Real World Rails applications and their open source codebases for developers to learn from
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Real World Rails

Real World Rails applications and their open source codebases for developers to learn from

This project brings 100+ (and growing) active, open source Rails apps and engines together in one repository, making it easier for developers to download the collected codebases and learn from Rails apps written by experienced developers. Reading open source code can be an invaluable learning aid. You’ll find the source code in the apps/ and engines/ subdirectories.

Real World Rails was begun to help teach newer developers and to research and write about Rails development practices:

  • Find example usage of a method you’re unsure of
  • Learn how other developers use a gem you’d like to use
  • Discover how to write tests
  • See how Rails engines are built
  • …and much, much more.

If you've got an idea for something that'd be interesting or fun to find out about these Real World Rails apps, contribute your idea on the issue trackerEliot Sykes

How to install on your computer

# Clone this git repo:
git clone

cd real-world-rails/

# The Rails apps are linked to as git submodules.
# This will take some time...(see comment below for possible speedup)
git submodule update --init

# OR If you've got git 2.9+ installed try to run updates in parallel:
# git submodule update --init --jobs 4

# To run the `bin/rwr` inspectors, install gems:
bundle install

echo "All done! Why not run some inspections? Run bin/rwr"

Other Real World Codebase Collections

How you can analyze Real World Rails apps

Find job subclasses

This will find most, but not all job subclasses (requires ag):

# Outputs jobs source in terminal
ag --ruby '< [A-Za-z]+Job\b'

# Open each job in your editor (e.g. atom)
ag --ruby -l '< [A-Za-z]+Job\b' | xargs atom

(used to research Real World Rails Background Jobs)

List models from every Real World Rails application

Interested in seeing how your fellow developers name their models? Run:

bin/rwr models | sort -f | uniq -c | sort -k 1nr -k 2f

Show constants of every Real World Rails app

bin/rwr constants

(this helped when researching Magic Numbers in Ruby & How You Make Them Disappear)

Show view specs

See the file path and source of every view spec in every app:

bin/rwr view-specs

(this will show 250+ view specs, see them in The Big List of View Specs)

Show model methods

See just the model method names and file paths:

bin/rwr model-method-names

See the model method source and file paths:

bin/rwr model-methods

Find projects using gem

find apps/ -name Gemfile.lock | xargs grep GEM_NAME_GOES_HERE

# e.g. Find all projects using doorkeeper gem
find apps/ -name Gemfile.lock | xargs grep doorkeeper

Analyze view naming practices

bin/rwr shared-view-dirs
bin/rwr view-naming

Find ideas on how to configure your foreman processes

# Outputs contents from all Procfiles
find apps/ -name 'Procfile*' | xargs cat


Analyzing directories outside of apps/

Prefix the bin/rwr command with the FILES_PATTERN environment variable:

FILES_PATTERN=~/dev/my-rails-app/**/*.rb bin/rwr

Change source output format to markdown

Prefix bin/rwr with the SOURCE_OUTPUT_FORMAT environment variable:

SOURCE_OUTPUT_FORMAT=markdown bin/rwr view-specs

Information for Contributors

How to add a Real World Rails app

Given a GitHub repo for a Rails app githubuser/foo:

# Inside real-world-rails root:
git submodule add -b master apps/foo


# Requires valid GITHUB_ACCESS_TOKEN
bin/get_project_data >

# OR, if GitHub GraphQL API v4 schema has changed, update cached copy of schema:
FETCH_LATEST_SCHEMA=true bin/get_project_data >

Updating the Rails apps submodules to latest

The Rails apps in apps/ are git submodules. Git submodules are locked to a revision and don't stay in sync with the latest revision.

To update the revisions, run:

# This will take some time:
git submodule foreach git pull

How to remove a git submodule

Only use this if a previously public repo has been removed:

# Remove the submodule from .git/config
git submodule deinit -f path/to/submodule

# Remove the submodule from .git/modules
rm -rf .git/modules/path/to/submodule

# Remove from .gitmodules and remove the submodule directory
git rm -f path/to/submodule

Writing an Inspector? Some docs to help understand AST, Parser…

The inspectors are responsible for the analysis of the Rails apps.

Review the existing inspectors if you're looking for some info on how to write a new one, and see these API docs:


  • Eliot Sykes
  • Contributions are welcome, fork the GitHub repo, make your changes, then submit your pull request! Reach out if you'd like some help.