Rails comes with the ability to customize the IRB console when you run rails console. This can be useful to preconfigure behavior for your console when any developer runs it from any environment.

This example is pulled almost directly from our Rails apps at Site5. First, create lib/console.rb with the following:

# Enable tab completion
require 'irb/completion'

app = Rails.application.class.name.split('::').first
env = Rails.env

# Define a custom prompt
# Eg:
#   my_app (development) >
IRB.conf[:PROMPT] ||= {}
  PROMPT_I: "#{app} (#{env}) > ",
  PROMPT_N: nil,
  PROMPT_S: nil,
  PROMPT_C: nil,
  RETURN:   "=> %s\n"

# Use the custom  prompt

unless Rails.env.production?
  # Save commands in `~/.app-env-irb-history`
  IRB.conf[:HISTORY_FILE] = File.expand_path("~/.#{app}-#{env}-irb-history")

  # Save 2000 lines of command history
  IRB.conf[:SAVE_HISTORY] = 2000

Next, edit config/application.rb and add the following:

module MyApp
  class Application < Rails::Application
    console do
      ARGV.push "-r", root.join("lib/console.rb")

Under the hood, Rails starts the console with IRB.start, the same way the standard irb command does. The code added to config/application.rb starts the console like you had called irb -rRAILS_ROOT/lib/console.rb. When you start the console, console.rb is required and your customizations are loaded.

We’ve found this is a great way to configure the console environment in development and production.