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Search engine like fulltext query support for ActiveRecord
Ruby

README.md

SearchCop

Build Status Code Climate Dependency Status Gem Version

search_cop

SearchCop extends your ActiveRecord models to support fulltext search engine like queries via simple query strings and hash-based queries. Assume you have a Book model having various attributes like title, author, stock, price, available. Using SearchCop you can perform:

Book.search("Joanne Rowling Harry Potter")
Book.search("author: Rowling title:'Harry Potter'")
Book.search("price > 10 AND price < 20 -stock:0 (Potter OR Rowling)")
# ...

Thus, you can hand out a search query string to your models and you, your app's admins and/or users will get powerful query features without the need for integrating additional third party search servers, since SearchCop can use fulltext index capabilities of your RDBMS in a database agnostic way (currently MySQL and PostgreSQL fulltext indices are supported) and optimizes the queries to make optimal use of them. Read more below.

Complex hash-based queries are supported as well:

Book.search(:author => "Rowling", :title => "Harry Potter")
Book.search(:or => [{:author => "Rowling"}, {:author => "Tolkien"}])
Book.search(:and => [{:price => {:gt => 10}}, {:not => {:stock => 0}}, :or => [{:title => "Potter"}, {:author => "Rowling"}]])
Book.search(:or => [{:query => "Rowling -Potter"}, {:query => "Tolkien -Rings"}])
# ...

AttrSearchable is now SearchCop

As the set of features of AttrSearchable grew and grew, it has been neccessary to change its DSL and name, as no attr_searchable method is present anymore. The new DSL is cleaner and more concise. Morever, the migration process is simple. Please take a look into the migration guide MIGRATION.md

Installation

For Rails/ActiveRecord 3 (or 4), add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'search_cop'

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself as:

$ gem install search_cop

Usage

To enable SearchCop for a model, include SearchCop and specify the attributes you want to expose to search queries within a search_scope:

class Book < ActiveRecord::Base
  include SearchCop

  search_scope :search do
    attributes :title, :description, :stock, :price, :created_at, :available
    attributes :comment => ["comments.title", "comments.message"]
    attributes :author => "author.name"
    # ...
  end

  has_many :comments
  belongs_to :author
end

You can of course as well specify multiple search_scope blocks as you like:

search_scope :admin_search do
  attributes :title, :description, :stock, :price, :created_at, :available

  # ...
end

search_scope :user_search do
  attributes :title, :description

  # ...
end

How does it work

SearchCop parses the query and maps it to an SQL Query in a database agnostic way. Thus, SearchCop is not bound to a specific RDBMS.

Book.search("stock > 0")
# ... WHERE books.stock > 0

Book.search("price > 10 stock > 0")
# ... WHERE books.price > 10 AND books.stock > 0

Book.search("Harry Potter")
# ... WHERE (books.title LIKE '%Harry%' OR books.description LIKE '%Harry%' OR ...) AND (books.title LIKE '%Potter%' OR books.description LIKE '%Potter%' ...)

Book.search("available:yes OR created_at:2014")
# ... WHERE books.available = 1 OR (books.created_at >= '2014-01-01 00:00:00' and books.created_at <= '2014-12-31 00:00:00')

Of course, these LIKE '%...%' queries won't achieve optimal performance, but check out the section below on SearchCop's fulltext capabilities to understand how the resulting queries can be optimized.

As Book.search(...) returns an ActiveRecord::Relation, you are free to pre- or post-process the search results in every possible way:

Book.where(:available => true).search("Harry Potter").order("books.id desc").paginate(:page => params[:page])

Fulltext index capabilities

By default, i.e. if you don't tell SearchCop about your fulltext indices, SearchCop will use LIKE '%...%' queries. Unfortunately, unless you create a trigram index (postgres only), these queries can not use SQL indices, such that every row needs to be scanned by your RDBMS when you search for Book.search("Harry Potter") or similar. To avoid the penalty of LIKE queries, SearchCop can exploit the fulltext index capabilities of MySQL and PostgreSQL. To use already existing fulltext indices, simply tell SearchCop to use them via:

class Book < ActiveRecord::Base
  # ...

