PaperTrail lets you track changes to your models' data. It's good for auditing or versioning. You can see how a model looked at any stage in its lifecycle, revert it to any version, and even undelete it after it's been destroyed.
- Stores every create, update and destroy.
- Does not store updates which don't change anything (or which only change attributes you are ignoring).
- Allows you to get at every version, including the original, even once destroyed.
- Allows you to get at every version even if the schema has since changed.
- Automatically records who was responsible if your controller has a
- Allows you to set who is responsible at model-level (useful for migrations).
- Can be turned off/on (useful for migrations).
- No configuration necessary.
- Stores everything in a single database table (generates migration for you).
- Thoroughly tested.
Known to work on Rails 2.3. Probably works on Rails 2.2 and 2.1.
PaperTrail is simple to use. Just add 15 characters to a model to get a paper trail of every
class Widget < ActiveRecord::Base has_paper_trail end
This gives you a
versions method which returns the paper trail of changes to your model.
>> widget = Widget.find 42 >> widget.versions # [<Version>, <Version>, ...]
Once you have a version, you can find out what happened:
>> v = widget.versions.last >> v.event # 'update' (or 'create' or 'destroy') >> v.whodunnit # '153' (if the update was via a controller and # the controller has a current_user method, # here returning the id of the current user) >> v.created_at # when the update occurred >> widget = v.reify # the widget as it was before the update; # would be nil for a create event
PaperTrail stores the pre-change version of the model, unlike some other auditing/versioning plugins, so you can retrieve the original version. This is useful when you start keeping a paper trail for models that already have records in the database.
>> widget = Widget.find 153 >> widget.name # 'Doobly' # Add has_paper_trail to Widget model. >> widget.versions #  >> widget.update_attributes :name => 'Wotsit' >> widget.versions.first.reify.name # 'Doobly' >> widget.versions.first.event # 'update'
This also means that PaperTrail does not waste space storing a version of the object as it currently stands. The
versions method gives you previous versions; to get the current one just call a finder on your
Widget model as usual.
Here's a helpful table showing what PaperTrail stores:
|Event||Model Before||Model After|
PaperTrail stores the values in the Model Before column. Most other auditing/versioning plugins store the After column.
Ignoring changes to certain attributes
You can ignore changes to certain attributes like this:
class Article < ActiveRecord::Base has_paper_trail :ignore => [:title, :rating] end
This means that changes to just the
rating will not store another version of the article. It does not mean that the
rating attributes will be ignored if some other change causes a new
Version to be crated. For example:
>> a = Article.create >> a.versions.length # 1 >> a.update_attributes :title => 'My Title', :rating => 3 >> a.versions.length # 1 >> a.update_attributes :content => 'Hello' >> a.versions.length # 2 >> a.versions.last.reify.title # 'My Title'
Reverting And Undeleting A Model
PaperTrail makes reverting to a previous version easy:
>> widget = Widget.find 42 >> widget.update_attributes :name => 'Blah blah' # Time passes.... >> widget = widget.versions.last.reify # the widget as it was before the update >> widget.save # reverted
Undeleting is just as simple:
>> widget = Widget.find 42 >> widget.destroy # Time passes.... >> widget = Version.find(153).reify # the widget as it was before it was destroyed >> widget.save # the widget lives!
In fact you could use PaperTrail to implement an undo system, though I haven't had the opportunity yet to do it myself.
Finding Out Who Was Responsible For A Change
ApplicationController has a
current_user method, PaperTrail will store the value it returns in the
whodunnit column. Note that this column is a string so you will have to convert it to an integer if it's an id and you want to look up the user later on:
>> last_change = Widget.versions.last >> user_who_made_the_change = User.find last_change.whodunnit.to_i
In a migration or in
script/console you can set who is responsible like this:
>> PaperTrail.whodunnit = 'Andy Stewart' >> widget.update_attributes :name => 'Wibble' >> widget.versions.last.whodunnit # Andy Stewart
Turning PaperTrail Off/On
Sometimes you don't want to store changes. Perhaps you are only interested in changes made by your users and don't need to store changes you make yourself in, say, a migration.
If you are about change some widgets and you don't want a paper trail of your changes, you can turn PaperTrail off like this:
And on again like this:
Install PaperTrail either as a gem or as a plugin:
config.gem 'airblade-paper_trail', :lib => 'paper_trail', :source => 'http://gems.github.com'
script/plugin install git://github.com/airblade/paper_trail.git
Generate a migration which will add a
versionstable to your database.
Run the migration.
has_paper_trailto the models you want to track.
PaperTrail has a thorough suite of tests. However they only run when PaperTrail is sitting in a Rails app's
vendor/plugins directory. If anyone can tell me how to get them to run outside of a Rails app, I'd love to hear it.
Please use GitHub's issue tracker.
Copyright (c) 2009 Andy Stewart (firstname.lastname@example.org). Released under the MIT licence.