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Create an admin subsite

Posted by James. This recipe answers 1 Question

A hobo_subsite generator has been added to Hobo since this guide was written. The following should still work but is a bit out of date.

A sub-site is part of a web-app that has the appearance and behavior of a separate site. The most common example of a sub-site is an “admin” section. This guide shows how to create a typical admin sub-site in Hobo.

The typical approach to creating a sub-site is to duplicate the required model controllers. So you might have a public facing view of the users at /users and the administrators view of the same model at /admin/users. These would be managed by two distinct controllers, each with their own set of enabled actions which might not necessarily be the same. For example the admin users controller might have a “new” action at /admin/users/new, while the public facing users controller might not enable this action at all if it isn’t appropriate.

Step by Step

At the time of writing, Hobo’s generators are unable to generate sub-site controllers so it is necessary to create the files manually.

Create a new directory app/controllers/admin/

Create a base controller for the sub-site in app/controllers/admin/admin_controller.rb:

class Admin::AdminController < ApplicationController


  # require administrator to access any controller in the sub-site
  before_filter :admin_required
  def admin_required
    redirect_to login_url unless logged_in? && current_user.administrator?

  # the default page when visiting the sub-site
  def index
    redirect_to '/admin/users'

Now create a model controller in the admin sub-site. As an example we will create a controller to manage users. The following goes in app/controllers/admin/users_controller.rb:

class Admin::UsersController < Admin::AdminController

  hobo_model_controller User

  auto_actions :index, :edit, :destroy, :update


Notice two things that are slightly different to normal:

  • The controller inherits from Admin::AdminController instead of ApplicationController
  • You have to explicitly specify the name of the model as an argument to hobo_model_controller. In a non-sub-site controller Hobo can usually work this out automatically so it isn’t needed.

Add a route for the home page of the sub-site in config/routes.rb:

map.admin  'admin', :controller => 'admin/admin', :action => 'index'

This will enable the route /admin which will redirect automatically to /admin/users as we set up above.

In the base controller we wrote include_taglib 'admin'. This means that the tags in app/views/taglibs/admin.dryml will be loaded for every action in the sub-site. This is a convenient place to re-define <page>, set a theme and define any tags that are specific to the sub-site. As an example, create app/views/taglibs/admin.dryml and add the following:

<def tag="page" extend-with="admin" attrs="layout">
  <% layout ||= 'aside' %>
  <page-without-admin layout="#{layout}" merge>
    <scripts: param>
      <javascript name="admin"/>
    <stylesheets: param>
      <stylesheet name="admin"/>
    <main-nav: replace>
      <navigation class="main-nav">
        <nav-item with="&User">Users</nav-item>

Here we’ve defined an admin specific version of <page> that uses an aside layout by default. We’ve also added admin specific javascript and stylesheet files which you will need to create in public/javascripts/admin.js and public/stylesheets/admin.css. Finally we have defined our admin specific nav bar containing a link to our users model controller because Hobo excludes users from the nav bar by default.

We’ll want to tweak Rapid’s generic pages to be a bit more admin oriented. By adding the following to admin.dryml we can replace the normal list on an index page with an admin style table:

<def tag="index-page" extend-with="admin">
  <index-page-without-admin merge>
    <collection: replace>
      <table-plus fields="this" param/>

If we add additional model controllers to the admin sub-site they will all use this modified version of <index-page>. Similar admin specific tweaks can be made to the other generic pages and tags.

Notice the fields attribute on <table-plus>. This attribute is given a list of fields that will appear as columns in the table. Our shared definition of <index-page> can’t put anything model-specific in there, so we just use “this” which will give a single column with links to each show-page. The good thing is that it’s easy to customise this for specific models. For example, say we’d like to add an email_address column for the User model, just create app/views/admin/users/index.dryml like this:

  <table-plus: fields="this, email_address"/>

Notice that the call to <index-page> picks up our customised version, since we’ve overridden it for the entire admin sub-site.

User contributed notes

  • On October 17, 2008 Owen said:

    Thanks, James. This is going to be very useful for a new app we are starting.
  • On October 14, 2009 Bryan Larsen said:

    ladybug posted the following comment on the lighthouse:

    First of all, currently if you use the subsite generator with a name parameter admin, hobo generates a subsite called AdminSite. So there is no Admin::AdminController, it should be Admin::AdminSiteController. This is otherwise a minor error, except it means that the route is interestingly wrong on the cookbook web page.

    Wrong: map.admin ‘admin’, :controller => ‘admin/admin’, :action => ‘index’

    Right: map.admin ‘admin’, :controller => ‘admin/adminSite’, :action => ‘index’

    Note not only the name, but also the interesting camel case! If you just change that to ‘admin/adminsite’ you will get a runtime error: “uninitialized constant Admin::AdminsiteController”. Very stupid.