With tools like Yarn and NPM around, Bower seems like an unnecessary technology.

While that might seem like the case, there are plenty of applications still using this tool to manage CSS and JavaScript assets. So, understanding how to use it is valuable.

A search for “bower.json” on GitHub returns ~490K results.

Install Bower

Assuming you already have npm installed, get the bower command by running:

$ npm install -g bower

Managing Assets w/ Bower

Add Bower to your project with the following command:

$ bower init

This will interactively create a bower.json file which will describe your application, as well as the JavaScript assets you wish to have as a part of your application.

Install some dependencies, such as moment or konami-js.

$ bower install moment --save
$ bower install konami-js --save

Entries will be placed in the “dependencies” section of the project’s bower.json file.

  "name": "project-name",
  "homepage": "https://github.com/github-user/project-name",


  "dependencies": {
    "moment": "momentjs#^2.19.3",
    "konami-js": "^1.4.7"

Other project contributors will need to run bower install from the project root.

By default, dependencies managed by bower will be installed to the bower_components folder. You should add this folder to the .gitignore file in order to keep these assets separate from your git repository.

Bower and Rails 3.2/4

Setting the bower_components folder

Bower, by default, uses the bower_components folder to store installed assets.

Rails expects to find assets you and your team have created in the app/assets folder, and assets from other developers in the vendor/assets folder.

Set up Bower to install dependencies in the vendor/assets folder. Create a .bowerrc file in your project’s root path with the following contents.

  "directory": "vendor/assets/bower_components"

Be sure to .gitignore this folder.

Referencing Bower-installed assets in Rails

Within files in app/assets, add require the dependencies installed by Bower. Note the omission of file extensions.

In app/assets/javascripts/application.js:

//= require bower_components/moment/moment

Note: load any necessary CSS files, as well.

Compiled assets will end up in the public/assets folder. Read more about the Rails Asset Pipeline, here.

If we want to be able to reference assets without specifying the bower_components folder, modify the Rails.application.config.assets.path array.

In config/application.rb:

config.assets.paths << Rails.root.join("vendor", "assets", "bower_components")