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Destroy your records while keeping them in database, able to restore them later
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is_paranoid ( same as it ever was )

and you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?

Sometimes you want to delete something in ActiveRecord, but you realize you might need it later (for an undo feature, or just as a safety net, etc.). There are a plethora of plugins that accomplish this, the most famous of which is the venerable acts_as_paranoid which is great but not really actively developed any more. What’s more, acts_as_paranoid was written for an older version of ActiveRecord and, with default_scope in 2.3, it is now possible to do the same thing with significantly less complexity. Thus, is_paranoid.

and you may ask yourself, how do I work this?

You should read the specs, or the RDOC, or even the source itself (which is very readable), but for the lazy, here’s the hand-holding:

You need ActiveRecord 2.3 and you need to properly install this gem. Then you need a model with a deleted_at timestamp column on its database table. If that column is null, the item isn’t deleted. If it has a timestamp, it should count as deleted.

So let’s assume we have a model Automobile that has a deleted_at column on the automobiles table.

If you’re working with Rails, in your environment.rb, add the following to your initializer block. do |config|
  # ...
  config.gem "jchupp-is_paranoid", :lib => 'is_paranoid', :version => ">= 0.0.1"

Then in your ActiveRecord model

class Automobile < ActiveRecord::Base

Now our automobiles are now soft-deleteable.

  that_large_automobile = Automobile.create()
  Automobile.count # => 1

  Automobile.count # => 0
  Automobile.count_with_deleted # => 1

  # where is that large automobile?
  that_large_automobile = Automobile.find_with_deleted(:all).first
  Automobile.count # => 1

One thing to note, destroying is always undo-able, but deleting is not.

  Automobile.count # => 0
  Automobile.count_with_deleted # => 1
  Automobile.count_with_deleted # => 0
  # And you may tell yourself, "My god!  What have I done?"

and you may ask yourself, where does that highway go to?

If you find any bugs, have any ideas of features you think are missing, or find things you’re like to see work differently, feel free to send me a message or a pull request.


Thanks to Rick Olson for acts_as_paranoid which is obviously an inspiration in concept and execution, Ryan Bates for mentioning the idea of using default_scope for this on Ryan Daigle’s post introducing default_scope, and the Talking Heads for being the Talking Heads.

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