A demo contact list Rails 4 app using Postgres -- deployable to Heroku
Ruby HTML CSS JavaScript CoffeeScript
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.


Contacts -- A Ruby and Rails 4 Sample App

with RVM, Postgres, Git, Github, Heroku, Twitter Bootstrap, RSpec, and RubyMine

Setup Notes

Edwin W. Meyer


Contacts is a Ruby on Rails sample application that maintains a simple contact list. First & last names, phone, and email are stored for each contact.

These notes cover environment setup for this Ruby on Rails 4 app on Ubuntu 14.04 using RVM, Postgres, Git, Github, and RSpec, with deployment to Heroku. Installation of the RubyMine IDE is also covered. Additionally, the app view is implemented using some features of Twitter Bootstrap.

Setup Notes

Install Ruby Version Manager (RVM)

  • Note: the '$' character in the below command lines represents the terminal window command prompt.
$ sudo apt-get update # update list of available packages -- advisable for _all_ apt installations
$ sudo apt-get install curl # required to install RVM
$ \curl -L https://get.rvm.io | bash -s stable # install RVM

If RVM was previously installed, update it:

$ rvm get stable # use the default, don't use the automatic library installation option: --autolibs=enable

General RVM Setup

Install the latest Ruby version into RVM. Install bundler into "global" gemset (for all gemsets using this Ruby version.)

Per http://railsapps.github.io/installrubyonrails-ubuntu.html :

$ rvm install ruby-2.3.0 # the latest ruby version released 12/25/2015.
$ rvm alias create default 2.3.0 # creates "default" as an alias for ruby-2.3.0
$ rvm use default --> Using /home/edwin/.rvm/gems/ruby-2.3.0 # See below if "RVM is not a function" is returned
$ gem -v --> 2.5.1 # now the 'gem' command is also available
# per https://gorails.com/setup/ubuntu/14.04 :
$ echo "gem: --no-ri --no-rdoc" > ~/.gemrc # Create .gemrc specifying no gem doc file installation -- Instead lookup info on the web
$ rvm gemset use global
$ gem install bundler # into 'global' gemset for ruby-2.3.0 


$ rvm @global do gem install bundler

Integrate RVM with Gnome-Terminal

If you use the Gnome terminal window, the following may be necessary.

  • In Terminal command bar | Edit | Profile Preferences | Title and Command :
  • ensure that "Run command as login shell" is clicked.
  • close terminal & reopen to project workspace directory (the directory in which 'contacts' project will be created.) Otherwise rvm use ... returns "RVM is not a function"

Install Nokogiri

$ gem install nokogiri # used by all Rails apps and takes time to install. So do it once in the global gemset
sudo apt-get install libgmp-dev liblzma-dev zlib1g-dev # install as root user

Install Node.js

Since Rails 3.1, a JavaScript runtime has been needed for development on Ubuntu Linux. Install the Node.js server-side JavaScript environment.

$ sudo apt-get install nodejs
  • Note: If Node.js not installed, add "gem 'therubyracer'" to each Rails app Gemfile

Install Git

$ sudo apt-get install git

Instal Postgres

Per https://gorails.com/setup/ubuntu/14.04 & https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-install-and-use-postgresql-on-ubuntu-14-04

$ sudo apt-get install postgresql postgresql-contrib # version 9.3.10 released 10/31/2015
  • Note 1: postgres now runs as a service started upon boot.
  • Note 2: A 'postgres' role (user) has been created. To run client as postgres user:
$ sudo -i -u postgres # start new shell as postgres user
$ psql # start client as postgres user
# \q # exit psql
$ exit # exit postgres user shell

Create Project Directory

This is often prescribed as to be done during Rails app creation. However, doing this initially allows more flexibility, particularly for RVM setup.

$ mkdir contacts
$ cd contacts # further work done inside project directory

RVM Setup for App / Install Rails

Specify the Ruby version to be used and create a gemset for the project. Install Rails into that gemset.

$ rvm use ruby-2.3.0@contacts --create --ruby-version # this also creates .ruby-version and .ruby-gemset files in app root
$ gem install rails --version=4.2.5 # Install Rails latest version released 11/12/2015 into the "contacts" gemset

Create Rails App Structure that Uses Postgres

Perform "rails new" with these options:

  • "-d postgresql" to use Postgres rather than the default MySQL, and
  • "-T" to omit unit/mini-test file generation. (The app uses Rspec instead.)
$ rails new . -d postgresql -T
  • Note: If "Can't find the libpq-fe.h header" is returned, perform:
$ sudo apt-get install libpq-dev # per http://askubuntu.com/questions/286617/error-cant-find-the-libpq-fe-h-header

Create Application Elements Using Rails Generate Commands

This is a simple way of creating basic functional app with controllers, models & views from the command line.

