jQuery: New Default

In Rails 3.1 jQuery is going to be the default JavaScript library. Also, RJS has been extracted out. This post explains what that means for new applications, and what to look for while upgrading existing applications.

New Applications

Starting with Rails 3.1

rails new my_app

generates an application with jQuery.

The -j option of the generator lets you choose Prototype and Scriptaculous instead:

rails new my_app -j prototype

Such an application does not have RJS yet available though. From now on prototype-rails is needed for RJS, see below.

Upgrading Applications Using No RJS

Existing applications using no RJS should remove any references to ActionView::Base.debug_rjs in the project. Typically that means deleting

config.action_view.debug_rjs = true

from config/environments/development.rb. Other than that, upgrading should work out of the box as far as these changes is concerned.

Upgrading Applications Using RJS

Existing application using RJS should work out of the box with prototype-rails.

prototype-rails

RJS has been extracted to prototype-rails.

Applications using RJS have to add this line to their Gemfile while working against Rails master before the 3.1 release:

gem 'prototype-rails', :git => 'git://github.com/rails/prototype-rails.git'

prototype-rails is gonna be a gem when Rails 3.1 is out.

prototype-rails is the one who provides now the RJS template handler; the configuration flag ActionView::Base.debug_rjs; the ability to pass a block to link_to_function and button_to_function; the :update option of render, both in controllers and views; and the modules ActionView::Helpers::PrototypeHelper and ActionView::Helpers::ScriptaculousHelper.

Extraction has taken backwards compatibility into account as much as possible. With that goal in mind, everything is put back where it was before, either by reopening classes or modules, or via alias_method_chain when the refactor involved cutting some part of a method out, as happened with render :update.

There's an exception: ActionView::Helpers::PrototypeHelper and ActionView::Helpers::ScriptaculousHelper are no longer ancestors of ActionView::Helpers. They are now injected into ActionView::Base and ActionView::TestCase directly.

When you include a module M into a class C, the class stores a proxy to M in its ancestor chain. After inclusion, if you add methods to M instances of C respond to them. But if you include another module N into M, the ancestor chain of C is not updated. Instances of C won't respond to N's methods. Although a complete dynamic method dispatch would treat both ways of augmenting M equal, that's the way it works as of today.

By the time prototype-rails is loaded ActionView::Helpers has already been included into ActionView::Base and ActionView::TestCase, so we need to inject them directly where they are needed. Standard usage just works, but please take into account that change in case you reopened or used ActionView::Helpers assuming those ancestors.

Before release, prototype-rails is going to provide also a way to bring Prototype and Scriptaculous to any application.

One Last Detail: The xhr Test Helper

The xml_http_request/xhr test helper is a simple convenience method that sets the X\_REQUESTED\_WITH header to "XMLHttpRequest". If the test request has no Accept header, a fixed value of

[Mime::JS, Mime::HTML, Mime::XML, 'text/xml', Mime::ALL].join(', ')

serves as default.

The Accept header in Prototype calls corresponds to that value, but in jQuery it depends on the dataType attribute. Also, in other JavaScript libraries the Accept header may behave differently. What to do with the default?

This method has been left as is. In particular, if your application uses jQuery the default Accept header in the test will be different from the Accept header sent by jQuery. That's some vinegar: Rails encourages you to base interfaces on explicit format parameters. So, for example, best practice is to provide a /users.json endpoint, rather than a /users endpoint with a JSON representation chosen depending on the Accept header.

If you desperately need a matching Accept header in tests you are still able to pass it. And you can also write your own convenience test helpers easily, since a XHR request is just one whose X\_REQUESTED\_WITH header matches /XMLHttpRequest/i.

Try It Out!

If your application uses RJS it would be really helpful that you test it against master with prototype-rails and report any issues you may find. Thanks!

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