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a sweet unobtrusive javascript framework for jQuery and Rails
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README.markdown

Jelly

What is Jelly?

Jelly is an unobtrusive Javascript framework for jQuery and Rails. It provides a set of conventions and tools that help you organize your AJAX and client-side code, while keeping Javascript out of your views and markup. Jelly is the glue between your Rails controllers and jQuery events.

Jelly encourages and enables unit testing your Javascript code. Using a Javascript testing framework such as Jasmine or Screw Unit, Jelly allows you to test AJAX and client-side events independently from your Rails app.

Key Benefits

  • Unobtrusive Javascript. Your Javascript code remains completely separate from your markup.
  • Test Driven Development. Jelly blends well with the Javascript testing framework Jasmine and allows you to test-drive your ajaxy and client-side code.
  • Familiar conventions. Jelly follows the conventions of Ruby on Rails, making it simple for developers to organize and keep track of their Javascript code.

What Jelly is NOT

Jelly is NOT a Javascript generator. With Jelly, you're writing pure Javascript to define your AJAX browser events. Jelly simply provides a set of Javascript functions to make interacting with Rails easier. It's nothing like RJS.

Jelly is NOT a Javascript framework. Jelly is designed to be used with jQuery and jQuery's event-based AJAX framework. Jelly also supports the popular jQuery ajaxForm plugin.

Requirements

  • Rails 2.3.x
  • jQuery 1.3.x

Installation

Jelly is now available as a gem on on RubyForge:

sudo gem install jelly

Then, install the required Javascript files to your public/javascripts directory by running the Jelly generator:

script/generate jelly

Getting Started

Be sure to require jelly when your application loads. This can be done in your environment.rb in the Rails::Initializer.run block:

config.gem 'jelly'

Then, in your layouts, add the following to the <head> section:

<%= javascript_include_tag :jelly, *application_jelly_files %>
<%= spread_jelly %>

The javascript_include_tag line will include the required Javascript libraries for jelly. The :jelly javascript expansion includes the latest version of jQuery. If you already have jQuery included in the page, use the :only_jelly expansion instead

The spread_jelly line activates the events that you have defined on the current page.

Basic Usage

Jelly maps page-specific Javascript functions to Rails Actions and Controllers. For example: StoriesController#index will activate the index function in the Fun Jelly object. Jelly uses jQuery's $(document).ready() to execute the page-specifc function when the page has loaded. Let's look at some code:

In public/javascripts/pages/stories.js, we create a simple Jelly file:

Jelly.Pages.add("Stories", {

  index: function() {
    $('a.clickme').click(function() {
      alert('Hello world!');
    });
  }

});

Jelly will automatically execute the index function when the Rails app runs the StoriesController#index action. Lets continue the example by adding more Javascript functions that map to the new and show Rails actions. We can also specify an all function, which will be executed on all actions in the StoriesController.

Jelly.Pages.add("Stories", {

  index: function() {
    $('a.clickme').click(function() {
      alert('Hello world!');
    });
  },

  'new': function() {
    $('#mydiv').html('<span>Hello World</span>');
  },

  show : function() {},

  all: function() {
    $('#hidden_stuff').show();
  }

});

Notice the slightly different syntax for new. This is because new is a reserved word in Javascript. Create a separate file in public/javascripts/pages for each of your controllers as you use Jelly throughout your application.

Common Components

Often you will want to mix common Javascript components on many pages throughout your application, not just in the namespace of a single Controller. Jelly Components allow you to organize common Javascript code, and invoke it on arbitrary pages within your application.

Jelly Components are simply Javascript classes with (at least) an init function. Here's an example of a SearchBox component that activates an autocompleter on a search box on every page.

in public/javascripts/components/search_box.js:

SearchBox = {
  init: function(){
    $("#search_box").autocompleter({
      url : '/search'
    });
  }
};

To attach the SearchBox component to the page and automatically call the init function when the page is ready, we use the attach_javascript_component method in our view. This can be done either in your layout (for components to attach to all pages), or in your view using content_for.

in the <head> tag of the layout:

<% attach_javascript_component('SearchBox') %>

or in a view:

<% content_for :javascript do -%>
  <% attach_javascript_component('SearchBox') %>
<% end -%>

Components are initialized before the page-specific Javascript functions by default.

AJAX With Jelly

Jelly adds an $.ajaxWithJelly() function to the jQuery namespace which is a simple wrapper for jQuery's $.ajax(). When you use $.ajaxWithJelly() to create an ajax event, Jelly automatically adds an onSuccess handler to your ajax call that invokes the Jelly framework after receiving the ajax response.

