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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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8
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9 <pre>
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10 <% semantic_form_for @article do |form| %>
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11
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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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41
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 @justinfrench 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 Optionally, run @./script/generate formtastic@ to copy the following files into your app:
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95
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96 * @config/initializers/formtastic.rb@ - a commented out Formtastic config initializer
97 * @public/stylesheets/formtastic.css@
98 * @public/stylesheets/formtastic_changes.css@
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99
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100 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:
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101
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102 <pre>
103 <%= stylesheet_link_tag "formtastic" %>
104 <%= stylesheet_link_tag "formtastic_changes" %>
105 </pre>
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106
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107
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108 h2. Usage
109
110 Forms are really boring to code... you want to get onto the good stuff as fast as possible.
111
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112 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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113
114 <pre>
115 <% semantic_form_for @user do |form| %>
116 <%= form.inputs %>
117 <%= form.buttons %>
118 <% end %>
119 </pre>
120
121 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@:
122
123 <pre>
124 <% semantic_form_for @user do |form| %>
125 <%= form.inputs :title, :body, :section, :categories, :created_at %>
126 <%= form.buttons :commit %>
127 <% end %>
128 </pre>
129
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130 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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131
132 <pre>
133 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
134 <% form.inputs do %>
135 <%= form.input :title %>
136 <%= form.input :body %>
137 <%= form.input :section, :as => :radio %>
138 <%= form.input :categories %>
139 <%= form.input :created_at, :as => :string %>
140 <% end %>
141 <% form.buttons do %>
142 <%= form.commit_button %>
143 <% end %>
144 <% end %>
145 </pre>
146
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147 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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148
149 <pre>
150 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
151 <% form.inputs :name => "Basic", :id => "basic" do %>
152 <%= form.input :title %>
153 <%= form.input :body %>
154 <% end %>
155 <% form.inputs :name => "Advanced Options", :id => "advanced" do %>
156 <%= form.input :slug, :label => "URL Title", :hint => "Created automatically if left blank", :required => false %>
157 <%= form.input :section, :as => :radio %>
158 <%= form.input :user, :label => "Author", :label_method => :full_name, %>
159 <%= form.input :categories, :required => false %>
160 <%= form.input :created_at, :as => :string, :label => "Publication Date", :required => false %>
161 <% end %>
162 <% form.buttons do %>
163 <%= form.commit_button %>
164 <% end %>
165 <% end %>
166 </pre>
167
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168 Nested forms (Rails 2.3) are also supported. You can do it in the Rails way:
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169
170 <pre>
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171 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
172 <%= form.inputs :title, :body, :created_at %>
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173 <% form.semantic_fields_for :author do |author| %>
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174 <%= author.inputs :first_name, :last_name, :name => "Author" %>
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175 <% end %>
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176 <%= form.buttons %>
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177 <% end %>
178 </pre>
179
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180 Or the Formtastic way with the @:for@ option:
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181
182 <pre>
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183 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
184 <%= form.inputs :title, :body, :created_at %>
185 <%= form.inputs :first_name, :last_name, :for => :author, :name => "Author" %>
186 <%= form.buttons %>
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187 <% end %>
188 </pre>
189
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190 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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191
192 <pre>
193 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
194 <%= form.inputs %>
195 <%= form.inputs :name => 'Category #%i', :for => :categories %>
196 <%= form.buttons %>
197 <% end %>
198 </pre>
199
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200
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201 Customize HTML attributes for any input using the @:input_html@ option. Typically his 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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202
203 <pre>
204 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
205 <%= form.input :title, :input_html => { :size => 60 } %>
206 <%= form.input :body, :input_html => { :class => 'autogrow' } %>
207 <%= form.input :created_at, :input_html => { :disabled => true } %>
208 <%= form.buttons %>
209 <% end %>
210 </pre>
211
212 The same can be done for buttons with the @:button_html@ option:
213
214 <pre>
215 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
216 ...
217 <% form.buttons do %>
218 <%= form.commit_button :button_html => { :class => "primary" } %>
219 <% end %>
220 <% end %>
221 </pre>
222
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223 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"@)
224
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225 <pre>
226 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
227 <%= form.input :title, :wrapper_html => { :class => "important" } %>
228 <%= form.input :body %>
229 <%= form.input :description, :wrapper_html => { :style => "display:none;" } %>
230 ...
