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Ruby on Rails is a popular framework for developing web applications, due to its intuitive syntax. If you’re new to Ruby, or if you’re an experienced developer looking to learn about Rails-specific tips and tricks, this post will be of great interest. We’ll go over the most popular gems and how someone with no prior experience can install ruby gems to get started using them in their RoR project. The RoR is quick to adapt, yet if you’re stuck you may refer to worthy pieces like this to know how to implement most trending RoR gems.

I’m spending so much time on Gems because I want to highlight their importance. Unlike other languages, where you clone the repo and run make install, or install items in your %PATH%, Ruby comes with a very different workflow. You need to have a little more knowledge about how they work to effectively manage your project (other than just installing them).

The popularity of the popular web framework can be gauged because it is currently employed by several high-traffic and well-known websites like the online news and social network- Twitter, and widely used eCommerce solution -Shopify.

Before we begin to install ruby gems and implement them, let’s introduce what Gems are. In short, they’re just packages. Like a Linux package manager (like apt-get in Debian or yum in CentOS), gems are packages of code that you can easily reuse and share with other developers. In this way, gems are similar to libraries in other languages.

The great thing about Gems is that they make it easy to share code between projects. So, if a gem exists for a feature you want to have in your app, you can take it from another project without much hassle. The Ruby community is made up of many talented and helpful individuals that share packages regularly.

The following Ruby on Rails gems are the widely used RoR gems. We have already published one blogpost, mentioning 55 RoR gems. However, as a bonus I am sharing here 04 more RoR gems. And yes we’ll also discuss the benefits and drawbacks, how to get started with them, and how to manage your project’s dependencies. You should consider them as an integral part of any Ruby on Rails project.

Ruby Gems List

1. Asset Pipeline

Asset pipeline is a plug-in for your Rails app which manages assets like JavaScript, CSS and images. It ensures that these assets are copied as needed when you deploy your application or run rake assets:precompile . Asset pipeline is used by many popular websites such as Google Analytics and Gmail.

2. Ransack

Ransack is an alternative full-text search library for Rails. It provides sane default results and enables you to easily add custom logic for filtering or ranking. You’ll be able to add additional functionality, such as pagination, in a few lines of code.

3. Devise

We’ll start with Devise, which is a flexible authentication solution for Rails. It is used by many popular web apps such as Facebook, Groupon, NumLooker and others. It’s small, easy to setup and provides a large number of features out of the box. It’s based on Warden, which comes in handy if you need to implement your authentication logic in Ruby.

4. Factory Girl

Factory Girl is a gem that provides a Factory object that makes writing factories easier. It’s based on ActiveRecord, which lets you define factories in Ruby instead of SQL queries or other custom languages. If you use factories to generate test data, this gem will be very useful to you.

Further, this guide will walk you through the process of how to install ruby gems step-by-step. By the end, you’ll have a better idea of using Ruby Gems, which is an essential concept that all Ruby on Rails developers should be aware of for their workflow. With these steps, it’s easy and painless to get your project up and run as quickly as possible with these steps. Even if you’re already using RoR, this Ruby on Rails tutorial will give you a better understanding of why and how to use Gems.

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Install Ruby Gems

To install ruby gems, you’ll need to use Bundler: the default package manager for Ruby. If you’re using RVM or rbenv, I’d also strongly recommend using RVM + Bundler.

Installing Bundler is easy, but you’ll need to specify some information the first time you install a Gem.

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$ sudo gem install bundler

This will get Bundler installed.

Install Gemfile

You’ll also need to install the Gemfile, which will be used to store all of your project’s Gems. You can do so with this command:

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$ echo "source ''" >> Gemfile

Create Gemfile

Next, you’ll need to create a Gemfile. You can do so with the following command:

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$ echo "source ''" | cat Gemfile > Gemfile

I’m also using the cat command to append the echo to the existing file. This way, I don’t have to re-run the command if I accidentally mess up my existing file (which is easy to do if you’re new to this).

Once you’ve done this, you’ll want to edit your Gemfile and add information about your Gems. You should take a look at existing examples and make sure that yours matches up.

Modify Gemfile

The first line we’ll add is an array that tells Bundler how to handle the files you’ll be placing in the Gem repository. You’ll use dependencies here to list all of the Gems that you use. So, if I wanted to install a few Rails Packs, I would list them like so:

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source '' gem 'rails', '4.2.3' gem 'activerecord', '~> 3.0' gem 'actionpack', '~> 3.0' gem 'actionmailer', '~> 3.0' gem 'actionview', '~> 3.0'

This specifies that I’m using Rails 4.2, along with the ActiveRecord, ActionPack, ActionMailer and ActionView gems. If you wanted to check for newer versions, you could specify them like this:

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gem 'rails', '4.2.3' gem 'activerecord', :>=3.0 gem 'actionpack', :>=3.0 gem 'actionmailer', :>=3.0 gem 'actionview', :>=3.0

The :>= operator tells Bundler to check for newer versions of the given gem and use whatever is the highest version specified in your Gemfile. This way, you don’t have to worry about compatibility issues.

