Simple Phoenix Text Inputs with Formulator

Published on June 30, 2017|Original Publishing|2m read

Ugh… three lines for a simple text input for a form in Phoenix? How about one with Formulator?

tldr:

instead of

<%= label form, :email_address %>
<%= email_input form, :email_address %>
<%= error_tag form, :email_address %>

<%= label form, :first_name %>
<%= text_input form, :first_name %>
<%= error_tag form, :first_name %>

<%= label form, :last_name %>
<%= text_input form, :last_name %>
<%= error_tag form, :last_name %>

do this with Formulator:

<%= input form, :email_address, as: :email %>
<%= input form, :first_name %>
<%= input form, :last_name %>

Platformatec has a great post about dynamic forms with Phoenix that teaches developers how to extract some common steps out to their own functions. This is helpful because developers can skip the tedious parts that they tend to repeat, which also helps keep style consistent across a larger framework for an application.

Other times, developers don’t need (or want) to build CSS classes into the back-end, or they want to give more flexibility to designers later, or they just don’t want to start from scratch again when they start another application. (It’s hard to find that balance sometimes, isn’t it?)

Enter: Formulator

Formulator brings some simplicity to making form inputs for Phoenix, while still giving the developer some customization options.

For example, need a specific class for an input field?

<%= input form, :email_address, as: :email, class: "magical-email-input" %>

or need to class up a label?

<%= input form, :email_address, as: :email, class: "magical-email-input", label: [class:
"magical-email-label" %>

If you’re a Rails developer and new to Phoenix, you’ll soon discover that Phoenix tries to get the form errors closer to the input tags themselves, as opposed to Rails where error messages are typically flashed near the top of a page. Getting used to this difference is like putting my toothbrush on the other side of the sink, I tend to forget the error_tag when making a new form and wonder for about 5 minutes why my test can’t find the error text I’m expecting. Formulator saves me some keystrokes and keeps me from forgetting error tags.

We made Formulator because we realized we were repeating ourselves waaaay too much for simple stuff. It’s a ridiculously simple library (just check out the source code). Give it and try and let us know what you think!