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1 h1. Formtastic
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3 Formtastic is a Rails FormBuilder DSL (with some other goodies) to make it far easier to create beautiful, semantically rich, syntactically awesome, readily stylable and wonderfully accessible HTML forms in your Rails applications.
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5 h2. The Story
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7 One day, I finally had enough, so I opened up my text editor, and wrote a DSL for how I'd like to author forms:
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9 <pre>
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10 <% semantic_form_for @article do |form| %>
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12 <% form.inputs :name => "Basic" do %>
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13 <%= form.input :title %>
14 <%= form.input :body %>
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15 <%= form.input :section %>
16 <%= form.input :publication_state, :as => :radio %>
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17 <%= form.input :category %>
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18 <%= form.input :allow_comments, :label => "Allow commenting on this article" %>
19 <% end %>
20
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21 <% form.inputs :name => "Advanced" do %>
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22 <%= form.input :keywords, :required => false, :hint => "Example: ruby, rails, forms" %>
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23 <%= form.input :extract, :required => false %>
24 <%= form.input :description, :required => false %>
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25 <%= form.input :url_title, :required => false %>
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26 <% end %>
27
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28 <% form.inputs :name => "Author", :for => :author do |author_form| %>
29 <%= author_form.input :first_name %>
30 <%= author_form.input :last_name %>
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31 <% end %>
32
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33 <% form.buttons do %>
34 <%= form.commit_button %>
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35 <% end %>
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36
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37 <% end %>
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38 </pre>
39
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40 I also wrote the accompanying HTML output I expected, favoring something very similar to the fieldsets, lists and other semantic elements Aaron Gustafson presented in "Learning to Love Forms":http://www.slideshare.net/AaronGustafson/learning-to-love-forms-web-directions-south-07, hacking together enough Ruby to prove it could be done.
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42
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43 h2. It's better than _SomeOtherFormBuilder_ because...
44
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45 * it can handle @belongs_to@ associations (like Post belongs_to :author), rendering a select or set of radio inputs with choices from the parent model.
46 * it can handle @has_many@ and @has_and_belongs_to_many@ associations (like: Post has_many :tags), rendering a multi-select with choices from the child models.
47 * it's Rails 2.3-ready (including nested forms).
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48 * it has internationalization (I18n)!
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49 * it's _really_ quick to get started with a basic form in place (4 lines), then go back to add in more detail if you need it.
50 * there's heaps of elements, id and class attributes for you to hook in your CSS and JS.
51 * it handles real world stuff like inline hints, inline error messages & help text.
52 * it doesn't hijack or change any of the standard Rails form inputs, so you can still use them as expected (even mix and match).
53 * it's got absolutely awesome spec coverage.
54 * there's a bunch of people using and working on it (it's not just one developer building half a solution).
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55
56
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57 h2. Why?
58
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59 * web apps = lots of forms.
60 * forms are so friggin' boring to code.
61 * semantically rich & accessible forms really are possible.
62 * the "V" is way behind the "M" and "C" in Rails' MVC – it's the ugly sibling.
63 * best practices and common patterns have to start somewhere.
64 * i need a challenge.
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66
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67 h2. Opinions
68
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69 * it should be easier to do things the right way than the wrong way.
70 * sometimes _more mark-up_ is better.
71 * elements and attribute hooks are _gold_ for stylesheet authors.
72 * make the common things we do easy, yet still ensure uncommon things are still possible.
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73
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3dd6455 Justin French Link to RDoc URL in README
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75 h2. Documentation
76
77 RDoc documentation _should_ be automatically generated after each commit and made available on the "rdoc.info website":http://rdoc.info/projects/justinfrench/formtastic.
78
79
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80 h2. Installation
81
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82 The gem is hosted on gemcutter, so *if you haven't already*, add it as a gem source:
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83
84 <pre>
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85 sudo gem sources -a http://gemcutter.org/
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86 </pre>
87
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88 Then install the Formtastic gem:
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89
90 <pre>
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91 sudo gem install formtastic
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92 </pre>
93
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94 And add it to your environment.rb configuration as a gem dependency:
95
96 <pre>
97 config.gem 'formtastic'
98 </pre>
99
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100 Optionally, run @./script/generate formtastic@ to copy the following files into your app:
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101
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102 * @config/initializers/formtastic.rb@ - a commented out Formtastic config initializer
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103 * @public/stylesheets/formtastic.css@
104 * @public/stylesheets/formtastic_changes.css@
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105
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106 A proof-of-concept stylesheet is provided which you can include in your layout. Customization is best achieved by overriding these styles in an additional stylesheet so that the Formtastic styles can be updated without clobbering your changes. If you want to use these stylesheets, add both to your layout with this helper:
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107
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108 <pre>
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109 <head>
110 ...