  search_scope :search do
    attributes :title, :author

    options :title, :type => :fulltext
    options :author, :type => :fulltext
  end

  # ...
end

SearchCop will then transparently change its SQL queries for the attributes having fulltext indices to:

Book.search("Harry Potter")
# MySQL: ... WHERE (MATCH(books.title) AGAINST('+Harry' IN BOOLEAN MODE) OR MATCH(books.author) AGAINST('+Harry' IN BOOLEAN MODE)) AND (MATCH(books.title) AGAINST ('+Potter' IN BOOLEAN MODE) OR MATCH(books.author) AGAINST('+Potter' IN BOOLEAN MODE))
# PostgreSQL: ... WHERE (to_tsvector('simple', books.title) @@ to_tsquery('simple', 'Harry') OR to_tsvector('simple', books.author) @@ to_tsquery('simple', 'Harry')) AND (to_tsvector('simple', books.title) @@ to_tsquery('simple', 'Potter') OR to_tsvector('simple', books.author) @@ to_tsquery('simple', 'Potter'))

Obviously, these queries won't always return the same results as wildcard LIKE queries, because we search for words instead of sub-strings. However, fulltext indices will usually of course provide better performance.

Moreover, the query above is not yet perfect. To improve it even more, SearchCop tries to optimize the queries to make optimal use of fulltext indices while still allowing to mix them with non-fulltext attributes. To improve queries even more, you can group attributes and specify a default field to search in, such that SearchCop must no longer search within all fields:

search_scope :search do
  attributes :all => [:author, :title]

  options :all, :type => :fulltext, :default => true

  # Use :default => true to explicitly enable fields as default fields (whitelist approach)
  # Use :default => false to explicitly disable fields as default fields (blacklist approach)
end

Now SearchCop can optimize the following, not yet optimal query:

Book.search("Rowling OR Tolkien stock > 1")
# MySQL: ... WHERE ((MATCH(books.author) AGAINST('+Rowling' IN BOOLEAN MODE) OR MATCH(books.title) AGAINST('+Rowling' IN BOOLEAN MODE)) OR (MATCH(books.author) AGAINST('+Tolkien' IN BOOLEAN MODE) OR MATCH(books.title) AGAINST('+Tolkien' IN BOOLEAN MODE))) AND books.stock > 1
# PostgreSQL: ... WHERE ((to_tsvector('simple', books.author) @@ to_tsquery('simple', 'Rowling') OR to_tsvector('simple', books.title) @@ to_tsquery('simple', 'Rowling')) OR (to_tsvector('simple', books.author) @@ to_tsquery('simple', 'Tolkien') OR to_tsvector('simple', books.title) @@ to_tsquery('simple', 'Tolkien'))) AND books.stock > 1

to the following, more performant query:

Book.search("Rowling OR Tolkien stock > 1")
# MySQL: ... WHERE MATCH(books.author, books.title) AGAINST('Rowling Tolkien' IN BOOLEAN MODE) AND books.stock > 1
# PostgreSQL: ... WHERE to_tsvector('simple', books.author || ' ' || books.title) @@ to_tsquery('simple', 'Rowling | Tokien') and books.stock > 1

What is happening here? Well, we specified all as the name of an attribute group that consists of author and title. As we, in addition, specified all to be a fulltext attribute, SearchCop assumes there is a compound fulltext index present on author and title, such that the query is optimized accordingly. Finally, we specified all to be the default attribute to search in, such that SearchCop can ignore other attributes, like e.g. stock, as long as they are not specified within queries directly (like for stock > 0).

Other queries will be optimized in a similar way, such that SearchCop tries to minimize the fultext constraints within a query, namely MATCH() AGAINST() for MySQL and to_tsvector() @@ to_tsquery() for PostgreSQL.

