Integrating Rails and WordPress

I do most of my development in Rails, but many sites need a tab that contains a blog, so I’d like to install WordPress in my Rails app. Here’s how I do it.
(I’m using Passenger for deployment.) We first need to create a space for the blog, and we do that by creating a symbolic link in the Rails’ app’s public folder:

cd path/to/rails/app/public
ln -s /path/to/wordpress/installation news

This separates the WordPress from the Rails app physically, so it makes deployment easier. With the symbolic link, when we go to http:/, it should go to the blog.
However, Passenger is going to grab that URL and print out a Rails error message. This needs to be put in the Apache config file to get Passenger to ignore the blog:

<Directory "/path/to/rails/app/public/news">

    PassengerEnabled off
    AllowOverride all

Now, theoretically, that’s all you’d need to do, but the theme for the blog should be the same as the theme for your app. To do that, we need to get WordPress to use our stylesheets, and the code for our header and footer. That means that we should put most of the code in the layout file in partials, and create routes for them. After doing that, my layout file looks like this:

<!DOCTYPE html>



    <%= render :partial => '/layouts/dependencies' %>

    <title>Site Title</title>



    <%= render :partial => '/layouts/header' %>

    <%= yield %>
<%= render :partial => '/layouts/footer' %>


and my routes.rb file contains:

get "/styles" => "home#styles"

get "/header" => "home#header"

get "/footer" => "home#footer"

and my home_controller.rb file contains:

def styles
    render :partial => "/layouts/dependencies"


def header

    render :partial => "/layouts/header"

def footer

    render :partial => "/layouts/footer"


And, to use it, I created a little plugin for WordPress. I haven’t packaged it up, but here is the entire code for it. Just put this in the plugins folder, then activate it and look under “settings” for “Rails Theme”.  Put in the URL of the Rails app, and it should use your theme.
Note that because html ids and classes are global, it is easy to have a conflict, so you will probably need to be careful in the names of the css selectors you use. I use the Hybrid WordPress Theme, which doesn’t impose much and has lots of functionality. I had to rename a class that was named “content” because it conflicted. I also needed to add these two styles to override Hybrid styles:

/* for wordpress */
#body-container {
margin: 0;
#header-container {

Here is the entire code of the plugin:

Plugin Name: Rails Theme
Plugin URI:
Description: This plugin causes WP to call into a Rails app to get stylesheets, javascripts, header, and footer info. This allows WP to seamlessly be integrated into a rails app.
Version: 1.0
Author: Paul Rosen
Author URI:
License: Private

// options in the admin section

//------------- Add the admin menu -------------
function rails_admin_options() {
if (!current_user_can('manage_options'))  {
wp_die( __('You do not have sufficient permissions to access this page.') );
echo '<div>';
echo '<h2>Rails Theme Options</h2>';
echo 'Options for the Rails Theme Plugin';
echo '<form action="options.php" method="post">';
echo settings_fields("rails_theme_options");
echo do_settings_sections("rails_theme");
echo '<input name="Submit" type="submit" value="Save Changes" />';
echo '</form></div>';

function rails_modify_menu() {
add_options_page('Rails Theme', 'Rails Theme', 'manage_options', __FILE__, 'rails_admin_options');

add_action('admin_menu', 'rails_modify_menu');

//----------------- Add the settings for this plugin ---------------------
function rails_theme_admin_init(){
register_setting( 'rails_theme_options', 'rails_theme_options', 'rails_theme_options_validate' );
add_settings_section('rails_theme_main', 'Settings', 'rails_theme_section_text', 'rails_theme');
add_settings_field('rails_theme_text_string', 'Base URL (e.g.', 'rails_theme_setting_string', 'rails_theme', 'rails_theme_main');

add_action('admin_init', 'rails_theme_admin_init');

function rails_theme_section_text() {
echo '<p>Set the location of the rails web service that will respond to the urls: /styles, /header, and /footer.</p>';

function rails_theme_setting_string() {
$options = get_option('rails_theme_options');
echo "<input id='rails_theme_text_string' name='rails_theme_options[url]' size='40' type='text' value='" . $options['url'] . "' />";

function rails_theme_options_validate($input) {
$newinput['url'] = trim($input['url']);
return $newinput;

// Calling rails app

add_action ( 'wp_head', 'load_stylesheets');

function load_stylesheets() {
$options = get_option('rails_theme_options');
$base_url = $options['url'];

$style = file_get_contents($base_url . "/styles");
$style = str_replace("/stylesheets", $base_url . "/stylesheets", $style);
$style = str_replace("/javascripts", $base_url . "/javascripts", $style);
echo $style;

add_action ( 'hybrid_before_html', 'load_header');

function load_header() {
$options = get_option('rails_theme_options');
$base_url = $options['url'];

$contents = file_get_contents($base_url . "/header");
$contents = str_replace("href='/", "href='" . $base_url . "/", $contents);
echo $contents;

add_action( 'wp_footer', 'load_footer' );

function load_footer() {
$options = get_option('rails_theme_options');
$base_url = $options['url'];

echo file_get_contents($base_url . "/footer");


Creating Custom Input Forms in WordPress

There are three Actors in a typical WordPress site (at least the typical ones I create). There is, of course, the Public, who needs to see a well-formatted and clear site, and there is, of course, the Administrator (that is, me), who needs to have an easy way to set up the site and make large changes to it, and there is a third user: the Editor, who is going to be adding the information to the site on a day-to-day basis. The Editor doesn’t have technical skills and should be shown a clean interface where it is obvious how to create and modify rows in the database.

