Views are the last step in the process of a request to a MVC framework such as Ramaze. A controller loads a model, the model processes a certain amount of data and the controller will then pass this data to a view. The typical flow of a MVC framework (or any framework using a view system) looks like the following:

Request --> Controller --> View
              ^ |
              | '--> Model
              |        |

The contents of a view is what the visitor of a page will eventually see. Looking back at the waiter example introduced in the :doc:controllers chapter a view can be seen as our dinner. It's the end result we requested for but it has been modified according to our order.

Ramaze has support for many different template engines and thus views can look quite different. By default Ramaze uses a simple template engine called "Etanni", Etanni was developed by Michael Fellinger exclusively for Ramaze and is a very fast template engine. In this chapter we'll use Etanni to make it a bit easier to understand how views work.


Ramaze also has a concept of layouts. Layouts are basically views for views and are placed in the "layout" directory of your application. These views can be used to display generic elements such as a navigation menu for all views. Because of this it's recommended to only place action specific markup in your views. Global elements such as navigation menus or page titles should go in a layout.

In order to render a view inside a layout all you have to do is calling the "content" instance variable. If we were to use Etanni (more on this later) our code would look like the following:

<div id="container">

In order to use a layout we have to tell Ramaze to do so in our controller. Setting a layout can be done in a few different ways. The easiest way is using the method "layout" in your controller as following:

class Blogs < Ramaze::Controller
  layout 'default'

This will tell Ramaze to use the layout "default.xhtml" for the Blogs controller. While suited for most people there comes a time when you're in the need of a more dynamic way of assigning a layout. This can be done in two different ways. The first way is passing a block to the layout() method:

class Blogs < Ramaze::Controller
  layout do |path|
    if path === 'index'

In this example two layouts are used, index_layout for the index() method and alternative_layout for all other methods.

The second way is using the method set_layout. This method works almost identical to layout() but has one big advantage: it can set method specific layouts. Changing the code posted above so that it uses this method would look like the following:

class Blogs < Ramaze::Controller
  # Set our default layout
  layout 'alternative_layout'

  # Set our layout for the index() method
  set_layout 'index_layout' => [:index]

The set_layout method takes a hash where the keys are the names of the layouts to use and the values the methods for which to use each layout. Below is another example that specifies a few extra layout/method combinations.

class Blogs < Ramaze::Controller
  # Set our default layout
  layout 'default'

  # Set our layout for the index() method
  set_layout 'main' => [:index, :edit], 'extra' => [:add, :synchronize]

Note: layouts should be set outside controller actions. Doing so can lead to unexpected behaviour as the layout won't be visible until the next request.

Loading Views

Loading views can be done in two different ways. When not explicitly calling a certain view (or returning any data from the controller) Ramaze will try to load a matching view for the current action. If the method "edit" was called Ramaze will try to load a view called "edit". Manually sending a response back can be done by returning a string from the controller method that is called. Take a look at the example below.

class Blogs < Ramaze::Controller
  map '/'

  def index


  def custom
    "This is my custom response!"

  def other
    render_view :foobar

If the user were to visit /index Ramaze would try to load the view "index.xhtml" (.xhtml is the extension for Etanni templates) but when the user goes to /custom he'll always see the message "This is my custom response!". This is because Ramaze will use the return value of a controller method as the body for the response that will be sent back to the visitor.

Let's take a look at the other() method in our controller. As you can see it calls a method render_view. This method is used to render a different view (in this case foobar.xhtml) but without calling it's action, once this is done the contents of the view will be returned to the controller. When calling custom views you can use any of the following methods:


As mentioned earlier this method is used to render a view without calling it's action. This can be useful if you have several methods that share the same view but feed it different data. The usage of this method is quite simple, it's first argument is the name of the view to load (without the extension, Ramaze will figure this out) and the second argument is a hash containing any additional variables to send to the view (more on this later).

# Render "foo.xhtml"
render_view :foo

# Render "foo.xhtml" and send some extra data to it
render_view :foo, :name => "Ramaze"


The render_partial method works similar to the render_view method but with two differences:

  1. This method does execute a matching action.
  2. This method does not render a layout.

This makes the render_partial method useful for responses to Ajax calls that don't need (or don't want to) load both the view and the layout. This method has the same arguments as the render_view method.

