Forum: Ruby on Rails Restless Rails

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Rob N. (Guest)
on 2008-11-13 11:35
Is Rails moving to a pure RESTful design? I don't like REST but love
Rails. I'd hate to think that as Rails develops it will become more
difficult to use it RESTlessly.

After moving to Rails 2 a few months ago I've been looking to create new
elements of my applications using the newer RESTful techniques and the
more I try, the more I dislike the way it works.

The final screw in the coffin for me was when I scaffolded a new
controller (I was in a hurry and needed to get something working
quickly). I noticed that each action had a comment above it showing the
URL path-component that would take the user to each action. That summed
up for me what I don't like about the new REST based system - I don't
want the choice of action to be something I have to think about.

With the old style 'controller\action\id' URL it was simple for me to
work out which action in the controller I was using. With the newly
favoured system I have to keep asking myself "is this a get or a post".
The fact that the writers of the scaffold code felt they had to add
reminders above each action, suggests to me that others find that it is
not intuitive as to which action is being used at each point.

I think the new URLs go against one of my goals of writing self
commenting code whenever possible (one of the reasons I like Ruby so
much as it makes that easy).

At the moment it is easy stop the RESTful stuff. Just don't add the
'map.resources :controller_name' statement into routes.rb (or remove
that statement if scaffolding puts it in for you). However, I can see a
point when it's asked "why do we have to keep adding these statements to
routers.rb? Why don't we just assume a controller will be RESTful?".
Then suddenly the choice of whether to be RESTful or not could
disappear.

I think it is fine that other developers want to create RESTful
application and can do so easily with Rails. If it works for them ....

However, I'd hate for Rails to develop to the point where the decision
is no longer available to the developer as to whether or not to be
RESTful.

As a RESTless Luddite I hope that Rails doesn't become REST only.
Thorsten M. (Guest)
on 2008-11-13 12:22
(Received via mailing list)
Sorry, I can't see your problem.
Are you talking about REST or CRUD anyway?

The CRUD actions only cover basic functionality and
that for there will always be an alternative.
If you need other actions, just define them like:

map.resources :payments, :collection => [:search, :export_paypal],
                               :member => [:accept, :pdf]

This is far better readable than the old way and you get
the URL helpers like:
pdf_payment_path(@id)

And controllers won't be "all CRUD" by default,
since even a REST resources often doesn't use
all CRUD actions and there is not much sense
in adding "empty" actions to the controllers. So if
they would decide to have those actions in by default,
this would still be only an option, nobody can force you
to actually write code in such an action.
Rob N. (Guest)
on 2008-11-13 12:52
Thorsten M. wrote:
> Are you talking about REST or CRUD anyway?

REST. You can use CRUD without using REST.

CRUD describes the separate handling of Create, Read, Update and Delete.
You can have separate new/create, show, edit/update, delete/destroy
actions in either a RESTful or RESTless controller.

REST defines how you get to those actions and it is that I dislike.
Rodrigo Rosenfeld R. (Guest)
on 2008-11-13 13:47
(Received via mailing list)
Rob N. wrote:

>
> Is Rails moving to a pure RESTful design? I don't like REST but love
> Rails. I'd hate to think that as Rails develops it will become more
> difficult to use it RESTlessly.
> ...

Rob, I couldn't agree more with you. I don't see any advantages on using
restful resources unless one is developing web services or something
like.

I myself have written another non-restful scaffold generator in my own
native language for starting up my CRUD controllers. I based myself on
the
restful scaffold generator and changed the views, controller and tests
to
reflect the good old days Rails used to be.

The non-restful is much simpler than the restful approach with less code
written and much easier to understand, unless one is willing to deliver
web
services...

Here is my suggestion: write your own non-restful generator. This is
very
simple. Maybe someone maintains a plugin for adding this non-restful
generator. If not, it would be pretty easy to do.

I'll not write it since I already have one for my own language
(brazilian
portuguese) and I'm concentrating efforts for contributing to Rails
documentation when I have time and to think in another multi-language
views
support when I have time. If it works, I'll write another
internationalized
plugin with a different approach than Globalize and GetText, but with
lots
of the GetText idea, since I used it a lot for Desktop development and
were
satisfied with it. But it is not well designed for views translation. It
was designed for short messages translation, which is common in Desktop
development.

Best regards,

Rodrigo.
Robert W. (Guest)
on 2008-11-14 17:58
Rodrigo Rosenfeld R. wrote:
> Rob N. wrote:
>
>>
>> Is Rails moving to a pure RESTful design? I don't like REST but love
>> Rails. I'd hate to think that as Rails develops it will become more
>> difficult to use it RESTlessly.
This is just my 2 cents: You have chosen an opinionated  framework, you
likely knew that when you started using Rails. The point to REST in
Rails has little to do with web services, it's about applying convention
to the structure of controllers and request routing. REST makes adding a
web service API on top of your application easy, but the point is still
the convention and not specifically to make web services.

