Ruby on Rails latest stable (v4.0.2) - 3 notes - Class: ActionView::Helpers::PrototypeHelper

Method deprecated or moved

This method is deprecated or moved on the latest stable version. The last existing version (v2.3.8) is shown here.

observe_field(field_id, options = {}) public

Observes the field with the DOM ID specified by field_id and calls a callback when its contents have changed. The default callback is an Ajax call. By default the value of the observed field is sent as a parameter with the Ajax call.


 # Generates: new Form.Element.Observer('suggest', 0.25, function(element, value) {new Ajax.Updater('suggest',
 #         '/testing/find_suggestion', {asynchronous:true, evalScripts:true, parameters:'q=' + value})})
 <%= observe_field :suggest, :url => { :action => :find_suggestion },
      :frequency => 0.25,
      :update => :suggest,
      :with => 'q'

Required options are either of:

:url:url_for-style options for the action to call when the field has changed.
:function:Instead of making a remote call to a URL, you can specify javascript code to be called instead. Note that the value of this option is used as the body of the javascript function, a function definition with parameters named element and value will be generated for you for example:
  observe_field("glass", :frequency => 1, :function => "alert('Element changed')")

will generate:

  new Form.Element.Observer('glass', 1, function(element, value) {alert('Element changed')})

The element parameter is the DOM element being observed, and the value is its value at the time the observer is triggered.

Additional options are:

:frequency:The frequency (in seconds) at which changes to this field will be detected. Not setting this option at all or to a value equal to or less than zero will use event based observation instead of time based observation.
:update:Specifies the DOM ID of the element whose innerHTML should be updated with the XMLHttpRequest response text.
:with:A JavaScript expression specifying the parameters for the XMLHttpRequest. The default is to send the key and value of the observed field. Any custom expressions should return a valid URL query string. The value of the field is stored in the JavaScript variable value.


  :with => "'my_custom_key=' + value"
  :with => "'person[name]=' + prompt('New name')"
  :with => "Form.Element.serialize('other-field')"


  :with => 'name'

is shorthand for

  :with => "'name=' + value"

This essentially just changes the key of the parameter.

Additionally, you may specify any of the options documented in the Common options section at the top of this document.


  # Sends params: {:title => 'Title of the book'} when the book_title input
  # field is changed.
  observe_field 'book_title',
    :url => 'http://example.com/books/edit/1',
    :with => 'title'
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September 26, 2008 - (v1.2.6 - v2.1.0)
5 thanks

Pass the observed fields value as a parameter in the Ajax request

Use encodeURIComponent with with to pass an encoded value as a parameter (POST or GET) of the AJAX request. For example:

<%= observe_field :company_id,

:url => {:action => ‘facilities’, :only_path => false}, :with => “‘company=’ + encodeURIComponent(value)” %> Also, setting only_path => false for the URL ensures that the full URL (including host and protocol) is used for the AJAX request.

November 7, 2008
3 thanks

Common options

“Common options” mentioned here is default PrototypeHelper options documented in link_to_remote

This means you can use :loading, :loaded, :failure, :success, etc in observe_field.

February 22, 2009
3 thanks

CAUTION! :frequency option description is misleading

To use event-based observer, don’t supply :frequency param at all. :frequency => 0 causes JS error.

Use this option only if time-based observer is what you need.