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Rails Action Controller

The Rails Action Controller does what you would expect from the name: it receives a request and then decides what action will handle it. This article, the first of a four-part series, introduces you to the Action Controller. It is excerpted from chapter four of the Rails Cookbook, written by Rob Orsini (O'Reilly, 2007; ISBN: 0596527314). Copyright © 2007 O'Reilly Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission from the publisher. Available from booksellers or direct from O'Reilly Media.

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By: O'Reilly Media
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January 24, 2008
  1. · Rails Action Controller
  2. · 4.1 Accessing Form Data from a Controller
  3. · 4.2 Changing an Application’s Default Page
  4. · 4.3 Clarifying Your Code with Named Routes

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Rails Action Controller - 4.2 Changing an Application’s Default Page
(Page 3 of 4 )


By default, when a browser requests http://railsurl.com, that request is mapped to public/index.html. Instead, you’d like such requests to call a specific action.


First, you need to rename or move public/index.html.

Then edit config/routes.rb to map URLs into the appropriate controllers and actions:


  ActionController::Routing::Routes.draw do

  map.connect '', :controller => "customer",
:action => "welcome" 

  map.connect ':controller/service.wsdl',
:action => 'wsdl' 
  map.connect ':controller/:action/:id'

Be sure that the line you add is the first call to map.connect in this file.


The routes.rb file is at the heart of the Rails routing system. This file contains rules that try to match the URL path of a request and determine where to direct that request. The rules are tested in the order that they’re defined in the file. The first rule to match a request’s URL path determines the fate of that request.

The rules in routes.rb are calls to map.connect. The first argument of map.connect describes how the URL path must be structured for this rule to be used. The remaining arguments are key/value pairs that specify how the request is routed to your application. Once a request matches a rule in this file, all remaining map.connect rules are ignored.

So, the rule we added has an initial argument of ''. This says, “Match any request where the URL path is empty.” The second argument specifies the controller to use and the third, the action. The entire rule states that requests with no URL path are to use the welcome action of the BooksController.

Finally, requests with an empty URL are really a special case because Rails directs them to /public/index.html. If that file exists, the rules in routes.rb do nothing; otherwise, the rules are evaluated.

See Also

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