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Post-framework Ruby view library. It is based on Tilt and meant to provide entire view layer for a web application (based on any framework or completely frameworkless).



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Sho: post-framework view library

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Sho is an experimental post-framework Ruby view library. It is based on Tilt and meant to provide entire view layer for a web application (based on any framework or completely frameworkless).

"Sho?" ("Шо?") is a Kharkiv dialecticism, meaning "What?", typically in a slightly aggressive manner. It is chosen as a library name because it is close to "show" in a written and spoken form (and also because "What?" is expected typical reaction to the library).

Post-framework means Sho behaves as a decent library, neither implying nor forcing any kind of conventions for your code layout and structure.

Currently, if you want your app architecture not to follow strict framework's frame, you can take ROM or Sequel for data layer; Sinatra, Roda, or Grape for routing layer; but for view layer, the situation seems to be different. Typical "views" part of the application (say, with Rails, Hanami, Padrino) is bound to a lot of conventions (like "it will look for the corresponding template in that folders") and global configuration, and tightly coupled with routes/controllers ("if you want data from controller to be passed to view, you mark it so an so").

Sho is an experiment to provide view layer that is "just Ruby" (= follows the regular intuitions of Ruby programmer, not introducing some hidden conventions that are not deductible from the code) and reuses regular Ruby concepts for code sharing, parameters passing and flow structuring instead of introducing its own concepts like "helpers", "exposures", "locals" (completely unlike local variables!) and so on.

Basic synopsis

# in any class you want
include Sho

sho.template :name, 'path/to/template.erb', :param1, param2: default_value

This creates instance method with a signature¹ YourClass#name(param1:, param2: default_value), which, when called, renders the template from path/to/template.erb.

¹Due to metaprogramming limitations, real signature of method would be name(**params) and check of mandatory params and assignment of defaults is performed by Sho.

You can think about the template as a method body, which immediately answers a lot of questions:

  • What context the template is evaluated in? Like any method: in context of the instance of the class, where the method is defined.
  • What names are available in the template? The same as in any methods: parameters, and other methods/variables of the instance.
  • How do I do share "helper" code with several templates? Just in a regular Ruby: extract it to a module, include the module in several classes with views. Or make the base class and inherit from it. Or use any other code sharing technique you are fond of.
  • How do I do "partials" (render one template from another)? The same as when you want to call one method from another one: just call it.
    # In `user.rb`
    sho.template :render, 'user.slim'
    # That would be "partial":
    sho.template :status_with_popup, 'user/_status_with_popup.slim'
    / In `user.slim` (think of it as a body for `User#render` method):
    p = name
      / Call of a "partial":
      span.status = status_with_popup
  • How do I test it? How do I set all the context for testing? Just as with regular method: just create an instance, and call the method, and test the result.
  • But where do I put this method? Wherever you wish! Sho does NOT insist on any particular architecture or code layout, which means you can experiment and evaluate several options, like:
    • embed rendering in controller/Sinatra app (or even model, if you want to be really naughty today!) for the very first 30-lines-long prototype, then move it elsewhere (like "Extract Method" refactoring pattern, you know?)
    • embed rendering in your service (operation) objects, so corresponding forms and buttons would be nested in the operation, and reused in other places like
    • make Users::List class with #html, #atom and #json methods and use it like or User::List.send(request.format, scope)
    • make Trailblazer::Cells-like one-class-per-template objects to call them like
    • ...switch between several of the approaches, or even combine them in the same app!

Implementation details

Where should I store the templates?

Sho doesn't have any global configuration for "templates folder", neither convention for "templates are in app/views/<current_class_name>" or something like that. template method just looks for templates relative to current working folder (Dir.pwd). As it could be tiresome to write app/views/blah/blah/blah/blah.slim for each and every method, there is sho.base_folder = class-level setting:

# Before
sho.template :profile, 'app/views/users/profile.slim'
sho.template :icon, 'app/views/users/icon.slim'

# After
sho.base_folder = 'app/views/users'
sho.template :profile, 'profile.slim'
sho.template :icon, 'icon.slim'

# If all of your classes and templates are in the same `app/view`, further shortcutting is
# your own responsibility, like:

sho.base_folder = VIEWS_BASE + '/users'

Another interesting approach that is made easy by Sho:

# In app/view_models/users.rb

# It is like require_relative, template should be stored at
# app/view_models/users/profile.slim
sho.template_relative :profile, 'users/profile.slim'

The idea is: as ViewModels::Users have profile.slim as a #profile method body, it is this class' implementation details, so, there is no point to store it in a completely different folder.

What about layouts?

Sho supports concept of layout with :_layout param. It accepts method name, and supposes this method will call yield at some point:

# in app/view_models/users.rb
sho.template_relative :list, 'users/list.slim', _layout: :main_layout
sho.template :main_layout, 'app/views/main_layout.slim'

Sharing of the layout between several classes could be done in the same way as sharing of any other methods: extract it to a common module, and include wherever you like.

Small-scale usage of the library

As Sho is a library, not a framework, it doesn't require you to switch to Sho-only code immediately and completely. You can try it in some parts of your system, or just in one class. One useful idea is to use it in decorators (like draper), and Sho provides inline_template for this kind of usage:

class RatingDecorator < Draper::Decorator
  # ...

  # before:
  def row
        h.content_tag(:th, "Rated by #{}"),
        h.content_tag(:td, stars),
        h.content_tag(:td, rated_at)
      class: 'rating'

  # after:
  include Sho

  sho.inline_template :row,
    slim: <<~SLIM
          | Rated by
        td = stars
        td = rated_at

Template caching

Sho creates Tilt templates at a moment of the method definition. This seems to lead to most natural behavior: the templates are found and cached at a moment of code loading/reloading (whatever reloader you use). Though, you can use sho.cache = false to "hard-reload" templates on each method call.

Library status

It is fresh and experimental. Tested, documented and stuff, but still not extensively used in production. Nothing guaranteed, but I'll be happy to have at least a meaningful discussion started.


Victor Shepelev aka @zverok