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ActiveRecord Costume Store




jack o lantern emoji dog ghost emoji jack o lantern emoji

For this morning's todo, you'll be creating the following tables: 'costumes','costume_stores', and 'haunted_houses'. You'll be creating the following classes: Costume, CostumeStore, and HauntedHouse.

The costumes table will have four columns:

  1. name
  2. price
  3. size
  4. image url

The costume_stores table will have seven columns:

  1. name
  2. location
  3. number of costumes, or "costume inventory"
  4. number of employees
  5. whether or not it's still in business
  6. opening time
  7. closing time

The haunted_houses table will have eight columns:

  1. name
  2. location
  3. theme
  4. price
  5. whether they're family friendly or not
  6. opening date
  7. closing date
  8. long description

Before coding out the creation of these tables, read about ActiveRecord below:


ActiveRecord is magic. Well, not really. But it does build out a bunch of methods for you. For instance, when it's used properly it will give you access to methods such as create, save, and find_by. Rejoice! Never again will you have to manually build out these methods!

ActiveRecord allows you to create a database that interacts with your class with only a few lines of code. These lines of code go to creating a model, which resides in the app/models folder, and a migration, which resides in the db/migrations folder.

The model inherits from ActiveRecord::Base while the migration inherits from ActiveRecord::Migration. Many migrations these days have a change method, but you might also see migrations with an up and a down method instead. To use ActiveRecord, you have to stick to some specific naming conventions: while the migrations are plural, the models are singular.


To start, the class names in the migration files must match their file names. For instance, a class in the migration file called 20141013204115_create_candies.rb must be named CreateCandies while a class in a migration file called 20130915204319_add_addresses_to_houses.rb must be called AddAddressesToHouses.

You might notice that in both the examples above, the numbers at the front of the file name were ignored. These numbers are in the form YYYYMMDDHHMMSS. Later on, these timestamps will become important as Rails uses them to determine which migration should be run and in what order. For instance, if you made a table called dog_walkers and then added a column to it called rating, that would be fine as the timestamp on the table creation would be before adding a column to it. However, if you did this in reverse order, that is adding a column to a table that doesn't exist then creating the table, you would get an error.

Migrations, as it was mentioned before, inherit from ActiveRecord::Migration and usually have a method called change. In change, you can create a table with the create_table method. This method automatically will create a primary key column called id, but this default can be overridden if you'd like to customize it.

Here's a simple example of the create_table method in action:

class CreateDogs < ActiveRecord::Migration
  def change
    create_table :dogs do |t|
      t.string :name
      t.string :breed

The above code would create a table called dogs with three columns: name, breed (both explicitly created), and an implicitly created id column.

Take a look at a few data types that ActiveRecord supports below:

Data Type Examples
boolean true, false
integer 2, -13, 485
string "Halloween", "Boo!", strings betweeen 1-255 characters
float 2.234, 32.2124, -6.342
text strings between 1 and 2 ^ 32 - 1 characters


Like migrations, models also inherit, but they inherit from ActiveRecord::Base. A simple model would look like this:

class Dog < ActiveRecord::Base

Even though there are no explicit methods to call on name and breed, because this Dog model would work with the created dogs table above and you would be able to call name, breed, and id on any new instance of the Dog class. For instance (get it?!?!):

shiloh =
=> #<Dog id: 1, name: nil, breed: nil> = "Shiloh"
=> "Shiloh"
shiloh.breed = "Beagle"
=> "Beagle"
=> true

Dog.find_by(:name => "Shiloh") == shiloh
=> true

Notice that you had access to reader and writer methods that cooperated with the database that you never had to actually code. You could set the name without ever writing def name=() and call the self.find_by(attribute) method without ever teaching your Dog class how to look up data in the database. It's pretty awesome. Take a look at an example below.


For instance, let's say you wanted to make a class called Candy. Candies should have two attributes, a name (string) and the number of calories (integer), you would write the migration as seen below:


class CreateCandies < ActiveRecord::Migration
  def change
    create_table :candies do |t|
      t.string :name
      t.integer :calories

Note: You might be wondering what t.timestamps is doing here. Well, it creates two new columns, created_at and updated_at. These are handy columns to have around as sometimes you want to query based on the time of creation or update-tion instead of querying using attributes or ids. To read more about timestamps, go to ActiveRecord's docs on them.

While the migration was plural, the model would be singular:


class Candy < ActiveRecord::Base

After saving the code above, running rake db:migrate will apply the desired changes to the database by running the change method. Then you can alter the database with simple Ruby statements.

For instance, you could create three rows in the table easily:

Candy.create(:name => "Milky Way Midnight", :calories => 220)
Candy.create(:name => "Snickers", :calories => 550)
Candy.create(:name => "Reese's Peanut Butter Cups", :calories => 210)

Retrieving information is just as painless:

reeses = Candy.find_by(:name => "Reese's Peanut Butter Cups")
# => #<Candy id: 3, name: "Reese's Peanut Butter Cups", calories: 210>
# => #<Candy id: 1, name: "Mikly Way Midnight", calories: 220>
snickers = Candy.find(2)
# => #<Candy id: 2, name: "Snickers", calories: 550>

As is viewing attributes:

reeses = Candy.find(3)
# => #<Candy id: 3, name: "Reeeese's Peanut Batter Cups", calories: 210>
# => 210
# => "Reeeese's Peanut Batter Cups"

Updating information and viewing table info is also quite simple:

snickers = Candy.find(2)
# => #<Candy id: 2, name: "Snickers", calories: 550>
snickers.update(:calories => 250)
# => true

reeses = Candy.last
# => #<Candy id: 3, name: "Reeeese's Peanut Batter Cups", calories: 210>
reeses.update(:name => "Reese's Peanut Butter Cups")
# => true

# => #<Candy id: 2, name: "Snickers", calories: 250>
# => #<Candy id: 3, name: "Reese's Peanut Butter Cups", calories: 210>

Isn't that amazing? Twelve lines of code allows you to create a table and a class that interact with each other elegantly and efficiently. It builds out methods like, create, update, count, name, calories, along with others such as build and save.


File Structure

You will only be altering code in six files, the three files in the models folder and the three files in the db/migrations folder.

├── app
│   └── models
│       ├── costume.rb
│       ├── costume_store.rb
│       └── haunted_house.rb
    └── migrations
        ├── 001_create_costumes.rb
        ├── 002_create_costume_stores.rb
        └── 003_create_haunted_houses.rb

Getting Started

This is a test-driven lab so start with the first test and work your way down.

Your models should be no longer than two lines of code.

  • The first step is to run bundle install.
  • Create the Costume class in app/models/.
  • Fill out the ActiveRecord migration for costumes such that it passes the specs.
  • Create the CostumeStore class in app/models/.
  • Fill out the ActiveRecord migration such that it costume_stores the specs.
  • Create the HauntedHouse class in app/models/.
  • Fill out the ActiveRecord migration for haunted_houses such that it passes the specs.
  • Remember to run rake db:migrate every time you create a migration.
  • Just like for any other lab, run rspec to view your progress.


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