111 <%= formtastic_stylesheet_link_tag %>
112 ...
113 </head>
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114 </pre>
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115
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116 h2. Usage
117
118 Forms are really boring to code... you want to get onto the good stuff as fast as possible.
119
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120 This renders a set of inputs (one for _most_ columns in the database table, and one for each ActiveRecord @belongs_to@-association), followed by a submit button:
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121
122 <pre>
123 <% semantic_form_for @user do |form| %>
124 <%= form.inputs %>
125 <%= form.buttons %>
126 <% end %>
127 </pre>
128
129 If you want to specify the order of the fields, skip some of the fields or even add in fields that Formtastic couldn't detect, you can pass in a list of field names to @inputs@ and list of button names to @buttons@:
130
131 <pre>
132 <% semantic_form_for @user do |form| %>
133 <%= form.inputs :title, :body, :section, :categories, :created_at %>
134 <%= form.buttons :commit %>
135 <% end %>
136 </pre>
137
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138 If you want control over the input type Formtastic uses for each field, you can expand the @inputs@ and @buttons@ blocks. This specifies the @:section@ input should be a set of radio buttons (rather than the default select box), and that the @:created_at@ field should be a string (rather than the default datetime selects):
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139
140 <pre>
141 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
142 <% form.inputs do %>
143 <%= form.input :title %>
144 <%= form.input :body %>
145 <%= form.input :section, :as => :radio %>
146 <%= form.input :categories %>
147 <%= form.input :created_at, :as => :string %>
148 <% end %>
149 <% form.buttons do %>
150 <%= form.commit_button %>
151 <% end %>
152 <% end %>
153 </pre>
154
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155 If you want to customize the label text, or render some hint text below the field, specify which fields are required/optional, or break the form into two fieldsets, the DSL is pretty comprehensive:
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156
157 <pre>
158 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
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159 <% form.inputs "Basic", :id => "basic" do %>
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160 <%= form.input :title %>
161 <%= form.input :body %>
162 <% end %>
163 <% form.inputs :name => "Advanced Options", :id => "advanced" do %>
164 <%= form.input :slug, :label => "URL Title", :hint => "Created automatically if left blank", :required => false %>
165 <%= form.input :section, :as => :radio %>
166 <%= form.input :user, :label => "Author", :label_method => :full_name, %>
167 <%= form.input :categories, :required => false %>
168 <%= form.input :created_at, :as => :string, :label => "Publication Date", :required => false %>
169 <% end %>
170 <% form.buttons do %>
171 <%= form.commit_button %>
172 <% end %>
173 <% end %>
174 </pre>
175
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176 Nested forms (Rails 2.3) are also supported (don't forget your models need to be setup correctly with accepts_nested_attributes_for – search the Rails docs). You can do it in the Rails way:
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177
178 <pre>
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179 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
180 <%= form.inputs :title, :body, :created_at %>
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181 <% form.semantic_fields_for :author do |author| %>
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182 <%= author.inputs :first_name, :last_name, :name => "Author" %>
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183 <% end %>
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184 <%= form.buttons %>
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185 <% end %>
186 </pre>
187
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188 Or the Formtastic way with the @:for@ option:
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189
190 <pre>
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191 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
192 <%= form.inputs :title, :body, :created_at %>
193 <%= form.inputs :first_name, :last_name, :for => :author, :name => "Author" %>
194 <%= form.buttons %>
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195 <% end %>
196 </pre>
197
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198 When working in has many association, you can even supply @"%i"@ in your fieldset name that it will be properly interpolated with the child index. For example:
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199
200 <pre>
201 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
202 <%= form.inputs %>
203 <%= form.inputs :name => 'Category #%i', :for => :categories %>
204 <%= form.buttons %>
205 <% end %>
206 </pre>
207
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208
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209 Customize HTML attributes for any input using the @:input_html@ option. Typically this is used to disable the input, change the size of a text field, change the rows in a textarea, or even to add a special class to an input to attach special behavior like "autogrow":http://plugins.jquery.com/project/autogrow textareas:
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210
211 <pre>
212 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
213 <%= form.input :title, :input_html => { :size => 60 } %>
214 <%= form.input :body, :input_html => { :class => 'autogrow' } %>
215 <%= form.input :created_at, :input_html => { :disabled => true } %>
216 <%= form.buttons %>
217 <% end %>
218 </pre>
219
220 The same can be done for buttons with the @:button_html@ option:
221
222 <pre>
223 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
224 ...
