Rails, AngularJS (1.5.8), and Webpack — Part 4

Okay. We left off last time actually seeing Angular working with webpack. Things were looking good – in a very basic “Hello World” kind of way. Today, we’re going to create a controller and a component to make an http request to hit up the backend for some data. First, let’s create some data.

Seeding the Database

Heading back to Rails land briefly to create some users and meals. In app/db/seeds.db let’s make a couple of arrays and then use a looping method to create our Users and Meals at the same time.

# app/db/seeds.rb

users = ["Luke", "Han", "Leia", "Obi", "Chewbacca", "C3P0"]
# Our users array from a galaxy from far far away

meals = ["Tattooine Tacos", "Chewie's Chowder", "Princess Pizza", "Darth's Death Stack", "Brain du Jar Jar", "R2's Nuts and Bolts"]
# Our meals array with some interesting looking delicacies

i = 0

6.times do
  UserMeal.create(user_id: User.create(name: users[i]).id, meal_id: 
  Meal.create(title: meals[i]).id)
  i += 1

Here we are using our two arrays and a loop to create not only a new User and Meal each go round, but the association between each one too. Now we can run ‘rails db:seed’ in our terminal and our database should be seeded. If we go into our rails console (‘rails c’ in the terminal), and type ‘User.first.meals’, we should see something like this:

=> #<ActiveRecord::Associations::CollectionProxy [#]>

Cool! Our seeding experiment worked and our associations seem to be solid. Let’s take it one step further and get the actual name of our first user’s meal – ‘User.first.meals.first.title’

=> “Tattooine Tacos”

Sweet! We are finished with the backend for now. Let’s get this front end party going!

Creating a Controller

First we’ll create our controller and use Angular’s built in $http service to get data from the backend. We have to use ngInject to inject the $http service into the controller. Then we’ll use $onInit to set up the call to the api. In app/javascript/packs, we’ll create a new file called ‘home.controller.js’. Then we’ll add our controller and export it, so it can be imported wherever we want it.

// app/javascript/packs/home.controller.js

class HomeController {
  constructor($http) {
    this.$http = $http;

  $onInit = () => {
      method: 'GET',
      url: '/users.json'
    .then(res => {
      this.users = res.data
    .catch(err => {

export default HomeController;

$onInit is a lifecycle hook that initializes on start up. So our $http call will happen when the HomeController is called upon. The $http call takes one argument, a configuration object consisting of a ‘GET’ method and a url, to make the HTTP request and returns a promise. For a successful promise, we use ‘then’. For an unsuccessful promise, we use ‘catch’. I believe the old standard was ‘success’ and ‘error’ to handle promises.

Now we need to output be able to output our data into a template. Stand alone templates are not used with modules. Instead, we’ll use a simple component.

Creating a Component

Let’s create a new file called ‘home.component.js’ in the same folder as our other Angular files. Then we have to import the HomeController and create the component. Components are very simple, as we’ll see. They basically point to a variable, which we’ll then export. Our component will take three properties: controller, controllerAs, and template. Components could take more properties, but we won’t need anything more for our needs. Our users will be coming to us in an array, so we’ll have to loop over this array to get each user. Angular comes with a very handy ng-repeat, which can be inserted right into the html.

// app/javascript/home.component.js

import HomeController from './home.controller';

const HomeComponent = {
  controller: HomeController,
  controllerAs: '$ctrl',
  template: `<div ng-repeat="user in $ctrl.users">

export default HomeComponent;

This should give us what we need. Now we have to import our component to our main app module and we should see something in our browser.

Importing Component into Main App Module

Let’s head over to our meals module and see what we can do. In app/javascript/packs/application.js, we’ll import the home component under our angular and uirouter imports. Then we’ll add our component to the meals module so we can use it in the router.


import angular from 'angular';
import uirouter from 'angular-ui-router';
import HomeComponent from './home.component';  // New

const meals = angular.module('meals', [uirouter])
  .component('homeComponent', HomeComponent) // New
  .config(($stateProvider) => {
      .state('home', {
        url: '/',
        component: 'homeComponent' // New


export default meals;

I added a ‘New’ comment next to the lines that were added. Notice that we still had to add the component to the module. Then we used the stringified name and added it to our ‘home’ route as a component. Let’s run the servers and see if we have anything.

Remember, we need to run two servers – one for the front end and one for the back. In one tab in your terminal run ‘./bin/webpack-dev-server’ and in another tab, run ‘rails s’. Refresh the browser, click home and….







Nice! We got some JSON! We’re on the right track. Now all we have to do is get the name out of each object. To do that, we’ll have to modify the template in our component ever so slightly.

// app/javascript/home.component.js

import HomeController from './home.controller';

const HomeComponent = {
  controller: HomeController,
  controllerAs: '$ctrl',
  template: `<div ng-repeat="user in $ctrl.users">

export default HomeComponent;

If you can’t see what was added, no worries. In the

tag we were getting the whole user, which is why we got all that extra JSON. The only thing that was added was a name attribute to the user – {{user.name}}. These things update live, so if we look back to the browser, we should see our Star Wars heroes.

An Aside

This actually took me quite a while to get running. I’m learning as I go and had some trouble understanding how to use $http in the controller. Specifically, how to inject it. Everywhere I looked, people were saying the same thing: outside of the HomeController class, inject the $http service as such – HomeController.$inject = [“$http”];

This did not work. I finally came across a someone’s code with ‘ngInject’ loaded in the constructor. I tried that, and everything worked!

