Declarative RESTful JSON service controllers to use with AngularJS, Ember, etc. with less code
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Inherited Resources including extensions. Tested with Rails 3.2, 4.0, 4.1, Rails edge, Inherited Resources 1.4 and edge, in Ruby 1.9.3, 2.0.0, and jruby-19mode.

Extend Inherited Resources actions with the extensions method which provides symbolic references to do module includes as well as automatic inclusion of modules based on what actions are defined. The included extensions provide more of a DSL-like way to define your controllers. And, instead of model-heavy development via scope in models and has_scope in the controller, you can just define request parameter-based filters and their defaults in the controller. Ordering, parameter value conversion, pagination, and more are supported without additional dependencies.

class PostsController < ApplicationController

  respond_to :json

  actions :index
  extensions :count, :limit, :offset, :paging

  can_filter_by :author, through: {author: :name}
  default_filter_by :author, eq: 'anonymous'

  can_filter_by :posted_on, using: [:lt, :eq, :gt]
  default_filter_by :posted_on, gt: 1.year.ago

  can_filter_by :company, through: {author: {company: :name}

  can_order_by :posted_on, :author, :id
  default_order_by {:posted_on => :desc}, :id


Then set up your routes and any views.

Now here are some of the URLs you can hit:,-id

You can also define a query to allow only admins to see private posts:

index_query ->(q) { @current_user.admin? ? q : q.where(:access => 'public') }

and change the query depending on a supplied param:

can_filter_by_query \
    status: ->(q, status) {
      status == 'all' ? q : q.where(:status => status)
    color: ->(q, color) {
      if color == 'red'
        q.where("color = 'red' or color = 'ruby'")
        q.where(:color => color)

Note: extensions also automatically includes common sets of extensions with certain actions. So, just specify extensions by itself can include things you can use, e.g.

class PostsController < ApplicationController

  actions :index


In your Rails app's Gemfile:

gem 'irie'


bundle install

Application Configuration

Each application-level configuration option can be configured one line at a time:

::Irie.number_of_records_in_a_page = 30

or in bulk, like:

::Irie.configure do
  # Default for :using in can_filter_by.
  self.can_filter_by_default_using = [:eq]

  # Use one or more alternate request parameter names for functions, e.g.
  # `self.function_param_names = {distinct: :very_distinct, limit: [:limit, :limita]}`
  self.function_param_names = {}
  # Delimiter for ARel predicate in the request parameter name.
  self.predicate_prefix = '.'

  # You'd set this to false if id is used for something else other than primary key.
  self.id_is_primary_key_param = true

  # Used when paging is enabled.
  self.number_of_records_in_a_page = 15

  # Included if the action method exists when `extensions` is called.
  self.autoincludes = {
    create: [:smart_layout, :query_includes],
    destroy: [:smart_layout, :query_includes],
    edit: [:smart_layout, :query_includes],
    index: [:smart_layout, :index_query, :order, :param_filters, :params_to_joins, :query_filter, :query_includes],
    new: [:smart_layout],
    show: [:smart_layout, :query_includes],
    update: [:smart_layout, :query_includes]


You may want to put your configuration in an initializer like config/initializers/irie.rb.

Controller Configuration

The default controller config may be fine, but you can customize it.

In the controller, you can set a variety of class attributes with self.something = ... in the body of your controller.

All of the app-level configuration parameters are configurable in the controller class body, e.g.:

  self.can_filter_by_default_using = [:eq]
  self.function_param_names = {}
  self.predicate_prefix = '.'
  self.number_of_records_in_a_page = 15
  self.id_is_primary_key_param = true
  self.update_should_return_entity = false

About Extensions

As you may have noticed in autoincludes, some concerns are included as a package along with the action include.

The following assumes that you are using the default autoincludes and included the relevant action.

Filtering by Attribute(s)

Inherited Resources has has_scope via the has_scope dependency, which is still available for use, and is very powerful. But, Irie also has can_filter_by. It is an alternative, not a replacement.

