A rails3 unobtrusive in-place-editing plugin, using jQuery/jEditable.
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On-the-spot is a Rails3 compliant unobtrusive javascript in-place-editing plugin, using jEditable, and depends on jQuery.


  • built on proven jQuery plugin jEditable
  • works on index-pages, nested objects, ...
  • can generate simple edit-boxes, textareas, dropdown lists, checkboxes
  • will check your server-side validations and show the error
  • you can check the access-rights before doing any update (to check against tampering)
  • you can use custom display methods, e.g when using markdown
  • watch the demo-project here (source)


Inside your Gemfile add the following:

gem "on_the_spot"

Run the installation task:

rails g on_the_spot:install

This will copy the default translation files, and for rails 3.0 it will also copy the needed assets (javascript files).

Rails 3.1

Add the following to application.js so it compiles to the asset_pipeline

//= require on_the_spot

Or, inside your application.html.haml you could still include the needed javascripts, using

= javascript_include_tag :on_the_spot

To use the default styling, add the following to application.css so it compiles to the asset_pipeline

*= require on_the_spot

Or, inside your application.html.haml you could still include the needed css, using

= stylesheet_link_tag :on_the_spot

Rails 3.0.x

Inside your application.html.haml you will need to add below the default javascripts:

= javascript_include_tag :on_the_spot

or using erb, you write

<%= javascript_include_tag :on_the_spot %>

To use the default styling, inside your application.html.haml you will need to add below the default CSS:

= stylesheet_link_tag :on_the_spot

or using erb, you write

<%= stylesheet_link_tag :on_the_spot %>

Routes (for all Rails 3 versions)

Inside your routes.rb you need to provide the following route :

resources :posts do
  collection do
    put :update_attribute_on_the_spot
    get :get_attribute_on_the_spot

You need to do this for each controller that uses the on-the-spot editing.

You only need to specify the route for get_attribute_on_the_spot if you make use of the :display_method option, and do not want to supply your own load-function.

That is all you need to do to start using it!


Inside your controller you write:

class YourController < ApplicationController


  ... leave the rest of your controller alone ...


And inside your view you will have to specify the fields you want to be "editable" :

Username: <%= on_the_spot_edit @user, :name %>

It should be as simple as that :)

Detailed options

The on_the_spot_edit also accepts options:

  • :type : :textarea, :select or :checkbox (none means default edit)
  • :ok_text : the text for the ok-button
  • :cancel_text : the text for the cancel-button
  • :display_text: if you want to overrule the displayed text, especially useful when using your own :url or :loadurl
  • :tooltip : the tooltip-text
  • :rows: for textarea, the number of rows, defaults to 5
  • :columns: for textarea, the number of columns, defaults to 40
  • :data: for select, the lookup-data, should be in an array of id-value pairs. E.g. [[1, 'ok'], [2, 'not ok'], [3, 'not decided']].
  • :loadurl: for select, an url that will return the data in JSON format (use instead of :data)
  • :url: URL to post to if you don't want to use the standard routes
  • :selected: Text selected by default on edit (boolean, default is false)
  • :callback: The name of a javascript function that is called after form has been submitted
  • :display_method: the name of a method that is used to get the value to display of a field. When you use this, we will automatically attempt to look up the raw value of the field to edit. This differs from the :display_text option, as this will also be called after update. This supersedes the :display_text option.
  • :raw: if set to true, evaluate the field value as raw HTML.

For the texts: if a text is not specified, the default is taken from the on_the_spot.en.yml (or your current language).


Each element that is editable will have the on_the_spot_editing class.

When an element is moused over, it will get the on_the_spot_over class.

You can use these classes to style the elements.

Example Usages

Edit field

<%= on_the_spot_edit @user, :name %>


<%= on_the_spot_edit @user, :description, :type => :textarea, :rows => 10, :columns => 55 %>


<%= on_the_spot_edit @user, :rating, :type => :select, :data => [[1, 'good'], [2, 'mediocre'], [3, 'bad']] %>


Somewhere in a .js file:
function testCallback(object, value, settings) {

<%= on_the_spot_edit @user, :name, :callback => 'testCallback' %>

Using together with cancan

When using on_the_spot together with cancan, you will have to explicitly exclude the on_the_spot method, like so:

load_and_authorize_resource :except => [:update_attribute_on_the_spot, :get_attribute_on_the_spot]

The load_and_authorize_resource will try to find the object, based on the id in the parameters, but on_the_spot uses a different encoding to store the object, field and id in one attribute. So if you exclude that, there will not be a problem.

Using together with an authorization system (e.g. Cancan)

If you want to test access-rights, you can do so by specifying a method which will be called

In your controller write:

can_edit_on_the_spot :check_access

def check_access(object, field)
  # verify that the current user has access to edit/see the field of given object

Example project

There is an example rails3-project called on_the_spot_tester


As jEditable depends on jQuery, your rails3 project needs to use jQuery. It will not work if you use Prototype instead, in your rails3 project. I have written an article here how to start a fresh rails3 project, using jQuery. In short, you add the following to your Gemfile:

gem "jquery-rails"

and, after a bundle install, you run

rails g jquery:install

That will download and install all the necessary files for you.

Note on Patches/Pull Requests

  • Fork the project.
  • Make your feature addition or bug fix.
  • Add tests for it. This is important so I don't break it in a future version unintentionally.
  • Commit, do not mess with rakefile, version, or history. (if you want to have your own version, that is fine but bump version in a commit by itself I can ignore when I pull)
  • Send me a pull request. Bonus points for topic branches.


Copyright (c) 2010 nathanvda. See LICENSE for details.