Make any Ruby object quack like ActiveRecord
Ruby
Latest commit 8d1dfd7 Dec 4, 2017

README.md

ActiveType Build Status

Make any Ruby object quack like ActiveRecord

ActiveType is our take on "presenter models" (or "form models") in Rails. We want to have controllers (and forms) talk to models that are either not backed by a database table, or have additional functionality that should not be shared to the rest of the application.

However, we do not want to lose ActiveRecord's amenities, like validations, callbacks, etc.

Examples for use cases are models to support sign in:

class SignIn < ActiveType::Object

  # this is not backed by a db table
  
  attribute :username, :string
  attribute :password, :string

  validates :username, presence: true
  validates :password, presence: true
  
  # ...

end

Or models to support sign up:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  # ...
end

class SignUp < ActiveType::Record[User]

  # this inherits from User

  validates :password, confirmation: true
  
  after_create :send_confirmation_email
  
  def send_confirmation_email
    # this should happen on sign-up, but not when creating a user in tests etc.
  end
  
  # ...
  
end

A note on Rails 5

Rails 5 comes with its own implementation of .attribute. This implementation is functionally very similar, but not identical to ActiveType's.

We have decided to continue to use our own implementation. This means that if you use ActiveType, ActiveRecord::Base.attribute will be overriden.

The following behaviours are different than in vanilla Rails 5:

  • Defaults procs are evaluated in instance context, not class context.
  • Defaults are evaluated lazily.
  • You can override attributes with custom methods and use super.
  • Attributes will work on records retrieved via .find.
  • Attributes will be duped if you dup the record.

ActiveType::Object

Inherit from ActiveType::Object if you want an ActiveRecord-kind class that is not backed by a database table.

You can define "columns" by saying attribute:

class SignIn < ActiveType::Object
  
  attribute :email, :string
  attribute :date_of_birth, :date
  attribute :accepted_terms, :boolean
  attribute :account_type
  
end

These attributes can be assigned via constructor, mass-assignment, and are automatically typecast:

sign_in = SignIn.new(date_of_birth: "1980-01-01", accepted_terms: "1", account_type: AccountType::Trial.new)
sign_in.date_of_birth.class # Date
sign_in.accepted_terms? # true

ActiveType knows all the types that are allowed in migrations (i.e. :string, :integer, :float, :decimal, :datetime, :time, :date, :boolean). You can also skip the type to have a virtual attribute without typecasting.

ActiveType::Object actually inherits from ActiveRecord::Base, but simply skips all database access, inspired by ActiveRecord Tableless.

This means your object has all usual ActiveRecord::Base methods. Some of those might not work properly, however. What does work:

  • validations
  • callbacks (use before_save, after_save, not before_create, or before_update)
  • "saving" (returning true or false, without actually persisting)
  • belongs_to (after saying attribute :child_id, :integer)

ActiveType::Record

If you have a database backed record (that inherits from ActiveRecord::Base), but also want to declare virtual attributes, simply inherit from ActiveType::Record.

Virtual attributes will not be persisted.

ActiveType::Record[BaseClass]

ActiveType::Record[BaseClass] is used to extend a given BaseClass (that itself has to be an ActiveRecord model) with additional functionality, that is not meant to be shared to the rest of the application.

You class will inherit from BaseClass. You can add additional methods, validations, callbacks, as well as use (virtual) attributes like an ActiveType::Object:

class SignUp < ActiveType::Record[User]
  # ...
end

Inheriting from ActiveType:: objects

If you want to inherit from an ActiveType class, simply do

class SignUp < ActiveType::Record[User]
  # ...
end

class SpecialSignUp < SignUp
  # ...
end

Defaults

Attributes can have defaults. Those are lazily evaluated on the first read, if no value has been set.

class SignIn < ActiveType::Object

  attribute :created_at, :datetime, default: proc { Time.now }

end

The proc is evaluated in the context of the object, so you can do

class SignIn < ActiveType::Object

  attribute :email, :string
  attribute :nickname, :string, default: proc { email.split('@').first }

end

SignIn.new(email: "tobias@example.org").nickname # "tobias"
SignIn.new(email: "tobias@example.org", :nickname => "kratob").nickname # "kratob"

Overriding accessors

You can override attribute getters and setters using super:

class SignIn < ActiveType::Object

  attribute :email, :string
  attribute :nickname, :string
  
  def email
    super.downcase
  end
  
  def nickname=(value)
    super(value.titleize)
  end
  
end

Nested attributes

ActiveType supports its own variant of nested attributes via the nests_one / nests_many macros. The intention is to be mostly compatible with ActiveRecord's accepts_nested_attributes functionality.

