Routing in Rails

June 21, 2021   • rails ruby

Routing is an important component of the Ruby on Rails framework. Here are a few essential routing concepts, compiled from Obie Fernandez’s excellent book “The Rails 5 Way”, as well as the official Rails documentation on routing.

Primarily, routing does two things:

  1. Maps requests to controller action methods.
  2. Enables the dynamic generation of URLs for you to use as arguments to methods like link_to and redirect_to to generate proper HTML links.

Routes are defined in config/routes.rb file, generated when you bootstrap a Rails app.

Rails.application.routes.draw do
  # get "URL pattern", to: "controller/action"
  # get "URL pattern" => "controller/action"
  get "products/:id" => "products#show"

Routes are checked in the order they are defined in the routes.rb file. The search ends as soon as a match is found.

Redirect routes

get "/foo", to: redirect("/bar")


The root route specifies what should happen when someone navigates to the ‘root’ of your application.

root to: "welcome#index"
root to: "home#index"

Named Routes

When you name a route, two new methods get defined for use in your controllers and views.

  • name_url : returns a URL string that will trigger the route
  • name_path : returns the path part of the URL (relative URL) without the protocol and host.
get "help" => "help#show", as: "help"

# help_url :
# help_path : /help

Using named routes, you can simplify the following code:

link_to "Auction of #{}",
	controller: "items",
	action: "show",

to something simple:

link_to "Auction of #{}", item_path(id:

This assumes you have a named route defined as follows:

get "item/:id" => "items#show", as: "item"

Scoped Routes

Rails allows you to bundle together related routing rules using scoped routes. For example, you can replace the following routing code

get "auctions/new" => "auctions#new"
get "auctions/edit/:id" => "auctions#edit"
post "auctions/pause/:id" => "auctions#pause"

with the following code that uses scoped routes.

scope controller: :auctions do
  get "auctions/new" => :new
  get "auctions/edit/:id" => :edit
  post "auctions/pause/:id" => :pause

you can further dry up the above code by using the :path argument to scope.

scope path: "/auctions", controller: :auctions do
  get "new" => :new
  get "edit/:id" => :edit
  post "pause/:id" => :pause

Furthermore, the scope method can interpret a symbol (if it’s the first argument) as a controller. So you could just say:

scope :auctions, path: "/auctions" do

Finally, you can use the controller method instead of the scope method.

controller :auctions do

Resource Routing

Quickly declare all the common routes for a resource. It generates the routes for index, show, new, create, edit, update, and destroy actions. For example, a single entry in the routing file, such as:

resource :photos

creates the following routes for your app, all mapping to the Photos controller.

HTTP Verb Path Controller#Action Used For
GET /photos photos#index display a list of all photos
GET /photos/new photos#new HTML form for creating new photo
POST /photos photos#create create a new photo
GET /photos/:id photos#show display a photo with the given id
GET /photos/:id/edit photos#edit HTML form for editing the photo
PATCH/PUT /photos/:id photos#update update a specific photo
DELETE /photos/:id photos#destroy delete a specific photo

You can also create multiple resources in the same line.

resources :photos, :books, :videos