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Ajaxify Rails

No more full page reloads for your Rails app! Yay!

Automatically makes your app loading content in the background via Ajax.

Works by turning all internal links into Ajax links that trigger an update of the page's content area. Also form submissions are automatically turned into Ajax requests.

Features:

  • Uses the html5 history interface for changing the url and making the browser's back and forward buttons work with Ajax.
  • Falls back to a hash based URL approach for browsers without the history interface (like Internet Explorer version <10).
  • Hash based and non-hash URLs are interchangeable.
  • Transparently handles redirects and supports page titles and flash messages.
  • Tested with Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer 8+.

Demo: http://ajaxify-demo.herokuapp.com/ (the first page load might take a while, as heroku needs to spin up a dyno)

Demo source: https://github.com/ncri/ajaxify_rails_demo_app

Blog Post: http://rubyandrails.posterous.com/introducing-the-ajaxify-rails-gem

Inspired by the pjax_rails gem (https://github.com/rails/pjax_rails).

Requirements

  • Ruby 1.9 and the asset pipeline,
  • jQuery,
  • Your app doesn't use named anchors (#). Named anchors can't be correctly represented in the fallback hash based url scheme.

Installation

Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'ajaxify_rails'

And then execute:

$ bundle

In your application.js file add:

//= require ajaxify_rails

Usage

Call Ajaxify.init() in your layout's javascript. Do this as early as possible to ensure Ajaxify's interchangeable url schemes (history api vs. hash based urls) work most effectively.

The later you call init(), the later potential redirects from one scheme to another are performed, which means the more unnecessary work the browser has to do.

Content Area

Ajaxify assumes that your app has a content container html tag with the id main. This tag is the container wrapping the yield statement in your layout. If yield doesn't have a wrapper in your app yet, you need to supply one to get ajaxification working:

#main
  = yield

You can set the content container of your app when initializing Ajaxify:

Ajaxify.init 
  content_container: 'content_container_id'

or later using set_content_container:

Ajaxify.set_content_container('content_container_id')

Loader Animation

You probably like to have a loader image to be displayed to the user while content loads via Ajax. This is simple. Ajaxify automatically inserts a loader div with the class ajaxify_loader into the content wrapper before starting an Ajax request. So just supply styles for .ajaxify_loader in your css, with an animated gif as a background.

Page Title

If you define a method called page_title in your application controller, returning the current page's title, Ajaxify will use it to automatically update the title tag after the main content has changed.

Navigation and other Layout Updates

It's a common use case to have a navigation that needs to change its appearence and possibly functioning when the user navigates to a different section of the page. Ajaxify provides a success callback that is triggered after successful updates of the page's main content. Just bind to the `ajaxify:content_loaded' event and make your layout changes:

$('body').on 'ajaxify:content_loaded', ->
  # update navigation and/or other layout elements

Flash Messages

Ajaxify correctly displays your flash messages after ajaxified requests. By default, only flash[:notice] is supported. If you are using for example flash[:warning] as well you have to add the flash_types option to the Ajaxify.init() call:

Ajaxify.init 
  flash_types: ['notice', 'warning']

Also make sure that you supply invisible wrapper tags in your layout for each flash type you use, with the id set to the type, e.g.:

#notice{ style: "#{'display:none' unless flash[:notice]}" }
  = flash[:notice] 

Full Page Reloads

Sometimes requests change the layout of the page so significantly that loading only the main content via Ajax and doing some minor layout tweaks here and there are simply not sufficient.

There might also be links and forms which already have their own Ajax functionality.

For these cases you can turn off Ajaxify, by simply adding the class no_ajaxify directly to links or forms:

= link_to 'Change everything!', re_render_it_all_path, class: 'no_ajaxify'

Root Redirects

Sometimes you need to redirect on the root url.

For example you might have a localized application with the locale inside the url. When a user navigates to your_domain.com he/she gets redirected to e.g. your_domain.com/en/. This works fine in browsers supporting the html 5 history api. However, for browsers without the history api like Internet Explorer before version 10, Ajaxify needs hints about your url structure to not get confused (it creates endless redirects otherwise!). You need to explicitly supply all possible root paths.

Example: if your app's root url potentially redirects to your_domain.com/en/ and your_domain.com/de/ you need to hint Ajaxify like this:

Ajaxify.init
  base_paths = ['de', 'en']

Important: Ajaxify.base_paths need to be set before Ajaxify.init() is called!

Extra Content

Sometimes you need to do non trivial modifications of the layout whenever the content in the main content area of your site changes. Ajaxify allows you to attach arbitrary html to ajaxified requests. This extra html is then stripped from the main content that is inserted into the content area. But before that a callback is triggered which can be used to grab the extra content and do something with it. To use this feature you need to provide a method ajaxify_extra_content in your ApplicationController:

def ajaxify_extra_content
  ... your extra html ...
end

For example you could provide html for a widget in the layout like this:

def ajaxify_extra_content
  "<div id='my_fancy_widget_html'> some html </div>"
end

And then, on the client side bind to the ajaxify:content_inserted event and select the widget html via #ajaxify_content:

$('body').on 'ajaxify:content_inserted', ->
  $('#my_fancy_widget').html $('#ajaxify_content #my_fancy_widget_html').html()

Tip: you can call view helpers to render extra content from within your controller using the view_context:

def ajaxify_extra_content
  view_context.my_fancy_widget
end

Ajaxify Events

Ajaxify provides a few jQuery events you can bind to:

  • ajaxify:before_load => Triggered before the ajaxify request is started. Params: url.
  • ajaxify:content_loaded => Triggered after an ajaxify request finished successfully. Params: data, status, jqXHR, url.
  • ajaxify:content_inserted => Triggered after an ajaxify request finished but before extra content is stripped from the response.
  • ajaxify:flash_displayed => Triggered after a flash message is displayed. Parameters: flash_type.

Javascript

In addition to calling your javascript e.g. in a dom ready event handler (or in your layout), you should also call it in an ajaxify:content_loaded event handler, to make sure it is executed after content has loaded via Ajaxify.

Toggle Ajaxify

You can temporarily deactivate Ajaxify by calling Ajaxify.activate(false). You can switch it on again with Ajaxify.activate().

Scrolling

By default, ajaxify scrolls to the top of the screen when you click on a link or submit a form. You can change this default behavior by setting 'scroll_to_top' to false on init.

Ajaxify.init
  scroll_to_top: false

You can also change the setting for individual links by adding classes:

= link_to "Scroll to top", scroll_to_top_path, class: 'scroll_to_top'
= link_to "Don't scroll", no_scroll_path, class: 'no_scroll_to_top'

Contributing

  1. Fork it
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Added some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create new Pull Request
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