231 <% end %>
232 </pre>
233
234
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235 h2. The Available Inputs
236
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237 The Formtastic input types:
238
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239 * @:select@ - a select menu. Default for ActiveRecord associations: @belongs_to@, @has_many@, and @has_and_belongs_to_many@.
240 * @:check_boxes@ - a set of check_box inputs. Alternative to @:select@ for ActiveRecord-associations: @has_many@, and @has_and_belongs_to_many@.
241 * @:radio@ - a set of radio inputs. Alternative to @:select@ for ActiveRecord-associations: @belongs_to@.
242 * @:time_zone@ - a select input. Default for column types: @:string@ with name matching @"time_zone"@.
243 * @:password@ - a password input. Default for column types: @:string@ with name matching @"password"@.
244 * @:text@ - a textarea. Default for column types: @:text@.
245 * @:date@ - a date select. Default for column types: @:date@.
246 * @:datetime@ - a date and time select. Default for column types: @:datetime@ and @:timestamp@.
247 * @:time@ - a time select. Default for column types: @:time@.
248 * @:boolean@ - a checkbox. Default for column types: @:boolean@.
249 * @:string@ - a text field. Default for column types: @:string@.
250 * @:numeric@ - a text field (just like string). Default for column types: @:integer@, @:float@, and @:decimal@.
251 * @: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.
252 * @: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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253 * @:hidden@ - a hidden field. Creates a hidden field (added for compatibility).
254
255 The documentation is pretty good for each of these (what it does, what the output is, what the options are, etc.) so go check it out.
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256
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257 h2. Internationalization (I18n)
258
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259 h3. Basic Localization
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260
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261 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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262
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263 Basic localization (labels only, with ActiveRecord):
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264
265 <pre>
266 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
267 <%= form.input :title %> # => :label => I18n.t('activerecord.attributes.user.title') or 'Title'
268 <%= form.input :body %> # => :label => I18n.t('activerecord.attributes.user.body') or 'Body'
269 <%= form.input :section %> # => :label => I18n.t('activerecord.attributes.user.section') or 'Section'
270 <% end %>
271 </pre>
272
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273 *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?
274
275 h3. Enhanced Localization (Formtastic I18n API)
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276
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277 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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278
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279 *1. Enable I18n lookups by default (@config/initializers/formtastic.rb@):*
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280
281 <pre>
282 Formtastic::SemanticFormBuilder.i18n_lookups_by_default = true
283 </pre>
284
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285 *2. Add some cool label-translations/variants (@config/locale/en.yml@):*
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286
287 <pre>
288 en:
289 formtastic:
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290 titles:
291 post_details: "Post details"
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292 labels:
293 post:
294 title: "Choose a title..."
295 body: "Write something..."
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296 edit:
297 title: "Edit title"
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298 hints:
299 post:
300 title: "Choose a good title for you post."
301 body: "Write something inspiring here."
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302 actions:
303 create: "Create my {{model}}"
304 update: "Save changes"
305 dummie: "Launch!"
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306 </pre>
307
308 *Note:* We are using English here still, but you get the point.
309
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310 *3. ...and now you'll get:*
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311
312 <pre>
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313 <% semantic_form_for Post.new do |form| %>
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314 <% inputs do %>
315 <%= form.input :title %> # => :label => "Choose a title...", :hint => "Choose a good title for you post."
316 <%= form.input :body %> # => :label => "Write something...", :hint => "Write something inspiring here."
317 <%= form.input :section %> # => :label => I18n.t('activerecord.attributes.user.section') or 'Section'
318 <% end %>
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319 <% buttons do %>
320 <%= form.commit_button %> # => "Create my {{model}}"
321 <% end %>
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322 <% end %>
323 </pre>
324
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325 *4. Localized titles (a.k.a. legends):*
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326
327 _Note: Slightly different because Formtastic can't guess how you group fields in a form._
328
329 <pre>
330 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
331 <% inputs :title => :post_details do %> # => :title => "Post details"
332 # ...
333 <% end %>
334 # ...
335 <% end %>
336 </pre>
337
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338 *5. Override I18n settings:*
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339
340 <pre>
341 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
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342 <% inputs do %>
343 <%= form.input :title %> # => :label => "Choose a title...", :hint => "Choose a good title for you post."