225 <% form.buttons do %>
226 <%= form.commit_button :button_html => { :class => "primary" } %>
227 <% end %>
228 <% end %>
229 </pre>
230
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231 Customize the HTML attributes for the @<li>@ wrapper around every input with the @:wrapper_html@ option hash. There's one special key in the hash (@:class@), which will actually _append_ your string of classes to the existing classes provided by Formtastic (like @"required string error"@)
232
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233 <pre>
234 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
235 <%= form.input :title, :wrapper_html => { :class => "important" } %>
236 <%= form.input :body %>
237 <%= form.input :description, :wrapper_html => { :style => "display:none;" } %>
238 ...
239 <% end %>
240 </pre>
241
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242 Many inputs provide a collection of options to choose from (like @:select@, @:radio@, @:check_boxes@, @:boolean@). In many cases, Formtastic can find choices through the model associations, but if you want to use your own set of choices, the @:collection@ option is what you want. You can pass in an Array of objects, an array of Strings, a Hash... Throw almost anything at it! Examples:
243
244 <pre>
245 f.input :authors, :as => :check_boxes, :collection => User.find(:all, :order => "last_name ASC")
246 f.input :authors, :as => :check_boxes, :collection => current_user.company.users.active
247 f.input :authors, :as => :check_boxes, :collection => [@justin, @kate]
248 f.input :authors, :as => :check_boxes, :collection => ["Justin", "Kate", "Amelia", "Gus", "Meg"]
249 f.input :author, :as => :select, :collection => Author.find(:all)
250 f.input :author, :as => :select, :collection => { @justin.name => @justin.id, @kate.name => @kate.id }
251 f.input :author, :as => :select, :collection => ["Justin", "Kate", "Amelia", "Gus", "Meg"]
252 f.input :author, :as => :radio, :collection => User.find(:all)
253 f.input :author, :as => :radio, :collection => [@justin, @kate]
254 f.input :author, :as => :radio, :collection => { @justin.name => @justin.id, @kate.name => @kate.id }
255 f.input :author, :as => :radio, :collection => ["Justin", "Kate", "Amelia", "Gus", "Meg"]
256 f.input :admin, :as => :radio, :collection => ["Yes!", "No"]
257 </pre>
258
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259
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260 h2. The Available Inputs
261
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262 The Formtastic input types:
263
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264 * @:select@ - a select menu. Default for ActiveRecord associations: @belongs_to@, @has_many@, and @has_and_belongs_to_many@.
265 * @:check_boxes@ - a set of check_box inputs. Alternative to @:select@ for ActiveRecord-associations: @has_many@, and @has_and_belongs_to_many@.
266 * @:radio@ - a set of radio inputs. Alternative to @:select@ for ActiveRecord-associations: @belongs_to@.
267 * @:time_zone@ - a select input. Default for column types: @:string@ with name matching @"time_zone"@.
268 * @:password@ - a password input. Default for column types: @:string@ with name matching @"password"@.
269 * @:text@ - a textarea. Default for column types: @:text@.
270 * @:date@ - a date select. Default for column types: @:date@.
271 * @:datetime@ - a date and time select. Default for column types: @:datetime@ and @:timestamp@.
272 * @:time@ - a time select. Default for column types: @:time@.
273 * @:boolean@ - a checkbox. Default for column types: @:boolean@.
274 * @:string@ - a text field. Default for column types: @:string@.
275 * @:numeric@ - a text field (just like string). Default for column types: @:integer@, @:float@, and @:decimal@.
276 * @:file@ - a file field. Default for file-attachment attributes matching: "paperclip":http://github.com/thoughtbot/paperclip or "attachment_fu":http://github.com/technoweenie/attachment_fu.
