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A CMS that doesn't take over an application.



>= 1.0.0
>= 0.21.0
>= 5.1.0
 Project Readme


A CMS that stays out of the way.

This gem handles all of the rote parts of a CMS, but gets out of the way for everything else.

In Rails it is easy to build things from scratch, but it is a waste of resources to build again and again. This library is an attempt to get all of the good parts of a CMS without the baggage of a CMS that takes over the entire ecosystem.


  • rails >= 5.1.0

    If you want to use this with earlier versions of rails, please create a github issue.

  • pg >= 0.21.0; Postgres >= 9.5

    We hate dependencies, but Postgres is just too good. We use it for search and JSONB. If you think we could make this database agnostic, we are open for contributions!

  • dragonfly

    We still hate dependencies, but this is a necessity and one of the best options. We might change it out for ActiveStorage.

  • imagemagick

    For image processing.

Recommended Dependencies

  • summernote

    Used for editor fields. Source is included.

  • bootstrap-sass >= 3.0.0

    Required if you want to use editor fields (which utilize summernote).

  • jquery-rails

    Hope to be able to remove this, but required for summernote/bootstrap for now.

The recommended dependencies are only required for the admin portions of your application.

Optionally, you can create a separate set of assets for only the admin via standard Rails methods. Or you could not include them and deal with the fallout. We are happy to accept pull requests! ;-)


  • Pages with Templates

  • Subdomain support

  • Search (coming soon)

  • Documents and Document Sets (local or S3/Google/etc)

  • Use application models or assets in CMS pages


  • User management

  • Permissions

Proposed auxilary gems

  • simplec-vlad: The easiest way to deploy and manage an installation. Database and file syncs between enviroments.

  • simplec-blog: Don't always need or want a blog bundled in. (You might have your own.)

  • simplec-sections: Sections compose pages. Configure pages composed of Sections rather than taking a page hook line and sinker.

  • simplec-admin: Opinionated, prebuilt way of managing pages. Take it or leave it. Or don't mount it and generate scaffold controllers and views for basic functions.

  • simplec-events


'www' is considered the default subdomain.

'admin' subdomain is reserved for administration functions if you wish.

If you want to modify all pages you should edit ::Page < Simplec::Page, this will be generated in an installer later.

If you want to test a subclass of ::Page, make sure test has ::Page defined.

Create a public layout. The public layout is the default. This will be generated in an installer later.

Put page model definitions in app/models/page/.

Put model templates in app/views/pages/. AND prefix with an underscore (_), i.e. _home.html.erb.

TODO override field types howto

TODO explain using uuids for keys + pgcrypto

TODO explain how to augment model classes (example in test/dummy/config/initializers/simplec.rb)


  1. Install simplec in your Rails application.

    See installation section.

  2. Build and admin interface with the rest of your application.

    Simplec doesn't tell you how to do this. Currently, you should look at the test/dummy application for inspiration.

  3. Then define a model:

    # app/models/page/home.rb
    class Page::Home < ::Page
      field :tagline
  4. And the corresponding template:

    <!-- app/views/pages/_home.html.erb -->
    <h1>My Application</h1>
    <h2><%= @page.tagline %></h2>

    Note: You need to call #html_safe on fields with type: :editor.

  5. And create a page in your admin.

  6. Done.


  1. Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

    gem 'pg'
    gem 'simplec'
    # plus optional gems

    At this point it is assumed you are integrating Simplec into an existing application, logically then you have your database already configured. However, Simplec requires some postgres configuration. Please read the section below on Postgres.

  2. Install and run the migrations

    rake simplec:install:migrations
    rake db:migrate
  3. Mount the engine

    Rails.application.routes.draw do
      mount Simplec::Engine => "/"
  4. Install and configure dragonfly

    rails generate dragonfly

    Then configure config/initializers/dragonfly.rb.

    It is recommended to use rack/cache or some other HTTP caching solution.

  5. Optional - Install bootstap-sass.

    gem 'bootstrap-sass', "~> 3.3.7'

    Currenty, we have worked out integration with Bootstrap > 3 and are waiting for the dust to settle on V4. See directions here:

  6. Optional - If you want to use the bundled summernote:

    Load the JS in your application's manifest.

    //= require simplec/summernote
    //= require simplec/summernote-config

    Please note that this needs to be loaded after jquery and bootstrap.

    @import "simplec/summernote";

    Please note that this needs to be loaded after bootstrap. And to use @import statements, you must use .scss files.


Note you will need to do this in your production environment as well.

On some operating systems, pgcrypto is in a separate postgres package, be sure to install that as well.

The pgcrypto extension is required for the gen_random_uuid() function used to generate uuid primary keys.

  1. Create your application postgres user (matching database.yml)

    # -s for superuser in development
    createuser -s myapp
  2. Create databases and add pgcrypto

    # create development/test databases
    rake db:create
    # required for gen_random_uuid() function
    # used for ids in Simplec models
    psql myapp_development -c "CREATE EXTENSION pgcrypto;"
    psql myapp_test -c "CREATE EXTENSION pgcrypto;"


Installation varies per operating system. Image magic is used by dragonfly for on the fly (then cached) image manipulation.

Note there is a known vulnerability, please update accordingly:

See this page for a good cheat sheet:


  1. TODOS:

    • Check doc view helpers

    • Add config options for uuid vs integer ids, maybe check if page is using uuid/id if table exists to determine going forward. Add note in README

    • Throw clear warning when creating a page without a type

    • main_app document or method_missing

    • Document lib/simplec/controller_extensions.rb

    • Document why _subdomain in subdomain form in admin.

    • rails generate simplec:install Install app/models/page.rb, app/models/page/ initializer if needed, with options documented

    • rewrite beginning part of usage

    • utilize thread local variable for found subdomain in #subdomain

    • page previews?

    • configure uuid or integer pk/fk

    • note about migration versions on old rails installs

  2. Sitemap

  3. Installer rails generater simplec:install

  4. Upgrade summernote from 0.8.2 to 0.8.6

  5. Search

  6. Caching

  7. Optional Gems

  8. Remove as many dependencies as possible.

  9. github-markdown for markup?


  1. Use it and file create issues. Somethings are core, other things will be relegated to 3rd party extensions.
  2. Pull requests are welcome. See rule #1.

Running dummy application

  1. Create simplec postgres user

     # -s for superuser in development
     createuser -s simplec
  2. Create databases and add pgcrypto

     rake db:create
     # required for gen_random_uuid() function
     # used for ids in Simplec models
     psql simplec_development -c "CREATE EXTENSION pgcrypto;"
  3. Migrate database

     rake db:migrate
  4. Run the documentation server

     gem install yard
     yard server -r --no-cache --no-save --verbose --debug --backtrace

Moving Backwards

  • Depends on 5.1.x because of on_load hooks, specifically :action_controller_base. Could be moved back, but need to figure out equivalent ways of loading in the engine.


  • Matt Smith, Near Apogee Consulting (

  • @lithxe, @jessedo81 for ongoing feedback, use cases, development support, and the initial project to test the concept.


The gem is available as open source under the terms of the MIT License.