Maximizing Code Quality with Rails Pre-Commit and Pre-Push Hooks

railsApril 09, 2024Dotby Alkesh Ghorpade


Maintaining code quality is paramount in software development. As projects grow in complexity and scale, ensuring consistency, cleanliness, and adherence to best practices becomes increasingly challenging. This is where pre-commit and pre-push hooks come into play. In the context of Ruby on Rails development, these hooks serve as powerful tools to automate code quality checks and enforce standards before code is committed or pushed to a shared repository.

Understanding Pre-Commit and Pre-Push Hooks

Before we dive into the specifics of Rails pre-commit and pre-push hooks, let's establish a foundational understanding of what these hooks entail.

Pre-Commit Hooks:

  • Pre-commit hooks are scripts or commands that run before a commit is finalized. They allow developers to perform various checks and validations on their code locally, ensuring it meets specific criteria before being added to the version control system.

  • Everyday use cases for pre-commit hooks include running syntax checks, linting code, ensuring adherence to coding standards, and performing static code analysis.

  • Pre-commit hooks help maintain a clean and consistent codebase by catching issues early in the development process, reducing the likelihood of introducing bugs or technical debt.

Pre-Push Hooks:

  • On the other hand, pre-push hooks execute before git pushes changes to a remote repository. Like pre-commit hooks, they allow for additional checks and validations before changes are shared with other team members.

  • Pre-push hooks ensures that code pushed to the shared repository passes all necessary tests, meets performance requirements, and complies with project-specific guidelines.

  • By incorporating pre-push hooks into the development workflow, teams can prevent faulty or incomplete code from being pushed to the main branch, thereby maintaining the integrity of the codebase.

Implementing Pre-Commit and Pre-Push Hooks in Rails:

Now that you understand the purpose and significance of pre-commit and pre-push hooks let's explore how to implement them in a Ruby on Rails project.

Setting Up Pre-Commit Hooks:

  • To implement pre-commit hooks in a Rails project, you can leverage tools like Git hooks, Husky, or Overcommit.

  • Git hooks are scripts that Git executes before or after events such as commit, push, merge, and receive. By placing executable scripts in the .git/hooks directory of a Git repository, you can define custom pre-commit actions.

  • Alternatively, Husky is a popular Git hook manager that simplifies configuring and managing hooks. It allows developers to define hooks in their project's package.json file, providing a more streamlined setup experience.

  • Another option is Overcommit, a flexible and extensible Git hook manager written in Ruby. Overcommit provides a rich set of pre-defined hooks and allows developers to define custom hooks using Ruby code.

  • Regardless of the tool chosen, the goal is to execute desired actions, such as running linting tools (e.g., RuboCop), performing static code analysis (e.g., Brakeman), and running automated tests (e.g., RSpec), before allowing a commit to proceed.

Examples of Pre-Commit Hooks:

  • Code Linting: Ensuring code conforms to a particular style or coding standard.

    # Run linting checks on staged files
    eslint --fix $(git diff --cached --name-only | grep '\.js$')
  • Code Formatting: Automatically formatting code before committing to ensure consistency.

    # Run code formatter on staged files
    rubocop $(git diff --cached --name-only | grep '\.rb$')
  • Unit Tests: Running unit tests to ensure the changes don't break existing functionality.

    # Run unit tests on staged files
    rspec $(git diff --cached --name-only | grep '\.rb$')
  • Security Checks: Scanning code for security vulnerabilities.

    # Run security scanning tool on staged files
    brakeman $(git diff --cached --name-only | grep '\.rb$')
  • Commit Message Checks: Ensuring commit messages follow a certain format.

    commit_msg=$(cat "$commit_msg_file")
    # Check if commit message starts with a task number
    if ! [[ $commit_msg =~ ^\[TASK-[0-9]+\] ]]; then
      echo "Commit message must start with a task number. Example: [TASK-123] Update something"
      exit 1

    These are just a few examples of what pre-commit hooks can do. You can create custom scripts to fit the specific needs of your project, whether it's enforcing coding standards, running tests, or ensuring commit message conventions are followed.

