Ruby for Beginners: Guide to Using Rails Helpers

Welcome to the world of Ruby on Rails! In this guide, we’ll be covering everything you need to know about using helpers in your Rails applications.

But first, let’s define exactly what helpers are. In Rails, helpers are methods that assist in rendering views. They can be used to simplify complex code and make it more reusable. This is especially useful when working with long and repetitive blocks of code in your views.

Now, let’s dive into how to use and create your own helper methods.

Table of Contents

Creating Custom Helper Methods

To create your own helper methods, you’ll need to define them in a module. This can be done in the app/helpers directory of your Rails project.

Here’s an example of a custom helper module for formatting dates:

module DatesHelper
  def formatted_date(date)
    date.strftime("%B %d, %Y")

To use this helper method in a view, you’ll need to include the module using the helper method. For example:

<%= formatted_date(@event.start_date) %>

You can also use helper methods in your controllers by including the module using the include keyword. Here’s an example of using the formatted_date helper method in a controller:

class EventsController < ApplicationController
  include DatesHelper

  def show
    @event = Event.find(params[:id])
    @formatted_date = formatted_date(@event.start_date)

Utilizing Helpers in Rails Controllers

In addition to creating your own custom helper methods, you can also use the many built-in helpers provided by Rails. These helpers can be used in your controllers to simplify common tasks such as generating URLs, sanitizing data, and more.

For example, you can use the url_for helper to generate a URL for a given record:

class EventsController < ApplicationController
  def show
    @event = Event.find(params[:id])
    @event_url = url_for(@event)

You can also use the sanitize helper to sanitize user input in order to prevent cross-site scripting (XSS) attacks:

class EventsController < ApplicationController
  def create
    @event =
    @event.description = sanitize(params[:event][:description])
      redirect_to @event
      render 'new'


  def event_params
    params.require(:event).permit(:name, :location, :start_date, :end_date)

Exploring the Rails Console

One of the best ways to learn about the various helpers available in Rails is to use the Rails console. You can access the console by running the rails console command in your terminal.

Once in the console, you can use the helper method to see a list of all available helpers. For example:

$ rails console

>> helper
  asset_path asset_url audio_path audio_tag auto_discovery_link_tag 

You can also use the helper method to see the source code for a specific helper. For example:

>> helper image_path

This will output the source code for the image_path helper.

Effective Practices for Writing View Helpers in Rails

When writing view helpers in Rails, it’s important to keep a few best practices in mind.

First, try to keep your helper methods as short and concise as possible. This will make them easier to read and understand.

It’s also a good idea to keep your helper methods as focused as possible. Each method should only be responsible for one specific task. This will make it easier to maintain and test your code.

Finally, avoid putting too much logic in your helpers. It’s generally a good idea to keep your view code as simple as possible and move more complex logic to your controllers or models.


In this guide, we’ve covered everything you need to know about using and creating helpers in Rails. Whether you’re just getting started with Ruby on Rails or you’re a seasoned developer, helpers are a powerful tool that can help you streamline your code and build better applications.

Ruby for Beginners: Guide to Using Rails Helpers
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