Creating own Essences

Alchemys powerful content storage technology is build around Essences. They are ActiveRecord models that have an editor and a presentation view partial.

Alchemy has lots of build in essences. But you can create your own essence and even associate them with your existing models. This guide shows how.

  • Use the generator to create a new essence
  • Associate an essence to your model

Using The Essence Generator

The essence generator is a wrapper around the rails model generator. It generates the essence model for you and injects the acts_as_essence class method.

bin/rails g alchemy:essence Alchemy::EssenceHeadline


Essences are typically created under the Alchemy namespace. The naming convention is EssenceYourName

This is what the generated model looks like:

# app/models/alchemy/essence_headline.rb
class Alchemy::EssenceHeadline < ActiveRecord::Base

Alchemy makes some assumptions about your essence. First of all it looks for a body column that it uses as ingredient column.

If you want to store the value in another column, please use one of the various optionsopen in new window the acts_as_essence class method provides.

The essence views

Every essence has to have two views:

  • One for presenting
  • One for editing

The view partial

The view partial is used by the render_elements helper to present the essence to the user.

It is yours. Adjust it to your needs. You can access the value with the ingredient method of the content object instance.

<!-- app/views/alchemy/essences/_essence_headline_view.html.erb -->
<h1><%= content.ingredient %></h1>

The editor partial

The editor partial is basically a set of form fields holding values of your essence. It is rendered inside the element editor view form object.

This is just what the generator creates for you:

<!-- app/views/alchemy/essences/_essence_headline_editor.html.erb -->
<% cache(content) do %>
  <div class="essence_headline content_editor" id="<%= content.dom_id %>">
    <%= label_and_remove_link(content) %>
    <%= text_field_tag(
      :id => content.form_field_id
    ) %>
<% end %>

But this is yours. Feel free to adjust it to your needs. Just make shure that you provide form fields that Alchemy can use to update your object in the database.


You can associate every ActiveRecord based model with an essence. In this example we want to connect an existing Person model to an element, so we can associate it with an Alchemy page.

Just use the ingredient_column option to tell Alchemy the foreign key to use for the association.

Set the foreign key

# app/models/alchemy/essence_person.rb
class Alchemy::EssencePerson < ActiveRecord::Base
  acts_as_essence ingredient_column: 'person_id'

Accessing your model instance

That's it. Everything else is handled by Alchemy. You can now access the associated Person model with the ingredient method on an instance of the Alchemy::Content.

<!-- app/views/alchemy/essences/_essence_person_view.html.erb -->
<%= content.ingredient.firstname %>

Now you can use your new essence in any element you want. Connect it like shown in the Elements guide.