The new class_names in Rails 6.1

Andrea Barghigiani's photo
Andrea Barghigiani
ยทDec 3, 2021ยท

2 min read

If you've worked with React.js I am sure you already used a precious package named classnames, if you haven't you definitely need to take a look at it.

A package like this helps you in many ways and allows you to build components that are easier to understand, even if here we're just talking about populating the class attribute of any HTML element.

Basically, all it lets you do is to simplify the way you conditionally write classes and from Rails 6.1 we have something really similar ๐ŸŽ‰

When you work with a component system there are many reasons why you want (or not) add a class, and there are numerous approaches that you can take to reach the end result.

Today I don't want to look at the past, I just want to show you how you can write your classes from now on:

<% 
    classes = class_names(
        :card,
        {
            "card--style-#{style}": style,
            "card--position-#{position}": position,
            "card--spacing-#{spacing}": spacing
        }
    )
%>

<div class="<%= classes %>">
    <!-- Your card -->
</div>

Here you can see a preference of mine, I usually like to separate the generation of classes with their actual usage because I find it more readable to separate the logic from the actual usage. style, position and spacing are just local variables that hold a truthy value, something like:

style = card.dig(:options, :style)

But nothing stops you to use class_name right withing your component:

<div class="<%= class_names(:card, {"card--style-#{style}": style, "card--position-#{position}": position, "card--spacing-#{spacing}": spacing}) %>">
    <!-- Your card -->
</div>

Personally, I find it a bit annoying but you know, there are infinite ways of do things and as long as you (and your team) find it readable you're good to go.

Even better with ActionView::Helpers

If you like to use tag or content_tag to generate the HTML of your views I have good news for you: you can exclude the call to class_names and just pass the array of your classes!

The example I've shared above becames:

<%= tag.div class: [:card, {"card--style-#{style}": style, "card--position-#{position}": position, "card--spacing-#{spacing}": spacing}] do %>
    Content
<% end %>

Interesting bit

class_names it's just an alias for token_list

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