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ActiveRecord Tablefree

Project ActiveRecord Tablefree
gem name activerecord-tablefree
license License: MIT
download rank Downloads Today
version Version
dependencies Depfu
continuous integration Build Status
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Spread ♡ⓛⓞⓥⓔ♡ 🌏, 👼, :shipit:, Tweet Peter, 🌹

A simple implementation of the ActiveRecord Tableless pattern for any Rails project or other Ruby project that uses ActiveRecord.

Why, why, why

Why would you ever consider this gem as opposed to ActiveModel?

ActiveModel::Model does not support relations and nested attributes.


ActiveRecord Tablefree is distributed as a gem, which is how it should be used in your app.

Include the gem in your Gemfile:

gem "activerecord-tablefree", "~> 3.0"

Supported Versions

Supported ruby version are

  • 2.2.x series higher than 2.2.2 (a Rails 5 requirement)
  • 2.3.x series
  • 2.4.x series
  • 2.5.x series

Supported ActiveRecord versions are

  • 5.0.x series
  • 5.1.x series
  • 5.2.x series

If you are using an older ActiveRecord version you can use the gem activerecord-tableless

This gem tries to maintain the same API as the older activerecord-tableless gem.


Define a model like this:

class ContactMessage < ActiveRecord::Base
  column :name, :string
  column :email, :string
  column :message, :string
  validates_presence_of :name, :email, :message

You can now use the model in a view like this:

<%= form_for :contact_message, @contact_message do |f| %>
  Your name: <%= f.text_field :name %>
  Your email: <%= f.text_field :email %>
  Your message: <%= f.text_field :message %>
<% end %>

And in the controller:

def contact_message
  @contact_message =
    @contact_message.attributes = params[:contact_message]
    if @contact_message.valid?
      # Process the message...

If you wish (this is not recommended), you can pretend you have a succeeding database by using

has_no_table :database => :pretend_success


Some model as before, but with an association to a real DB-backed model.

    class ContactMessage < ActiveRecord::Base
      column :message, :string
      column :email, :string
      validates_presence_of :name, :email
      belongs_to :contact, foreign_key: :email, primary_key: :email

    class Contact < ActiveRecord::Base
      validates_presence_of :name, :email
      has_one :contact_message, foreign_key: :email, primary_key: :email, dependent: nil

Obviously the association is not full-fledged, as some traversals just won't make sense with one side not being loadable from the database. From the ContactMessage you can get to the Contact, but not vice versa.

>> contact = 'Boo', email: '')
>> contact_message = contact)
=> ''


To start developing, please download the source code

git clone git://

Install development libraries

sudo apt-get install -y libsqlite3-dev libxml2-dev libxslt-dev

When downloaded, you can start issuing the commands like

bundle install
bundle update
bundle exec appraisal generate
bundle exec appraisal install
bundle exec appraisal rake all

Or you can see what other options are there:

bundle exec rake -T

Publishing gem

gem bump -v pre

Verify everything is OK.

gem build activerecord-tablefree.gemspec

Verify everything is OK.

gem release -t


Originally this code was implemented for Rails 2 by Kenneth Kalmer. For Rails 3 the need for this functionality was reduced dramatically due to the introduction of ActiveModel. But because the ActiveModel does not support relations and nested attributes the existence of this gem is still justified.

Rails 3 and 4 support is provided in the activerecord-tableless gem, by Jarl Friis.

This gem is a Rails 5+ compatible update, and renaming of that gem.

For a history of technical implementation details feel free to take a look in the git log :-)


This library aims to adhere to Semantic Versioning 2.0.0. Violations of this scheme should be reported as bugs. Specifically, if a minor or patch version is released that breaks backward compatibility, a new version should be immediately released that restores compatibility. Breaking changes to the public API will only be introduced with new major versions.

As a result of this policy, you can (and should) specify a dependency on this gem using the Pessimistic Version Constraint with two digits of precision.

For example:

spec.add_dependency 'activerecord-tablefree', '~> 3.0'


  • Copyright (c) 2008 - 2009 Kenneth Kalmer
  • Copyright (c) 2012 - 2017 Jarl Friis
  • Copyright (c) 2017 - 2018 Peter H. Boling of Rails Bling

The license is MIT. See LICENSE.txt for further details.


TableFree ActiveRecord w/ associations and nested attributes




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