$ rails generate scaffold Contact first_name:string last_name:string phone:string email:string
$ rake -T # list rake tasks as a smoke test
  • Add to routes.rb :
root 'contacts#index'
  • Add to database.yml under both development & test environments:
username: rails_user # otherwise rails looks for the user name of the currently logged in user
password: rails_user_pwd # see https://gist.github.com/p1nox/4953113 for how to omit password
host: localhost # Otherwise get : FATAL: Peer authentication failed for user "rails_user"
$ sudo -u postgres createuser -s rails_user 
$ sudo -u postgres psql # Enter Postgres client
  • Note: '#' represents the psql prompt below
# \password rails_user # Set password & confirmation at prompt as 'rails_user_pwd'
# \q
$ rake db:create
$ rake db:migrate 

Smoke Test Skeletal Rails App

$ rails server -e development -p 3000 # run from a separate console -- default environment & port explicitly provided

In a web browser: localhost:3000 # The "Welcome to Rails" static page is displayed

Create a Git Repository

Placing the app in a git repository is a requirement for later deploying the app to Heroku.

$ git init # Performed in the 'contacts' app root directory 
$ git add .
$ git commit -m "initial commit of app with basic features"

Develop the Application

So that you have something to deploy

Heroku Setup Prior to App Deployment

Download & Install Heroku Toolbelt CLI

Per https://toolbelt.heroku.com/debian :

$ wget -O- https://toolbelt.heroku.com/install-ubuntu.sh | sh

Note: This does not install git, contrary to some indications in web search results.

Add to Gemfile:

  ruby "2.3.0" # Add following the 'source' line to give Heroku the exact Ruby version
  gem 'rails_12factor', group: :production 
$ bundle install # and install

Commit into Git Repo

$ git add . 
$ git commit -m "update gemfile for heroku"

Create Heroku Account & Deploy Application

Create a free account at https://signup.heroku.com/. Enter first & last name, email, and company name. Select Ruby as primary development language. Also create a password.

$ heroku login # provide email & password used by Heroku account
  • Note: The Heroku Toolbelt is installed upon first login
$ heroku create # returns 'Creating radiant-castle-5978... done, stack is cedar-14'
$ git config --list | grep heroku # list the just-created remotes for heroku 
  • Note: The remotes for Github are created below.
$ git push heroku master # Now deploy the app to Heroku
$ heroku run rake db:migrate # Performs the DB migrations on radiant-castle-5978

Run the App on Heroku

$ heroku ps:scale web=1 # Ensure one dyno is running the web process type
# Returns "Scaling dynos... done, now running web at 1:Free"
$ heroku ps # check the state of the app’s dynos. Returns:
=== web (Free): `bin/rails server -p $PORT -e $RAILS_ENV`
web.1: up 2015/11/01 10:55:30 (~ 10m ago)

View application in web browser

$ heroku open # Performs any necessary updates and opens the 'radiant-castle-5978' app in the default web browser


https://radiant-castle-5978.herokuapp.com # directly access the app in a browser

Push the Git repository to Github

Create empty 'contacts' repository
  • click "+^" next to thumbnail in upper right corner
  • click "New repository"
  • set names as "contacts" & add a short description.

  • Warning: Do not add a license or any other files. That would create an initial commit on Github conflicting with that in the local and Heroku repos.

Add the 'github' remote for Github

$ git remote add github git@github.com:edwinmeyer/contacts.git 
$ git remote -v # returns, e.g.:
github  git@github.com:edwinmeyer/contacts.git (fetch)
github  git@github.com:edwinmeyer/contacts.git (push)
heroku  https://git.heroku.com/radiant-castle-5978.git (fetch)
heroku  https://git.heroku.com/radiant-castle-5978.git (push)

Now there are two separate remotes: 'heroku' & 'github' which are used instead of 'origin' in git commands. To better distinguish between the Github and Heroku remotes, the name 'origin' is not used.

Push the repository to Github.

$ git push -u github master # same code as pushed to Heroku now also on Github
  • Note: the "-u" option links the local tracking branch to the same-named remote branch

Setup Application for RSpec Tests

In test-driven development, the tests would come first, but this would confuse the workflow and is an uncessessary complication for such a simple app.

Add to Gemfile:

group :development, :test do
  gem "rspec-rails", "~> 3.1.0"
  gem "factory_girl_rails", "~> 4.4.1"
group :test do
  gem "faker", "~> 1.4.3"
  gem "capybara", "~> 2.4.3"
  gem "database_cleaner", "~> 1.3.0"
  gem "launchy", "~> 2.4.2"
  gem "selenium-webdriver", "~> 2.43.0"
$ bundle install # and install
$ rake db:test:clone # Recreate the test database from the current environment’s (_development_) database schema.
$ rails generate rspec:install
  • Add to spec/rails_helper.rb: require 'capybara/rails'

Setup Java for RubyMine

RubyMine is a popular commercial Ruby IDE sold by jetbrains.com. It is a Java app, and a Java Development Kit must be installed.

$ cd ~/apps
$ tar zxvf ~/Downloads/jdk-8u66-linux-x64.tar.gz # installed into ~/apps/jdk1.8.0_66
$ echo "export RUBYMINE_JDK=/home/edwin/apps/jdk1.8.0_66" >> ~/.bash_profile # so RubyMine can find it