A potential use for asset pipelining

01 Jun 2011

So I've been thinking a lot recently about the changes in Rails 3.1, particularly the asset pipelining stuff, engines and how magical precisely gems are. I'm combining these last two into a kick-ass forum engine for Rails 3.1 that you may have heard about already. Its name is a terrible pun and I am proud of it. I do like puns.

Anyway, asset pipelining! So I wanted to add theming support to forem because it's butt-ugly right now and I can't design for crap. Have you seen this blog? I wanted to make theming so dead-simple for forem that people just need to put one or two lines in their application and BLAMMO it would work.

I have accomplished this goal tonight, in what was probably about 10 minutes of thinking, experimenting and saying "wow, I can't believe it works" when it actually worked. To make theming work on forem, it's as simple as putting this line in your Gemfile (after the forem gem, as it needs to be loaded first):

gem 'forem-theme-base', :git => "git://github.com/radar/forem-theme-base"

This gem is actually its own Rails engine, which means that it gets all the goodies that a Rails engine is bestowed, including the automatic hooks to the asset pipelining. This gem also contains this line:

Forem::Engine.theme = :base

This (obviously) tells forem what theme to use, and can be overriden at your wish if you had multiple themes. I am considering having a settings panel for this in the backend.

To actually style the forum you'll need to put this line in the layout that forem uses:

<%= forum_theme_tag %>

I would make this happen automatically, but other people may wish to apply their site's styles to the forum system without having to create another gem, and so I leave this as optional. This little tag generates a stylesheet_link_tag like this:

<%= stylesheet_link_tag "assets/forem/base/style.css" %>

Rails then will know where to serve this from because forem-theme-base is an engine.

Dead simple, and utterly amazing. Rails 3.1 is awesome.

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