Using Vue.js + webpack with Rails 5 today

February 05, 2017

With Rails 5.1 we’re going to get built in support for using webpack for our javascript, allowing us to use more advanced frontend tools and frameworks. The rails/webpacker gem is already out there and with a bit of reading, trial & error I’ve got it working with rails 5.0.

For this tutorials we’ll be building a very basic contacts manager app, this should give you a good idea of how to use rails, webpack and vue.js.

First up we need to create a skeleton rails 5 app, I’m skipping a few things we don’t need.

$ rails new contacts --skip-bundle --skip-action-cable --skip-javascript --skip-turbolinks
$ cd contacts

Once we have this we need to add a few extra gems to the Gemfile, it should look like the following:

source ''

gem 'rails', '~> 5.0.0', '>='
gem 'sqlite3'
gem 'puma', '~> 3.0'
gem 'sass-rails', '~> 5.0'
gem 'webpacker', git: ''

group :development, :test do
  gem 'byebug', platform: :mri

group :development do
  gem 'foreman'
  gem 'web-console'
  gem 'listen', '~> 3.0.5'
  gem 'spring'
  gem 'spring-watcher-listen', '~> 2.0.0'

Next up, install all of the gems and install webpack and vue

$ bundle install
$ bin/rails webpacker:install
$ bin/yarn add vue vue-template-compiler vue-html-loader vue-loader axios underscore underscore.string vue-style-loader css-loader dotenv node-sass sass-loader postcss-loader

With webpack install we need to configure a couple of things to run the webpack dev server. Open up config/environments/development.rb and uncomment the webpack dev server host

Rails.application.configure do
  # Make javascript_pack_tag load assets from webpack-dev-server.
  config.x.webpacker[:dev_server_host] = "http://localhost:8080"
  # ...

Next create a in the root of your project and add the following content to it:

web: bin/rails server
webpack: bin/webpack-dev-server --inline --hot

And so rails doesn’t generate lots of things you don’t need, add this to your config/application.rb file:

config.generators do |g|
  g.skip_routes true
  g.helper false
  g.stylesheets false
  g.javascripts false

And Make your config routes look like this:

Rails.application.routes.draw do
  root 'pages#home'

And finally include your application pack into your layouts/application.html.erb file

<!DOCTYPE html>
    <%= csrf_meta_tags %>

    <%= stylesheet_link_tag    'application', media: 'all' %>

    <div id="app"></div>
    <%#= yield %>

    <%= javascript_pack_tag 'application' %>

At this point we can load up rails and check that wepback is loading

$ bin/rails g controller Pages home
$ foreman start -f

Now if you load up http://localhost:5000 you should see a “Hello From Webpacker” in your console

Hello from webpacker

Setup vue.js loader

// Add vue loaders
{ test: /\.vue$/, loader: 'vue-loader' },
{ test: /\.html$/, loader: 'vue-html-loader' },

// Update resolve
resolve: {
  extensions: [ '.js', '.coffee', '.html' ],
  modules: [
  alias: {
    'components': path.resolve(__dirname, '../../app/javascript/components'),
    'helpers': path.resolve(__dirname, '../../app/javascript/helpers'),
    'vue$': 'vue/dist/vue.common.js',
    'resources$': path.resolve(__dirname, '../../app/javascript/helpers/resources.js'),

Setup root pack to require and boot the Vue app.

const App = require("components/app.vue");

if (document.getElementById("app")) {
  new App().$mount("#app");

Let’s generate some data to play with

$ bin/rails g model Contact first_name last_name email phone avatar_url
$ bin/rails db:migrate
$ bin/rails g serializer contact first_name last_name email phone avatar_url
$ bin/rails g controller contacts


app/controllers/contacts_controller.rb config/routes.rb helpers/resources.js

protect from forgery with null session

Vue HMR needs the modules to be plain JS objects and the main to be a VM.

Pete Hawkins

Hey 👋 I’m Pete a web developer, who loves to ship products and build cool things with React and React Native.
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