I’m not part of the Rails team, I’m just a daily Rails developer. So this list comes only from my imagination. Let’s dream.
Hot reloading just works™
Hot reloading means “auto-refreshing the browser when the developer modifies a file”.
I put this on the top of the letter, like children would for their most wanted gift. 🎁
Trix is SEO ready
Trix is an HTML editor, made by the Rails team. I found that investigating this field was a super idea. I was surprised not so long ago, that editing HTML was so painful – there are many possibilities, but none of them could be plugged out of the box.
I realize that’s the second time that I write “out-of-the-box”… Maybe because we love the Rails magic precisely because of its ability to provide things that work without thinking about it 🙂
Trix is missing some features like Hn (HTML headings : h1, h2, etc), and ability to view source code. Since Rails embraces the web standards from the beginning, it would be super cool to have this kind of feature.
Waiting for Trix to be a more complete tool, I use the fantastic Easy Markdown Editor.
“Rails new” is interactive
There’s a problem with “The Rails Way” : nobody agrees about what that is.
- Testing ? Default is Minitest, but RSpec is a lot more used by the community.
- Concerns ? Standards yes, but disputed.
I see this as both a richness and a pain.
Anyway, one of the powerful Rails features is to make choices for us, but when the number of choices explodes, this special philosophy may become a weakness.
So a cool feature would be an interactive “rails new” mode. There’s already a minimalistic way to create a Rails application.
This feature would start from this minimalistic way, and then ask questions to the developer.
What kind of authentication would you like ? Devise/Clearance/None
What kind of JS Framework would you like ? React/Vue/None
What kind of admin backend would you like ? administrate/madmin/none
And so on.
ActiveDeploy is born
It’s an old debate in the Rails community, but I still find it very relevant in 2021. The goal of Rails – outside mentioned magic – is to spend less time on wiring things together. And more time on added value. I can see no value in wiring a standard Linux with a standard Rails app.
Heroku is still my default choice, and now we can choose between many Heroku-like platforms. But there is still no standard way to deploy it on a regular Linux machine. Maybe a default docker file and workflow ?
Concerns are softly deprecated, in favor of PORO
Concerns are not entirely embraced by the community. Given the added complexity and the number of developers who abandoned it, I only use PORO for my Service Object. They are easy to call, easy to read, easy to understand, easy to test, etc.
They are probably not included in the default Rails stack for a reason : they are too simple. Just Ruby objects. Any framework is meant to provide classes and objects that will be called later on by the framework.
However, it would be cool if the Rails team promotes the “Service Object” pattern, by adding a “services” folder in the root of the app (for shared services), and a “services” folder everywhere the “concerns” folder also appears.
An official showcase list is maintained by the core team
I found a great showcase of Hotwire here recently. Somehow the Bootstrap v5 team also have a list of officially supported themes.
That would be nice if the Rails contributors maintain a list of projects that match well (or quite well) the Rails philosophy.
I also found this kind of list here on GitHub.
Webpack(er) handle all the frontend assets
There’s no point to keep two different tools to do the one same job (Webpacker and Sprockets), so the newer one is now entirely functional, and the older one is kept only for backward compatibility reasons.
Sprockets is not anymore used for any new project started with the “Rails new” command, and Webpacker can now handle images, fonts, CSS, JS, and any other kind of frontend assets right from the beginning.
System tests are softly deprecated, in favor of Cypress-based gem
Rails value an integrated system.
Thus, in my humble opinion, integration and system tests should be first-class citizens in Rails.
The problem is, having a system test that works is not magic, and not easy. It requires a lot of configuration, in order to have not-too-brittle tests.
There’s already a tool that perfectly handles this kind of test : Cypress. Why not a gem based on Cypress, that would replace entirely the default system tests stack ? So far, I am very happy with this gem : https://github.com/testdouble/cypress-rails/
Partials are softly deprecated, in favor of view_components
Testing in Rails is a big thing. Rails provide a lot of ways to test your app, right from day 1.
In these days where UX drives innovation a lot (Hotwire do you hear me), there is no way to unit test the views by default.
Partials however is a step in the right direction. They are testable through RSpec – with Minitest, you have to play directly with ERB.
Now there is this incredible gem named view_component, who pushes the concept more far away, and gives us independent, fast, testable views. Why not simply rely on the work of Github devs and merge the gem natively into Rails ?
GitHub Actions or CircleCI already works
Well, the title is pretty self-explanatory. I find it tedious to rebuild a full continuous integration file for each new Rails project, especially since the rise of docker-based configuration for Github Actions of CircleCI.
A big thank you to Rails core team. All this work is given to all users for free.
This is a very personal list, I’m not sure if the points listed are shared by other members of the community, so don’t be afraid to heavily criticize.