_slash)
    "You got here by: /gorp/#{everything_else_than_a_slash}"

class DigitsAndEverything < R '/nuts/(\d+)/([^/]+)'
  def get(number, everything)
    "You got here by: /nuts/#{number}/#{everything}"

end end

Add this to nuts.rb and try if you can hit all of the controllers.

Also notice how everything inside a parenthesis gets passed into the method, and is ready at your disposal.

Simpler routes

This just in:

ruby do module Nuts::Controllers class Index def get "You got here by: /" end end

class WelcomeToMySite
  def get
    "You got here by: /welcome/to/my/site"

class NutsN
  def get(number)
    "You got here by: /nuts/#{number}"

class GorpX
  def get(everything_else_than_a_slash)
    "You got here by: /gorp/#{everything_else_than_a_slash}"

class NutsNX
  def get(number, everything)
    "You got here by: /nuts/#{number}/#{everything}"

end end

Drop the < R-part and it attemps to read your mind. It won’t always succeed, but it can simplify your application once in a while.

Modeling the world

You can get pretty far with what you’ve learned now, and hopefully you’ve been playing a bit off-book, but it’s time to take the next step: Storing data.

Let’s start over again.

ruby do Camping.goes :Nuts

module Nuts::Models class Page < Base end end end

Obviously, this won’t do anything, since we don’t have any controllers, but let’s rather have a look at we do have.

We have a model named Page. This means we now can store wiki pages and retrieve them later. In fact, we can have as many models as we want. Need one for your users and one for your blog posts? Well, I think you already know how to do it.

However, our model is missing something essential: a skeleton.

ruby do Camping.goes :Nuts

module Nuts::Models class Page < Base end

class BasicFields < V 1.0
  def self.up
    create_table Page.table_name do |t|
      t.string :title
      t.text   :content
      # This gives us created_at and updated_at
  def self.down
    drop_table Page.table_name

end end

Now we have our first version of our model. It says:

  • If you want to migrate up to version one,
    • create the skeleton for the Page model,
      • which should be able to store,
        • "title" which is a string,
        • "content" which is a larger text,
        • "created_at" which is the time it was created,
        • "updated_at" which is the previous time it was updated.
  • If you want to migrate down from version one,
    • remove the skeleton for the Page model.

This is called a migration. Whenever you want to change or add new models you simply add a new migration below, where you increase the version number. All of these migrations builds upon each other like LEGO blocks.

Now we just need to tell Camping to use our migration. Write this at the bottom of nuts.rb

ruby do def Nuts.create Nuts::Models.create_schema end end

When The Camping Server boots up, it will automatically call Nuts.create. You can put all kind of startup-code here, but right now we only want to create our skeleton (or upgrade if needed). Start The Camping Server again and observe:

$ camping nuts.rb
** Starting Mongrel on
-- create_table("nuts_schema_infos")
   -> 0.1035s
==  Nuts::Models::BasicFields: migrating ===================================
-- create_table(:nuts_pages)
   -> 0.0033s
==  Nuts::Models::BasicFields: migrated (0.0038s) ==========================

Restart it, and enjoy the silence. There’s no point of re-creating the skeleton this time.

Before we go on, there’s one rule you must known: Always place your models before your migrations.

Using our model

Let’s explore how our model works by going into the console

$ camping -C nuts.rb
** Starting console

Now it’s waiting for your input, and will give you the answer when you press Enter. Here’s what I did, leaving out the boring answers. You should add your own pages.

ruby do

Page = Nuts::Models::Page

hiking = => "Hiking") hiking.content = "You can also set the values like this."

page = Page.find_by_title("Hiking") => #<Nuts::Models::Page id: 1, ... > page = Page.find(1) => #<Nuts::Models::Page id: 1, ... > page.title page.content page.created_at page.updated_at

Page.find_by_title("Fishing") => nil

Page.create automatically saves the page for you.

Page.create(:title => "Fishing", :content => "Go fish!")

Page.count => 2 end

Now I have two pages: One about hiking and one about fishing.

Wrapping it up

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could show this wonderful our pages in a browser? Update nuts.rb so it also contains something like this:

ruby do module Nuts::Controllers class Pages def get # Only fetch the titles of the pages. @pages = Page.all(:select => "title") render :list end end

class PageX
  def get(title)
    @page = Page.find_by_title(title)
    render :view


module Nuts::Views def list h1 "All pages" ul do @pages.each do |page| li do a page.title, :href => R(PageX, page.title) end end end end

def view
  h1 @page.title
  self << @page.content

end end

Here we meet our first helper:

ruby do R(PageX, page.title) end

This is the reversed router and it generates a URL based on a controller. Camping ships with a few, but very useful, helpers and you can easily add your owns. Have a look at Camping::Helpers for how you use these.

There’s a lot of improvements you could do here. Let me suggest:

  • Show when the page was created and last updated.
  • What happens when the page doesn’t exist?
  • What should the front page show?
  • Add a layout.
  • Jazz it up a bit.

The last touch

We have one major flaw in our little application. You can’t edit or add new pages. Let’s see if we can fix that:

ruby do module Nuts::Controllers class PageX def get(title) if @page = Page.find_by_title(title) render :view else redirect PageXEdit, title end end

  def post(title)
    # If it doesn't exist, initialize it:
    @page = Page.find_or_initialize_by_title(title)
    # This is the same as:
    # @page = Page.find_by_title(title) || => title)
    @page.content = @input.content
    redirect PageX, title

class PageXEdit
  def get(title)
    @page = Page.find_or_initialize_by_title(title)
    render :edit

end end

The core of this code lies in the new post method in the PageX controller. When someone types an address or follows a link, they’ll end up at the get method, but you can easily create a form which rather sends you to the post when submitted.

There are other names you can use, but they won’t always work. So for now, don’t be fancy and just stick to get and post. We’ll show you how this really works later.

You might also notice that we use @input.content. The @input-hash contains any extra parameters sent, like those in the forms and those in the URL (/posts?page=50).

Here’s an edit-view, but you can probably do better. See if you can integrate all of this with what you already have.

ruby do module Nuts::Views def edit h1 @page.title form :action => R(PageX, @page.title), :method => :post do textarea @page.content, :name => :content, :rows => 10, :cols => 50

    input :type => :submit, :value => "Submit!"

end end


You’ve taken quite a few steps in the last minutes. You deserve a break. But let’s recap for a moment:

  • Always place Camping.goes :App at the top of your file.
  • Every route ends at a controller, but …
  • … the controller only delegates the work.
  • @input contains the extra parameters.
  • The views are HTML disguised as Ruby.
  • They can access the instances variables (those that starts with a single at-sign) from the controller.
  • The models allows you to store all kinds of data.
  • Place your models before your migrations.
  • Helpers are helpful.

This book is a work in progress, and new chapters will likely be inserted after this one later, but for now the next chapter is [Publishing an App](Book: Publishing an App), which will guide you through a few ways you can put the app you just made online somewhere.

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