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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

The Empty Route

Except for learning-by-doing exercises, you're usually safe leaving the default route alone. But there's another route in routes.rb that plays something of a default role and you will probably want to change it: the empty route.

A few lines up from the default route (refer to Listing 3.1) you'll see this:

# You can have the root of your site routed by hooking up ''
# -- just remember to delete public/index.html.
# map.connect '', :controller => "welcome"

What you're seeing here is the empty route—that is, a rule specifying what should happen when someone connects to


Note the lack of "/anything" at the end!

The empty route is sort of the opposite of the default route. Instead of saying, "I need any three values, and I'll use them as controller, action, and id," the empty route says, "I don't want any values; I want nothing, and I already know what controller and action I'm going to trigger!"

In a newly generated routes.rb file, the empty route is commented out, because there's no universal or reasonable default for it. You need to decide what this "nothing" URL should do for each application you write.

Here are some examples of fairly common empty route rules:

map.connect '', :controller => "main", :action => "welcome"
map.connect '', :controller => "top", :action => "login"
map.connect '', :controller => "main"

That last one will connect to main/indexindex being the default action when there's none specified.

Note that Rails 2.0 introduces a mapper method named root which becomes the proper way to define the empty route for a Rails application, like this:

map.root :controller => "homepage"

Defining the empty route gives people something to look at when they connect to your site with nothing but the domain name.

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