We’ve gone through a lot today and I’m going to leave off here. Next time we’ll separate the $http call into a service, as it should be and see our Chewbacca’s favorite meal. Until then…Cheers:)


Rails, AngularJS (1.5.8), and Webpack — Part 2

Welcome back! We left off last time in a good place. We set up the back end by generating three models – User, Meal, and UserMeal (our joins table) – with associations. We used scaffolding to generate our models. In most cases, we would normally not generate models using scaffolding, because it creates a lot of things we won’t need. This causes bloat in our app, and if we want our app to scale nicely and be fast, this will be a problem. For our case (and our little app), it’s nice and easy to use scaffolding – so we did. Then we installed a great gem called Active Model Serializer, which formats our model data into reusable JSON, which our front end will consume. In this edition we’ll be installing AngularJS and Webpack. Let’s dive in.


A few blog posts ago, I wrote about Rails and the Webpacker gem. The team at Rails is definitely catching on to the current and future trends of the web – front end frameworks using JavaScript. The Webpacker gem makes it easier to use these frameworks with Rails. Enough talk though – let’s install it! Note – if you’re using Rails 5.1, you can run ‘rails new myapp –webpack=angular’ when initiating your app. Otherwise…

# In your gemfile.rb file, add 

gem 'webpacker'

# Back in your terminal

bundle exec rails webpacker:install

# if you get an error that looks like this: 'Webpacker requires Yarn >= 0.25.2 
# and you are using 0.24.6
# Please upgrade Yarn https://yarnpkg.com/lang/en/docs/install/'
# do this:

npm install -g yarn

# if everything is honky dory

bundle exec rails webpacker:install:angular

Now we’re in the webpack business. Using webpack basically creates another asset pipeline for our JavaScript assets. Instead of putting all of our JavaScript files in /app/assets, we’ll put them in app/javascript/packs. To include this folder, all we have to do is include them in our main html files ‘head’ section.

# app/views/layouts/application.html.erb

<%= javascript_pack_tag 'application' %>

Now our files will be included and we can get coding. Let’s create the entry point to the angular app. Create a new folder and file in our views folder:
app/views/application/angular_home.html. Now we need a route. Let’s add it to our routes.rb file.

root to: 'application#angular_home'

Let’s add something to our angular_home file.

# app/views/application/angular_home.html

Goodbye World

# LOL?

Now run ‘rails s’ in your terminal and head on over to ‘locahost:3000’ in your browser. We should see ‘Goodbye World’ on the webpage. Now look in the console (Apple Control ‘J’) and you should see ‘Hello World from Webpacker’. We’re in business.

I think this is a good place to leave off. Our backend is set up. Webpack is setup. We have an entry point to Angular. Things are looking good. Next week we’ll dive head first into Angular. Working with modules and all the goodness that comes with ES6! Until then…cheeeeeers:)

Removing whitespace from a string in Ruby vs. JavaScript

I’m back from vacation. After visiting my family in Long Island, we ventured up to the Catskills for a few nights, which culminated with my younger sister getting married. It was a very cool wedding! The next day, my wife, nephew, and I drove up to Montreal to see her folks. Montreal is one of my favorite cities (in the summer) – it has very European feel. As great as it is to get away, it’s always hard to get back into the groove after a trip. I’m just getting my sea legs back under me so this post is going to be short and sweet.

Have you ever needed to get rid of leading and trailing whitespace from a string? It’s a good rule of thumb to do just that to any input you’re receiving on a form. Luckily, it’s quite easy in most languages. Let’s take a look at how we’ll approach this in Ruby first.

str = "  How's it going?   "
=> "  How's it going?   "
# Let's get rid of that whitespace
=> "How's it going?"
=> "  How's it going?   "
# We didn't permanently change the string itself
# Most methods are non-destructive, but Ruby let's us be destructive if we 
# really want to. We just got to bang it (pun intended)
"How's it going?"
=> "How's it going?"

Pretty simple! Let’s take a look at how to do this in JavaScript.

let str = "  How's it going?   ";
'How/'s it going?'
'   How\'s it going?   '
// There's no permanent destructive way to change strings in JavaScript - they 
// are immutable. So we just have to reassign our variable like so...
str = str.trim();
'How\'s it going?'
'How\'s it going?'

I mentioned that strings in JavaScript are immutable. This means the string cannot be changed in memory. So when we call a method like trim or slice on a string, the return value is a new string. Like the example above, we have to reassign ‘str’ to the return value of the method call. In Ruby however, strings are mutable. Let’s take a look.

str = "  Trim me  "
=> 70365544319940 
=> "Trim me"
=> 70365544319940 
# Even though we changed the string, the id is still the same
# We can also change characters in place, which cannot be done in JS
str[7] = '!'
=> '!'
=> "Trim me!"
# Pretty cool!
=> 70365544319940 
# No change

That’s it for this week. Always remember how cool Ruby can be. It makes life easier in many ways. JavaScript however, can do much more. It is not only an Object Oriented language, but a multi-paradigm language! From Wikipedia:

As a multi-paradigm language, JavaScript supports event-driven, functional, and imperative (including object-oriented and prototype-based) programming styles. It has an API for working with text, arrays, dates, regular expressions, and basic manipulation of the DOM, but does not include any I/O, such as networking, storage, or graphics facilities, relying for these upon the host environment in which it is embedded.

Thanks Wikipedia! Until next time! Cheers:)