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Batch up your ActiveRecord "touch" operations for better performance. ActiveRecord::Base.delay_touching do ... end. When "end" is reached, all accumulated "touch" calls will be consolidated into as few database round trips as possible.
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Note: this version requires ActiveRecord 4.2 or higher. To use ActiveRecord 3.2 through 4.1, use the branch

Batch up your ActiveRecord "touch" operations for better performance.

When you want to invalidate a cache in Rails, you use touch: true. But when you modify a bunch of records that all belong_to the same owning record, that record will be touched N times. It's incredibly slow.

With this gem, all touch operations are consolidated into as few database round-trips as possible. Instead of N touches you get 1 touch.


Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'activerecord-delay_touching'

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself:

$ gem install activerecord-delay_touching


The setup:

class Person < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_many :pets
  accepts_nested_attributes_for :pets

class Pet < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :person, touch: true

Without delay_touching, this simple update in the controller calls @person.touch N times, where N is the number of pets that were updated via nested attributes. That's N-1 unnecessary round-trips to the database:

class PeopleController < ApplicationController
  def update

# SQL (0.1ms)  UPDATE "people" SET "updated_at" = '2014-07-09 19:48:07.137158' WHERE "people"."id" = 1
# SQL (0.1ms)  UPDATE "people" SET "updated_at" = '2014-07-09 19:48:07.138457' WHERE "people"."id" = 1
# SQL (0.1ms)  UPDATE "people" SET "updated_at" = '2014-07-09 19:48:07.140088' WHERE "people"."id" = 1

With delay_touching, @person is touched only once:

ActiveRecord::Base.delay_touching do

# SQL (0.1ms)  UPDATE "people" SET "updated_at" = '2014-07-09 19:48:07.140088' WHERE "people"."id" = 1

Consolidates Touches Per Table

In the following example, a person gives his pet to another person. ActiveRecord automatically touches the old person and the new person. With delay_touching, this will only make a single round-trip to the database, setting updated_at for all Person records in a single SQL UPDATE statement. Not a big deal when there are only two touches, but when you're updating records en masse and have a cascade of hundreds touches, it really is a big deal.

class Pet < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :person, touch: true

  def give(to_person)
    ActiveRecord::Base.delay_touching do
      self.person = to_person
      save! # touches old person and new person in a single SQL UPDATE.

Cascading Touches

When delay_touch runs through and touches everything, it captures additional touch calls that might be called as side-effects. (E.g., in after_touch handlers.) Then it makes a second pass, batching up those touches as well.

It keeps doing this until there are no more touches, or until the sun swallows up the earth. Whichever comes first.


Things to note:

  • after_touch callbacks are still fired for every instance, but not until the block is exited. And they won't happen in the same order as they would if you weren't batching up your touches.
  • If you call person1.touch and then person2.touch, and they are two separate instances with the same id, only person1's after_touch handler will be called.


  1. Fork it ( )
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Add some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create a new Pull Request
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