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A polymorphic, storage-system independent search engine for Ruby on Rails.
tag: 2.0.1

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Pose Build status

Pose ("Polymorphic Search") allows fulltext search for ActiveRecord objects in Ruby on Rails.

  • Searches over several classes at once.
  • The searchable content of each class and document can be freely customized.
  • Uses the main Rails database, no separate servers, databases, or search engines are necessary.
  • Does not pollute the searchable classes or their database tables with any attributes.
  • Allows to combine the fulltext search with any other custom database searches.
  • The algorithm is designed to work with any data store that allows for range queries, which covers pretty much every SQL or NoSQL database.
  • The search is very fast, doing only simple queries over fully indexed columns.


Set up the gem.

Add the gem to your Gemfile and run bundle install

gem 'pose'

Create the database tables for pose.

$ rails generate pose:install
$ rake db:migrate

Pose creates two tables in your database. These tables are automatically populated and kept up to date.

  • pose_words: index of all the words that occur in the searchable content.
  • pose_assignments: lists which word occurs in which document.

Make your ActiveRecord models searchable

class MyClass < ActiveRecord::Base

  # This line makes your class searchable.
  # The given block must return the searchble content as a string.
  posify do

    # Only active instances should show up in search results.
    return nil unless status == :active

    # The searchable content.
    [,, &:name ].join ' '

Note that you can return whatever content you want in the posify block, not only data from this object, but also data from related objects, class names, etc.

Now that this class is posified, any create, update, or delete operation on any instance of this class will update the search index automatically.

Index existing records in your database

Data that existed in your database before adding Pose isn't automatically included in the search index. You have to index those records manually once. Future updates will happen automatically.

To index all entries of MyClass, run rake pose:reindex_all[MyClass] on the command line.

At this point, you are all set up. Let's perform a search!

Upgrading from version 1.x

Version 2 is a proper Rails engine, and comes with a slightly different database table schema. Upgrading is as simple as

$ rails generate pose:upgrade
$ rake db:migrate


To search, simply call Pose's search method, and tell it the search query as well as in which classes it should search.

result = 'foo', [MyClass, MyOtherClass]

This searches for all instances of MyClass and MyOtherClass that contain the word 'foo'. The method returns a hash that looks like this:

  MyClass => [ <myclass instance 1>, <myclass instance 2> ],
  MyOtherClass => [ ],

In this example, it found two results of type MyClass and no results of type MyOtherClass. A Pose search returns the object instances that match the query. This behavior, as well as many others, is configurable through search options.

Search options

Configure the searched classes

Pose accepts an array of classes to search over. When searching a single class, it can be provided directly, i.e. not as an array.

result = 'foo', MyClass

Configure the result data

By default, search results are the instances of the objects matching the search query. If you want to just get the ids of the search results, and not the full instances, use the parameter :result_type.

result = 'foo', MyClass, result_type: :ids   # Returns ids instead of object instances.

Limit the amount of search results

By default, Pose returns all matching items. Large result sets can become very slow and resource intensive to process. To limit the result set, use the :limit search parameter.

result = 'foo', MyClass, limit: 20    # Returns only 20 search results.

Combine fulltext search with structured data search

You can add your own ActiveRecord query clauses to a fulltext search operation. For example, given a class Note that belongs to a User class and has a boolean attribute public, finding all public notes from other users containing "foo" is as easy as:

result = 'foo', MyClass, where: [ public: true, ['user_id <> ?',] ]


Besides an accasional search index cleanup, Pose is relatively maintenance free. The search index is automatically updated when objects are created, updated, or deleted.

Optimizing the search index

For performance reasons, the search index keeps all the words that were ever used around, in order to try to reuse them as much as possible. After deleting or changing a large number of objects, you can shrink the memory consumption of Pose's search index by removing no longer used search terms from it.

$ rake pose:index:vacuum

Recreating the search index from scratch

To index existing data in your database, or after loading additional data outside of ActiveRecord into your database, you should recreate the search index from scratch.

rake pose:index:reindex_all[MyClass]


To remove all traces of Pose from your database, run:

rails generate pose:remove

Also don't forget to remove the posify block from your models as well as the gem entry from your Gemfile.

Use Pose in your tests

Pose can slow down your tests, because it updates the search index on every :create, :update, and :delete operation in the database. If this becomes a problem, you can disable Pose in your test environments, and only enable it for the tests that actually need search functionality.

To disable Pose for tests, add this line to config/environments/test.rb

Pose::CONFIGURATION[:perform_search] = false

Now, with search disabled in the test environment, enable Pose in some of your tests by setting the same value to true inside the tests:

context 'with search enabled' do

  before :all do
    Pose::CONFIGURATION[:perform_search] = true

  after :all do
    Pose::CONFIGURATION[:perform_search] = false

  it 'has search enabled in this test here...'

  it 'has search enabled in this test as well...'


If you find a bug, have a question, or a better idea, please open an issue on the Pose issue tracker. Or, clone the repository, make your changes, and submit a pull request.

Run the unit tests for the Pose Gem

For now, Pose uses Postgresql for tests, since it is free, and one of the most strict databases. To run tests, first create a test database.

createdb pose_test

Then run the tests.

$ rake spec

Road Map

  • add join to search parameters
  • pagination of search results
  • ordering
  • weighting search results
  • test Pose with more types of data stores (NoSQL, Google DataStore etc)
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