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Gemify your assets in less than 10 minutes

17 Oct 2015 · Rails
Gemify assets

If you develop a javascript library for some useful purpose and you share it with the community, you are a great person. But besides that, if you translate that into a Rails gem to use in any Rails project, you are a wonderful person. Today we're going to see how we could make a Rails gem in order to have our super fancy javascript library available to add in any gemfile.

First step, let's do a super fancy javascript library

For this example, the first thing we have to do is our javascript library. Some super simple but funny thing, e.g., a javascript library to add random Giphy gifs in our HTML. Because the purpose of this post isn't develop this library, let's pretend that we have developed and looks like this:

 * Core and general tools
(function($, undefined) {
  'use strict';

  // Singleton
  if (typeof window.RandomGiphyImageRails !== 'undefined') {

  // Module general vars
    v = '1.00 beta',
    debug = false,
    data = {
      api_key: 'dc6zaTOxFJmzC',
      query: 'happy',
      element_class: 'giphyme'

  // Methods

  // Adds Giphy gifs into the elements with class data.element_class
  function giphyme() {
    var elements = $('.'+data.element_class);
    $.each(elements, function(key, value) {
      if (this.debug) console.info(value);

  // Return Giphy gif URL string.
  function updateGiphyImage(element) {
      method: 'GET',
      url: 'http://api.giphy.com/v1/gifs/random',
      data: { api_key: data.api_key, tag: data.query },
      success: function(response) {
        if (this.debug) console.info(response.data.image_url);
        element.html('<img src="'+response.data.image_url+'" alt="Gif via Giphy" />');
      error: function() {
        if (this.debug) console.info('Giphy Api call error.');

  // Public methods / properties
  window.RandomGiphyImageRails = {
    debug: debug,
    data: data,
    giphyme: giphyme


With this library, we could do something like this:

  // Set debug mode (for console logs)
  RandomGiphyImageRails.debug = true;

  // Testing api key by default if you don't specify one
  RandomGiphyImageRails.data.api_key = 'YOUR_GIPHY_API_KEY';

  // Class of the HTML element where you want to put the gif
  RandomGiphyImageRails.data.element_class = 'giphyme';

  // Query or tag of your random gif
  RandomGiphyImageRails.data.query = 'nintendo';

  // Executes the random gif thing

And then put one or more HTML tags in your views:

  <div class="giphyme"> </div>

Refresh your page and... voila! :)

Wow! Awesome! So... let's gemify this jewel!

An asset gem is just an extremely simple engine. Bundler makes it simple to create the files and directories necessary for creating a gem. We only have to do the follow steps:

$ bundle gem random_giphy_image_rails

This will create basically the following tree:

├── Gemfile
├── lib
│   ├── timeago
│   │   └── rails
│   │           └── version.rb
│   └── rails.rb
├── LICENSE.txt
├── Rakefile
├── README.md
└── random_giphy_image_rails.gemspec

Turn the gem into an engine

Bundler create the gem as a standard Ruby module, but we want it to be a Rails Engine. So in our lib/random_giphy_image_rails.rb file we are going to specify this:

require "random_giphy_image_rails/version"

module RandomGiphyImageRails
  module Rails
    class Engine < ::Rails::Engine

All we're doing here is declaring the gem as a Rails Engine. This will cause Rails to add its directories to the load path when the gem is required.

Next step: add our javascript library. We're going to create in our gem the directory vendor, with directories stylesheets, javascript and images inside, so we finish with something like this:

├── Gemfile
├── lib
│   ├── timeago
│   │   └── rails
│   │           └── version.rb
│   └── rails.rb
├── LICENSE.txt
├── Rakefile
├── README.md
└── random_giphy_image_rails.gemspec
└── vendor
        └── assets
                 ├── images
                 ├── javascripts
                 │             └── random_giphy_image_rails.js
                 └── stylesheets

Make a simple readme file with the gem as documentation, and we're done! Ok no... it remains one last step.

Push it to GitHub & RubyGems

Create a GitHub repository for the gem, stage all of your commits, commit, and push the code to GitHub. If you've never published a gem on RubyGems before, you'll need to sign up for an account there. Your account settings will contain an API key that should be copied to ~/.gem/credentials. Publishing your gem is as simple as:

$ rake release

Yes now! Finally we're done. From here we can use our newly released Rails gem in any project by simply adding to our Gemfile:

gem 'random_giphy_image_rails'

and then execute:

$ bundle

or install it yourself as:

$ gem install random_giphy_image_rails

Then, add this into your application.js file:

  //= require random_giphy_image_rails

Oooooooooooooh yeah!

Oh yeah!

Any place where I can see the result?

Yeah! Here you have the Github repo for this example, so you can clone it, change it, play with it... whatever you want! :smile:

About The Author

Iván González - Software Developer

Hi, my name is Iván (aka dreamingechoes). I'm a passionate software developer from the north of Spain, interested in all kind of technologies.

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