Configuring Pre-Push Hooks:

  • Similar to pre-commit hooks, pre-push hooks can be configured using Git hooks or dedicated hook management tools.

  • Developers can enforce additional checks by defining pre-push scripts or commands, such as running comprehensive test suites (e.g., RSpec, Cucumber), checking for code coverage, and verifying integration or end-to-end tests.

  • Additionally, pre-push hooks prevent pushes to specific branches or enforce certain policies, such as requiring code reviews before merging changes into the main branch.

Examples of Pre-Push Hooks:

  • Run Tests: Instead of a pre-commit hook, you can run specs whenever a developer tries to push the changes.

    # Run tests before pushing
    bundle exec rspec
  • Ensure Migrations are Up-to-Date:

    # Ensure migrations are up-to-date before pushing
    bundle exec rake db:migrate:status
  • Check for Uncommitted Changes:

    if git status --porcelain | grep .; then
      echo "There are uncommitted changes. Commit or stash them before pushing."
      exit 1

    You can customize these scripts according to your project's requirements. Place the script in .git/hooks/pre-push file in your Rails project's directory and ensure it's executable (chmod +x .git/hooks/pre-push). This way, these checks will be performed automatically whenever someone tries to push changes to the repository.

Best Practices for Pre-Commit and Pre-Push Hooks in Rails:

While implementing pre-commit and pre-push hooks can significantly enhance code quality and development efficiency, it's essential to follow best practices to maximize their effectiveness:

  • Keep Hooks Lightweight:

    • Pre-commit and pre-push hooks should be lightweight and fast-running to avoid slowing development.

    • Minimize the number of checks and validations performed by hooks to maintain a responsive development environment.

  • Provide Clear Feedback:

    • Ensure that pre-commit and pre-push hooks provide clear and actionable feedback to developers.

    • Display informative messages and error descriptions when checks fail, guiding developers on how to resolve issues effectively.

  • Automate Setup and Configuration:

    • Streamline the setup and configuration of pre-commit and pre-push hooks using automation tools and documentation.

    • Provide clear instructions and scripts to onboard new team members quickly and ensure consistency across development environments.

  • Customize Hooks for Project Requirements:

    • Tailor pre-commit and pre-push hooks to align with the specific requirements and conventions of the Rails project.

    • Configure hooks to enforce coding standards, style guidelines, and project-specific best practices effectively.

  • Continuously Evaluate and Improve:

    • Regularly review and refine pre-commit and pre-push hooks based on feedback, evolving project requirements, and changes in development practices.

    • Stay informed about updates to relevant tools and libraries, incorporating new features and improvements into the hook configuration as needed.


Pre-commit and pre-push hooks are crucial in maintaining code quality, consistency, and reliability in Ruby on Rails projects. By integrating these hooks into the development workflow, teams can automate code checks, enforce best practices, and prevent common errors and issues from being introduced into the codebase. Whether it's ensuring syntax correctness, enforcing coding standards, or running comprehensive test suites, pre-commit and pre-push hooks empower developers to deliver high-quality software efficiently. By following best practices and continually refining hook configurations, Rails development teams can elevate their codebase's quality and enhance collaboration, ultimately delivering better outcomes for their projects and stakeholders.

Closing Remark

Could your team use some help with topics like this and others covered by ShakaCode's blog and open source? We specialize in optimizing Rails applications, especially those with advanced JavaScript frontends, like React. We can also help you optimize your CI processes with lower costs and faster, more reliable tests. Scraping web data and lowering infrastructure costs are two other areas of specialization. Feel free to reach out to ShakaCode's CEO, Justin Gordon, at or schedule an appointment to discuss how ShakaCode can help your project!
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