Adding Gems to the Gemfile isn’t enough, however. Now, we need to create a ‘Gemfile.lock’. This file will contain all of the gems that you’ve installed, along with their versions. This way, when someone else checks out your project and runs Bundler, this file will help ensure that no one accidentally installs different Gems (or the wrong version of them)—doing a quick diff between Gemfile.lock files from other people can help you identify where conflicts might arise in a project.

To create a Gemfile. lock, run the following command:

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$ bundle install --path=vendor/bundle

This will load all of the gems specified in your Gemfile. The –path=vendor/bundle switch will allow you to store this file in your package directory (vendor/bundle by default).

After installing all of the gems, you’ll want to commit this file into your repository. Before you do so, though, run this command to generate a lockfile:

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$ bundle install --path=vendor/bundle --verbose

This will make sure that all of the Gems are installed successfully. If they’re not, it’ll print out an error and then shut down your installation. You’ll want to commit this into the repo and then edit your Gemfile with information about your new Gems in Ruby on Rails place.

Now that your first Gemfile.lock is in place, you can commit it with these commands:

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$ bundle install --path=vendor/bundle --verbose $ bundle lock

This will store your Gemfile.lock file and commit it to your repo. If it is installed successfully, you’d see something like:

You are using bundler 1.4.0 (Ruby 2.1.10, Bundler version 1.4.0). [ ] Installing dependencies for [‘activerecord’, ‘actionpack’, ‘actionmailer’, ‘actionview’] [ ] Using rake 10.3.1 … Successfully installed activerecord-3.2.13 actionpack-3.2.14 actionmailer-3.2.14 actionview-3.2 .13.1 [ ] Your bundle is complete! Use `bundle show [gemname]` to see where a bundled gem is installed.

From here, you’ll want to run:

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$ bundle exec rake db:setup RAILS_ENV=production

This will create the necessary database objects and populate them with data. Don’t worry if this command doesn’t seem like it’s working; it just means that your Gemfile didn’t load, and therefore you haven’t installed the gems yet.

Now, if you look in your Gemfile.lock, you’ll see that it’s now loaded, and there are no conflicts with existing Gems. This is a good thing! Now, all you need to do is rerun Bundler:

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$ bundle install --path=vendor/bundle --verbose

And it should finish up installing the Gems without having any issues. After this, you can rerun the migration script and get everything set up.

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Implement Ruby Gems

Now that you’ve finished installing your Ruby Gems, it’s time to start using them! In your Gemfile, you’ll want to list all of the gems that you use and also indicate that depends_on is required for each of them, like so:

  • Use Bundler to install Ruby Gems gem ‘rails’, ‘4.2.3’
  • Use YAML gem ‘nokogiri’
  • Use JSON gem ‘json’, ‘1.8.3’
  • Use RSpec gem ‘rspec-rails’, ‘2.6.1’

This specifies that Rails and the Nokogiri library both need a dependency on nokogiri . You’ll also see that json and rspec are being required as well, which doesn’t make any sense if you haven’t installed them yet.

After you’ve done this, it’s time to run Bundler:

$ bundle install –path=vendor/bundle –verbose

If everything went well, you’d see the following output:

Installing dependencies for [‘activerecord’, ‘actionpack’, ‘actionmailer’, ‘actionview’] Using rake 10.3.1 … Successfully installed activerecord-3.2.13 actionpack-3.2.14 actionmailer-3.2.14 actionview- Installing nokogiri 1.6.7 with native extensions Using json 1.8.3 … Using rspec-rails 2.6.1 Your bundle is complete! Use `bundle show [gemname]` to see where a bundled gem is installed.

These are all of the Gems that you installed, along with their versions, and you can even see what they’re being used for in your Gemfile. Meanwhile, please check what are the common mistakes you should avoid in while Ruby on Rails Development.


The great thing about Ruby Gems is that they’re modular and they can be added to your application without making any changes. In this blog post, I’ve shown you how to download and install Ruby Gems into Gemfile, create a Gemfile.lock file and how to use those gems. You can also upgrade them later on when needed, using the –path=vendor/bundle switch, but I haven’t gone over how that works just yet (check back for an upcoming blog post on Bundler!).

I would like to mention that while installing Ruby on Rails Gems won’t load if you don’t use Bundler when installing them. This means that, unless you’re using Bundler, you don’t need to worry about how to install or use them. Now, go ahead with the implementation of RoR gems. If you are looking for industry’s best Ruby on Rails developers to implement the best RoR gems, we can lend a helping hand.

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