Implementing a Bootstrap Theme

Implementing a Bootstrap Theme

After completing the development bootcamp, LEARN! in San Diego, and joining Notch8 as Interns, my team members and myself were tasked with creating a web app using a bootstrap template. We had worked on front end and had previously created web apps from the ground up in our group projects but we spent a full day browsing blogs and guides on how to best implement a template. Unfortunately, the guides we had found were not as straightforward as we would have liked. None offered a simple set of instructions of what to do and the rational behind it. So we created our own guide.

The most important aspect of web development to understand when using a bootstrap template is the asset pipeline. It is highly recommended that you familiarize yourself with this framework before attempting to use a template. In simple terms, using a template requires that you copy all the images, scripts and css into the asset pipeline. Once this is done, you are free to use whatever you want from the html part of the template and take out what you don’t need. The following is a step by step guide on how to achieve this.

We started with a base bootstrap template in our application generated by the rails_apps_composer_gem. It is important to be familiar with what this gem can do for you, it is pretty amazing! See https://github.com/RailsApps/rails_apps_composer at github for the readme.


  1. Copy the template into the public/ folder in your generated application.
    • -- Create a theme folder in the public folder
    • -- Copy bootstrap template into the theme folder
    Putting the file in the public folder allows other team members to access the files through the repository you create on github, and gives you easy access to the files while adding them to the asset pipeline.
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  1. Selectively copy contents from the <head> of the bootstrap index.html to layout/application.html.erb
  • -- Copy the <head> content from the index.html file from the bootstrap template.
  • -- Paste into app/assets/view/layout/application.html.erb
  • -- Leave out any css files or js files included in the head of the template index.html
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  1. Move css files that are linked in the <head> to app/assets/stylesheets/application.css in your asset pipeline.
  • -- Grab all the <link rel="stylesheet" href=...> for css within the index.html of the template and make them required in the application.css.scss.

    • -- You are basically creating link tags with your requires by adding *= require to application.css . If you are requiring everything individually you don’t need *=require tree.


Change Bootstrap index.html css links:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="css/bootstrap.css">

<link rel="stylesheet" href="css/font-awesome.min.css">

<link rel="stylesheet" href="css/animate.min.css">

To Rails app require link:

*= require bootstrap

*= require animate.min

*= require vendors/sweetalert

** it is important to stick with either the css *=require or sass @import syntax or you will mess up your app. In this case we are using css not sass **


see https://github.com/styleguide/ruby for more on *=requires and the ruby style guide


  1. Copy css files from the bootstrap template
  • -- Copy css files from the template and paste them into your app/assets/stylesheets folder within the asset pipeline.
  1. Make javascript links required in application.js
  • -- This step is similar to the css step: take the <script> links and make them required in the application.js. <script> links might be hiding at the bottom of the index.html template, near the </body> tag.



Change Bootstrap file, Index.html:


<script src="js/modernizr.js"></script>


To Rails 4 file, Application.js:


//= require modernizr


  1. Copy javascript files
  • -- Copy js files from the template and paste them into your app/assets/javascript folder within the asset pipeline.
  • -- If you have javascript nested in <script> tags in your bootstrap index.html copy and paste it into app/assets/javascripts/application.js file under the requires but above the //= require tree.

You can copy these files by dragging and dropping them where you want or you can use the cp command in terminal. For example: If I wanted to copy my modernizr.js file from my template to my app, the terminal command would look like:


$ cp public/theme/Static_Full_Version/js/modernizr.js app/assets/javascripts/


First you specify the file path, then indicate where you would like to paste it within the asset pipeline, separated by a space.


  1. Copy images
  • -- Copy images from your bootstrap template into app/assets/images
  1. Make a theme partial and copy/paste the <body> from bootstrap index.html file into new partial
  • -- Make a new partial in the /view/layouts/_your_partial_name
  • -- render your partial in your application.html.erb
    • -- Example: <%= render 'layouts/your_partial_name' %>
  • -- Copy the contents from the bootstrap index.html into your partial

We make a theme partial for the html because we don’t want to alter the generated html that is already working, we can do whatever we want in the partial then we can render it in the application.html.


  1. Fix the image paths by changing image tag to image_path using embedded ruby.


Change all of your image tags in your partial from:

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To Rails 4 embedded ruby:

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We used regular expression to find and replace the image tags in the html. Regular expressions allow us to easily select multiple image tags that have different source paths.


You can select all the image sources by typing img/(.*).png into the ‘find in current buffer’ field. Replace those image tags with embedded ruby by typing

<%= image_path(‘theme/$1.png’) %> into the ‘replace in current buffer’ field.

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See http://www.tutorialspoint.com/ruby/ruby_regular_expressions.htm for more info on regular expressions.


Note, image tags are not always located in your html, so be sure to search css files. If you have images in your css they will look like:


background-image: url("../img/icon-account.svg");


You will want to change the url to its respective path:


background: image-url("theme/icon-account.svg");

  1. Font Awesome
If you still have broken images at this point then you may be missing font images. Most bootstrap templates use font-awesome. Search your bootstrap template for font-awesome files, their likely located in the font file.

If your bootstrap template uses a CDN, located in the <head>, you have the choice of implementing font awesome in your rails app through the following 3 ways:

    • -- Copy the CDN into your rails app. This retrieves the font awesome images from an online source.
    • -- Use the font-awesome gem to access font images.
    • -- Add the font awesome files into the font folder and then specify the font path with the following line of code:

<%= font_path('fontawesome-webfont.eot') %>:


  1. Dissect theme partial to select what you want in your application.

You can now keep or delete whatever you want from the partial. Move the parts you want to keep from the theme partial into either the application.html.erb file directly or into new partials where appropriate (eg navigation). Delete the theme partial once it is empty and remove the render for that partial from application.html.erb


  1. Final Thoughts
  • -- Do things incrementally
  • -- Commit as you go
  • -- Get good at using the project search in your editor
  • -- Regexps makes changing many lines way faster than doing them one at a time
  1. *Mic Drop.

Credited to :

Christina Buster: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christinabuster

Isaac Vonderau: https://www.linkedin.com/in/isaacvonderau

Vincent Nguyen: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hivince

Crystal Richardson
Crystal Richardson