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Repository: govuk_admin_template

[Deprecated] Styles, scripts and templates for building GOV.UK backend admin apps


NOTE: This project is deprecated. New GOV.UK admin applications should be built using the layout component in govuk_publishing_components. Projects outside of GDS can use the GOV.UK Design System directly to build interfaces.

Styles, scripts and templates wrapped up in a gem for getting up and running with Bootstrap 3.4 based backend admin apps.

This gem provides (via a Rails engine):

  • jQuery
  • Bootstrap 3 standard styles and javascript — including HTML5 and respond.js shims necessary for IE <= IE8
  • An admin layout with header and footer
  • A lightweight javascript framework
  • Admin design patterns available from /style-guide (when routes are mounted)
  • CSS helpers and SASS variables for the admin theme
  • GOV.UK user friendly date formats
  • Google Analytics tracking code (Universal Analytics), using the “GOV.UK apps” profile

Apps using this gem include:


Firstly, include the gem in your Gemfile, pinned to the appropriate version and run bundle:

# Gemfile
gem 'govuk_admin_template', '~> 6.8'

At the top of application.scss include the styles (this provides all the mixins and variables from the gem as well as from bootstrap — bootstrap mixins):

/* application.scss /
@import 'govuk_admin_template';

In application.html.erb after any content blocks you want to include, render the base template:

# views/layouts/application.html.rb
<%= render template: 'layouts/govuk_admin_template' %>

The base template includes:

  • Javascript and non-Javascript classes
  • Mobile friendly viewport
  • Bootstrap and jQuery javascript
  • IE HTML5 and respondjs shims, and HTML classes
  • header HTML
  • footer HTML

You will also need to include your styles and javascripts:

# views/layouts/application.html.rb
<% content_for :head do %>
  <%= stylesheet_link_tag "application", media: "all" %>
  <%= javascript_include_tag 'application' %>
<% end %>

Note that jquery and jquery_ujs are already imported by govuk_admin_template, so you should remove them from your app/assets/javascripts/application.js. This may cause your jasmine tests to fail, so you’ll need to include assets/govuk-admin-template.js in your spec/support/jasmine-browser.json like this:

"srcFiles": [

It is recommended that the style guide is also made available within your app at the route /style-guide. Add this to your config/routes.rb file:

# config/routes.rb
if Rails.env.development?
  mount GovukAdminTemplate::Engine, at: "/style-guide"

The gem source includes a dummy app configured to behave like an app using the gem. If you have the gem checked out it can be run from the spec/dummy directory using rails s.

For Javascript usage, available modules and writing modules, see the Javascript guide.


You can configure the gem with a config block in an initializer:

# config/initializers/govuk_admin_template.rb
GovukAdminTemplate.configure do |c|
  c.app_title = "My Publisher"
  c.show_flash = true
  c.show_signout = true
  c.disable_google_analytics = false


Some GOV.UK admin apps use the Simple Form library for writing form markup. This repo contains a recommended configuration in lib/govuk_admin_template/simple_form.rb.

To use this configuration:

  1. Add simple_form to your Gemfile.
  2. Add an initializer in config/initializers/simple_form.rb containing the following:
SimpleForm.setup do |config|

This gem also provides an i18n file in config/locales/simple_form.en.yml. This removes the need for this file to be present in the host project unless specific customisations are required.

Content blocks

The gem uses nested layouts for customisation.

content_for Description
:app_title Name of your admin application
:app_home_path Path to the home page of your application, defaults to root_path
:content Main content
:head HTML to include in the <head> of your application
:page_title Page title
:navbar_items A set of HTML list items (<li>) forming the primary navigation
:navbar_right Text to the right of the nav bar. Logged in user, sign out link, etc
:footer_top (optional) Footer content before copyright text
:footer_version (optional) Text indicating the release, eg commit SHA
:body_start (optional) Just after the <body> tag
:body_end (optional) Just before the </body> tag
:full_width (optional, boolean) Expand content to edges of screen.
:navbar (optional) Custom navbar content, overrides default navbar

Example navbar_items:

# views/layouts/application.html.rb
<% content_for :navbar_items do %>
    <a href="#">navbar_item</a>
<% end %>

Date formats

The gem includes date and time formats which match the recommended styles for dates and times.

# 1 January 2013

1:15pm, 1 January 2013


1 Jan 2013


1:15pm, 1 Jan 2013




Environment indicators

The gem includes default styles for development, integration and production. This includes a coloured environment label, a coloured strip beneath the main navigation and a coloured favicon. They are based on two variables that are set at deploy time (if they aren’t set no indicator will be shown).

The following should be set within an initializer:

# used for the classname and favicon
GovukAdminTemplate.environment_style = [integration|production|development]

used for the human readable label

GovukAdminTemplate.environment_label = [Integration|Staging|Production|Development]

Flash messages

Turn on flash messages in the config:

# config/initializers/govuk_admin_template.rb
GovukAdminTemplate.configure do |c|
  c.show_flash = true

Use like this:

# app/controllers/my_controller.rb
class MyController < ApplicationController
  def create
      flash[:success] = "Your thing has been created!"
      flash[:danger] = "Sorry, it did not work."

redirect_to :back

end end

We support :success, :info, :warning and :danger:

Flash types

You can register your types to allow them to be used as arguments to redirect_to.

# app/controllers/application_controller.rb
class ApplicationController < ActionController::Base
  add_flash_types :success, :info, :warning, :danger

Now this works:

redirect_to :back, success: "Well done!" redirect_to :back, danger: "This didn't work."


  1. Clone the repository
  2. Run bundle install
  3. Run yarn install

The source files are in the app directory. Unlike other GOVUK frontend gems, there is no compile step. The app directory is included in the gem and hooked in as a Rails engine.

While developing it may be helpful to see how the gem will render. The dummy app at spec/dummy is configured to act like an application using the gem and can be started from that directory using rails s. Changes will show immediately. The tests also run against this app.

The dummy app’s rake tasks have been loaded into the gem’s task list under the namespace app for convenience – e.g. bundle exec rake app:assets:precompile

Running tests

The default rake task runs all tests:

bundle exec rake

Layout and nested layouts are tested using RSpec and Capybara:

bundle exec rake spec

Javascript is tested using Jasmine and jasmine-browser-runner. Tests can be run either in the browser or on the command line:

# browser
yarn run jasmine:browser

command line

yarn run jasmine:ci

Testing against different Rails versions

The CI pipeline is configured to test this gem against multiple versions of Rails.

Each Rails version has a corresponding Gemfile located in the gemfiles directory. And the CI pipeline defines a matrix of Gemfiles to test against.

It’s also possible to run tests against multiple Rails versions locally.

  1. Run export BUNDLE_GEMFILE="gemfiles/rails_X.gemfile" where X is the version to test against. This tells Bundler which Gemfile to use.
  2. Run bundle install and then bundle exec rake as usual.


Version bumps will automatically update


MIT License