Rails plugin providing a parent object for has_many associations based on time, rather than a foreign key.
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ActiveTime is a Rails plugin that provides a parent object for has_many-ish associations to other ActiveRecord classes, but instead of a foreign key to scope the queries, a date range is used instead.

While this isn’t exactly how it all works, this should help visualize what I’m aiming for:

class Year
  has_many :posts
  has_many :comments

A few quick examples:

# All Posts created in 2008

# All Posts created in the current year

# All Comments created in November 2008
Month.new(2008, 11).comments

# All Comments created in the current month

# All Users created on November 15, 2008
Day.new(2008, 11, 15).users

# All Users created in the current day

# You aren't stuck with created_at either

# ActiveTime can be used instead

# Which is helpful when you want a range between two specific dates/times
ActiveTime.new(1.year.ago.utc, Time.now.utc).comments

# And it's just a wrapper around a named_scope under the hood, so you can do normal stuff:


./script/plugin install git://github.com/justinfrench/activetime.git


I’m not sure why you need it, but I’m building some RESTful controllers that need to present resources in a hierarchy based on dates (rather than a typical has_many/belongs_to association), so I wanted a model for the resource, upon which I could do the usual ActiveRecord has_many associations, scope chaining, pagination, etc. I wanted something that felt like ActiveRecord a bit.


Firstly, the plugin adds a named scope to ActiveRecord::Base (so it’s added to all your AR models) called in_date_range, which you can use directly if needed. It takes two Time objects in UTC as arguments (start time, end time) and optionally, a third argument that specifies which column the date range applies to (the default is :created_at). Examples:

Post.in_date_range(1.year.ago.utc, Time.now_utc)
Post.in_date_range(1.year.ago.utc, Time.now_utc, :published_at)

If you have two Time objects for the start and end of the range, ActiveTime is simply a wrapper around this named scope. These both result in the same database query:

Post.in_date_range(1.year.ago.utc, Time.now_utc)
ActiveTime.new(1.year.ago.utc, Time.now.utc).posts

Given that the second version is two characters longer, it’s not all that impressive, but what I really needed was to pass in just the start date, or part of one (like params[:year]) and automatically figure out what range I wanted (a whole year, a month, a day).

Month.new(params[:year], params[:month]).posts

And there’s more!

# Get the calculated start and end times:
Year.new(2008).starting             # => Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2008
Year.new(2008).ending               # => Wed Dec 31 23:59:59 UTC 2008

# Get a description of the range
Year.new(2008)                      # => in 2008
Month.new(2008, 11)                 # => in November 2008
Day.new(2008, 11, 18)               # => on November 18 2008


It’s pretty fresh and not battle tested yet, but the test suite is pretty solid. There’s heaps more to come, but what’s there right now works great.


  • tidy up the code a bit
  • generate and publish the rdoc
  • support hour, minute and second (Rails doesn’t provide #at_end_of_hour out of the box, so I’m just being lazy so far)
  • parse more date formats for input
  • time zones? (everything assumes UTC right now)
  • localization / internationalization?
  • anything better than method_missing magic (something more declarative)?

Project Info

ActiveTime is hosted on Github, where your contributions, forkings, comments and feedback are greatly welcomed.

Copyright © 2008 Justin French, released under the MIT license.