Ruby on Rails Interview Questions and Answers — Helpers — Part 2

7 min readApr 14, 2024


  • What are built-in Rails helper methods, and how are they useful in views?
  • How do you pass data from a controller to a view using helper methods?
  • What is the role of the link_to helper in Rails, and how is it used?
  • How can you generate URLs for routes using helper methods?
  • Explain the purpose of form helpers like form_for and form_tag in Rails.

6. What are built-in Rails helper methods, and how are they useful in views?

Rails provides a variety of built-in helper methods that are designed to simplify common tasks in view. These helper methods are available within the views to dynamically generate HTML content. Some of the commonly used Rails helper methods include:

7. How do you pass data from a controller to a view using helper methods?

We can pass data from a controller to a view using instance variables. These instance variables are accessible in the corresponding view file and can be used to display dynamic content. In the controller:

In this example, @user and @posts are instance variables that are being assigned values retrieved from the database. These instance variables are then passed to the view associated with the show action.

In the corresponding view (e.g., app/views/users/show.html.erb):

In the view, you can access the data passed from the controller using the instance variables (@user and @posts in this case). You can then display the data as needed within the HTML structure.

Additionally, if you want to encapsulate some logic for displaying data in a reusable manner across multiple views, you can create custom helper methods. These helper methods can be defined in app/helpers directory and automatically become available in your views. Here's an example:

Create a new helper method

Use the helper method in the view:

In this example, the formatted_date helper method takes a Date or Time object and returns a formatted date string. You can then call this method in any view where you include the UsersHelper module.

8. What is the role of the link_to helper in Rails, and how is it used?

The link_to helper in Rails plays a crucial role in generating HTML hyperlinks (anchor tags <a>). It simplifies the process of creating links to different pages within your Rails application or external URLs. By abstracting away the HTML markup, link_to makes the code more readable and maintainable.

Here’s a breakdown of the link_to helper and its acceptable parameters:

Basic Syntax:

<%= link_to "Link Text", target_path %>
  • "Link Text": The text displayed for the hyperlink.
  • target_path: The URL or path the hyperlink points to.

Additional Parameters

1. Path Helpers:

You can use Rails path helpers to generate URLs for internal routes.

<%= link_to "Edit", edit_user_path(@user) %>

2. URL Options:

You can pass additional options to customize the link, such as HTML attributes or URL parameters.

<%= link_to "Edit", edit_user_path(@user), class: "edit-link", id: "user-edit-link" %>

Acceptable parameters include:

  • class: CSS class(es) to apply to the link.
  • id: HTML ID attribute for the link.
  • Any other valid HTML attributes.

3. URL Generation:

You can pass in objects or arrays as parameters, and Rails will infer the route based on conventions.

<%= link_to "Profile", @user %>

In this case, Rails will automatically generate the appropriate route helper based on the object type (@user).

Block Syntax:

<%= link_to user_path(@user) do %>
<span class="user-name"><%= %></span>
<% end %>

You can use a block to include additional HTML content within the link. This is useful when you need to customize the link’s appearance or include nested elements.

External URLs:

You can also link to external URLs by providing the full URL as the target.

<%= link_to "Google", "" %>

9. How can you generate URLs for routes using helper methods?

In Rails, we can generate URLs for routes using helper methods provided by the routing system. These helper methods are automatically generated based on the routes defined in your config/routes.rb file. These methods follow a convention based on the route's name.

Define Routes

First, you need to define routes in your config/routes.rb file.

Rails.application.routes.draw do
resources :articles

This will generate a set of RESTful routes for the Article model, including routes for index, show, new, edit, create, update, and destroy actions.

Generate URLs using Helper Methods

Once you have defined your routes, Rails will automatically generate helper methods for each route. These helper methods follow the convention prefix_path or prefix_url, where prefix is derived from the route name.

For example, with the above routes, you can use the following helper methods in your views or controllers:

  • articles_path: Generates the URL for the index action of the articles controller.
  • article_path(article): Generates the URL for a specific article's show action.
  • new_article_path: Generates the URL for the new action to create a new article.
  • edit_article_path(article): Generates the URL for editing a specific article.

You can use these helper methods in your views, controllers, or anywhere within your Rails application to generate URLs for corresponding routes.

Passing Parameters

For routes that require parameters, such as routes with dynamic segments, you can pass the necessary parameters as arguments to the helper methods.

<%= link_to "Show Article", article_path(@article) %>

@article is passed as a parameter to the article_path helper method to generate the URL for a specific article's show action.

10. Explain the purpose of form helpers like form_for and form_tag in Rails

Form helpers such as form_for and form_tag are used to generate HTML forms in views. These form helpers simplify the process of creating and handling forms by abstracting away much of the HTML markup and providing a clean and intuitive syntax. Each form helper serves a specific purpose:


  • The form_for helper is primarily used for creating forms that are associated with model objects. It generates a form that corresponds to a specific model instance, making it easy to create, update, and delete records in the database.
  • It automatically sets up the form to submit data back to the corresponding controller action, allowing for easy handling of form submissions.
  • It also provides convenient methods for generating form fields that are tied to model attributes, making it straightforward to create input fields for model attributes.

@user is an instance of the User model, and the form generated by form_for will submit its data to the controller associated with the User model.


  • The form_tag helper is a more general-purpose form helper that can be used to create forms not associated with model objects.
  • It allows you to manually specify the URL and HTTP method for form submission, providing more flexibility in handling form data.
  • Unlike form_for, form_tag does not automatically generate form fields tied to model attributes. Instead, you need to manually create input fields within the form.

form_tag generates a form that submits its data to the some_path URL. Inside the form, it creates a text field named query and a submit button labeled 'Search'.

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