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By Tianwen Chen

Wallaby: a newcomer in the admin interface market

Are you struggling to choose between ActiveAdmin and Rails Admin? Just to confuse you further, there is now a third option:


So, apart from an admin interface, what is Wallaby? The core design is that:

  • It uses the decorator to store the customisation information for an ActiveRecord model.
  • It can be customised in a pure Rails way using controllers and views.

How does this work exactly? A piece of code is worth a thousand words! To illustrate, let's use the following ActiveRecord model:

#! app/models/product.rb
class Product < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_one :picture, as: :imageable
  has_many :order_items, class_name:
  has_many :orders, through: :order_items
  belongs_to :category
  has_and_belongs_to_many :tags

  scope :featured, -> { where(featured: true) }

Before we make any changes, let's take a look at the show page:

wallaby - products - before

Now, here comes the customisation:

  • The code snippet below updates the show pages to display only the preview and order fields. preview is a custom field with a custom markdown type.

    #! app/decorators/product_decorator.rb
    class ProductDecorator < Wallaby::ResourceDecorator
      self.show_fields[:preview] = { type: 'markdown', label: 'preview' }
      self.show_field_names = %w( preview orders )
      def preview
        "# #{name} - #{sku}\n#{description}"
  • To make preview display as custom type markdown, we need to create a type partial as follows:

    <% #! app/views/admin/products/show/_markdown.html.erb %>
    <% markdowner =, {}) %>
    <%= raw markdowner.render value %>
  • The following customisation displays a pinned message at the top of show page. It doesn't directly relate to the above example, but it does illustrate how things can be customised at the controller level.

    #! app/controllers/admin/products_controller
    module Admin
      class ProductsController < Wallaby::ResourcesController
        def show
          flash[:warning] ||= "Product import will happen after business hours tonight."

Then the show page will become:

wallaby - products - after

The above codes are not the best example, but they make my point. Too simple to believe, isn't it?

Moreover, Wallaby has a lot to offer:

  • It handles all ActiveRecord associations, including polymorphism.
  • It supports Single Table Inheritance (STI)
  • Predefine filters to allow user to easily access the custom query
  • Advanced colon search, e.g., ordered_at:>2017-07-01 name_start_with:^tian
  • User-friendly and responsive UI

Making a great admin interface using Wallaby is just a beginning. Find out more here.

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