Normally in rails, you can only render views inside of the controller. But what if you want to render a view somewhere else? For instance we wanted to generate xml-files using views. Haml can be used to describe xml just as well as plain html.

There is a gem called render_anywhere that allows just that. So how does this work, for example:

class Organisation < ActiveRecord::Base

  has_many :members

  include RenderAnywhere

  def to_xml
    render partial: "#{self.to_partial_path}", object: self, layout: 'my_xml_layout'
  end
end

We had a little problem when using partials though.

Normally if you type something like

= render @member

it will ask the partial path from the model (@member.to_partial_path), but somehow this always got prefixed with render_anywhere. The gem creates a dummy RenderingController in the RenderAnywhere namespace, so apparently it will look for the following view:

render_anywhere/members/member

In our case, I did not want to use the render_anywhere subfolder. It took me a while to figure out how to overrule this, but in essence it is pretty simple: rails uses the namespace of the rendering controller to prefix the path. Some deep googling proved that any controller has a method called _prefixes which lists all the prefixes for that class.

We can easily verify this in the rails console:

:001 > RenderAnywhere::RenderingController._prefixes
=> ["render_anywhere/rendering"]

So if we could overrule _prefixes to just return ["rendering"] … Mmmmmm fork the code of render_anywhere? Or …

There is another option: render_anywhere allows you to supply your own RenderingController and will use that instead if found in the context where the RenderAnywhere code is included.

So, if you write something like:

class Organisation < ActiveRecord::Base

  has_many :members

  include RenderAnywhere

  class RenderingController < RenderAnywhere::RenderingController

    def self._prefixes
      ["rendering"]
    end

  end

  def to_xml
    render partial: "#{self.to_partial_path}", object: self, layout: 'my_xml_layout'
  end
end

it will look for a view called members/member. Woot. To specify a different sub-folder you can adapt the _prefixes method as you wish :)