Jelly's convention relies on the Controller to specify the javascript callback after an ajax request. We can invoke Jelly in response to a javascript request with the jelly_callback method.

This example assumes that you have working knowledge of jQuery's $.ajax() function. If not, read up on it here.

Simple AJAX example with $.ajaxWithJelly() and jelly_callback

The view, new.html.erb:

<a href="#" id="create_story_link">create story</a>

The controller, stories_controller.rb

class StoriesController < ApplicationController
  def new
  end

  def create
    Story.create!(params[:story])
    respond_to do |format|
      format.html
      format.js { jelly_callback }
    end
  end
end

The javascript, pages/stories.js:

Jelly.Pages.add("Stories", {

  new: function() {
    $("#create_story_link").click(function() {
      $.ajaxWithJelly({
        url: "/stories",
        data: {
          name : 'Untitled Story',
        }
      });
    });
  },

  on_create: function() {
    alert('Your story has been created!');
  }
});

The example above attaches an ajax event to the "create story" link, and when clicked, jQuery will fire a ajax POST request to the create action of our controller. The controller then responds with jelly_callback, and by default invokes the javascript function named on_create in the Stories javascript file.

Passing parameters to the Jelly callback target

If we wanted to make the creation of the story a bit more interesting, we can send back a html fragment of the new story that has been created, and pass it as a parameter to on_create so it can be added to the page. Let's see how that might look:

The view, new.html.erb:

<a href="#" id="create_story_link">create story</a>
<ul id="stories">
  <li>First Story</li>
</ul>

The controller, stories_controller.rb

class StoriesController < ApplicationController
  def new
  end

  def create
    Story.create!(params[:story])
    respond_to do |format|
      format.html
      format.js do
        jelly_callback do
          render :partial => 'story_list_item'
        end
      end
    end
  end
end

The javascript, pages/stories.js:

Jelly.Pages.add("Stories", {

  new: function() {
    $("#create_story_link").click(function() {
      $.ajaxWithJelly({
        url: "/stories",
        data: {
          name : 'Untitled Story',
        }
      });
    });
  },

  on_create: function(storyListItemHtml) {
    $("#stories").append(storyListItemHtml);
  }
});

The jelly_callback function accepts a block which is evaluated in the context of the view layer, which allows you to render partials and use Rails Helpers as you normally would. You can pass as many parameters as you want to the javascript callback by passing an array to the jelly_callback block:

Passing multiple parameters to the Jelly callback target

in the controller, stories_controller.rb:

def create
  @story = Story.create!(params[:story])
  respond_to do |format|
    format.html
    format.js do
      jelly_callback do
        [ render(:partial => 'story_list_item'), @story.id, "Nice looking story, smart guy" ]
      end
    end
  end
end

in the javascript, pages/stories.js:

on_create: function(storyListItemHtml, storyId, message) {
  $(storyListItemHtml).attr('id', storyId).appendTo($("#stories"));
  alert(message);
},

Specifying custom callback functions in jelly_callback

As we have seen above, by default, jelly_callback invokes the javascript function by prepending on_ to the Rails action name. The jelly_callback method can take an optional parameter for the name of the callback to allow more fine-grained client-side behaviors depending on the server-side response.

in the controller, stories_controller.rb

def create
  begin
    Story.create!(params[:story])
    respond_to do |format|
      format.html
      format.js do
        jelly_callback('successful_create') do
          render :partial => 'story_list_item'
        end
      end
    end
  rescue
    respond_to do |format|
      format.html
      format.js do
        jelly_callback('failed_create')
      end
    end
  end
end

in the javascript, pages/stories.js:

on_successful_create: function(storyListItemHtml) {
  $("#stories").append(storyListItemHtml);
},

on_failed_create: function() {
  alert('Oops, there was a problem creating your story!);
}

Callbacks to Jelly Components

By default, ajax callbacks functions are scoped to the current Jelly page. But if you want, you can also direct ajax callbacks to functions on Jelly components or other Javascript objects in your application. To do this, send an :on paremeter to jelly_callback, for example.

in the controller:

respond_to do |format|
  format.js do
    jelly_callback('successful_create', :on => 'CommonHandler') do
      render :partial => 'story_list_item'
    end
  end
end

This will call CommonHandler.on_successful_create() with the response.

Jelly Development

Track Jelly's development roadmap on Jelly's Pivotal Tracker project

To run ruby tests, run rake spec.

To run Javascript tests, open jelly/spec/jasmine_runner.html in Firefox or Safari.

Copyright (c) 2010 Pivotal Labs. This software is licensed under the MIT License.

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