277 * @:country@ - a select menu of country names. Default for column types: :string with name @"country"@ - requires a *country_select* plugin to be installed.
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278 * @:hidden@ - a hidden field. Creates a hidden field (added for compatibility).
279
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280 The comments in the code are pretty good for each of these (what it does, what the output is, what the options are, etc.) so go check it out.
281
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282
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283 h2. Delegation for label lookups
284
285 Formtastic decides which label to use in the following order:
286
287 <pre>
288 1. :label # :label => "Choose Title"
289 2. Formtastic i18n # if either :label => true || i18n_lookups_by_default = true (see Internationalization)
290 3. Activerecord i18n # if localization file found for the given attribute
291 4. label_str_method # if nothing provided this defaults to :humanize but can be set to a custom method
292 </pre>
293
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294 h2. Internationalization (I18n)
295
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296 h3. Basic Localization
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297
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298 Formtastic got some neat I18n-features. ActiveRecord object names and attributes are, by default, taken from calling @@object.human_name@ and @@object.human_attribute_name(attr)@ respectively. There are a few words specific to Formtastic that can be translated. See @lib/locale/en.yml@ for more information.
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299
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300 Basic localization (labels only, with ActiveRecord):
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301
302 <pre>
303 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
304 <%= form.input :title %> # => :label => I18n.t('activerecord.attributes.user.title') or 'Title'
305 <%= form.input :body %> # => :label => I18n.t('activerecord.attributes.user.body') or 'Body'
306 <%= form.input :section %> # => :label => I18n.t('activerecord.attributes.user.section') or 'Section'
307 <% end %>
308 </pre>
309
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310 *Note:* This is perfectly fine if you just want your labels/attributes and/or models to be translated using *ActiveRecord I18n attribute translations*, and you don't use input hints and legends. But what if you do? And what if you don't want same labels in all forms?
311
312 h3. Enhanced Localization (Formtastic I18n API)
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313
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314 Formtastic supports localized *labels*, *hints*, *legends*, *actions* using the I18n API for more advanced usage. Your forms can now be DRYer and more flexible than ever, and still fully localized. This is how:
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315
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316 *1. Enable I18n lookups by default (@config/initializers/formtastic.rb@):*
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317
318 <pre>
319 Formtastic::SemanticFormBuilder.i18n_lookups_by_default = true
320 </pre>
321
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322 *2. Add some cool label-translations/variants (@config/locale/en.yml@):*
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323
324 <pre>
325 en:
326 formtastic:
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327 titles:
328 post_details: "Post details"
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329 labels:
330 post:
331 title: "Choose a title..."
332 body: "Write something..."
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333 edit:
334 title: "Edit title"
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335 hints:
336 post:
337 title: "Choose a good title for you post."
338 body: "Write something inspiring here."
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339 actions:
340 create: "Create my {{model}}"
341 update: "Save changes"
342 dummie: "Launch!"
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343 </pre>
344
345 *Note:* We are using English here still, but you get the point.
346
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347 *3. ...and now you'll get:*
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348
349 <pre>
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350 <% semantic_form_for Post.new do |form| %>
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351 <% form.inputs do %>
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352 <%= form.input :title %> # => :label => "Choose a title...", :hint => "Choose a good title for you post."
353 <%= form.input :body %> # => :label => "Write something...", :hint => "Write something inspiring here."
354 <%= form.input :section %> # => :label => I18n.t('activerecord.attributes.user.section') or 'Section'
355 <% end %>
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356 <% form.buttons do %>
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357 <%= form.commit_button %> # => "Create my {{model}}"
358 <% end %>
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359 <% end %>
360 </pre>
361
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362 *4. Localized titles (a.k.a. legends):*
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363
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364 _Note: Slightly different because Formtastic can't guess how you group fields in a form. Legend text can be set with first (as in the sample below) specified value, or :name/:title options - depending on what flavor is preferred._
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365
366 <pre>
367 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
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368 <% form.inputs :post_details do %> # => :title => "Post details"
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369 # ...
370 <% end %>
371 # ...
372 <% end %>
373 </pre>
374
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375 *5. Override I18n settings:*
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376
377 <pre>
378 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
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379 <% form.inputs do %>
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380 <%= form.input :title %> # => :label => "Choose a title...", :hint => "Choose a good title for you post."
