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David Boureau
David Boureau

Posted on • Originally published at

Ruby-on-Rails ERB vs HAML

original content is here :

This is an opinionated article about ERB and HAML with Rails. Let's compare each other and pick a winner.

Use case

In the Ruby-on-Rails world, they are known as templating languages. In the MVC concept, they represent "the View". Both are here to output HTML.


Examples worth a thousand words, so here are two examples, one with ERB, the other with HAML. Both are strictly equivalent. I tried to put different kinds of concepts in order to highlight various problems : create variables, run ruby code, inline style, condition, loop, etc.

ERB template file

<% v = run_some_ruby_code %>

<div id="main" style="margin-left: 0">

  <div class="left column">
    <h2>Welcome to the library</h2>

  <% books.each_with_index do |book, indx| %>
      <% if indx > 0 %>
      <p><%= book.title %></p>
    <% end %>
  <% end %>

  <div class="right column">
    <%= render "shared/sidebar" %>

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Is equivalent to this HAML template file :

- v = run_some_ruby_code
#main{style: "margin-left: 0"}
    %h2 Welcome to the library
    - books.each_with_index do |book, indx|
      - if indx > 0
        %p= book.title
    = render "shared/sidebar"
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  • Plain HTML is still valid, so copy/pasting from other websites is not a problem
  • Indent as you like : maybe seen as an advantage : if you'd like to indent it the way you want. Could also be seen as a problem : bad indentation still works...
  • Standard with the Rails default stack : that mean more standardisation : better IDE support, legacy app may use it more, and a lowest barrier entry


  • HAML is a lot less verbose - this is the main unfair advantage of HAML.
  • HAML must be correctly indented. Sometimes the indentation is not as intuitive as it should. So it's not so cool.
  • HAML is also not very intuitive for corner cases (javascript tags, inline CSS...). In this case, you have to use an external online tool.
  • Added as a gem, i.e. not included in a default Rails application
  • Known as slower than ERB - I didn't notice any practical difference though.

And the winner is


I've used both and I have to say HAML has one very big advantage : a lot less verbosity. This is very handy for large template files. But large template files are not so frequent in an application if you properly cut them into small pieces - partial or view_components.

So now HAML's big one advantage doesn't outweigh the sum of its disadvantages : hard to copy/paste from examples, and tricky corner cases notably.

Top comments (1)

megatux profile image
Cristian Molina

Nice! I don't like the mess erb mix leave w/html+ruby. What are the advantages of Haml vs Slim?