Joseph Wilk

Joseph Wilk

Things with code, creativity and computation.

Rails Admins Plugins Review

A brief examination of some of the major Admin plugins for rails.

  • Lipsiaadmin

  • AutoAdmin

  • ActiveScaffold

  • Hobo

  • Streamlined


Google group Members: No group

Live Demo:

Sample Projects: None

This admin framework mixes Ajax/JavaScript (library Ext 2.0 views) and old school HTML. The interface is presented in an application style reminiscent of Microsoft Outlook.

Lipsia Admin

Feature set

  • JavaScript library.

  • Generator Admin code.

  • Permissions support

  • Live search

  • Creation of menus within migrations.


  • Community seems non-existent

  • Sparse documentation


Google group Members ( 37

Live Demo: None

Sample Projects: None

Heavily influenced by Djangos admin system in both theme and with the definition of admin display configuration within in models. Sub-projects within Django have already started to move away from this approach (newforms-admin).

Its goal is to generate views you otherwise wouldn’t bother to create.


Feature set

  • Themes

  • Basic Access Control – All or Nothing


  • Lacks reliable set of Tests

  • Admin display configuration is stored within Models (Django branches newforms-admin have already moved aways from this)

  • Problems with editable sublists

  • Access control does not support more complex use cases.

ActiveScaffold (Version 1.1.1)

Google group Members ( 1075

Live Demo:

Sample Projects: (SVN)

A Ajax driven admin system which promotes itself on being both configurable and customizable.

Configuration: “throwing flags and setting options and manipulating the setup.”

Customizing: “defining conventional methods or .rhtml overrides that it will intelligently use when available.”


Admin customisation is performed in the controller.

Feature Set

  • Installed through plugin

  • Ajax driven interface

  • Embed ActiveScaffold like a widget in your web page.

  • High quality Documentation

  • Supports Third Party plugins within active scaffold :

  • Graceful JavaScript degradation

  • Hugely Customizable

    • Admin interface

      • Grouping form inputs

      • Layout

  • Guaranteed to work on Firefox 1+, IE 6+ and Safari 2+


  • No concept of semantic markup for models so configuration takes over when a little magic could help reduce the work in some usages.

  • Ajax interface is not amazingly usable.

Hobo (version 0.7.2)

Google group Members: No Group

Live Demo: None

Sample Projects:

The Web App Builder for Rails. Focuses on the models providing magic to make the admin appear.

Hobo Admin

Feature Set

  • Installable through gem

  • DRYML – XML based markup language

  • Migration generation from Models

    • Define the table fields in the model

    • High level semantic definitions for model fields (eg. email address)

  • Permission System

  • Themes_ _

  • ActiveRecord extensions


  • Documentation is a little incomplete.

  • Screencasts are out of date

Streamlined (version 0.9)

Google group Members ( ): 474

Live Demo: None

Sample Projects:

Streamlined provides an instant, production-ready UI for your ActiveRecord model. It aims to bring the declarative goodness of ActiveRecord to the view tie. It has a nice balance of ajax functionality with traditional page loads.

Streamlined admin

Feature Set

  • Separates Admin declarations and Model

  • In place editing (edit content in listing)

  • Export content to XML, CSV, and JSON

  • Pluggable CSS styling

  • Live data filtering

  • Advanced Filtering

  • Ajax-powered widgets and transitions

  • Views are can be overwritten Globally and per model

  • Good documentation + screencasts

  • IBM guides –


  • No attaching of semantic markup to model fields.

  • The documentation (while improving) is a little patchy in places.

Conclusions (winners)


If your goal is to have as much flexibility as possible within your admin then ActiveScaffold is you best candidate. It is incredibly versatile and the documentation is a pleasure to work through. With developers contributing plugins its future growth looks promising.


If your looking for an admin system and a framework and are less concerned about the configuration of the admin then Hobo is your is candidate. The power to attach semantic data to models has great potential for complex forms elements being generated automatically. Currently only the ‘email’ type is provided so this feature is yet to take off. Be prepared to deal with incomplete documentation. The Mirc #hobo group and the hobo forums are happy to help if you get stuck.