344 <%= form.input :body, :hint => false %> # => :label => "Write something..."
345 <%= form.input :section, :label => 'Some section' %> # => :label => 'Some section'
346 <% end %>
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347 <% buttons do %>
348 <%= form.commit_button :dummie %> # => "Launch!"
349 <% end %>
94ce3ec @grimen Documentation for the new I18n features for labels/hints.
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350 <% end %>
351 </pre>
352
353 If I18n-lookups is disabled, i.e.:
354
355 <pre>
356 Formtastic::SemanticFormBuilder.i18n_lookups_by_default = false
357 </pre>
358
359 ...then you can enable I18n within the forms instead:
360
361 <pre>
362 <% semantic_form_for @post do |form| %>
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363 <% inputs do %>
364 <%= form.input :title, :label => true %> # => :label => "Choose a title..."
365 <%= form.input :body, :label => true %> # => :label => "Write something..."
366 <%= form.input :section, :label => true %> # => :label => I18n.t('activerecord.attributes.user.section') or 'Section'
367 <% end %>
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368 % buttons do %>
369 <%= form.commit_button true %> # => "Save changes" (if we are in edit that is...)
370 <% end %>
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371 <% end %>
372 </pre>
373
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374 *6. Advanced I18n lookups*
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375
376 For more flexible forms; Formtastic find translations using a bottom-up approach taking the following variables in account:
377
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378 * @MODEL@, e.g. "post"
379 * @ACTION@, e.g. "edit"
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380 * @KEY/ATTRIBUTE@, e.g. "title", :my_custom_key, ...
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381
382 ...in the following order:
383
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384 1. @formtastic.{titles,labels,hints,actions}.MODEL.ACTION.ATTRIBUTE@ - by model and action
385 2. @formtastic.{titles,labels,hints,actions}.MODEL.ATTRIBUTE@ - by model
386 3. @formtastic.{titles,labels,hints,actions}.ATTRIBUTE@ - global default
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387
388 ...which means that you can define translations like this:
389
390 <pre>
391 en:
392 formtastic:
393 labels:
394 title: "Title" # Default global value
395 article:
396 body: "Article content"
397 post:
398 new:
399 title: "Choose a title..."
400 body: "Write something..."
401 edit:
402 title: "Edit title"
403 body: "Edit body"
404 </pre>
405
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406 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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407
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408
94ce3ec @grimen Documentation for the new I18n features for labels/hints.
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409 h2. ValidationReflection plugin
410
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411 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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412
413
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414 h2. Configuration
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415
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416 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
3a32b4a @josevalim Updated README with new configuration options.
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417
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418
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419 h2. Custom Inputs
420
421 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.
422
423 @Formtastic::SemanticFormHelper.builder = MyCustomBuilder@
424
425
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426 h2. Status
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427
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428 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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429
dcf8beb Initial Commit
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430
9af5cc8 @justinfrench Big update and re-organization of the README:
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431 h2. Dependencies
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432
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433 There are none, but...
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434
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435 * 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).
436 * 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).
437 * "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.
dcf8beb Initial Commit
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438
0b370ba @justinfrench Renamed input_field_set() to just inputs() and added a shorthand vers…
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439
9af5cc8 @justinfrench Big update and re-organization of the README:
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440 h2. Compatibility
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441
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442 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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443
444
67a799f @grimen Made method_required? respect the :if conditional on validates_presen…
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445 h2. Got TextMate?
446
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447 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:
67a799f @grimen Made method_required? respect the :if conditional on validates_presen…
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448
449 "Formtastic.tmbundle":http://github.com/grimen/formtastic_tmbundle
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450
61d0056 @justinfrench * updated the status to reflect that this is a release candidate
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451
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452 h2. Contributors
453
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454 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 30 contributors.
455
456 @git shortlog -n -s --no-merges@
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457
5af0311 @justinfrench updated the README to pimp the google group more
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458
7a84a73 @justinfrench README heading tweak
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459 h2. Google Group
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460
461 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.
462
463
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464 h2. Project Info
465
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466 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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467
468
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469 Copyright (c) 2007-2008 Justin French, released under the MIT license.
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