Unlike has_scope, can_filter_by doesn't require a scope on the model and has_scope on the controller. Instead you just have a single can_filter_by in the controller rather. Other differences are that the request parameter syntax is more brief, and it adds support for defining deeply associated attributes via either define_params or a through option.

Like the combination of scope and has_scope, can_filter_by filters the index action the request parameter name as a symbol will filter the results by the value of that request parameter, e.g. assuming :eq is in the configured can_filter_by_default_using in your config, as it is by default:

can_filter_by :title

allows you to:




Since .eq is optional in the param name.

And, like has_scope, predications are supported. Do Arel::Predications.public_instance_methods.sort in Rails console to see the list:

:does_not_match, :does_not_match_all, :does_not_match_any, :eq, :eq_all, :eq_any, :gt,
:gt_all, :gt_any, :gteq, :gteq_all, :gteq_any, :in, :in_all, :in_any, :lt, :lt_all,
:lt_any, :lteq, :lteq_all, :lteq_any, :matches, :matches_all, :matches_any, :not_eq,
:not_eq_all, :not_eq_any, :not_in, :not_in_all, :not_in_any

You can specify these via the using: option:

can_filter_by :seen_on, using: [:gteq, :eq_any]

For predicates that take more than one value, by default it expects that you send in multiple request parameters, that way if a value contains something that would be a delimiter of the value, you don't have to worry about additional escaping characters in the value to what you'd have to do otherwise. But, if a value is numeric, for example, you might want to be able to specify a comma-delimited list, and you can do so via:

can_filter_by :mileage, using: [:eq_any], split: ","

Unlike has_scope which uses a much lengthier request parameter syntax, by appending the predicate prefix (. by default) to the request parameter name, you can use any ARel predicate you allowed, e.g.:


And, can_filter_by supports (inner) joins created by define_params or if you'd rather, you can specify a :through which (inner) joins and sets the deepest symbol in the hash as the key for the parameter value, then does a where, e.g.:

can_filter_by :name, through: {company: {employee: :full_name}}

If a MagicalUnicorn has_many :friends and a MagicalUnicorn's friend has a name attribute:

can_filter_by :magical_unicorn_friend_name,
              through: {magical_unicorns:{friends: :name}}

and use this to get valleys associated with unicorns who in turn have a friend named Oscar:


Similar to specifying a proc/lambda in the scope and then using has_scope to use it, or defining a scope in the model and defining has_scope and passing a block into it, you can use can_filter_by_query, but again you only have to define something in the controller- not the model and controller. It works a little bit differently; the proc/lambda is in the context of the controller, so unlike the has_scope that takes a block, the controller doesn't have to be passed in, since that is self. The relation object is passed in as q, e.g.:

can_filter_by_query a_request_param_name: ->(q, param_value_or_values) {
  q.joins(:some_assoc).where(some_assocs_table_name: {some_attr: param_value_or_values})

The second argument sent to the lambda (param_value_or_values) is the request parameter value converted by the convert_param(param_name, param_values) method, which may be customized through included extensions or your own extension. See elsewhere in this document for more information about the behavior of this method.

The return value of the lambda becomes the new query, so you could really change the behavior of the query depending on the request parameter provided.

Customizing Request Parameter Value Conversion

Implement the convert_param(param_name, param_values) in your controller or an included module. See Writing Your Own Extensions for an example.

Default Filters

Like the combination of scope and has_scope available via has_scope, which you can still use, defaults are supported that are compatible with can_filter_by.

Specify default filters to define attributes, ARel predicates, and values to use if no filter is provided by the client with the same param name, e.g. if you have:

  can_filter_by :attr_name_1
  can_filter_by :production_date, :creation_date, using: [:gt, :eq, :lteq]
  default_filter_by :attr_name_1, eq: 5
  default_filter_by :production_date, :creation_date, gt: 1.year.ago,
                    lteq: 1.year.from_now

and both attr_name_1 and production_date are supplied by the client, then it would filter by the client's attr_name_1 and production_date and filter creation_date by both > 1 year ago and <= 1 year from now.