Book.search("(Rowling -Potter) OR Tolkien")
# MySQL: ... WHERE MATCH(books.author, books.title) AGAINST('(+Rowling -Potter) Tolkien' IN BOOLEAN MODE)
# PostgreSQL: ... WHERE to_tsvector('simple', books.author || ' ' || books.title) @@ to_tsquery('simple', '(Rowling & !Potter) | Tolkien')

To create a fulltext index on books.title in MySQL, simply use:

add_index :books, :title, :type => :fulltext

Regarding compound indices, which will e.g. be used for the default field all we already specified above, use:

add_index :books, [:author, :title], :type => :fulltext

Please note that MySQL supports fulltext indices for MyISAM and, as of MySQL version 5.6+, for InnoDB as well. For more details about MySQL fulltext indices visit http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.6/en/fulltext-search.html

Regarding PostgreSQL there are more ways to create a fulltext index. However, one of the easiest ways is:

ActiveRecord::Base.connection.execute "CREATE INDEX fulltext_index_books_on_title ON books USING GIN(to_tsvector('simple', title))"

Moreover, for PostgreSQL you should change the schema format in config/application.rb:

config.active_record.schema_format = :sql

Regarding compound indices for PostgreSQL, use:

ActiveRecord::Base.connection.execute "CREATE INDEX fulltext_index_books_on_title ON books USING GIN(to_tsvector('simple', author || ' ' || title))"

To use another PostgreSQL dictionary than simple, you have to create the index accordingly and you need tell SearchCop about it, e.g.:

search_scope :search do
  attributes :title

  options :title, :type => :fulltext, :dictionary => "english"
end

For more details about PostgreSQL fulltext indices visit http://www.postgresql.org/docs/9.3/static/textsearch.html

Other indices

In case you expose non-fulltext attributes to search queries (price, stock, etc.), the respective queries, like Book.search("stock > 0"), will profit from from the usual non-fulltext indices. Thus, you should add a usual index on every column you expose to search queries plus a fulltext index for every fulltext attribute.

In case you can't use fulltext indices, because you're e.g. still on MySQL 5.5 while using InnoDB or another RDBMS without fulltext support, you can make your RDBMS use usual non-fulltext indices for string columns if you don't need the left wildcard within LIKE queries. Simply supply the following option:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  include SearchCop

  search_scope :search do
    attributes :username

    options :username, :left_wildcard => false
  end

  # ...

such that SearchCop will omit the left most wildcard.

User.search("admin")
# ... WHERE users.username LIKE 'admin%'

Associations

If you specify searchable attributes from another model, like

class Book < ActiveRecord::Base
  # ...

  belongs_to :author

  search_scope :search do
    attributes :author => "author.name"
  end

  # ...
end

SearchCop will by default eager_load the referenced associations, when you perform Book.search(...). If you don't want the automatic eager_load or need to perform special operations, specify a scope:

class Book < ActiveRecord::Base
  # ...

  search_scope :search do
    # ...

    scope { joins(:author).eager_load(:comments) } # etc.
  end

  # ...
end

SearchCop will then skip any association auto loading and will use the scope instead. You can as well use scope together with aliases to perform arbitrarily complex joins and search in the joined models/tables:

class Book < ActiveRecord::Base
  # ...

  search_scope :search do
    attributes :similar => ["similar_books.title", "similar_books.description"]

    scope do
      joins "left outer join books similar_books on ..."
    end

    aliases :similar_books => Book # Tell SearchCop how to map SQL aliases to models
  end

  # ...
end

Assocations of associations can as well be referenced and used:

class Book < ActiveRecord::Base
  # ...

  has_many :comments
  has_many :users, :through => :comments

  search_scope :search do
    attributes :user => "users.username"
  end

  # ...
end

Custom table names and associations

SearchCop tries to infer a model's class name and SQL alias from the specified attributes to autodetect datatype definitions, etc. This usually works quite fine. In case you're using custom table names via self.table_name = ... or if a model is associated multiple times, SearchCop however can't infer the class and SQL alias names, e.g.

class Book < ActiveRecord::Base
  # ...

  has_many :users, :through => :comments
  belongs_to :user

  search_scope :search do
    attributes :user => ["user.username", "users_books.username"]
  end

  # ...
end

Here, for queries to work you have to use users_books.username, because ActiveRecord assigns a different SQL alias for users within its SQL queries, because the user model is associated multiple times. However, as SearchCop now can't infer the User model from users_books, you have to add:

class Book < ActiveRecord::Base
  # ...

  search_scope :search do
    # ...

    aliases :users_books => :users
  end

  # ...
end

to tell SearchCop about the custom SQL alias and mapping. In addition, you can always do the joins yourself via a scope {} block plus aliases and use your own custom sql aliases to become independent of names auto-assigned by ActiveRecord.