# Render the view "partial.xhtml"
render_partial :partial

# Render the partial "partial.xhtml" and send some extra data to it
render_partial :partial, :name => "Ramaze"


There comes a time when you may want to render a file that's located somewhere else. For this there is the `render_file()`` method. This method takes a path, either relative or absolute to a file that should be rendered. This can be useful if you have a cache directory located outside of your project directory and you want to load a view from it.

The first argument of this method is a path to a file to render, the second argument is a hash with variables just like the other render methods. Optionally this method accepts a block that can be used to modify the current action.

# Render a file located in /tmp
render_file '/tmp/view.xhtml'

# Render a file and send some extra data to it
render_file '/tmp/view.xhtml', :name => "Ramaze"

# Render a file and modify the action
render_file '/tmp/view.xhtml' do |action|
  # Remove our layout
  action.layout = nil


The render_custom() method can be used to create your personal render method and is actually used by methods such as the render_partial method. The syntax is the same as the render_file() method except that instead of a full path it's first argument should be the name of the action to render.

render_custom :index do |action|
  # Remove the layout
  action.layout = nil

  # Render the view without calling a method
  action.method = nil


Last but not least there's the render_full() method. This is the method Ramaze uses for calling a controller along with it's views and such. This method takes two arguments, the first is the full path of the action to render and the second a hash that will be used for the query string parameters. Please note that if this method is called in the first request of a client you won't have access to the session data and such, any following calls will have access to this data.

# Calls Blogs#index
render_full '/blog/index'

# Calls Blogs#edit(10)
render_full '/blog/edit/10'

Assigning Data

Assigning data to a view is very simple. Ramaze will copy all instance variables from the current controller into the view. This means that if you have a variable @user set to "Yorick Peterse" this variable can be displayed in your view as following (assuming you're using Etanni):

<p>Username: #{@user}</p>

Besides this you can assign custom data to a view by calling any of the render methods and passing a hash to them.

Please note that the behavior or the syntax of displaying variables may change depending on the template engine you're using. While Etanni allows you to execute plain Ruby code in your view a template engine such as Mustache won't and thus may have a different syntax. If we wanted to use Mustache and display our @user variable it would have to be done as following:

<p>Username: {{user}}</p>

View Mapping

Views are saved in the directory "view" and are saved according to the controller mapping. If you have a controller that's mapped to /modules/blog the index view will be located at view/modules/blog/index.xhtml. Below are a few examples that show where the views are located when passing different values to the map() method.

map '/'             # view/index.html, view/edit.xhtml, etc
map '/blog'         # view/blog/index.xhtml, view/blog/edit.xhtml, etc
map '/modules/blog' # view/modules/blog/index.xhtml, view/modules/blog/edit.xhtml, etc

Template Engines

Ramaze ships with support for the following template engines:

All of these engines can be used on a per controller basis by calling the engine() method and passing a symbol or string to it.

class Blogs < Ramaze::Controller
  engine :etanni

The engine() method uses the provide() method (more on that in a second) to set the given engine for all data sent back to the visitor with a content type of "text/html". If you want to use a certain engine for a different content type (e.g. application/json) you can do so using the provide() method:

class Blogs < Ramaze::Controller
  # Simple right?
  provide(:json, :erb)

  # Somewhat more verbose
  provide(:json, :engine => :erb)

  provide(:json, :type => 'application/json') do |action, value|
    # "value" is the response body from our controller's method

It's important to remember that the actions in the provide() method will only be executed if it's first parameter (in this case "json") are appended to the URL as an extension. A request to /hello would output HTML when using the above code, if we wanted JSON we'd have to send a request to /hello.json.

The default template engine used by Ramaze is Etanni. Etanni is a small template engine that ships with Ramaze (and Innate!) that's extremely fast and has a very simple syntax. Statements are wrapped in <?r ?> tags and rendering data can be done by wrapping the variables in #{}:

# <?r ?> accepts regular Ruby code
<?r if === 'yorick' ?>
<p>Hello Yorick</p>
<?r else ?>
<p>And who are you?</p>
<?r end ?>

# Display our name

Etanni can be very useful for most project but it's not recommended to use it when you want to allow a client to manage certain templates (e.g. Email layouts). This is because Etanni allows you to execute regular Ruby code and thus someone could do some serious damage to your server without even knowing it.