Adds basic social networking capabilities to your existing application, including users, blogs, photos, clippings, favorites, and more.
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CommunityEngine [v1.0.4.2]

Information at:


- RAILS VERSION 2.3.4 (higher versions are not yet supported)
- ImageMagick (>6.4) 
- Several gems:
desert 0.5.2
  rake 0.8.3
  haml 2.0.5
  aws-s3 (if using s3 for photos)

Getting CommunityEngine Running


    rails your_app_name -m


  1. From the command line

     $ rails site_name (create a rails app if you don't have one already)    
  2. Install desert:

     $ sudo gem install desert
  3. Put the community engine plugin into plugins directory (use one of the following methods):

    • If you're not using git, and just want to add the source files:

        Download a tarball from and unpack it into /vendor/plugins/community\_engine
    • Using git, make a shallow clone of the community_engine repository:

        $ git clone --depth 1 git:// vendor/plugins/community_engine
    • If you want to keep your community_engine plugin up to date using git, you'll have to add it as a submodule:
        git submodule add git:// vendor/plugins/community_engine
        git submodule init
        git submodule update
    • Make sure you rename your CE directory to community_engine (note the underscore) if it isn't named that for some reason

  4. Create your database and modify your config/database.yml appropriately.

  5. Delete public/index.html (if you haven't already)

  6. Modify your environment.rb as indicated below:

     ## environment.rb should look something like this:
     RAILS_GEM_VERSION = '2.3.4' unless defined? RAILS_GEM_VERSION
     require File.join(File.dirname(__FILE__), 'boot')
     require 'desert'
 do |config|
       config.plugins = [:community_engine, :white_list, :all]
       config.plugin_paths += ["#{RAILS_ROOT}/vendor/plugins/community_engine/plugins"]
       config.gem 'calendar_date_select'
       config.gem 'icalendar'		
       config.gem 'authlogic'
       config.gem 'searchlogic'

    config.action_controller.session = { :key => '_your_app_session', :secret => 'secret' }

       ... Your stuff here ...
     # Include your application configuration below
     require "#{RAILS_ROOT}/vendor/plugins/community_engine/config/boot.rb"
  7. Modify each environment file (development.rb, test.rb, and production.rb) as indicated below:

     # development.rb, production.rb, and test.rb should include something like:
     APP_URL = "http://localhost:3000" (or whatever your URL will be for that particular environment)
  8. Modify your routes.rb as indicated below:

     # Add this after any of your own existing routes, but before the default rails routes: 
     map.routes_from_plugin :community_engine
     # Install the default routes as the lowest priority.
     map.connect ':controller/:action/:id'
     map.connect ':controller/:action/:id.:format'     
  9. Generate the community engine migrations:

     $ script/generate plugin_migration
  10. From the command line:

    $ rake db:migrate
  11. You may need to change these lines in application.rb (if you're not using cookie sessions):

    # See ActionController::RequestForgeryProtection for details
    # Uncomment the :secret if you're not using the cookie session store
    protect_from_forgery # :secret => 'your_secret_string'
  12. Run tests (remember, you must run rake test before you can run the community_engine tests):

    $ rake test $ rake community_engine:test

  13. Start your server and check out your site!

    $ mongrel_rails start
    $ ./script/server

Optional Configuration

To override the default configuration, create an application.yml file in RAILS_ROOT/config

The application configuration defined in this file overrides the one defined in /community_engine/config/application.yml

This is where you can change commonly used configuration variables, like AppConfig.community_name, etc.

This YAML file will get converted into an OpenStruct, giving you things like AppConfig.community_name, AppConfig.support_email, etc.

Photo Uploading

By default CommunityEngine uses the filesystem to store photos.

To use Amazon S3 as the backend for your file uploads, you'll need the aws-s3 gem installed, and you'll need to add a file called amazon_s3.yml to the application's root config directory (examples are in /community_engine/sample_files).

You'll need to change your configuration in your application.yml to tell CommunityEngine to use s3 as the photo backend.