Supported operators

Query string queries support AND/and, OR/or, :, =, !=, <, <=, >, >=, NOT/not/-, (), "..." and '...'. Default operators are AND and matches, OR has precedence over AND. NOT can only be used as infix operator regarding a single attribute.

Hash based queries support :and => [...] and :or => [...], which take an array of :not => {...}, :matches => {...}, :eq => {...}, :not_eq => {...}, :lt => {...}, :lteq => {...}, :gt => {...}, :gteq => {...} and :query => "..." arguments. Moreover, :query => "..." makes it possible to create sub-queries. The other rules for query string queries apply to hash based queries as well.

Mapping

When searching in boolean, datetime, timestamp, etc. fields, SearchCop performs some mapping. The following queries are equivalent:

Book.search("available:true")
Book.search("available:1")
Book.search("available:yes")

as well as

Book.search("available:false")
Book.search("available:0")
Book.search("available:no")

For datetime and timestamp fields, SearchCop expands certain values to ranges:

Book.search("created_at:2014")
# ... WHERE created_at >= '2014-01-01 00:00:00' AND created_at <= '2014-12-31 23:59:59'

Book.search("created_at:2014-06")
# ... WHERE created_at >= '2014-06-01 00:00:00' AND created_at <= '2014-06-30 23:59:59'

Book.search("created_at:2014-06-15")
# ... WHERE created_at >= '2014-06-15 00:00:00' AND created_at <= '2014-06-15 23:59:59'

Chaining

Chaining of searches is possible. However, chaining does currently not allow SearchCop to optimize the individual queries for fulltext indices.

Book.search("Harry").search("Potter")

will generate

# MySQL: ... WHERE MATCH(...) AGAINST('+Harry' IN BOOLEAN MODE) AND MATCH(...) AGAINST('+Potter' IN BOOLEAN MODE)
# PostgreSQL: ... WHERE to_tsvector(...) @@ to_tsquery('simple', 'Harry') AND to_tsvector(...) @@ to_tsquery('simple', 'Potter')

instead of

# MySQL: ... WHERE MATCH(...) AGAINST('+Harry +Potter' IN BOOLEAN MODE)
# PostgreSQL: ... WHERE to_tsvector(...) @@ to_tsquery('simple', 'Harry & Potter')

Thus, if you use fulltext indices, you better avoid chaining.

Debugging

When using Model#search, SearchCop conveniently prevents certain exceptions from being raised in case the query string passed to it is invalid (parse errors, incompatible datatype errors, etc). Instead, Model#search returns an empty relation. However, if you need to debug certain cases, use Model#unsafe_search, which will raise them.

Book.unsafe_search("stock: None") # => raise SearchCop::IncompatibleDatatype

Reflection

SearchCop provides reflective methods, namely #attributes, #default_attributes, #options and #aliases. You can use these methods to e.g. provide an individual search help widget for your models, that lists the attributes to search in as well as the default ones, etc.

class Product < ActiveRecord::Base
  include SearchCop

  search_scope :search do
    attributes :title, :description

    options :title, :default => true
  end
end

Product.search_reflection(:search).attributes
# {"title" => ["products.title"], "description" => ["products.description"]}

Product.search_reflection(:search).default_attributes
# {"title" => ["products.title"]}

# ...

Semantic Versioning

Starting with version 1.0.0, SearchCop uses Semantic Versioning: SemVer

Contributing

  1. Fork it
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Add some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create new Pull Request
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