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Navigate with Turbo Drive

Turbo Drive is the part of Turbo that enhances page-level navigation. It watches for link clicks and form submissions, performs them in the background, and updates the page without doing a full reload. It’s the evolution of a library previously known as Turbolinks.

Turbo Drive models page navigation as a visit to a location (URL) with an action.

Visits represent the entire navigation lifecycle from click to render. That includes changing browser history, issuing the network request, restoring a copy of the page from cache, rendering the final response, and updating the scroll position.

During rendering, Turbo Drive replaces the contents of the requesting document’s <body> with the contents of the response document’s <body>, merges the contents of their <head>s too, and updates the lang attribute of the <html> element as needed. The point of merging instead of replacing the <head> elements is that if <title> or <meta> tags change, say, they will be updated as expected, but if links to assets are the same, they won’t be touched and therefore the browser won’t process them again.

There are two types of visit: an application visit, which has an action of advance or replace, and a restoration visit, which has an action of restore.

Application Visits

Application visits are initiated by clicking a Turbo Drive-enabled link, or programmatically by calling Turbo.visit(location).

An application visit always issues a network request. When the response arrives, Turbo Drive renders its HTML and completes the visit.

If possible, Turbo Drive will render a preview of the page from cache immediately after the visit starts. This improves the perceived speed of frequent navigation between the same pages.

If the visit’s location includes an anchor, Turbo Drive will attempt to scroll to the anchored element. Otherwise, it will scroll to the top of the page.

Application visits result in a change to the browser’s history; the visit’s action determines how.

Advance visit action

The default visit action is advance. During an advance visit, Turbo Drives pushes a new entry onto the browser’s history stack using history.pushState.

Applications using the Turbo Drive iOS adapter typically handle advance visits by pushing a new view controller onto the navigation stack. Similarly, applications using the Android adapter typically push a new activity onto the back stack.

Replace visit action

You may wish to visit a location without pushing a new history entry onto the stack. The replace visit action uses history.replaceState to discard the topmost history entry and replace it with the new location.

To specify that following a link should trigger a replace visit, annotate the link with data-turbo-action="replace":

<a href="/edit" data-turbo-action="replace">Edit</a>

To programmatically visit a location with the replace action, pass the action: "replace" option to Turbo.visit:

Turbo.visit("/edit", { action: "replace" })

Applications using the Turbo Drive iOS adapter typically handle replace visits by dismissing the topmost view controller and pushing a new view controller onto the navigation stack without animation.

Restoration Visits

Turbo Drive automatically initiates a restoration visit when you navigate with the browser’s Back or Forward buttons. Applications using the iOS or Android adapters initiate a restoration visit when moving backward in the navigation stack.

Restore visit action

If possible, Turbo Drive will render a copy of the page from cache without making a request. Otherwise, it will retrieve a fresh copy of the page over the network. See Understanding Caching for more details.

Turbo Drive saves the scroll position of each page before navigating away and automatically returns to this saved position on restoration visits.

Restoration visits have an action of restore and Turbo Drive reserves them for internal use. You should not attempt to annotate links or invoke Turbo.visit with an action of restore.

Canceling Visits Before They Start

Application visits can be canceled before they start, regardless of whether they were initiated by a link click or a call to Turbo.visit.

Listen for the turbo:before-visit event to be notified when a visit is about to start, and use event.detail.url (or $event.originalEvent.detail.url, when using jQuery) to check the visit’s location. Then cancel the visit by calling event.preventDefault().

Restoration visits cannot be canceled and do not fire turbo:before-visit. Turbo Drive issues restoration visits in response to history navigation that has already taken place, typically via the browser’s Back or Forward buttons.

Custom Rendering

Applications can customize the rendering process by adding a document-wide turbo:before-render event listener and overriding the event.detail.render property.

For example, you could merge the response document’s <body> element into the requesting document’s <body> element with morphdom:

import morphdom from "morphdom"

addEventListener("turbo:before-render", (event) => {
event.detail.render = (currentElement, newElement) => {
morphdom(currentElement, newElement)
}
})

Pausing Rendering

Applications can pause rendering and make additional preparations before continuing.

Listen for the turbo:before-render event to be notified when rendering is about to start, and pause it using event.preventDefault(). Once the preparation is done continue rendering by calling event.detail.resume().

An example use case is adding exit animation for visits:

document.addEventListener("turbo:before-render", async (event) => {
event.preventDefault()

await animateOut()

event.detail.resume()
})

Pausing Requests

Application can pause request and make additional preparation before it will be executed.

Listen for the turbo:before-fetch-request event to be notified when a request is about to start, and pause it using event.preventDefault(). Once the preparation is done continue request by calling event.detail.resume().

