Building an Ember App with Rails Part 1

By: Brian Cardarella

This is a four-part series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

This series will take us through building and structuring an application with an Ember front-end built with ember-cli and a Ruby on Rails backend. We’ll discuss project structure, testing, and deployment to Heroku.

During the course of this series I am going to re-build the Boston Ember website. (if it looks terrible that means I’m not done yet)

Getting setup with our tools

Let’s start by making sure all relevant dev tools are installed on our machine. I am using the following:

  • Ruby 2.1.1
  • Rails 4.2.0
  • Node 0.12.0
  • npm 2.7.0
  • Postgres (only necessary because we are deploying to Heroku)

Versions at or above these versions should be OK for following along. Please refer elsewhere on how to install these tools on your development machine.

Next I will install ember-cli

npm install -g ember-cli

Confirm that you have ember-cli installed:

ember --version

You should see:

version: 0.2.0

Or a greater version.

Setting up our project

For this project we will keep our Rails and our Ember apps in separate directories with a top-level directory containing the two. We’ll have to do some project generating and renaming.

I first create a new top-level directory:

mkdir bostonember
cd bostonember

Now we’re going to generate our Rails project:

rails new bostonember -B -S -d postgresql
mv bostonember rails

Note how we renamed the directory the Rails project is in to rails. This does not affect anything in that directory. If you do not have Postgres on your machine omit -d postgresql

Now the ember project:

ember new bostonember --skip-git
mv bostonember ember

Now it should be obvious why we moved the Rails project. We should now have a structure like:

|- ember
|- rails

Let’s confirm that our ember app runs:

cd ember
ember server

In your browser visit http://localhost:4200 and you should see “Welcome to Ember.js”

At this point you can put everything in your top level directory under version control:

git init
git add .
gc -m "Initial commit"

Let’s make some modifications to our Rails app.

rm -rf rails/app/assets

In rails/Gemfile remove the following:

  • coffee-rails
  • jquery-rails
  • turbolinks
  • jbuilder

Now everything related to the Asset Pipeline is completely removed.

Add the following to the Gemfile:

gem 'active_model_serializers', '0.9.3'

If you don’t have Postgres on your machine you can set this for Production only:

group :development, :test do
  gem 'sqlite3'

group :production do
  gem 'pg'

Run bundle install in your rails directory. Let’s commit our changes:

git add -A
gc -m "Removed asset pipeline and added active_model_serializers in Rails"

That wraps up Part 1. In Part 2 will focus on Ember and creating some functionality in our app.

Check out the actual code for this part