As for me I'm a big proponent of the RESTful design. In other words I
happen to agree with the opinion of Rails. That does not mean that you
should agree with the opinion yourself.

So will Rails continue down the path to RESTful patterns? I'd say the
answer to that is very clear. Can you still design your applications
today without using the RESTful convention? Sure you can. Will it be
more painful? Probably.

I would say in your situation: maybe it's time to evaluate whether Rails
is "in-line" with your opinion because your individual opinion is not
likely to affect the opinions of the core team (who have obviously
embraced a RESTful design).

"If you've boarded a ship headed toward a destination that you don't
want to go, then maybe it's time to start looking for a port where you
can board another ship."
Brian H. (Guest)
on 2008-11-14 22:50
(Received via mailing list)
Guys:

I spent about a year fighting RESTful design in Rails for the reasons
you've
outlined. I don't like things that are "cool" most of the time. I like
things that work.

However, the more things I've done with RESTful design, the more I truly
appreciate it. The thing is that people can explain it to you until
they're
blue in the face but you're never going to "get" it unless you have
experienced it successfully.

For me, it was forcing myself to think about making everything work
within
the default seven actions (index, show, create, new, edit, update,
destroy).  You'd be surprised how often that works.

Need to view something?   GET to show and pass the id.
Need to view all things?     GET to index
Need to create something?  POST to index
Need to change something?   PUT to update and pass the id
Need to remove something?   DELETE to destroy and pass the ide

Really, there's nothing different here than what you've done all along.

<%=form_tag {:controller => "posts", :action=>"create"}, :method =>
"post"
%>

still works just fine.

However, the REST convention makes it a lot easier.

<% form_for @post do |f| %>

If @post is a new record (no id, or id is nil, then the helper knows it
needs to POST to the create action. Just like how activerecord doesn't
need
to be told what the primary key is, or what the table name is.

If @post has an id, then it knows the form needs to be a PUT request to
the
UPDATE action.

Similarly, while I can do this:
<%=link_to "Create a new post", :controller=>"posts", :action=>"new" %>

I can just do

<%=link_to "Create a new post", new_post_url %>

In controllers and tests, it works together too!

if @post.save
  # go to the list page
  redirect_to posts_path
else
....

def test_should_redirect_to_list_when_created_successfully
   Post.any_instance.stubs(:save).returns(true)
   post :create
   assert_redirected_to posts_path
end

So, what I'm saying is that once you learn how it all falls together,
you
actually have less to think about.

"Where does the "change password" stuff go?  new action called
"change_password"?   No! It's an update! Maybe an additional view to
show
the form for requesting the change, but the change itself is an update.

"Where do I do a search for posts? a "results" action? No! The index
action
alreadt returns all the posts paginated by 20 at a time, just pass your
querystring there and use the controller to narrow the results down.

I'm more than willing to help any of you wrap your heads around this
because
it's been a long journey for me to get here and I wish I had someone to
help
me get where I am. I'd love to save you the trouble.

I don't, however, think that the "old style" ways are going away.

On Fri, Nov 14, 2008 at 9:58 AM, Robert W. <
Rob N. (Guest)
on 2008-11-15 12:47
Brian,

Thank you for your very nice over-view of using REST.

However, I think it also demonstrates one of the problems with the
Rails' REST system. It simplifies things when you have a
straight-forward requirement, but complicates them if you need to do
something outside that model.

For example, how do you handle a situation where you need to allow a
user to modify multiple instances of an object within a single list
view? Do you really want your user to go through a complete 'list, edit,
update, list' sequence twenty times to change one field on each of
twenty items? Far better I believe to present a
single list of the twenty items and let them submit the changes to all
twenty in one form submission.
Gabriel L. (Guest)
on 2008-11-15 16:12
(Received via mailing list)
On Sat, Nov 15, 2008 at 11:47 AM, Rob N.
<removed_email_address@domain.invalid> wrote:
> twenty items? Far better I believe to present a
> single list of the twenty items and let them submit the changes to all
> twenty in one form submission.

It is an update of the whole list. You just need to create a
controller for the list, and not for the items.



--
Gabriel L. <removed_email_address@domain.invalid>
Rob L. (Guest)
on 2008-11-15 19:59
(Received via mailing list)
I think in that situation I'd have an 'update_multiple' controller
action, and declare a custom route, it can still be RESTful because
you'd use a PUT to update the group of items. It gets fiddly to work
with if you have something more complex than the basics. I do agree that
REST isn't always the solution and simply isn't the solution in some
cases.

RobL
Brian H. (Guest)
on 2008-11-16 10:59
(Received via mailing list)
Yup.

