In config/routes.rb you define URL-to-controller mappings, but the reverse is also possible: an URL can be generated from one of your routing definitions. URL generation functionality is centralized in this module.

See ActionDispatch::Routing for general information about routing and routes.rb.

Tip: If you need to generate URLs from your models or some other place, then ActionController::UrlFor is what you're looking for. Read on for an introduction. In general, this module should not be included on its own, as it is usually included by url_helpers (as in Rails.application.routes.url_helpers).

URL generation from parameters

As you may know, some functions, such as ActionController::Base#url_for and ActionView::Helpers::UrlHelper#link_to, can generate URLs given a set of parameters. For example, you've probably had the chance to write code like this in one of your views:

<%= link_to('Click here', controller: 'users',
        action: 'new', message: 'Welcome!') %>
# => "/users/new?message=Welcome%21"

link_to, and all other functions that require URL generation functionality, actually use ActionController::UrlFor under the hood. And in particular, they use the ActionController::UrlFor#url_for method. One can generate the same path as the above example by using the following code:

include UrlFor
url_for(controller: 'users',
        action: 'new',
        message: 'Welcome!',
        only_path: true)
# => "/users/new?message=Welcome%21"

Notice the only_path: true part. This is because UrlFor has no information about the website hostname that your Rails app is serving. So if you want to include the hostname as well, then you must also pass the :host argument:

include UrlFor
url_for(controller: 'users',
        action: 'new',
        message: 'Welcome!',
        host: '')
# => ""

By default, all controllers and views have access to a special version of #url_for, that already knows what the current hostname is. So if you use #url_for in your controllers or your views, then you don't need to explicitly pass the :host argument.

For convenience reasons, mailers provide a shortcut for ActionController::UrlFor#url_for. So within mailers, you only have to type 'url_for' instead of 'ActionController::UrlFor#url_for' in full. However, mailers don't have hostname information, and that's why you'll still have to specify the :host argument when generating URLs in mailers.

URL generation for named routes

UrlFor also allows one to access methods that have been auto-generated from named routes. For example, suppose that you have a 'users' resource in your config/routes.rb:

resources :users

This generates, among other things, the method users_path. By default, this method is accessible from your controllers, views and mailers. If you need to access this auto-generated method from other places (such as a model), then you can do that by including Rails.application.routes.url_helpers in your class:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  include Rails.application.routes.url_helpers

  def base_uri

User.find(1).base_uri # => "/users/1"
Included Modules
Class Public methods
# File actionpack/lib/action_dispatch/routing/url_for.rb, line 102
def initialize(*)
  @_routes = nil
Instance Public methods
url_for(options = nil)

Generate a url based on the options provided, default_url_options and the routes defined in routes.rb. The following options are supported:

  • :only_path - If true, the relative url is returned. Defaults to false.

  • :protocol - The protocol to connect to. Defaults to 'http'.

  • :host - Specifies the host the link should be targeted at. If :only_path is false, this option must be provided either explicitly, or via default_url_options.

  • :subdomain - Specifies the subdomain of the link, using the tld_length to split the subdomain from the host. If false, removes all subdomains from the host part of the link.

  • :domain - Specifies the domain of the link, using the tld_length to split the domain from the host.

  • :tld_length - Number of labels the TLD id composed of, only used if :subdomain or :domain are supplied. Defaults to ActionDispatch::Http::URL.tld_length, which in turn defaults to 1.

  • :port - Optionally specify the port to connect to.

  • :anchor - An anchor name to be appended to the path.

  • :trailing_slash - If true, adds a trailing slash, as in “/archive/2009/”

  • :script_name - Specifies application path relative to domain root. If provided, prepends application path.

Any other key (:controller, :action, etc.) given to url_for is forwarded to the Routes module.

url_for controller: 'tasks', action: 'testing', host: '', port: '8080'
# => ''
url_for controller: 'tasks', action: 'testing', host: '', anchor: 'ok', only_path: true
# => '/tasks/testing#ok'
url_for controller: 'tasks', action: 'testing', trailing_slash: true
# => ''
url_for controller: 'tasks', action: 'testing', host: '', number: '33'
# => ''
url_for controller: 'tasks', action: 'testing', host: '', script_name: "/myapp"
# => ''
url_for controller: 'tasks', action: 'testing', host: '', script_name: "/myapp", only_path: true
# => '/myapp/tasks/testing'
# File actionpack/lib/action_dispatch/routing/url_for.rb, line 150
def url_for(options = nil)
  case options
  when nil
  when Hash
  when String

Hook overridden in controller to add request information with `default_url_options`. Application logic should not go into url_options.

# File actionpack/lib/action_dispatch/routing/url_for.rb, line 110
def url_options
Instance Protected methods
# File actionpack/lib/action_dispatch/routing/url_for.rb, line 177
def _routes_context
# File actionpack/lib/action_dispatch/routing/url_for.rb, line 170
def _with_routes(routes)
  old_routes, @_routes = @_routes, routes
  @_routes = old_routes
# File actionpack/lib/action_dispatch/routing/url_for.rb, line 165
def optimize_routes_generation?
  return @_optimized_routes if defined?(@_optimized_routes)
  @_optimized_routes = _routes.optimize_routes_generation? && default_url_options.empty?