Stop writing SQL in your ActiveRecord scopes: embrace Ruby!
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Write beautiful and expressive ActiveRecord scopes without SQL

SexyScopes is a gem that adds syntactic sugar for creating ActiveRecord scopes in Ruby instead of SQL. This allows for more expressive, less error-prone and database independent conditions.

WARNING: This gem requires Ruby >= 2.0.0 and ActiveRecord >= 4.2

Usage & Examples

Let's define a Product model with this schema:

# price     :integer
# category  :string
# draft     :boolean
class Product < ActiveRecord::Base

Now take a look at the following scope:

scope :visible, -> { where('category IS NOT NULL AND draft = ? AND price > 0', false) }

Hum, lots of SQL, not very Ruby-esque...

With SexyScopes

scope :visible, -> { where((category != nil) & (draft == false) & (price > 0)) }

Much better! Looks like magic? It's not.

category, draft and price in this context are methods representing your model's columns. They respond to Ruby operators (like <, ==, etc.) and can be combined with logical operators (& and |) to express complex predicates.

Let's take a look at another example with these relations:

# rating:  integer
# body: text
class Post < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_many :comments

# post_id:  integer
# rating:   integer
# body: text
class Comment < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :post

Now let's find posts having comments with a rating greater than a given rating in a controller action:

Without SexyScopes

@posts = Post.joins(:comments).where('rating > ?', params[:rating])

This expression, while syntactically valid, raises the following exception:

ActiveRecord::StatementInvalid: ambiguous column name: rating

Because both Post and Comment have a rating column, you have to give the table name explicitly:

@posts = Post.joins(:comments).where('comments.rating > ?', params[:rating])

With SexyScopes

Since Comment.rating represents the rating column of the Comment model, the above can be rewritten as such:

@posts = Post.joins(:comments).where { rating > params[:rating] }

Here you have it, clear as day, still protected from SQL injection.


Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'sexy_scopes'

And then execute:


Or install it yourself as:

gem install sexy_scopes

Then require it in your application code:

require 'sexy_scopes'

How does it work ?

SexyScopes is essentially a wrapper around Arel attribute nodes.

It introduces a ActiveRecord::Base.attribute(name) class method returning an Arel::Attribute object, which represent a table column with the given name, that is extended to support Ruby operators.

For convenience, SexyScopes dynamically resolves methods whose name is an existing table column: i.e. Product.price is a shortcut for Product.attribute(:price).

Please note that this mechanism won't override any of the existing ActiveRecord::Base class methods, so if you have a column named name for instance, you'll have to use Product.attribute(:name) instead of (which would be in this case the class actual name, "Product").

Here is a complete list of operators, and their Arel::Attribute equivalents:

  • Predicates:

    • ==: eq
    • =~: matches
    • !~: does_not_match
    • >=: gteq
    • > : gt
    • < : lt
    • <=: lteq
    • !=: not_eq
  • Logical operators:

    • &: and
    • |: or
    • ~: not

Block syntax

SexyScopes introduces a new block syntax for the where clause, which can be used in 2 different forms:

  • With no argument, the block is evaluated in the context of the relation
# `price` is `Product.price`
Product.where { price < 500 }

# `body` is `post.comments.body`
post.comments.where { body =~ "%ruby%" }
  • With an argument, block is called with the relation as argument
# `p` is the `Product` relation
Product.where { |p| p.price < 500 }

# `c` is the `post.comments` relation
post.comments.where { |c| c.body =~ "%ruby%" }

These 2 forms are functionally equivalent. The former, while being more concise, is internally implemented using instance_eval, which will prevent you from calling method on the receiver (self).

Tip: Try switching to the later form if you encounter NoMethodError exceptions.

Note that you can also use this syntax with where.not:

Product.where.not { price > 200 }

Regular Expressions

Did you know that most RDBMS come with pretty good support for regular expressions?

One reason they're quite unpopular in Rails applications is that their syntax is really different amongst databases implementations. Let's say you're using SQLite3 in development, and PostgreSQL in testing/production, well that's quite a good reason not to use database-specific code, isn't it?

Once again, SexyScopes comes to the rescue: The =~ and !~ operators when called with a regular expression will generate the SQL you don't want to know about.

predicate = User.username =~ /^john\b(.*\b)?doe$/i

# In development, using SQLite3:
# => "users"."username" REGEXP '^john\b(.*\b)?doe$'

# In testing/production, using PostgreSQL
# => "users"."username" ~* '^john\b(.*\b)?doe$'

Now let's suppose that you want to give your admin a powerful regexp based search upon usernames, here's how you could do it:

class Admin::UsersController
  def index
    query = Regexp.compile(params[:query])
    @users = User.where { username =~ query }
    respond_with @users

Let's see what happens in our production logs (SQL included) when they try this new feature:

Started GET "/admin/users?query=bob%7Calice" for xx.xx.xx.xx at 2014-03-31 16:00:50 +0200
  Processing by Admin::UsersController#index as HTML
  Parameters: {"query"=>"bob|alice"}
  User Load (0.1ms)  SELECT "users".* FROM "users"  WHERE ("users"."username" ~ 'bob|alice')

The proper SQL is generated, protected from SQL injection BTW, and from now on you have reusable code for both you development and your production environment.

Advanced Examples

# radius:  integer
class Circle < ActiveRecord::Base
  # Attributes can be coerced in arithmetic operations
  def self.perimeter
    2 * Math::PI * radius

  def self.area
    Math::PI * radius * radius

Circle.where { perimeter > 42 }
# SQL: SELECT `circles`.* FROM `circles`  WHERE (6.283185307179586 * `circles`.`radius` > 42)
Circle.where { area < 42 }
# SQL: SELECT `circles`.* FROM `circles`  WHERE (3.141592653589793 * `circles`.`radius` * `circles`.`radius` < 42)

class Product < ActiveRecord::Base
  predicate = (attribute(:name) == nil) & shoes shirts ))
  puts predicate.to_sql
  # `products`.`name` IS NULL AND NOT (`products`.`category` IN ('shoes', 'shirts'))

  # SQL: SELECT `products`.* FROM `products` WHERE `products`.`name` IS NULL AND
  #      NOT (`products`.`category` IN ('shoes', 'shirts'))


All suggestions, ideas and contributions are very welcome.

If you want to contribute, please follow the steps described in


SexyScopes is released under the MIT License.

Copyright (c) 2010-2017 Samuel Lebeau, See LICENSE for details.