Avoid the mundane.
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Check out the shiny new Rails 4 rewrite - https://github.com/recombinary/dronr

Abandon hope all ye who enter here


Avoid the mundane.


AppDrone aims to take the bore out of setting up a Rails app just the way you like it. It's a code library that builds generator code that builds your Rails app code - R A I L S C E P T I O N!

Don't want to fiddle around with the command line? No problem! Head on over to http://drone.bz and make use of the shiny Ember.js-powered UI.


Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'app_drone'

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself:

$ gem install app_drone


Create a new template

require 'app_drone'
t = AppDrone::Template.new

Add drones

t.add AppDrone::Bundle
t.add AppDrone::StyleSheet

Parameters can be used to modify drone behavior:

t.add AppDrone::Bootstrap, vendor: true

To list parameters for a specific drone:

# => #<struct Struct::Param name=:vendor, type=:boolean, options={:info=>"download a local copy into the repo"}>
# => #<struct Struct::Param name=:responsive, type=:boolean, options={:info=>"include responsive grid"}>

For readability, you can use the symbol shorthand instead of full class name:

t.add :factory_girl  # adds AppDrone::FactoryGirl

Render template

Once you've loaded and configured your drones, the template can be rendered to screen or file:

# => out.rb

Dependencies are automatically checked, and a template will not render unless the drone requirements are all satisfied.

# => [AppDrone::Bundle, AppDrone::Stylesheet, AppDrone::Javascript]

Note that most drones depend on Bundle, Stylesheet and Javascript.

To make sure a drone's directives are run after another drone's, use run_after :drone, :another_drone. Unlike depends_on, no dependency checking is done on template render, so you reference paired drones that may or may not exist in the final template. An example:

class AppDrone::SimpleCov
  depends_on :bundle
  pairs_with :rspec
  run_after :rspec
  def align
    bundle.add 'simplecov'
  def execute
    do! :install
    do! :rspec_integration if pair?(:rspec)
    # we can be certain that rspec's generated files exist to modify

Active drones

To list all available drones:

# => [:stylesheet, :javascript, :slim_view, :cleanup, :bundle]

Note: these are the underscored versions, not the class names.

Underneath the hood

Drones are simple classes that implement align and execute methods. When a template is rendered, align is called on each included drone in turn (to set up inter-dependencies), and then execute outputs drone code for the generator file.

Each drone lives in it's own folder in lib/app_drone/drones, and can include .erb templates that are rendered into the main generator template by calling do! :template_name. Usually, this would happen in the execute function.

Optionally, a setup method can be defined to set up variables etc. when a drone instance is created.

Describing a drone

Use desc in the class declaration to explain what the drone does, and category to group similar drones together. This is mostly for shiny UI purposes (app_drone_app).

class AppDrone::MyDrone < AppDrone::Drone
  desc 'Kills all humans.'
  category :deathbots

Drone dependencies

class AppDrone::MyDrone < AppDrone::Drone
  depends_on DeathRay, YourMom

# => [AppDrone::DeathRay, AppDrone::YourMom]

Drone pairings

Pairing is weaker than a dependency. A template will not render without its dependencies, but pairs are optional inclusions to add extra params and behavior in the presence of another drone.

class AppDrone::BarbraStreisand < AppDrone::Drone
  depends_on :bobby_davis_jr
  pairs_with :celine_dion

  param :wear_human_suit_over_mechaskin, :boolean, info: 'Wear the human disguise'
  param_with :celine_dion, :celine_in_rehab, :boolean, info: 'Is she currently in rehab?'

  def align
    bobby_davis_jr.say 'Hi'
    bobby_davis_jr.introduce 'This is Celine Dion' if pair?(:celine_dion)
    self.visit_changing_room if param(:wear_human_suit_over_mechaskin)

  def execute
    do! :duet_with_bobby
    if pair?(:celine_dion)
      do! :coke_with_celine unless param(:celine_in_rehab)

Drone behavior parameters

class AppDrone::MyDrone < AppDrone::Drone
  param :lazer_color, :string, rainbow: ['all','teh','colors!']

