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behaveJS is a plugin which allows for easily implementing unobtrusive Javascript in a Rails application. It provides extensions to standard Rails helpers as well as a Prototype based Javascript library that together enable you write Javascript that is reusable, organized, unobtrusive, and efficient. The plugin consists of three main components:

How does it work? ( in 20 seconds or less )

Within your application's layout file, a call to behaveJS_bootstrap helper method is placed right after all necessary Javascript files. Whenever an action is rendered using this layout, behaveJS automatically creates an instance of a Javascript controller that is analogous to the controller used by Rails and invokes the same action. The Javascript controllers are responsible for the configuration of various UI components and promote object-oriented client-side code. Behaviors are then computed, taking into account the current controller/action, and are integrated into the UI utilizing event delegation. Below is some sample code utilizing behaveJS Controllers and Behaviors. An example of RemoteActions can be found here.


<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN"

<html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en">
    <title>behaveJS Demo</title>
    <%= javascript_include_tag "prototype" %>
    <%= javascript_include_tag "behaveJS" %>
    <%= javascript_include_tag "behaveJS_application" %>

    <%= behaveJS_bootstrap %>

    <div id="header">
      <%= link_to("Feedback", feedback_path, :behaves => { :click => :showDialog, :ready => :somethingElse }) %>
    <%= yield %>

Rails Action:

class ProfilesController < ApplicationContriller  
  def edit
    @profile = current_user.profile
    # pass the redirect location into the Javascript
    behaveJS_data[:successRedirect] = profile_path(@profile)
    render :action => "edit"


  showDialog : function(event)
  somethingElse : function(event)
    // this function was called as soon as the element became available in the DOM. Do something useful!
    console.log("Element is now ready")

  initialize : function($super)
    // this controller is inherited from the Application controller, so we call 
    // the parent constructor
  edit : function()
    // called when rendering the "edit" action of the "profiles" controller
    this.uploadWidget = new PhotoUploader($("photos"));
    this.onSuccess    = this.onUploadSuccess.bind(this);
    this.onFailure    = this.onUploadFailure.bind(this);
  onUploadFailure : function()
    alert("Sorry your upload failed! Please try again.");
  onUploadSuccess : function()
    alert("Thanks for your photo!");
    // look Ma! I'm not hardcoding URLs in my Javascript!
    window.location.href = behaveJS.settings.successRedirect;

Installing behaveJS

  • Install with bash > script/plugin install git://
  • Include the necessary Javascript files in your layout with <%= javascript_include_tag "behaveJS", "behaveJS_application" %>. If you are using asset_packager, simply add these two files to your asset_packages.yml file. Either way, make sure that they are added after the inclusion of Prototype.
  • Place the following method call <%= behaveJS_bootstrap %> right after all of your asset includes and you should be good to go!


  • Prototype JavaScript framework, version or higher.
  • Rails 2.1.2, 2.2.2, and 2.3.2 are all compatible. Older versions may be as well, but were not tested.

What exactly does behaveJS provide again?

  • Extensions to Rails helpers that integrate with the behaveJS Javascript framework for unobtrusive functionality
  • A full featured library for creating Javascript Controllers, Behaviors, and RemoteActions
  • Ability to easily override how confirmation messages are displayed in your app
  • Peace, Love, and Rock n' Roll!
  • See this SBonRails presentation for an overview

And now a word from our sponsors

It's always important to know what exactly the plugins you use in your Rails app do, so don't be shy. Pop open Textmate and take a look around the source. It is fairly documented and even has some tests! wooo!