Product E:ngineer

Enable Formatting with ERB files in VScode

July 18, 2018

I was searching online for a ERB beautifier and couldn’t find a complete solution that I could use on my Ubuntu and MacOS setup. In order to solve this problem I created a task where it runs HTMLbeautifier that is capable of understanding embedded Ruby.

Step 0 Install HTML Beautifier :

Install the gem by writing gem install htmlbeautifier on your terminal.

Step 1 Create a task file:

Click on the Tasks on the top of your VScode, then select the Configure Tasks, then select the Create tasks.json from template and after that click Other.

Now a json file will be created with the following formatting :

// See
// for the documentation about the tasks.json format
"version": "2.0.0",
"tasks": [
    "label": "echo",
    "type": "shell",
    "command": "echo Hello"

Step 2 Modify the Task file:

"version": "2.0.0",
"tasks": [
    "label": "ERB formatter",
    "type": "shell",
    "command": "ext=$(echo ${file})  && if [ ${ext##*.} == erb ]; then htmlbeautifier ${file} ${file}; else echo 'Not an ERB file'; fi",
    "presentation": {
        "reveal": "never",
        "panel": "new",
        "echo": false
    "group": {
    "kind": "build",
    "isDefault": true

Now let’s break the commands in pieces. The "version":"2.0.0" is used to defined which version of task are we going to use with our VScode. Then the label is the name of our task.

Now the command

ext=$(echo ${file})
if [ ${ext##*.} == erb ]; then
    htmlbeautifier ${file} ${file}; 
    echo 'Not an ERB file';
# The ${file} is a predefined variable that gives you the active file in your VScode tab.
# The following command ${ext##*.} is taking the biggest substring of a string (signle # would take the smallest part) until it meets the last period character. For example the name test.erb , would give you the output erb and the name test.txt would give you txt
# Now if the erb condition is met, then we should run htmlbeautifier with input and output the absolute path of the file

Step 3 Create a shortcut:

Wrapping up, we need a shortcut in order to run our task with ease. To do this open keybindings.json and paste the following

"key": "cmd+shift+r",
"command": "workbench.action.tasks.runTask",
"args": "ERB formatter"

This will run ERB formatter everytime your press cmd (if on MacOS) ,shift and r. That was pretty much all of it. Hope you find it useful.

Costa Alexoglou

Written by Costa Alexoglou Product Engineer at .
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