# => [#<struct Struct::Param name=:lazer_color, type=:string, options={:rainbow=>["all","teh","colors!"]}>]

t = AppDrone::Template.new
t.add :my_drone, lazer_color: 'teh'

A drone may also declare a parameter that is only to be used in presence of a dependency.

You can also use param_with to specify a parameter that is expected in presence of a pair:

class AppDrone::EddieIzzard
  desc 'Professional transvestite'

  pairs_with :heels
  param_with :heels, :wearing_heels, :boolean, default: true

  def align
    # defaults to true in the presence of :heels dependency
    if pair?(:heels) && param(:wearing_heels)
      puts "I am a professional transvestite, so I can run about in heels and not fall over."
      puts "Cause if a woman falls over wearing heels, that’s embarrassing."
      puts "But if a bloke falls over wearing heels, you have to kill yourself."
      puts "It’s the end of your life. 


Drone communication

Drones can talk to eachother via a proxy on the template they are included in, using the class name as a reference:

class AppDrone::MyDrone < AppDrone::Drone
  def align
    (self >> Bundle).add 'my_gem'
    (self >> Stylesheet).add_import 'shiny_sheet'

Note that the class instance of the parent template is messaged, not the static class.

For convenience, method_missing is used to allow you to use the underscore'd name of a class to talk to it's template instance directly:

class AppDrone::MyDrone < AppDrone::Drone
  def align
    bundle.add 'my_gem'
    stylesheet.add_import 'shiny_sheet'


The DependencyChain class is used to test if a collection of drones is self-sufficient.

DependencyChain.satisfied? [AppDrone::Bundle, AppDrone::Stylesheet]
# => true

DependencyChain.satisfied? [AppDrone::Bundle, AppDrone::Flair]
# => false

DependencyChain.satisfaction_requirements [AppDrone::Bundle, AppDrone::Flair]
# => [AppDrone::HighVoltage, AppDrone::SlimView]

Note that only immediate requirements are output. Consider, if A depends on B, and B depends on C:

DependencyChain.satisfaction_requirements ['A']
# => ['B']

DependencyChain.satisfied? ['A','B']
# => false

DependencyChain.satisfaction_requirements ['A','B']
# => ['C']

DependencyChain.satisfied? ['A','B','C']
# => true

You can also sort a collection of drones so that each drone appears after its respective dependencies:

DependencyChain.sort [AppDrone::Flair, AppDrone::HighVoltage, AppDrone::Bundle, AppDrone::SlimView]
# => [AppDrone::Bundle, AppDrone::HighVoltage, AppDrone::SlimView, AppDrone::Flair]

More info

Take a look at existing drones to gain a deeper understanding of how they work

Drone naming caveat

Because ActiveSupport::Inflector is used, be careful when naming drones with apparent plurals - AppDrone::EmberJs would be incorrectly symbolized to ember_j.

An important reminder

AppDrone is not for everyone. It's highly opinionated about how a Rails app should be laid out, but is the fruit of tons of research into best practices and maintainability. AppDrone leans especially heavily on Sass, Compass, Coffeescript and Slim. Buyer beware.


Active drones (put 'em to work!)

