Handling forms with multiple buttons

July 16, 2007 code 3 min read

With an app that I’m working on, the client wants to have several buttons for doing different actions on every form: “Save”, “Save & Continue Editing”, “Save & Add Another”, and “Cancel”. HTML only allows you to have one action defined per form (instead of per button), and Rails pretty much assumes that if you submit a request to a specific action, you expect to execute it.

So, instead of littering my code with all kinds of if/else statements, I decided to wrap up the functionality into a little plugin that makes it a little cleaner.

with_action is a respond_to style helper for executing different blocks based on presence of certain request parameters.

def create
  with_action do |a|
    a.cancel { redirect_to articles_path }
    a.any do
      @article =[:article])
      if { redirect_to article_path(@article) }
        a.edit { redirect_to article_path(@article) }
        a.approve do
          redirect_to article_path(@article)
        render :action => 'new'

A block is invoked if a parameter with the same name exists and is not blank. Here is an example of the form that submits to this action:

<%= submit_tag 'Save', :name => 'save' %>
<%= submit_tag 'Save & Continue Editing', :name => 'edit' %>
<%= submit_tag 'Save & Approve', :name => 'approve' %>
<%= submit_tag 'Cancel', :name => 'cancel' %>

If an any block is present and no parameter that matches one of the other blocks, it is called by default, otherwise the first block will be called. The any block is the only one that can have nesting and be called multiple times.

I realize this could be considered trivial, but this looks a lot cleaner than the alternative, and more importantly, gave me a way to standardize on how I handle these actions. Let me know what you think.
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avatar of Brandon Keepers I am Brandon Keepers, and I work at GitHub on making Open Source more approachable, effective, and ubiquitous. I tend to think like an engineer, work like an artist, dream like an astronaut, love like a human, and sleep like a baby.