In the controller:

extensions :count



That will set the @count instance variable that you can use in your view.

Use extensions :autorender_count to render count automatically for non-HTML (JSON, etc.) views.

Page Count

In the controller:

extensions :paging



That will set the @page_count instance variable that you can use in your view.

Use extensions :autorender_page_count to render count automatically for non-HTML (JSON, etc.) views.

Getting a Page

In the controller:

extensions :paging

To access each page of results:


To set page size at application level:

::Irie.number_of_records_in_a_page = 15

To set page size at controller level:

self.number_of_records_in_a_page = 15
Offset and Limit

In the controller:

extensionss :offset, :limit



You can combine them to act like page:



You can allow request specified order:

can_order_by :foo_date, :foo_color

Will let the client send the order parameter with those parameters and optional +/- prefix to designate sort direction, e.g. the following will sort by foo_date ascending then foo_color descending:


The default_order_by specifies an ordered array of ascending attributes and/or hashes of attributes to sort direction:

default_order_by :posted_at => :desc, :id => :desc


default_order_by {:this_is_desc => :desc}, :this_is_asc,
                 {:no_different_than_a_symbol => :asc},
                 :this_is_asc_also, :id => :desc

can_order_by and default_order_by support joins/names_params as well as a through option on can_order_by similar to can_filter_by.

Custom Index Queries

To filter the list where the status_code attribute is 'green':

index_query ->(q) { q.where(:status_code => 'green') }

You can also filter out items that have associations that don't have a certain attribute value (or anything else you can think up with ARel/ActiveRecord relations), e.g. to filter the list where the object's apples and pears associations are green:

index_query ->(q) {
  q.joins(:apples, :pears)
  .where(apples: {color: 'green'})
  .where(pears: {color: 'green'})

To avoid n+1 queries, use .includes(...) in your query to eager load any associations that you will need in the JSON view.

Smart Layout

By default, Rails rendering goes through some extra hoops to attempt to find your layout unless you tell it not to, so With default autoincludes, Irie will use the :smart_layout extension to specify layout: false unless the request format is html.

Avoid n+1 Queries

# load all the posts and the associated category and comments for each post
query_includes :category, :comments


# load all of the associated posts, the associated posts’ tags and comments, and every comment’s guest association
query_includes posts: [{comments: :guest}, :tags]

and action-specific:

query_includes_for :create, are: [:category, :comments]
query_includes_for :index, :show, are: [posts: [{comments: :guest}, :tags]]

Using define_params vs :through option

The :through option in can_filter_by and can_order_by just uses define_params to set the attribute name alias and options (which is parsed into a joins hash and attribute name internally). So, if you don't mind a little more typing, it might make the intent clearer, e.g.

define_params name: {company: {employee: :full_name}},
              color: :external_color
can_filter_by :name
default_filter_by :name, eq: 'Guest'
can_order_by :color
default_filter_by :color, eq: 'blue'

Other Extensions

The following concerns, which you can include via extensions ... or via including the corresponding module, might also be of use in your controller:

  • :nil_params - convert 'NULL', 'null', and 'nil' to nil when passed in as request params.

Writing Your Own Extensions

Extensions are just modules. There is no magic.

Some hopefully good examples of how to extend modules are in this project in lib/irie/extensions/.