381 <%= form.input :body, :hint => false %> # => :label => "Write something..."
382 <%= form.input :section, :label => 'Some section' %> # => :label => 'Some section'
383 <% end %>
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384 <% form.buttons do %>
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385 <%= form.commit_button :dummie %> # => "Launch!"
386 <% end %>
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387 <% end %>
388 </pre>
389
390 If I18n-lookups is disabled, i.e.:
391
392 <pre>
393 Formtastic::SemanticFormBuilder.i18n_lookups_by_default = false
394 </pre>
395
396 ...then you can enable I18n within the forms instead:
397
398 <pre>
399 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
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400 <% form.inputs do %>
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401 <%= form.input :title, :label => true %> # => :label => "Choose a title..."
402 <%= form.input :body, :label => true %> # => :label => "Write something..."
403 <%= form.input :section, :label => true %> # => :label => I18n.t('activerecord.attributes.user.section') or 'Section'
404 <% end %>
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405 <% form.buttons do %>
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406 <%= form.commit_button true %> # => "Save changes" (if we are in edit that is...)
407 <% end %>
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408 <% end %>
409 </pre>
410
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411 *6. Advanced I18n lookups*
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412
413 For more flexible forms; Formtastic find translations using a bottom-up approach taking the following variables in account:
414
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415 * @MODEL@, e.g. "post"
416 * @ACTION@, e.g. "edit"
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417 * @KEY/ATTRIBUTE@, e.g. "title", :my_custom_key, ...
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418
419 ...in the following order:
420
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421 1. @formtastic.{titles,labels,hints,actions}.MODEL.ACTION.ATTRIBUTE@ - by model and action
422 2. @formtastic.{titles,labels,hints,actions}.MODEL.ATTRIBUTE@ - by model
423 3. @formtastic.{titles,labels,hints,actions}.ATTRIBUTE@ - global default
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424
425 ...which means that you can define translations like this:
426
427 <pre>
428 en:
429 formtastic:
430 labels:
431 title: "Title" # Default global value
432 article:
433 body: "Article content"
434 post:
435 new:
436 title: "Choose a title..."
437 body: "Write something..."
438 edit:
439 title: "Edit title"
440 body: "Edit body"
441 </pre>
442
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443 Values for @labels@/@hints@/@actions@ are can take values: @String@ (explicit value), @Symbol@ (i18n-lookup-key relative to the current "type", e.g. actions:), @true@ (force I18n lookup), @false@ (force no I18n lookup). Titles (legends) can only take: @String@ and @Symbol@ - true/false have no meaning.
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444
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445
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446 h2. Semantic errors
447
448 You can show errors on base (by default) and any other attribute just passing it name to semantic_errors method:
449
450 <pre>
451 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
452 <%= form.semantic_errors :state %>
453 <% end %>
454 </pre>
455
456
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457 h2. ValidationReflection plugin
458
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459 If you have the "ValidationReflection":http://github.com/redinger/validation_reflection plugin installed, you won't have to specify the @:required@ option (it checks the validations on the model instead).
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460
461
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462 h2. Configuration
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463
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464 Run @./script/generate formtastic@ to copy a commented out config file into @config/initializers/formtastic.rb@. You can "view the configuration file on GitHub":http://github.com/justinfrench/formtastic/blob/master/generators/formtastic/templates/formtastic.rb
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465
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466
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467 h2. Form Generator
468
469 There's a Formtastic form code generator to make your transition to Formtastic easier. All you have to do is to *specify an existing model name*, and optionally specify view template framework (ERB/HAML), and you are good to go. *Note:* This won't overwrite any of you stuff. This is how you use it:
