Ruby on Rails Q & A


What is Turbolinks in Rails?

Turbolinks is a library that comes bundled with Rails, designed to improve the navigation speed of web applications. Its primary function is to make web pages feel faster by intercepting link clicks and loading only the parts of the page that have changed, rather than refreshing the entire page.


How does it work?


  1. Interception: When you click on a link, Turbolinks intercepts that action and fetches the page using AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) instead of allowing the browser to make a full page reload.


  1. JavaScript and Stylesheets: Instead of re-loading and re-executing JavaScript and Stylesheets, Turbolinks keeps the current page instance alive and replaces only the body and the title in the head section. This means your styles and scripts remain intact and are not re-loaded or re-processed, which contributes significantly to the speed boost.


  1. Optimized Navigation: The main advantage of Turbolinks is the enhanced user experience. Since only the page’s body content changes, navigating between pages feels snappy, almost akin to a single-page application (SPA) but without the complexity of managing a full-blown JavaScript framework.


However, there are considerations to keep in mind:


JavaScript Events: Because the page isn’t fully reloading, traditional page load events, like `$(document).ready()` in jQuery, won’t fire after the initial page load. Developers need to listen to Turbolinks-specific events, such as `turbolinks:load`.


Third-party Libraries: Some third-party JavaScript libraries or plugins may not be compatible with Turbolinks out of the box. It might require additional configuration or tweaks to ensure they play well with Turbolinks.


Turbolinks is a powerful tool in the Rails arsenal that offers a significant performance boost with minimal developer effort. It bridges the gap between traditional multi-page applications and modern SPAs, delivering a smooth user experience. However, like any tool, it’s essential to understand its intricacies and potential pitfalls to use it effectively.

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Senior Software Engineer with a focus on remote work. Proficient in Ruby on Rails. Expertise spans y6ears in Ruby on Rails development, contributing to B2C financial solutions and data engineering.