Here's a quick example:

module Example
  module BooleanParams
    extend ::ActiveSupport::Concern

    TRUE_VALUE = 'true'.freeze
    FALSE_VALUE = 'false'.freeze


    # Converts request param value(s) 'true' to true and 'false' to false
    def convert_param(param_name, param_value_or_values)
      logger.debug("Example::BooleanParams.convert_param(#{param_name.inspect}, #{param_value_or_values.inspect})") if ::Irie.debug?
      param_value_or_values = super if defined?(super)
      if param_value_or_values.is_a? Array {|v| convert_boolean(v)}


    def convert_boolean(value)
      case value
      when TRUE_VALUE
      when FALSE_VALUE

If you are just doing regular include's in your controllers, that's all you need, and you can include when you need to.

If you'd like to use your modules via the extensions method, just register the extension in an initializer, e.g. in config/initializers/irie.rb:

# note: Referencing as string so we don't load the concern before it is used.
::Irie.register_extension :boolean_params, '::Example::BooleanParams'

Now, you could do this in your controller:

  respond_to :json

  actions :index
  extensions :boolean_params

Irie includes a way to specify order of module inclusion independent of the class/module it is included in, and you can specify that at registration, e.g. in an initializer like config/initializers/irie.rb, you might do one of the following:

::Irie.register_extension :boolean_params, '::Example::BooleanParams', include: :last # last is the default, so don't need to specify this option
::Irie.register_extension :boolean_params, '::Example::BooleanParams', include: :first
::Irie.register_extension :boolean_params, '::Example::BooleanParams', after: :nil_params
::Irie.register_extension :boolean_params, '::Example::BooleanParams', before: :nil_params

Note: an extension must be registered before you can use after: or before: to place your extension include after or before it. Use require and declare dependencies if possible to ensure registration of other extensions, and nothing is stopping you from registering something else. The extension class constant isn't going to be referenced by Irie until extensions is called with it.

The extensions method is just a companion to actions if you want to use it. You can still use include/extend/prepend, if you'd rather.



If you get missing FROM-clause entry for table errors, it might mean that query_includes/query_includes_for you are using are overlapping with joins that are being done in the query. This is the nasty head of AR relational includes, unfortunately.

To fix, you may decide to either: (1) change order/definition of includes in query_includes/query_includes_for, (2) don't use query_includes/query_includes_for for the actions it affects (may cause n+1 queries), (3) implement apply_includes to do includes in an appropriate order (messy), or (4) use custom query (if index/custom list action) to define joins with handcoded SQL, e.g. (thanks to Tommy):

index_query ->(q) {
  # Using standard joins performs an INNER JOIN like we want, but doesn't
  # eager load.
  # Using includes does an eager load, but does a LEFT OUTER JOIN, which
  # isn't really what we want, but in this scenario is probably ok.
  # Using standard joins & includes results in bad SQL with table aliases.
  # So, using includes & custom joins seems like a decent solution.
  q.includes(:bartender, :waitress, :owner, :customer)
    .joins('INNER JOIN employees bartenders ON bartenders.employee_id = ' +
    .joins('INNER JOIN waitresses shift_workers ON = ' +
    .where(bartenders: {certified: 'yes'})
    .where(shift_workers: {attitude: 'great'})

# set includes for all actions except index
query_includes :owner, :customer, :bartender, :waitress

# includes specified in index query
query_includes_for :index, are: []

Debugging Includes


If you enabled Irie's debug option via:

::Irie.debug = true

Then all the included modules (actions, extensions) will use logger.debug ... to log some information about what is executed.

To log debug to console only in your tests, you could put this in your test helper:

::Irie.debug = true
::ActionController::Base.logger =
::ActionController::Base.logger.level = Logger::DEBUG

However, that might not catch all the initialization debug logging that could occur. Instead, you might put the following into the block in config/environments/test.rb:

::Irie.debug = true
config.log_level = :debug


The project was originally named restful_json. Old commit tags corresponding to restful_json versions may be found in legacy.

Release Notes

See changelog and git log.


Please fork, make changes in a separate branch, and do a pull request. Thanks!


This was written by FineLine Prototyping, Inc. by the following contributors:


Copyright (c) 2013 FineLine Prototyping, Inc., released under the MIT license.