Finally, you'll need an S3 account for S3 photo uploading.

Create an s3.yml file in RAILS_ROOT/config

CommunityEngine includes the s3.rake tasks for backing up your site to S3. If you plan on using these, you'll need to add a file in RAILS_ROOT/config/s3.yml. (Sample in sample_files/s3.yml)


CommunityEngine Users have a Role (by default, it's admin, moderator, or member)

To set a user as an admin, you must manually change his role_id through the database. Once logged in as an admin, you'll be able to toggle other users between moderator and member (just go to their profile page and look on the sidebar.)

Admins and moderators can edit and delete other users posts.

There is a rake task to make an existing user into an admin:

rake community_engine:make_admin 

(Pass in the e-mail of the user you'd like to make an admin)


To create a theme:

  1. Add a 'themes' directory in RAILS_ROOT with the following structure:

  2. Add theme: your_theme_name to your application.yml (you'll have to restart your server after doing this)

  3. Customize your theme. For example: you can create a /RAILS_ROOT/theme/your_theme_name/views/shared/_scripts_and_styles.html.haml to override the default one, and pull in your theme's styleshees.

    To get at the stylesheets (or images, or javascripts) from your theme, just add /theme/ when referencing the resource, for example:

     = stylesheet_link_tag 'theme/screen'  # this will reference the screen.css stylesheet within the selected theme's stylesheets directory.

Note: when running in production mode, theme assets (images, js, and stylesheets) are automatically copied to you public directory (avoiding a Rails request on each image load).


Localization is done via Rails native I18n API. We've added some extensions to String and Symbol to allow backwards compatibility (we used to use Globalite).

Strings and Symbols respond to the .l method that allows for a look up of the symbol (or a symbolized version of the string) into a strings file which is stored in yaml.

For complex strings with substitutions, Symbols respond to the .l method with a hash passed as an argument, for example:

:welcome.l :name =>

And in your language file you'd have:

welcome: "Welcome {{name}}"

To customize the language, or add a new language create a new yaml file in RAILS_ROOT/lang/ui. The name of the file should be LANG-LOCALE.yml (e.g. en-US.yml or es-PR) The language only file (es.yml) will support all locales.

To wrap all localized strings in a <span> that shows their localization key, put this in your environment.rb:

AppConfig.show_localization_keys_for_debugging = true if RAILS_ENV.eql?('development')

Note, this will affect the look and feel of buttons. You can highlight what is localized by using the span.localized style (look in screen.css)

For more, see /lang/readme.txt.

Other notes

Any views you create in your app directory will override those in community_engine/app/views. For example, you could create RAILS_ROOT/app/views/layouts/application.html.haml and have that include your own stylesheets, etc.

You can also override CommunityEngine's controllers by creating identically-named controllers in your application's app/controllers directory.


  1. I get errors running rake! Error: (wrong number of arguments (3 for 1)
  • make sure you have the latest version of rake
  1. When upgrading to Rails 2.3, make sure your action_controller.session key is called :key, instead of the old :session_key:

     config.action_controller.session = {
       :key => '_ce_session',
       :secret      => 'secret'

Contributors - Thanks! :)

  • Bryan Kearney - localization
  • Alex Nesbitt - forgot password bugs
  • Alejandro Raiczyk - Spanish localization
  • Fritz Thielemann - German localization, il8n
  • Oleg Ivanov - acts_as_taggable_on_steroids
  • David Fugere - French localization
  • Barry Paul - routes refactoring
  • Andrei Erdoss localization
  • Errol Siegel simple private messages integration, documentation help
  • Carl Fyffe - documentation, misc.
  • Juan de Frías static pages, photo albums, message_controller tests
  • Joel Nimety authlogic authentication
  • Stephane Decleire i18n, fr-FR locale

To Do

  • Track down <RangeError ... is recycled object> warnings on tests (anyone know where that's coming from?)

Bug tracking is via Lighthouse