An example use case is setting Authorization header for the request:

document.addEventListener("turbo:before-fetch-request", async (event) => {
event.preventDefault()

const token = await getSessionToken(window.app)
event.detail.fetchOptions.headers["Authorization"] = `Bearer ${token}`

event.detail.resume()
})

Performing Visits With a Different Method

By default, link clicks send a GET request to your server. But you can change this with data-turbo-method:

<a href="/articles/54" data-turbo-method="delete">Delete the article</a>

The link will get converted into a hidden form next to the a element in the DOM. This means that the link can’t appear inside another form, as you can’t have nested forms.

You should also consider that for accessibility reasons, it’s better to use actual forms and buttons for anything that’s not a GET.

Requiring Confirmation for a Visit

Decorate links with data-turbo-confirm, and confirmation will be required for a visit to proceed.

<a href="/articles" data-turbo-confirm="Do you want to leave this page?">Back to articles</a>
<a href="/articles/54" data-turbo-method="delete" data-turbo-confirm="Are you sure you want to delete the article?">Delete the article</a>

Use Turbo.setConfirmMethod to change the method that gets called for confirmation. The default is the browser’s built in confirm.

Turbo Drive can be disabled on a per-element basis by annotating the element or any of its ancestors with data-turbo="false".

<a href="/" data-turbo="false">Disabled</a>

<form action="/messages" method="post" data-turbo="false">
...
</form>

<div data-turbo="false">
<a href="/">Disabled</a>
<form action="/messages" method="post">
...
</form>
</div>

To reenable when an ancestor has opted out, use data-turbo="true":

<div data-turbo="false">
<a href="/" data-turbo="true">Enabled</a>
</div>

Links or forms with Turbo Drive disabled will be handled normally by the browser.

If you want Drive to be opt-in rather than opt-out, then you can set Turbo.session.drive = false; then, data-turbo="true" is used to enable Drive on a per-element basis. If you’re importing Turbo in a JavaScript pack, you can do this globally:

import { Turbo } from "@hotwired/turbo-rails"
Turbo.session.drive = false

View transitions

In browsers that support the View Transition API Turbo can trigger view transitions when navigating between pages.

Turbo triggers a view transition when both the current and the next page have this meta tag:

<meta name="view-transition" content="same-origin" />

Turbo also adds a data-turbo-visit-direction attribute to the <html> element to indicate the direction of the transition. The attribute can have one of the following values:

You can use this attribute to customize the animations that are performed during a transition:

html[data-turbo-visit-direction="forward"]::view-transition-old(sidebar):only-child {
animation: slide-to-right 0.5s ease-out;
}

Displaying Progress

During Turbo Drive navigation, the browser will not display its native progress indicator. Turbo Drive installs a CSS-based progress bar to provide feedback while issuing a request.

The progress bar is enabled by default. It appears automatically for any page that takes longer than 500ms to load. (You can change this delay with the Turbo.setProgressBarDelay method.)

The progress bar is a <div> element with the class name turbo-progress-bar. Its default styles appear first in the document and can be overridden by rules that come later.

For example, the following CSS will result in a thick green progress bar:

.turbo-progress-bar {
height: 5px;
background-color: green;
}

To disable the progress bar entirely, set its visibility style to hidden:

.turbo-progress-bar {
visibility: hidden;
}

In tandem with the progress bar, Turbo Drive will also toggle the [aria-busy] attribute on the page’s <html> element during page navigations started from Visits or Form Submissions. Turbo Drive will set [aria-busy="true"] when the navigation begins, and will remove the [aria-busy] attribute when the navigation completes.

Reloading When Assets Change

As we saw above, Turbo Drive merges the contents of the <head> elements. However, if CSS or JavaScript change, that merge would evaluate them on top of the existing one. Typically, this would lead to undesirable conflicts. In such cases, it’s necessary to fetch a completely new document through a standard, non-Ajax request.

To accomplish this, just annotate those asset elements with data-turbo-track="reload" and include a version identifier in your asset URLs. The identifier could be a number, a last-modified timestamp, or better, a digest of the asset’s contents, as in the following example.

<head>
...
<link rel="stylesheet" href="/application-258e88d.css" data-turbo-track="reload">
<script src="/application-cbd3cd4.js" data-turbo-track="reload"></script>
</head>

Ensuring Specific Pages Trigger a Full Reload

You can ensure visits to a certain page will always trigger a full reload by including a <meta name="turbo-visit-control"> element in the page’s <head>.

<head>
...
<meta name="turbo-visit-control" content="reload">
</head>

This setting may be useful as a workaround for third-party JavaScript libraries that don’t interact well with Turbo Drive page changes.

Setting a Root Location

By default, Turbo Drive only loads URLs with the same origin—i.e. the same protocol, domain name, and port—as the current document. A visit to any other URL falls back to a full page load.

In some cases, you may want to further scope Turbo Drive to a path on the same origin. For example, if your Turbo Drive application lives at /app, and the non-Turbo Drive help site lives at /help, links from the app to the help site shouldn’t use Turbo Drive.

Include a <meta name="turbo-root"> element in your pages’ <head> to scope Turbo Drive to a particular root location. Turbo Drive will only load same-origin URLs that are prefixed with this path.

