🎉 I'm releasing 12 products in 12 months! If you love product, checkout my new blog workingoutloud.dev

Back to home

ActiveAdmin With Ruby On Rails 7

ActiveAdmin can save you hours (if not days) of work when it comes to building internal dashboards.

It comes with a great DSL to help you quickly scaffold and make changes to Rails backends easily, which can be unbelievably useful for support teams to work with some form of agency without dependence of developers.

This post will get up a basic version of this tool and demonstrate an example of its usage with a custom model Flag that we will make and update within the panel.

Source code can be found here.


  1. Basic familiarity with setting up a new Rails project.

Getting started

We will use Rails to initialize the project active-admin-getting-started:

# Create a new rails project $ rails new demo-rails-with-react-frontend $ cd demo-rails-with-react-frontend

The first that we want to do is update our Gemfile to add the necessary gems to get ActiveAdmin to work with Ruby on Rails 7.

# New version released next week # @see https://github.com/activeadmin/activeadmin/issues/7196 gem 'activeadmin', github: 'activeadmin/activeadmin', branch: 'master' # FIXME: revert to stable # Required for ActiveAdmin gem 'sass-rails' # Plus integrations with: gem 'devise' gem 'cancancan' gem 'draper' gem 'pundit'

Note that at the time of writing, ActiveAdmin does not support Rails 7 on the latest version of the Gem, but the master branch does.

It will be resolved very soon after writing this blog post, so there may be a chance that you do not need to use the GitHub reference to the gem by the time you are seeing this.

We can now install the gems and run some helpers.

# Install gems $ bundle # Run main installer $ bin/rails g active_admin:install # Migrate $ bin/rails db:create db:migrate db:seed # Run application $ bin/rails s

At this stage, our application will be running on localhost:3000.

Seeing the admin dashboard

Head to http://localhost:3000/admin and log in as the default user:

This is the default seed for those values.

Login screen

Login screen

When you successfully log in, you will be redirected to the dashboard.



At the moment, we only really have our admin and comment resources as options to view, but you can click onto "Admin" in the nav bar to see our list of admin entities (will will be just the one!):

Admin page

Admin page

Awesome! We are now in a place where ActiveAdmin is working and are ready to take on our own custom resource.

Creating a custom resource

First of all, we will be creating a contrived "Flag" entity to demonstrating how the dashboard can work.

$ bin/rails g model Flag name:string is_active:boolean

Next, let's update the seeds to add some example flags for us to muck around with:

AdminUser.create!(email: 'admin@example.com', password: 'password', password_confirmation: 'password') if Rails.env.development? Flag.create!([ { "name": "feature_a", "is_active": true }, { "name": "feature_b", "is_active": true }, { "name": "feature_c", "is_active": true } ])

To ensure our database has the data we want, let's reset the database, run the outstanding migration and seed the fresh database.

# Reset, migrate the latest change and seed $ bin/rails db:reset $ bin/rails db:migrate db:seed

Next, we will use an ActiveAdmin helper to generate a resource for our Flag entity:

# Create a new resource for Flag $ bin/rails generate active_admin:resource Flag

This will output a new resource file in app/admin/flag.rb.

In order to be able to interact and update values, we need to uncomment what an admin is allowed to interact with in the admin panel:

ActiveAdmin.register Flag do # See permitted parameters documentation: # https://github.com/activeadmin/activeadmin/blob/master/docs/2-resource-customization.md#setting-up-strong-parameters # # Uncomment all parameters which should be permitted for assignment # permit_params :name, :is_active # # or # # permit_params do # permitted = [:name, :is_active] # permitted << :other if params[:action] == 'create' && current_user.admin? # permitted # end end

This is telling ActiveAdmin that a logged in admin has permission to interact and change both the name and is_active values that we have set.

Interacting with our new flag resource

Restart the Rails server bin/rails s and log back into the panel. You will see a new Flag nav bar option. Click onto it and you will arrive at the Flag panel:

ActiveAdmin Flag panel

ActiveAdmin Flag panel

You can see from the panel that you can create, edit or even delete resources.

First, let's see editing in action to change the value of is_active.

Click on edit for a resource and you will be taken to a form page:

Edit Flag form

Edit Flag form

Update the value, submit the form and you will see the updated resource has been saved:

Edit success

Edit success

Next comes creating a new flag. From the Flag panel, click "New Flag" at the top-right and you will arrive at a new flag form:

Create new

Create new

Save that flag and you will be returned to the panel with a success message:

Successful creation of a new flag

Successful creation of a new flag


Today's post demonstrated how to get up and running with ActiveAdmin.

While this tutorial only covers the setup and a quick tour around one custom resource, it is enough to begin adding in some powerful configurations for your Rails apps for admins with very little overhead.

Resources and further reading

Photo credit: hdbernd

Personal image

Dennis O'Keeffe

  • Melbourne, Australia

Hi, I am a professional Software Engineer. Formerly of Culture Amp, UsabilityHub, Present Company and NightGuru.
I am currently working on Visibuild.


Get fresh posts + news direct to your inbox.

No spam. We only send you relevant content.

ActiveAdmin With Ruby On Rails 7


Share this post