Active Admin: The admin framework for Rails

Posted on May 15, 2011


This week we launched Active Admin, an administration framework for Ruby on Rails. It’s been in the works for many years, but finally came to fruition as an open source project over the past year and half.

Active Admin started about 3 years ago at my consulting company, Orange Peel Media. We built a set of reusable components called The Citrus Modules. These modules spanned both front and back end, however the biggest productivity gain we found was in abstracting an administration site that didn’t suck.

Originally, we assumed a CRUD based representation of the database would suffice for administration. What we quickly learned was that the current tools and approaches were difficult for non-programmers to use.

Typically the requirements for administering a production application far exceed CRUD. Our customers needed things like reporting, internal notes and commenting, filtered list for operations staff to review, dashboards for decision making, show screens for reviewing data, and a thousand other small features specific to the given application. On top of all these requirements, our customers (who are not programmers) needed to be able to use it.

Fast forward 2 years and I found myself at VersaPay where we ran into the exact same issues. We needed tools that developers could quickly build, but be usable by our operations staff. We needed tools that gave us the flexibility to build the administration tools we needed.

So, in our spare time, we designed and built Active Admin. A new framework for building applications using Ruby on Rails.

Although Active Admin is a framework for generating administration interfaces, really its just a new abstraction on top of Rails. It takes the framework one step further and drastically reduces development time for certain types of applications.

I could not be more excited about the response from the community so far and I can’t wait to see where we take Active Admin in the future. Thanks to everyone who has helped pull the project together.

Stay tuned because I’ll be posting lots more about Active Admin’s internals, design and roadmap over the coming weeks.

11 Replies to "Active Admin: The admin framework for Rails"

  • Robert Cezar Matei
    May 16, 2011 (2:20 am)

    You rule, Greg. The community has been needing an updated solution for a while, and this looks fabulous.

  • Greg Bell
    May 16, 2011 (9:02 am)

    Thanks Robert! Appreciate the kind words.

  • Montana Flynn
    May 17, 2011 (6:53 pm)

    This is amazing, I have recently just got my feet wet with Ruby and Rails and am having a great time digging into activeadmin. Thanks for your generous donation to the open source community!

  • sean
    May 23, 2011 (5:05 pm)

    super. we’ll be taking a look at using it. will let u know in a couple of months how it’s going… cheers & thanks in advance.

  • driggsx
    June 14, 2011 (7:24 am)

    Looks great, but just FYI the products Table listing doesn’t render correctly on FF4 on Win7.

  • John Metta
    June 23, 2011 (5:00 pm)

    Looks like this is broken for use with ActiveResource models. Any chance for allowing for that?

  • John Metta
    June 23, 2011 (5:01 pm)

    Wait, I mean, thank you, this is great, I don’t mean to be flippant or ungrateful- was just wondering about that issue and it didn’t think it warranted a full note on the issue tracker.

  • TS
    October 3, 2011 (7:25 pm)

    Your ActiveAdmin documentation completely misses a section describing how to plug in an outside authorization scheme ..e.g. declarativeauthorizations or cancan

    From what I see your admin UI is very beautiful, but configuration is limited and painful — RailsAdmin’s configuration seems much easier.

  • Tim Masterson
    April 18, 2012 (11:14 am)


    First, active admin is fantastic. Thank you.

    Second, We’ve noticed that spanish names with accents dont come through right on the csv, is the resultant CSV an ascii text file or a UTF8 file?

  • Neil
    April 10, 2019 (9:24 am)

    Hello Greg. A techie (who I am assisting) in our community has used AA to publish community events (meals, parties and meetings) in a calendar – is the result. I have this ical feed for one of the calendars – webcal:// – which I am testing out. I’d like to subscribe to the other ones which he has set up too. Where can I find directions for how to locate those?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

Leave a Reply to John Metta Cancel reply

Some html is OK