This is how to set up an extremely simple and static site with Ember.js and Ruby on Rails using the ember-rails gem.

It shows how to set up a basic Route and points out that routes map to controllers and templates.

This uses the Ember.js Version: v1.0.0-pre.4 API.

Check out a live example:

Create a git repo

I've created a new repo on Github and clone it to my machine

$ git clone 
Cloning into 'ember_static'...
remote: Counting objects: 65, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (48/48), done.
remote: Total 65 (delta 3), reused 62 (delta 3)
Receiving objects: 100% (65/65), 20.94 KiB, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (3/3), done.

Create a new rails app

Next I create a new rails app and tell it to --skip-bundle

$ rails new ember_static --skip-bundle
create  README.rdoc
create  Rakefile
create  .gitignore
create  Gemfile
create  app

I tell rails to skip running bundle install because I'm going to be editing the Gemfile in the next step.

Edit the Gemfile

Now you want to edit the Gemfile to include the ember-rails gem. Open the Gemfile in your favorite text editor and add the following lines.

gem 'ember-rails', '~> 0.9.2' 

Once you've updated your Gemfile run

$ bundle install
Fetching gem metadata from
Fetching gem metadata from
Using rake (10.0.3) 
Using i18n (0.6.1) 
Using multi_json (1.6.0) 
Using activesupport (3.2.12)

Create a controller and route for the root url

$ rails g controller welcome index
create  app/controllers/welcome_controller.rb
 route  get "welcome/index"
invoke  erb
create    app/views/welcome
create    app/views/welcome/index.html.erb

Once rails generator has stubbed out your controller edit config/routes.rb to set the root url to point to welcome#index (the welcome controller and index action)

  root :to => 'welcome#index'
  get "welcome/index"

Also because this is rails you'll need to remove the public/index.html file

$ rm public/index.html

Stub out your ember.js directories

Edit config/environments/development.rb and add

config.ember.variant = :development

Also edit config/environments/production.rb and add

config.ember.variant = :production

Using the handy ember-rails generator bootstrap the client side MVC directory structure.

$ rails g ember:bootstrap
insert  app/assets/javascripts/application.js
create  app/assets/javascripts/models
create  app/assets/javascripts/controllers

At this point if you can remove any content from app/views/welcome/index.html.erb. All templating is going to be done on the Ember.js side.

We have a stub ember app!!

Before we go on I must say that I prefer the .hbs extension to the overly verbose .handlebars so I go ahead and change the name of the one stub handlebars file.

$ mv app/assets/javascripts/templates/application.handlebars app/assets/javascripts/templates/application.hbs

Ah, that's better. Onward.

Set up your overall application markup

Open app/assets/javascripts/templates/application.hbs. This is similar conceptually to app/views/layouts/application.html.erb.

Remove <p>Your content here.</p>. We'll be adding per route specific content to the templates in a moment.

The outlet is similar to <%= yield %>. It's where your different templates for each route will get inserted.

Set up your index controller/template

Ember.js is rails like in the sense that there is a certain convention over configuration. In this case without setting up a route the root url maps to an index controller and index template

Create the index controller app/assets/javascripts/controllers/index_controller.js

emberStatic.IndexController = Ember.Controller.extend({
    name : 'carlos cardona'

Notice that it's just an IndexController which extends Ember.Controller. Also notice that we've added a name property which we'll display in our template next.

Now create the index template app/assets/javascripts/templates/index.hbs and add handlebar template variables for the name that we added in the controller. Also add a link to an about route that we are going to create.

Hello name!
#linkTo 'about' About page /linkTo

Note: in the code example above markdown is destroying the handlbars. In theory name, #linkTo 'about', and /linkTo should be surrounded by handlebars.

Set up a Route

To see how routing works open up app/assets/javascripts/router.js and add a route to an about page {
  this.route("about", { path : "/about" });

Create an about controller and template

Start by create an about controller at app/assets/javascripts/controllers/about_controller.js

emberStatic.AboutController = Ember.Controller.extend({
  about : 'This is some about text'

Next create an about template at app/assets/javascripts/templates/about.hbs

About: about
#linkTo 'index' Index page /linkTo

Note: in the code example above markdown is destroying the handlbars. In theory about, #linkTo 'index', and /linkTo should be surrounded by handlebars.

Thats all folks!

And that's an extremely simple and static site built with ember.js and rails. There are some pretty critical things missing such as:

  • Binding
  • Computed Properties
  • Ember Data

Let's not kid ourselves. Ember.js is capable of way more. This was simply meant to be a demonstration of how routes work and how each route is mapped to a controller and template. We also looked at how to pass a value from a controller to a template.

Check this example live at

Clone the code at:

More info

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See something wrong or got something to add/change? Fork this git repo and send me a pull request

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12 February 2013