Daniel Doubrovkine bio photo

Daniel Doubrovkine

aka dB., @awscloud, former CTO @artsy, +@vestris, NYC

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So you’ve built the super amazing complicated Rails website. You are serving data from millions of documents from MongoDB, rendering complex objects using HAML and generally doing a bunch of hardcore stuff. Then someone asks you a pretty simple question: _how do I change the “Contact Us” page that’s linked at the bottom? _

A terrified look takes over your face. You realize that you must now explain to a non-technical person the process of committing to Github, merging and branching. Moreover, you are going to have to give that person committer rights. That’s pretty scary stuff right there. That marketing person is never, ever getting write access to my jewels!

Let’s turn our Rails site into a wiki in a few simple steps.

Create a Page Model

A simple page has a name and some content.

class Page
  include Mongoid::Document
  include Mongoid::Timestamps

  field :name, type: String
  field :content, type: String

Create basic controllers and UI to edit and view the pages – boring Rails stuff.

Enable Markdown

Assume :content is in a wiki (markdown) format. No need to stand on your head if you’re using HAML. The HAML :markdown filter will just render your content field in HTML. You have to use the Ruby #{} syntax to evaluate the actual expression. Here’s the entire views/pages/show.html.haml.



You can now create pages and link them together by using markdown by their relative URLs. Embed a page from the wiki into another page in a similar fashion: add a utility method to return a blank string when a page is not available and render the embedded page in another HAML page.

class Page
  def self.content_by_name(name)
    p = Page.find(:first, conditions: { name: name })
    p ? p.content : ''

In my example we introduced a convention that a footer page should be called footer. In the footer page I’ll place a [Contact](/pages/Contact) line to link the Contact page. Someone from marketing can create and edit that.


As usual I wrote more lines of test code for this than actual lines of code. Teach your content people some markdown basics. Not bad for half an hour of work.