Assume you have a list of records, say representing holidays, and you want to support bulk editing. Then you could do something like:

class Holiday < ActiveRecord::Base
  validates :date, presence: true
end

class HolidaysForm < ActiveType::Object
  nests_many :holidays, reject_if: :all_blank, default: proc { Holiday.all }
end

class HolidaysController < ApplicationController
  def edit
    @holidays_form = HolidaysForm.new
  end

  def update
    @holidays_form = HolidaysForm.new(params[:holidays_form])
    if @holidays_form.save
      redirect_to root_url, notice: "Success!"
    else
      render :edit
    end
  end

end

# and in the view
<%= form_for @holidays_form, url: '/holidays', method: :put do |form| %>
  <ul>
    <%= form.fields_for :holidays do |holiday_form| %>
      <li><%= holiday_form.text_field :date %></li>
    <% end %>
  </ul>
<% end %>
  • You have to say nests_many :records

  • records will be validated and saved automatically

  • The generated .records_attributes = expects parameters like ActiveRecord's nested attributes, and works together with the fields_for helper:

    • either as a hash (where the keys are meaningless)

      {
        '1' => { date: "new record's date" },
        '2' => { id: '3', date: "existing record's date" }
      }
    • or as an array

      [
        { date: "new record's date" },
        { id: '3', date: "existing record's date" }
      ]

To use it with single records, use nests_one. It works like accept_nested_attributes does for has_one. Use .record_attributes = to build the child record.

Supported options for nests_many / nests_one are:

  • build_scope

    Used to build new records, for example:

    nests_many :documents, build_scope: proc { Document.where(:state => "fresh") }
  • find_scope

    Used to find existing records (in order to update them).

  • scope

    Sets find_scope and build_scope together.

    If you don't supply a scope, ActiveType will guess from the association name, i.e. saying

    nests_many :documents

    is the same as saying

    nests_many :documents, scope: proc { Document }

    which is identical to

    nests_many :documents, build_scope: proc { Document }, find_scope: proc { Document }

    All ...scope options are evaled in the context of the record on first use, and cached.

  • allow_destroy

    Allow to destroy records if the attributes contain _destroy => '1'

  • reject_if

    Pass either a proc of the form proc { |attributes| ... }, or a symbol indicating a method, or :all_blank.

    Will reject attributes for which the proc or the method returns true, or with only blank values (for :all_blank).

  • default

    Initializes the association on first access with the given proc:

    nests_many :documents, default: proc { Documents.all }

Options supported exclusively by nests_many are:

  • index_errors

    Use a boolean to get indexed errors on related records. In Rails 5 you can make it global with config.active_record.index_nested_attribute_errors = true.

Casting records or relations

When working with ActiveType you will often find it useful to cast an ActiveRecord instance to its extended ActiveType::Record variant.

Use ActiveType.cast for this:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  ...
end

class SignUp < ActiveType::Record[User]
  ...
end

user = User.find(1)
sign_up = ActiveType.cast(user, SignUp)
sign_up.is_a?(SignUp) # => true

This is basically like ActiveRecord#becomes, but with less bugs and more consistent behavior.

You can also cast an entire relation (scope) to a relation of an ActiveType::Record:

adult_users = User.where('age >= 18')
adult_sign_ups = ActiveType.cast(adult_users, SignUp)
sign_up = adult_sign_ups.find(1)
sign_up.is_a?(SignUp) # => true

Supported Rails versions

ActiveType is tested against ActiveRecord 3.2, 4.0, 4.1, 4.2, 5.0, and 5.1.

Later versions might work, earlier will not.

Supported Ruby versions

ActiveType is tested against 2.1.7 (for 3.2, 4.x only), 2.2.4 and 2.3.1.

Installation

In your Gemfile say:

gem 'active_type'

Now run bundle install and restart your server.

Development

  • We run tests against several ActiveRecord versions.
  • You can bundle all versions with rake all:install.
  • You can run specs against all versions with rake all:spec.
  • You can run specs against a single version with VERSION=4.2.1.pg rake or VERSION="4.2.1.*" rake.

If you are getting testing failures due to Mysql trying to connect as root user, you can put your Mysql credentials into spec/support/database.yml. See spec/support/database.sample.yml for an example.

If you would like to contribute:

  • Fork the repository.
  • Push your changes with passing specs.
  • Send us a pull request.

I'm very eager to keep this gem leightweight and on topic. If you're unsure whether a change would make it into the gem, talk to me beforehand.

Credits

Tobias Kraze from makandra

Henning Koch from makandra