This is *exactly* why you can do

map.resources :apartments, :collection => {:update_all => :put}

Like every convention, there are problems, and there are solutions to
that
problem. Think about ActiveRecord. There are a few edge cases where the
conventions just break down. But just because you can't do *everything*
with
AciveRecord doesn't mean you throw it out and do everything with DBI and
execute. :)
Bas van Westing (Guest)
on 2008-11-17 09:34
(Received via mailing list)
Hi All,

I would advise you to look at recipe 13 "Handle Multiple Models in
One Form" from Advanced Rails Recipies (by Mike C., sold by
pragmatic programmers). It a little too big to post here, so buy the
PDF.
I'm using it and it works great.

Questions like these have been around for much longer and clean
solutions to this have been invented by smart people. Read their
stuff, it helps. Don't try to invent the wheel yourself.

Regards, Bas
Rob N. (Guest)
on 2008-11-18 12:39
Yes, I'd do it with a custom controller method too.

Bas van Westing wrote:
> Hi All,
>
> I would advise you to look at recipe 13 "Handle Multiple Models in
> One Form" from Advanced Rails Recipies (by Mike C., sold by
> pragmatic programmers). It a little too big to post here, so buy the
> PDF.
> I'm using it and it works great.
>

However, it does assume the list of items belong_to another class. Of
course I could create a class to hold those items, but I think it would
just be easier to create a custom controller method.

> Don't try to invent the wheel yourself.

Surely that cliché is inappropriate as it is the wheel that is
reinvented itself. I'm the Luddite that's resisting the reinvention. If
anything I could be using that cliché myself asking the Rest advocates
to stop reinventing the wheel :o)

However, my point isn't that Rest is bad, but rather that it should not
be the only way to use Rails. I hoping that Restless Luddites like me
will not be excluded in the splendidness that is Rails.
Agustin S. (Guest)
on 2008-12-05 18:20
> "Where does the "change password" stuff go?  new action called
> "change_password"?   No! It's an update! Maybe an additional view to
> show
> the form for requesting the change, but the change itself is an update.
>

But then wouldn't you need an extra action (GET change_password) to
display that additional view with the form requesting the change? The
form on that view would issue a regular PUT to UPDATE the entire record,
sure, but somehow you need to be able to invoke that form...

Also, what if you want to display a message saying 'We've changed your
password' instead of the regular 'We've updated your entire record'?
Then you'd need an extra parameter on the PUT account/id action, to
indicate that you've called this action from the 'change_password' form.
Wouldn't you? Or am I missing something?

Thanks for your help.
Jeff P. (Guest)
on 2008-12-06 07:17
Rob N. wrote:
> Is Rails moving to a pure RESTful design? I don't like REST but love
> Rails. I'd hate to think that as Rails develops it will become more
> difficult to use it RESTlessly.
>
>
> As a RESTless Luddite I hope that Rails doesn't become REST only.

Rob, count me in RESTless club.  Rails is a beautiful thing but it is
not perfect.  DHH is a brilliant guy, and probably is smart enough that
he "just doesn't get why some people don't get it".  Be that as it may,
I'm willing to take what I do know and understand about Rails and
continue to use it for fun and profit.

I don't feel the need to "force myself" to do it the way the cool kids
do.  The "old way" of doing Rails works much better than anything else
I've tried, and happily, so far at least, they haven't done anything to
reduce the ease with which us Luddites can use it that way.

For me, REST is a lot like Calculus.  I had to learn it (sort of) to get
my degree.  I know it can do powerful things in the right hands, and yet
somehow I've managed to get promotion after promotion, decade after
decade...never having used it once as an Engineer.

Rob, let the cool kids and the "I'm smart enough to get it" crowd
continue to belittle us for not using REST.  Let's just get the show on
the road and keep cranking out cool apps by the dozen that work well
despite being RESTless.  I'm still getting better at Rails with each
successive app, despite not forcing myself to "do it the right way".  I
can be successful without being "right".

cheers,
jp
Brian H. (Guest)
on 2008-12-08 19:23
(Received via mailing list)
Exactly, but you can be a little smarter about it.

When you do update_attributes, it's gonna take whatever you pass it.
A lot of sites put the "change your password" field on the same page
as the other profile stuff but they make it a separate form submit, so
the password fields are the only fields sent up.

A different Flash message could be built if you wanted to. Is it
necessary? usually not cos they know what they entered.  "I saved your
stuff" might be enough.  If it isn't, you already have the information
you need to make a different Flash notice happen - the name of the
submit button. By default, it's "commit". Give it a name. If the user
clicked it, it will have a value :) If they didn't it won't exist
(nil).

If you wanted the "change your pw" to be its own page, then yes, you'd
use an additional GET method that's not RESTful to do that. However,
that's ok. These "present the interface" methods are just fine. That's
why you have EDIT and NEW.  Where you start becoming unRESTful is when
you start doing things like  def export_to_csv   and def search  and
def results.   (can all be handled by the index action)

Does that help?

-Brian





On Fri, Dec 5, 2008 at 10:20 AM, Agustin Schapira
Agustin S. (Guest)
on 2008-12-08 19:33
> Does that help?

Makes sense. Thanks Brian.
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