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An ActiveRecord plugin for atomic archiving and unarchiving of object trees. Inspired by ActsAsParanoid and PermanentRecord
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Atomically archive object trees in your activerecord models.

We had the problem that acts_as_paranoid and similar plugins/gems always work on a record-by-record basis and made it very difficult to restore records atomically (or archive them, for that matter).

Because the archive and unarchive methods are in transactions, and every archival record involved gets the same archive number upon archiving, you can easily restore or remove an entire set of records without having to worry about partial deletion or restoration.

Additionally, other plugins generally screw with how destroy/delete work. We don't because we actually want to be able to destroy records.



gem "acts_as_archival"

Any models you want to be archival should have the columns archive_number (String) and archived_at (DateTime).

i.e. rails g migration AddAAAToPost archive_number archived_at:datetime

Any dependent-destroy AAA model associated to an AAA model will be archived with its parent.

If you're stuck on Rails 3.0x/2, check out the available branches, which are no longer in active development.


class Hole < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_many :rats, :dependent => :destroy

class Rat < ActiveRecord::Base

Simple interactions & scopes

h = Hole.create                  #
h.archived?                      # => false
h.archive                        # => true
h.archived?                      # => "b56876de48a5dcfe71b2c13eec15e4a2"
h.archive_number                 # => "b56876de48a5dcfe71b2c13eec15e4a2"
h.archived_at                    # => Thu, 01 Jan 2012 01:49:21 -0400
h.unarchive                      # => true
h.archived?                      # => false
h.archive_number                 # => nil
h.archived_at                    # => nil


h = Hole.create                  #
r = h.rats.create                #
h.archive                        # => true
h.archive_number                 # => "b56876de48a5dcfe71b2c13eec15e4a2"
r.archive_number                 # => "b56876de48a5dcfe71b2c13eec15e4a2"
r.archived?                      # => "b56876de48a5dcfe71b2c13eec15e4a2"
h.unarchive                      # => true
h.archive_number                 # => nil
r.archive_number                 # => nil
r.archived?                      # => false


h = Hole.create
Hole.archived.size               # => 0
Hole.unarchived.size             # => 1
Hole.archived.size               # => 1
Hole.unarchived.size             # => 0

Utility methods

h = Hole.create                  #
h.is_archival?                   # => true
Hole.is_archival?                # => true


When defining an AAA model, it is is possible to make it unmodifiable when it is archived by passing :readonly_when_archived => true to the acts_as_archival call in your model.

class CantTouchThis < ActiveRecord::Base
  acts_as_archival :readonly_when_archived => true

record = CantTouchThis.create(:foo => "bar")
record.archive                               # => true = "I want this to work"                                  # => false
record.errors.full_messages.first            # => "Cannot modify an archived record."


  1. This will only work on associations that are dependent destroy. It should be trival to change that or make it optional.
  2. It will only work for Rails 2.2 and up, because we are using named_scope/scope. You can check out permanent records for a way to conditionally add the functionality to older Rails installations.
  3. If you would like to work on this, you will need to setup sqlite, postgres, and mysql on your development machine. Alternately, you can disable specific dev dependencies in the gemspec and test_helper and ask for help.


Running the tests should be as easy as:

script/setup                 # bundles, makes databases with permissions
rake                         # run tests on latest Rails
appraisal rake               # run tests on all versions of Rails

Help Wanted

We'd love to have your help making this better! If you have ideas for features this should implement or you think the code sucks, let us know. And PRs are greatly appreciated. :+1:


ActsAsParanoid and PermanentRecords were both inspirations for this:


  • Joel Meador
  • Michael Kuehl
  • Matthew Gordon
  • Vojtech Salbaba
  • David Jones
  • Dave Woodward
  • Miles Sterrett
  • James Hill
  • Maarten Claes


Copyright (c) 2009-2014 Expected Behavior, LLC, released under the MIT license

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