Have the Ol' Bobby Tit Head take his turns at watching over the access to actions on controllers and instances of models?
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Failed to load latest commit information.




I choose the name paying homage to the many policemen (that would be cops to some of you) relentlessly patroling the streets all over this cynical and moraleless world, be it in the Big Apple or some back street in Algier.

Bobby is all about guarding access

# access to actions on controllers # access to model instances (table rows)

CAVEAT: The data guarding is not nearly solved with Bobby - I will be the first to commit to that! Data guarding should be enforced on a number of levels - with the encryption of data in SQL servers being at one end of the rope, and physical access to buildings and data terminals at the other end. Somewhere in between lays Bobby, next to considerations whether to just guard data terminals or expand the guarding to encompass cables and network infrastructure too! And then there is the physical world of documents, papers, letters, telephone calls etc - well, Bobby is but a tiny piece in a much larger puzzle :)


Bobby is my first attempt to building a Gem and also my very first Rails project published with Github, and (I am sorry to confessing) even my first try at TDD.

That out in the open - please don't bury me for all the wrongs I'm probably doing as I go along <:)

Use Cases

Bobby is my attempt to solving a small number of use cases that I have listed below:

Guard access to actions on controllers/models

I realize that a fair number of projects exist which provide authorisation to users but most that I've been able to google, have focused on semi-static authorisations through some configuration setup.

In my experience - and judging from the use cases below - authorisations of today are fluctuating and certainly not slabbed in concrete. Delegating authorisations is at the discretion of superiors and hardly something they will delegate to geeks in the IT department.

UC #1: Add an authorisation for an action on a controller to any given user

New apprentice in Procurement

“Carrie, the new apprentice in Procurement, will need to have access to our Supply Management System, through the PurchaseOrdersController (PO), PurchaseReceiptsController (PR) and StockItemsController (SI). She is authorised to list, show and insert PO's, list, show and update PR's, and list and show SI's.”

UC #2: Temporarily allow a user access to confidential information otherwise not permitted for him to peruse

Internships, trainees et al

“Elisabeth, trainee and Msc student, has been granted no bars access to information in Accounting during a three week internship with our company.”

Guard access to model instances - rows loaded from tables

I've read through a number of ACL based projects and I guess it has to be me not being well-educated, but I've yet to understand how to set one of them up :(

Offering an organisation access control at a granular level like row data will prove to be a true Sword of Damocles as the organisation enjoys fine-grained access control, delegating and restricting access left and right - unknowingly creating chaos in the general levels of auhtorisation and chain of command, eventually leading to a demand for access control dissolution all together - 'We Need A Clean Slate' kind of job - which was entirely not what the access control system had been setup to do in the first place!

Used wisely, in a select few places, granular access control will, however, augment a general access control

UC #3: New account manager in Procurement

“Carrie, the new large account manager in Procurement, will need to have access to information pertaining to our three top suppliers, in Accounting.”

UC #4: Strategic observations as Customer Comments

“The brass will be evaluating customer performance during the next 3 months and will add comments to each customers 'blog'. This information is not to disseminate into the wild!”

NOTE: Arguably, this UC #4 is rather construed, but it proves the point that a certain sphere of information should be detainable within the boundaries of some system for the benefit of a finite party of users!


Bobby is a Rails 3 Gem, pre version 3 compatibility is scarce, at best!


Known Bugs


Generally, the easy way to use Bobby, is to add it to your Gemfile

gem 'bobby'

and have Bundler check/install it if necessary

Note on Patches/Pull Requests

  • Fork the project.

  • Make your feature addition or bug fix.

  • Add tests for it. This is important so I don't break it in a future version unintentionally.

  • Commit, do not mess with rakefile, version, or history. (if you want to have your own version, that is fine but bump version in a commit by itself I can ignore when I pull)

  • Send me a pull request. Bonus points for topic branches.


Copyright © 2010 Enrique Phillips. See LICENSE for details.