Unfortunately, it is not straightforward to do this in WordPress; this post is a possible path to getting there. Conceptually,  the Administrator would like to create a custom table and specify whatever fields are necessary, then show only those fields to the Editor, who can easily manipulate that table. This example creates a Gigs table, with the fields: Title, Date, End Date, URL, Place, Time, and Price.

First, add the plugin, Custom Post Types UI, and use it to create a Gigs type with Title and Custom Fields checked as the fields. Then add the plugin Advanced Custom Fields and create a Gigs type with the fields you want. Under “Post types” check the gig type.

Then, to get the new columns to show up when adding gigs, add this code to functions.php:

/* Custom Edit Columns */
add_filter("manage_edit-gigs_columns", "gigs_columns");

// rearrange the columns on the Edit screens
function gigs_columns($defaults) {
	// preserve the default date and comment columns
	$date = $defaults['date'];

	// remove default date and comments

	// insert custom columns
	$defaults['gig_date'] = __('Date');
	$defaults['gig_end_date'] = __('End Date');
	$defaults['url'] = __('URL');
	$defaults['place'] = __('Place');
	$defaults['time'] = __('Time');
	$defaults['price'] = __('Price');

	// restore default date and comments
	$defaults['date'] = $date;

return $defaults;

add_action("manage_posts_custom_column", "gigs_custom_column");

// put new columns in admin view
function gigs_custom_column($column) {
	global $post;
	if ($post->post_type == 'gigs') {
		switch ($column) {
		case 'gig_date': echo get_field('date'); break;
		case 'gig_end_date': echo get_field('end_date'); break;
		case 'url': echo get_field('url'); break;
		case 'place': echo get_field('place'); break;
		case 'time': echo get_field('time'); break;
		case 'price': echo get_field('price'); break;

Now, when the Editor goes to the Gigs to add one, they will see the fields you created in a way that is easy to update.

But, they won’t show up yet. You need to create a custom page template and associate it with a page. This is slightly different depending on your theme, but here is some code for the Hybrid theme:

Template Name: Custom - Gigs 
$this_type = 'gigs'; 
get_header(); ?> 
<div id="content"> 
<?php do_atomic( 'before_content' ); // hybrid_before_content 
global $post; 
$pg = get_page($post->ID); 
echo "<div class='page-content'>"; 
echo "</div>"; ?> 
$orig_query = $wp_query; 
$wp_query = set_custom_query($this_type); 
if ($wp_query->have_posts() ) : while ($wp_query->have_posts() ) : $wp_query->the_post(); ?> 
<div id="post-<?php the_ID(); ?>" 
<?php post_class(); ?>> 
<?php the_custom_post($this_type); ?> 
<!-- #post-<?php the_ID(); ?> --> 
<?php endwhile; endif; ?> 
<?php wp_reset_query(); 
$wp_query = $orig_query; ?> 
<?php do_atomic( 'after_content' ); // hybrid_after_content ?> 
<!-- #content --> 
<?php get_footer(); 

I’ve abstracted the parts that are likely to change, so you then need to create the following functions in functions.php:

    function set_custom_query($ty) {
        switch ($ty) {
        case 'gigs':
            $wp_query = new WP_Query();
            $query_args = 'post_type=reviews';
            return $wp_query;

    function format_date($d) {
        if ($d == "")
            return "";
        //$date = DateTime::createFromFormat('Y-m-d', $d);
        //return date_format($date, 'D M d, Y');
        return date("D M d, Y", strtotime($d));

    // Call this inside the loop to output the entire post
    function the_custom_post($ty) {
        switch ($ty) {
        case 'gigs':
            $url = get_field('url');
            if ($url && $url != "")
                the_title( "<div class='entry-title'><a href='" . $url . "' title='" . the_title_attribute( 'echo=0' ) . "' >", "</a></div>" );
                the_title( "<div class='entry-title'>", "</div>" );

            // other meta info
            echo "<div class='gig_details'>";
            echo format_date(get_field('date'));
            $end_date = format_date(get_field('end_date'));
            if ($end_date != "")
                echo " - " . $end_date;
            //echo get_date_from_gmt(get_post_meta(get_the_ID(), "date", true), 'M d, Y');
            echo " ";

            $string = get_field('time');
            if ($string !== "") {
                echo $string;

            echo " ";
            echo get_field('price');
            echo " ";
            echo get_field('place');
            echo "</div>";

            echo '<div>';
            echo '</div>';

Now, create a page named Gigs, and set its template to “Custom – Gigs” and the gigs that the Editor creates will appear on that page.