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Our very own static HTML file (http://localhost:3000/hellohtml)
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and a body section, in this case with Hello, world! inside a p (paragraph) tag (The indentation is optional HTML is not sensitive to whitespace, and ignores both tabs and spaces but it makes the document s structure easier to see) As promised, when visiting the address http://localhost:3000/hellohtml, Rails renders it straightaway (Figure 33) Note that the title displayed at the top of the browser window in Figure 33 is just the contents inside the title tag, namely, Greeting Since this file is just for demonstration purposes, we don t really want it to be part of our sample application, so it s probably best to remove it once the thrill of creating it has worn off:
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$ rm public/hellohtml
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3: Mostly Static Pages
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We ll leave the indexhtml file alone for now, but of course eventually we should remove it: we don t want the root of our application to be the Rails default page shown in Figure 13 We ll see in Section 52 how to change the address http://localhost:3000/ to point to something other than public/indexhtml
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312 Static Pages with Rails
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The ability to return static HTML files is nice, but it s not particularly useful for making dynamic web applications In this section, we ll take a first step toward making dynamic pages by creating a set of Rails actions, which are a more powerful way to define URLs than static files5 Rails actions come bundled together inside controllers (the C in MVC from Section 126), which contain sets of actions related by a common purpose We got a glimpse of controllers in 2, and will come to a deeper understanding once we explore the REST architecture more fully (starting in 6); in essence, a controller is a container for a group of (possibly dynamic) web pages To get started, recall from Section 135 that, when using Git, it s a good practice to do our work on a separate topic branch rather than the master branch If you re using Git for version control, you should run the following command:
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$ git checkout -b static-pages
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Rails comes with a script for making controllers called generate; all it needs to work its magic is the controller s name Since we re making this controller to handle (mostly) static pages, we ll just call it the Pages controller, and plan to make actions for a Home page, a Contact page, and an About page The generate script takes an optional list of actions, so we ll include some of our initial actions directly on the command line:
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Listing 34 Generating a Pages controller
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$ rails generate controller Pages home contact create app/controllers/pages_controllerrb route get "pages/contact" route get "pages/home"
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5 Our method for making static pages is probably the simplest, but it s not the only way The optimal method really depends on your needs; if you expect a large number of static pages, using a Pages controller can get quite cumbersome, but in our sample app we ll only need a few See this blog post on simple pages at has_many :through for a survey of techniques for making static pages with Rails Warning: the discussion is fairly advanced, so you might want to wait a while before trying to understand it
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invoke create create create invoke create create create create invoke create invoke erb app/views/pages app/views/pages/homehtmlerb app/views/pages/contacthtmlerb rspec spec/controllers/pages_controller_specrb spec/views/pages spec/views/pages/homehtmlerb_specrb spec/views/pages/contacthtmlerb_specrb helper app/helpers/pages_helperrb rspec
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(Note that, because we installed RSpec with rails generate rspec:install, the controller generation automatically creates RSpec test files in the spec/ directory) Here, I ve intentionally forgotten the about page so that we can see how to add it in by hand (Section 32) The Pages controller generation in Listing 34 automatically updates the routes file, called config/routesrb, which Rails uses to find the correspondence between URLs and web pages This is our first encounter with the config directory, so it s helpful to take a quick look at it (Figure 34) The config directory is where Rails collects files needed for the application configuration hence the name Since we generated home and contact actions, the routes file already has a rule for each one, as seen in Listing 35
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