What Is Rails® Scaffolding?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2019
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    Conjecture Corporation
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The Ruby on Rails® programming language has a function that allows programmers to make an application almost automatically. Known as Rails® scaffolding, this function generates a list of code needed for the program to work. Rails® scaffolding makes a generic code list that will help most programs get up and running, though the user may need to modify the scaffolding to get it just right. This means many professional Rails® programmers do not use, or rarely use, the scaffolding function. Scaffolding is considered a technique for new and intermediate users who do not have the experience to create an application manually.

Rails® is a Web application builder made to connect with databases to build large and powerful websites. Some companies want their websites to get running within a short amount of time and without hours of coding overhead, so the Rails® programming language comes with many development shortcuts that allow programmers to setup basic website code. One example of this is Rails® scaffolding.

When the Rails® scaffolding function is called, it creates a list of necessary coding for the function. This code is generic, meaning it is versatile and can fit into many common situations, but it may not be suited for advanced solutions. The most common function used in conjunction with scaffolding is adding new information to a database, but other functions — such as posting or displaying data — also can be set up using scaffolding.


The programmer using the Rails® scaffolding will typically use a model name to focus the scaffolding on a certain function. For example, if the model type is called “Post”, then Rails® will understand that the programmer wants to make a function that lets a user or administrator post a new Web page or article. Aside from using a model type, there is little else the programmer can do to make the generic scaffolding more specific to his or her purpose.

While Rails® scaffolding is a powerful technique, only new and intermediate programmers typically use it. Professionals tend to stay away from scaffolding, especially when working on custom or very specific projects, because scaffolding is unable to satisfy the professional’s needs. This is because the scaffolding is so generic that it cannot be customized to a specific need without the programmer searching through the scaffolding code and changing it manually. This means it is generally easier for advanced users to write up a function from scratch.


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