470
471 *Alt. 1: Generate in terminal:*
472
473 <pre>
474 $ ./script/generate form Post
475 # ---------------------------------------------------------
476 # GENERATED FORMTASTIC CODE
477 # ---------------------------------------------------------
478
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479 <% f.inputs do %>
480 <%= f.input :title, :label => 'Title' %>
481 <%= f.input :body, :label => 'Body' %>
482 <%= f.input :published, :label => 'Published' %>
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483 <% end %>
484
485 # ---------------------------------------------------------
486 Copied to clipboard - just paste it!
487 </pre>
488
489 *Alt. 2: Generate partial:*
490
491 <pre>
492 $ ./script/generate form Post --partial
493 exists app/views/posts
494 create app/views/posts/_form.html.erb
495 </pre>
496
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497 To generate *HAML* markup, just add the @--haml@ as argument:
498
499 <pre>
500 $ ./script/generate form Post --haml
501 exists app/views/admin/posts
502 create app/views/admin/posts/_form.html.haml
503 </pre>
504
505 To specify the controller in a namespace (eg admin/posts instead of posts), use the --controller argument:
506
507 <pre>
508 $ ./script/generate form Post --partial --controller admin/posts
509 exists app/views/admin/posts
510 create app/views/admin/posts/_form.html.erb
511 </pre>
512
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513
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514 h2. Custom Inputs
515
516 If you want to add your own input types to encapsulate your own logic or interface patterns, you can do so by subclassing SemanticFormBuilder and configuring Formtastic to use your custom builder class.
517
518 @Formtastic::SemanticFormHelper.builder = MyCustomBuilder@
519
520
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521
522
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523 h2. Status
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524
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525 Formtastic has been in active development for about a year. We've just recently jumped to an 0.9 version number, signaling that we consider this a 1.0 release candidate, and that the API won't change significantly for the 1.x series.
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526
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527
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528 h2. Dependencies
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529
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530 There are none, but...
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531
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532 * if you have the "ValidationReflection":http://github.com/redinger/validation_reflection plugin is installed, you won't have to specify the @:required@ option (it checks the validations on the model instead).
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533 * if you want to use the @:country@ input, you'll need to install the "iso-3166-country-select plugin":http://github.com/rails/iso-3166-country-select (or any other country_select plugin with the same API).
534 * "rspec":http://github.com/dchelimsky/rspec/, "rspec_hpricot_matchers":http://rubyforge.org/projects/rspec-hpricot/ and "rcov":http://github.com/relevance/rcov gems (plus any of their own dependencies) are required for the test suite.
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535
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536
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537 h2. Compatibility
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538
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539 I'm only testing Formtastic with the latest Rails 2.4.x stable release, and it should be fine under Rails 2.3.x as well (including nested forms). Patches are welcome to allow backwards compatibility, but I don't have the energy!
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540
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541 h2. Got TextMate?
542
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543 Well...there's a TextMate-bundle in town, dedicated to make usage of Formtastic in the "TextMate":http://macromates.com/ editor even more of a breeze:
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544
545 "Formtastic.tmbundle":http://github.com/grimen/formtastic_tmbundle
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546
61d0056 Justin French * updated the status to reflect that this is a release candidate
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547
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548 h2. How to contribute
549
550 *Before you send a pull request*, please ensure that you provide appropriate spec/test coverage and ensure the documentation is up-to-date. Bonus points if you perform your changes in a clean topic branch rather than master.
551
552 Please also keep your commits *atomic* so that they are more likely to apply cleanly. That means that each commit should contain the smallest possible logical change. Don't commit two features at once, don't update the gemspec at the same time you add a feature, don't fix a whole bunch of whitespace in a file at the same time you change a few lines, etc, etc.
553
554 For significant changes, you may wish to discuss your idea on the Formtastic Google group before coding to ensure that your change is likely to be accepted. Formtastic relies heavily on i18n, so if you're unsure of the impact this has on your changes, please discuss them with the group.
555
556
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557 h2. Maintainers & Contributors
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558
4ac2f58 Justin French we now have over 40 contributors
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559 Formtastic is maintained by "Justin French":http://justinfrench.com, "José Valim":http://github.com/josevalim and "Jonas Grimfelt":http://github.com/grimen, but it wouldn't be as awesome as it is today without help from over 40 contributors.
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560
561 @git shortlog -n -s --no-merges@
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562
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563
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564 h2. Google Group
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565
566 Please join the "Formtastic Google Group":http://groups.google.com.au/group/formtastic, especially if you'd like to talk about a new feature, or report a bug.
567
568
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569 h2. Project Info
570
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571 Formtastic is hosted on Github: "http://github.com/justinfrench/formtastic":http://github.com/justinfrench/formtastic, where your contributions, forkings, comments and feedback are greatly welcomed.
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572
573
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574 Copyright (c) 2007-2008 Justin French, released under the MIT license.
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