<head>
...
<meta name="turbo-root" content="/app">
</head>

Form Submissions

Turbo Drive handles form submissions in a manner similar to link clicks. The key difference is that form submissions can issue stateful requests using the HTTP POST method, while link clicks only ever issue stateless HTTP GET requests.

Throughout a submission, Turbo Drive will dispatch a series of events that target the <form> element and bubble up through the document:

  1. turbo:submit-start
  2. turbo:before-fetch-request
  3. turbo:before-fetch-response
  4. turbo:submit-end

During a submission, Turbo Drive will set the “submitter” element’s disabled attribute when the submission begins, then remove the attribute after the submission ends. When submitting a <form> element, browsers will treat the <input type="submit"> or <button> element that initiated the submission as the submitter. To submit a <form> element programmatically, invoke the HTMLFormElement.requestSubmit() method and pass an <input type="submit"> or <button> element as an optional parameter.

If there are other changes you’d like to make during a <form> submission (for example, disabling all fields within a submitted <form>), you can declare your own event listeners:

addEventListener("turbo:submit-start", ({ target }) => {
for (const field of target.elements) {
field.disabled = true
}
})

Redirecting After a Form Submission

After a stateful request from a form submission, Turbo Drive expects the server to return an HTTP 303 redirect response, which it will then follow and use to navigate and update the page without reloading.

The exception to this rule is when the response is rendered with either a 4xx or 5xx status code. This allows form validation errors to be rendered by having the server respond with 422 Unprocessable Entity and a broken server to display a “Something Went Wrong” screen on a 500 Internal Server Error.

The reason Turbo doesn’t allow regular rendering on 200’s from POST requests is that browsers have built-in behavior for dealing with reloads on POST visits where they present a “Are you sure you want to submit this form again?” dialogue that Turbo can’t replicate. Instead, Turbo will stay on the current URL upon a form submission that tries to render, rather than change it to the form action, since a reload would then issue a GET against that action URL, which may not even exist.

If the form submission is a GET request, you may render the directly rendered response by giving the form a data-turbo-frame target. If you’d like the URL to update as part of the rendering also pass a data-turbo-action attribute.

Streaming After a Form Submission

Servers may also respond to form submissions with a Turbo Streams message by sending the header Content-Type: text/vnd.turbo-stream.html followed by one or more <turbo-stream> elements in the response body. This lets you update multiple parts of the page without navigating.

InstantClick

Turbo can also speed up perceived link navigation latency by automatically loading links on mouseenter or touchstart events, and before the user clicks the link. This usually leads to a speed bump of 500-800ms per click navigation.

InstantClick is enabled by default since Turbo v8, but you can disable it by adding this meta tag to your page:

<meta name="turbo-prefetch" content="false">

To avoid prefetching links that the user is briefly hovering, Turbo waits 100ms after the user hovers over the link before prefetching it. But you may want to disable the prefetching behavior on certain links leading to pages with expensive rendering.

You can disable the behavior on a per-element basis by annotating the element or any of its ancestors with data-turbo-prefetch="false".

<html>
<head>
<meta name="turbo-prefetch" content="true">
</head>
<body>
<a href="/articles">Articles</a> <!-- This link is prefetched -->
<a href="/about" data-turbo-prefetch="false">About</a> <!-- Not prefetched -->
<div data-turbo-prefetch="false"`>
<!-- Links inside this div will not be prefetched -->
</div>
</body>
</html>

You can also disable the behaviour programatically by intercepting the turbo:before-prefetch event and calling event.preventDefault().

document.addEventListener("turbo:before-prefetch", (event) => {
if (isSavingData() || hasSlowInternet()) {
event.preventDefault()
}
})

function isSavingData() {
return navigator.connection?.saveData
}

function hasSlowInternet() {
return navigator.connection?.effectiveType === "slow-2g" ||
navigator.connection?.effectiveType === "2g"
}

Preload links into Turbo Drive’s cache using the data-turbo-preload boolean attribute.

This will make page transitions feel lightning fast by providing a preview of a page even before the first visit. Use it to preload the most important pages in your application. Avoid over usage, as it will lead to loading content that is not needed.

Not every <a> element can be preloaded. The [data-turbo-preload] attribute won’t have any effect on links that:

It also dovetails nicely with pages that leverage Eager-Loading Frames or Lazy-Loading Frames. As you can preload the structure of the page and show the user a meaningful loading state while the interesting content loads.

Note that preloaded <a> elements will dispatch turbo:before-fetch-request and turbo:before-fetch-response events. To distinguish a preloading turbo:before-fetch-request initiated event from an event initiated by another mechanism, check whether the request’s X-Sec-Purpose header (read from the event.detail.fetchOptions.headers["X-Sec-Purpose"] property) is set to "prefetch":

addEventListener("turbo:before-fetch-request", (event) => {
if (event.detail.fetchOptions.headers["X-Sec-Purpose"] === "prefetch") {
// do additional preloading setup…
} else {
// do something else…
}
})

Next: Smooth page refreshes with morphing