  • [base] Bundle for managing gems
  • [base] Stylesheet (Sass & Compass)
  • [base] Javascript (Coffescript & jQuery)
  • [base] SlimView (Slim, laid out right)
  • [base] Cleanup
  • [base] HighVoltage by ThoughtBot
  • [base] Flair - drones use this to demonstrate their working functionality
  • [base] Git commit your repo, and allow drones to fetch external files via git
  • [views] SimpleForm with optional Country Select and automatic Twitter Bootstrap integration
  • [views] NestedForm for managing multiple models in a single form
  • [views] HamlView (Haml, laid out right)
  • [auth] Sorcery for no-frills user authentication
  • [auth] Devise, a flexible authentication solution for Rails with Warden
  • [auth] CanCan for role-based authorization
  • [auth] EasyRoles,to add roles to your User models
  • [model] Migrant for easier schema management
  • [model] Squeel improving on ActiveRelation
  • [model] RankedModel for sorting and ranking objects
  • [model] Stateflow state machine for complex business decisions (or easy ones)
  • [ui] Chosen select by harvestHQ
  • [ui] Bootstrap by Twitter
  • [ui] Gritter for jQuery growl-like notifications
  • [ui] Underscore.js utility belt
  • [ui_shim] HTML5 placeholder shim
  • [ux] Ember (the Ember.js library)
  • [controller] Responders from Plataformatec
  • [controller] HasScope for mapping filters to controller actions
  • [controller] WillPaginate with automatic Bootstrap integration
  • [misc] LetterOpener to preview email in the browser instead of sending it
  • [misc] Chronic for natural language date parsing
  • [misc] Timecop - time travelling for Ruby
  • [misc] NiftyGenerators, a collection of useful Rails generator scripts
  • [misc] NewRelic app performance monitoring
  • [misc] Whenever clear syntax for writing and deploying cron jobs
  • [uploads] Carrierwave file uploading plus optional Fog cloud storage
  • [uploads] Remotipart, for AJAX file uploads with jQuery
  • [uploads] Dragonfly, a Rack framework for on-the-fly image handling
  • [test] RSpec for BDD
  • [test] Factory Girl test fixtures
  • [test] SimpleCov code coverage for Ruby 1.9, with automatic RSpec integration

Frozen drones (currently in development)

  • [base] Database: rake [db:create, db:migrate] at very end of generator, options? postgres etc. (will need a dropdown option in the app for this)
  • [auth] Devise
  • [test] DatabaseCleaner
  • [test] Capybara
  • [test] Shoulda
  • [dev] Guard
  • [requests] InheritedResources (deprecated)
  • [requests] UserAgent blocking script
  • [mailing] SendGrid https://github.com/stephenb/sendgrid
  • [mailing] Postmark https://github.com/wildbit/postmark-rails

Future drones (TODO - I'll get there some day!)

  • [ux] Backbone integration + Skim
  • [uploads] Cloudinary
  • [dev] Spork
  • [search] Sphinx
  • [?] DelayedJob
  • [?] Resque
  • [?] Redis
  • [?] Faye
  • [test] Cucumber
  • [ui] Stylesheet utils
  • [ui] Calendrical for jQuery
  • [ui] SlimViews: Add browser-specific classes to via useragent + helpers..
  • [ui] Bootstrap: vendor files rather than gem require (is this necessary? seems all variables can be customized in an external sheet as long as it's required before compass_twitter_bootstrap)
  • [ui] jQuery UI (vendor + theme etc.)
  • [ui_shim] pie.htc for IE
  • [ui_shim] jQuery shims
  • [ui_shim] HTML5 shim/shiv for IE -- http://ejohn.org/blog/html5-shiv/ http://code.google.com/p/html5shiv/ (or use modernizr?)
  • [processing] RMagick / minimagick
  • [dev] rails-best-practices (and the other output gem for debugging)
  • [dev] Pivotal tracker
  • [dev] RailsErd
  • [production] Airbrake + API Key
  • [production] EngineYard for deployment
  • [?] SeedFu
  • [?] Launchy
  • [?] Growl & rb-notify etc.
  • [views] ShowFor
  • [views?] RedCarpet
  • [?] Nokogiri
  • [?] Mechanize
  • [?] Money
  • [ui] jQuery.transit
  • [ui] jQuery joyride
  • [ui] Ember Touch (gesture support for Ember: pinch, pan etc.)


I'd love it if you could get involved! Feel free to suggest improvements, drones you'd like developed, or help me get test coverage up to scratch :)

  1. Fork it
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Added some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create new Pull Request