DISCONTINUED Rails-plugin which helps dry up views using sublayouts and sections
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view_driver helps to dry up views using sublayouts and sections.


Remember when you had to create one more layout which generally was almost the same as the default one for your application or your view templates contained duplicated html-markup.

This is what sublayouts are for.

How to use sublayouts

  • Replace <%= yield %> or <%= @content_for_layout %> in your layout with <%= yield_with_sublayouts %>

  • Put your sublayout into app/views/sublayouts

  • Set the instance variable called @sublayout in the controller using 'sublayout' before_filter or manually

For example, if you've written something like

sublayout 'edit', :only => [:new, :create, :edit, :update]

in a controller and created a sublayout called app/views/sublayouts/edit.html.erb with <%= yield %> in it, the specified actions will be rendered within that sublayout.

The action's output will be inserted right in the layout if the sublayout has not been defined.

By default sublayouts live in app/views/sublayouts but you can pick any other folder e.g. 'layouts', creating an initializer with:

ViewDriver::SUBLAYOUTS_DIR = "layouts"

Sublayouts are quite suitable with sections.


Sections are fragments of view similar to partials, which can be easily used in the application because they are well-structured and can be defined in the controller.

Imagine that in the layout there is a sidebar which can be the same or vary in different places. For example it can have no banner for one controller, or extra-blocks for another one. You can manage it with sections.

Naming and location

Default templates for a section are (by precedence):

1) for an action: 
2) for a controller: 
3) for an application: 

You can change a default sections' location for an application defining ViewDriver::SECTIONS_DIR.


For rendering there is a helper render_section, which can be put into your view file (it can be a layout, a sublayout or any other view file as well):

<%= render_section(:sidebar) %>

It will try to find the first template from the defaults above and render it, so if there is no default file for an action, it will take default for a controller and then for an application. If none of them are found it will render nothing.

Templates extensions

By default ViewDriver looks for templates with the “html.erb” extension. You can change this behaviour by defining ViewDriver::SECTIONS_TEMPLATES_EXTENSIONS, for example:


# be careful because it will require to check if a template exists for both extensions
ViewDriver::SECTIONS_TEMPLATES_EXTENSIONS = ["html.erb", "rhtml"]

ViewDriver caches templates' existence in production, check out ViewDriver::SectionsCollection#template_exists?

How to change templates for sections

You can do it by a 'sections' before_filter or manually (check out ViewDriver::ActionControllerExtensions::ClassMethods#sections for details).

Templates defined by the 'sections' before_filter is of higher precendence than the default ones.

Since the 'sections' is a before_filter it can be chained and controlled by standard options: :only, :except, :if, and :unless.

It will be easier to get it through the examples.

So let's assume that a controller for a current request is PagesController.

Default values for all sections

# sections will be taken first from :show action
sections 'show'
# so when you call render_section(:header) it will render 'pages/show_header' and if it doesn't exist it will look through the default chain

# if you pass the default value and the options hash, values will be merged
# so this will take all the sections from users folder except sidebar, which will be default
sections proc{|c| "users/#{c.action_name}"}, :sidebar => 'pages/default'

If you pass false as a template, it won't render section at all

# it won't render sections at all if a user is not logged in
sections false, :unless => proc{|c| c.logged_in?}

# it won't render sidebar section for the particular actions
sections :sidebar => false, :only => [:new, :edit, :update, :create]

Other examples

# :sidebar will be 'unlogged_sidebar' if a user is not logged in and 'logged_sidebar' otherwise
sections :sidebar => :sidebar_section

def sidebar_section
  logged_in? ? 'logged' : 'unlogged'

# the sections :sidebar and :navigations will be taken from the 'views/users' folder for :galleries and :users actions
sections :sidebar => 'users/show', :navigation => 'users/index', :only => [:galleries, :users]

# this sets all the sections to be default from 'users' folder for all requests passing the specified proc
sections 'users/default', :if => proc{|instance| !%w{static sessions}.include?(instance.controller_name)}

Besides strings sections before_filter accepts procs and methods (passed as symbols). Check out the sections method in the ActionControllerExtensions module.


view_driver also comes with a helper method called 'classes' used to set css-classes or any other attributes conditionally.

<!-- will add 'logged' class if logged_in? method returns true -->
<%= content_tag(:div, 'test', :class => classes('default-class', ['logged', logged_in?])) %>

it also modifies image_tag a bit in order to use blank :alt attribute by default and duplicate it as :title attribute

>> image_tag 'quake.gif'
=> "<img alt='' src='/images/quake.gif' />"
>> image_tag 'quake.gif', :alt => 'foo'
=> "<img alt='foo' src='/images/quake.gif' title='foo' />"
>> image_tag 'quake.gif', :alt => 'foo', :title => 'bar'
=> "<img alt='foo' src='/images/quake.gif' title='bar' />"


script/plugin install git://github.com/macovsky/view_driver.git


If you have any troubles using this plugin, you can ping me through robotector AT gmail.