A RESTful Inplace-Editor
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REST in Place

                               /       \
                               | R.I.P.|
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                               |       |

REST in Place is an AJAX Inplace-Editor that talks to RESTful controllers. It requires absolutely no additional server-side code if your controller fulfills the following REST preconditions:

  • It uses the HTTP PUT method to update a record
  • It delivers an object in JSON form for requests with "Accept: application/json" headers

The editor works by PUTting the updated value to the server and GETting the updated record afterwards to display the updated value. That way any authentication methods or otherwise funky workflows in your controllers are used for the inplace-editors requests.

URL: http://github.com/janv/rest_in_place/
REPOSITORY: git://github.com/janv/rest_in_place.git BLOG: http://jan.varwig.org/projects/rest-in-place

If you like REST in Place, you can flattr me: Flattr this


First, install REST in Place with

script/plugin install git://github.com/janv/rest_in_place.git

To use it, include jquery.rest_in_place.js in your template and execute the following in your document's onLoad handler:


Other JS Frameworks

Besides the jQuery version, this repository also includes a mootools and a Prototype version (rest_in_place.js and mootols.rest_in_place.js respectively).

REST in Place originally was a mere proof of concept, written in jQuery and Prototype. I haven't touched it much in a while, but it apparently proved useful to a lot of people and I want to develop it more actively in the future. Unfortunately I never work with neither mootools nor Prototype, so I can only improve the jQuery version of the plugin.

I will happily include contributions for the other versions, but I won't develop them on my own.

Rails Request forgery Protection

For REST in Place to work with Rails request forgery protection, place the following lines into your applications layout:

<script type="text/javascript">
  rails_authenticity_token = '<%= form_authenticity_token %>'

Usage Instructions

To make a piece of Text inplace-editable, wrap it into an element (a span usually) with class "rest_in_place". The editor needs 3 pieces of information to work: a URL, an object name and the attribute name. These are provided as follows:

  • put attributes into the element, like this:

    <span class="rest_in_place" data-url="/users/1" data-object="user" data-attribute="name">
      <%= @user.name %>
  • if any of these attributes is missing, DOM parents of the element are searched for them. That means you can write something like:

    <div data-object="user" data-url="/users/1">
      Name:  <span class="rest_in_place" data-attribute="name" ><%= @user.name %></span><br/>
      eMail: <span class="rest_in_place" data-attribute="email"><%= @user.email %></span>
  • You can completely omit the url to use the current document's url. With proper RESTful controllers this should always work, the explicit url-attribute is for cases when you want to edit a resource that is displayed as part of a non-RESTful webpage.

  • Rails provides the dom_id helper that constructs a dom id out of an ActiveRecord for you. So, your HTML page may look like this:

    <div id="<%= dom_id @user # == "user_1" %>">
      Name:  <span class="rest_in_place" data-attribute="name" ><%= @user.name %></span><br/>
      eMail: <span class="rest_in_place" data-attribute="email"><%= @user.email %></span>

    REST in Place recognizes dom_ids of this form and derives the object parameter from them, so that (with the current documents url used) you really only need to provide the attributes name in most cases.

    Note that a manually defined (in the element or in one of the parents)
    object always overrides dom_id recognition.

  • REST in Place supports multiple form types. The default type is a input field, a textarea is also supported. To select a form type use the data-formtype attribute in the element and set it to the name of your formtype ( input, or textarea ).

    To write your own form types, just extend the RestInPlace.forms object and select your new form type throught the data-formtype attribute.

    This feature is only supported in the jQuery version.


Your routes.rb:

map.resources :users

Your app/controllers/users_controller.rb:

class UsersController < ApplicationController
  def show
    @user = User.find params[:id]
    respond_to do |type|
      type.json {render :json => @user}

  def update
    @user = User.find params[:id]
    if @user.update_attributes!(params[:user])
      respond_to do |format|
        format.html { redirect_to( @person )  }
        format.json { render :nothing =>  true }
      respond_to do |format|
        format.html { render :action  => :edit } # edit.html.erb
        format.json { render :nothing =>  true }

Your app/views/users/show.html.erb:

  <%= javascript_include_tag "jquery-1.4.min" , "jquery.rest_in_place" %>
  <script type="text/javascript">
    rails_authenticity_token = '<%= form_authenticity_token %>'
  <div id="<%= dom_id @user %>">
    ID: <%= @user.id %><br />
    Name: <span class="rest_in_place" data-formtype="input" data-attribute="name"><%= @user.name %></span><br/><br/>
    Hobbies: <span class="rest_in_place" data-formtype="textarea" data-attribute="hobbies"><%= @user.hobbies %></span>

You can run this example by running to the testapp included in this plugin with script/server (sqlite3 required) and visiting localhost:3000/users/

you need to set up the database first. Copy and edit testapp/config/database.yml.sample accordingly. If you don't want to use the included sqlite3 database, run rake db:create and rake db:schema:load.


REST in Place is very picky about correct headers and formatting. If you experience errors, please make sure your controller sends responses as properly formatted JSON with the correct MIME-Type "application/json".


REST in Place was written for Ruby on Rails but is usable with any kind of RESTful web api. You should be able to adapt the instructions above to your framework easily.


I'd love to get comments, bug reports (or better, patches) about REST in Place. For this, you can either fork the project and send a pull request, or submit a bug in the tracker at github: http://github.com/janv/rest_in_place/issues

For general comments and questions, please use the comment function on my blog: http://jan.varwig.org/projects/rest-in-place


Thanks to Kevin Valdek for the mootools version (commit 086b409d38932426540f402bb642c66165c78976) and improvements to the testapp (commit 8eb121271345943588fe2a8467c790e7e37f3d7a).

Thanks to nando for commit 17ca4e3060a1420bf13d9b9d89ceeba2bcc144d2

Copyright (c) 2010 [Jan Varwig], released under the MIT license