ruby persistence layer for CouchDB and adding very sweet Custom view supports
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Couch Potato

... is a persistence layer written in ruby for CouchDB.


The goal of Couch Potato is to create a minimal framework in order to store and retrieve Ruby objects to/from CouchDB and create and query views.

It follows the document/view/querying semantics established by CouchDB and won't try to mimic ActiveRecord behavior in any way as that IS BAD.

Code that uses Couch Potato should be easy to test.

Lastly Couch Potato aims to provide a seamless integration with Ruby on Rails, e.g. routing, form helpers etc.

Core Features

  • persisting objects by including the CouchPotato::Persistence module
  • declarative views with either custom or generated map/reduce functions
  • extensive spec suite


Couch Potato requires Ruby 1.9.

Couch Potato is hosted as a gem on github which you can install like this:

sudo gem source --add # if you haven't already
sudo gem install langalex-couch_potato

Using with your ruby application:

require 'rubygems'
gem 'langalex-couch_potato'
require 'couch_potato'
CouchPotato::Config.database_name = 'name of the db'

Alternatively you can download or clone the source repository and then require lib/couch_potato.rb.

Using with Rails

Add to your config/environment.rb:

config.gem 'langalex-couch_potato', :lib => 'couch_potato', :source => ''

Then create a config/couchdb.yml:

development: development_db_name
test: test_db_name
production: http://db.server/production_db_name

Alternatively you can also install Couch Potato directly as a plugin.


This is a basic tutorial on how to use Couch Potato. If you want to know all the details feel free to read the specs.

Save, load objects

First you need a class.

class User

To make instances of this class persistent include the persistence module:

class User
  include CouchPotato::Persistence

If you want to store any properties you have to declare them:

class User
  include CouchPotato::Persistence

  property :name

Properties can be of any type:

class User
  include CouchPotato::Persistence

  property :address, :type => Address

Now you can save your objects. All database operations are encapsulated in the CouchPotato::Database class. This separates your domain logic from the database access logic which makes it easier to write tests and also keeps you models smaller and cleaner.

user = :name => 'joe'
CouchPotato.database.save_document user # or save_document!

You can of course also retrieve your instance:

CouchPotato.database.load_document "id_of_the_user_document" # => <#User 0x3075>


You can access the properties you declared above through normal attribute accessors. # => 'joe' = {:first => ['joe', 'joey'], :last => 'doe', :middle => 'J'} # you can set any ruby object that responds_to :to_json (includes all core objects)
user._id # => "02097f33a0046123f1ebc0ebb6937269"
user._rev # => "2769180384"
user.created_at # => Fri Oct 24 19:05:54 +0200 2008
user.updated_at # => Fri Oct 24 19:05:54 +0200 2008 # => false

If you want to have properties that don't map to any JSON type, i.e. other than String, Number, Boolean, Hash or Array you have to define the type like this:

class User
  property :date_of_birth, :type => Date

The date_of_birth property is now automatically serialized to JSON and back when storing/retrieving objects.

Dirty tracking

CouchPotato tracks the dirty state of attributes in the same way ActiveRecord does:

user = User.create :name => 'joe' # => 'joe'
user.name_changed? # => false
user.name_was # => nil

You can also force a dirty state: = 'jane'
user.name_changed? # => true
user.name_changed? # => false
CouchPotato.database.save_document user # does nothing as no attributes are dirty

Object validations

Couch Potato uses the validatable library for vaidation (\

class User
  property :name
  validates_presence_of :name

user =
user.valid? # => false
user.errors.on(:name) # => [:name, 'can't be blank']

Finding stuff

In order to find data in your CouchDB you have to create a view first. Couch Potato offers you to create and manage those views for you. All you have to do is declare them in your classes:

class User
  include CouchPotato::Persistence
  property :name

  view :all, :key => :created_at

This will create a view called "all" in the "user" design document with a map function that emits "created_at" for every user document.

CouchPotato.database.view User.all

This will load all user documents in your database sorted by created_at.

CouchPotato.database.view User.all(:key => ( 10)..(, :descending => true)

Any options you pass in will be passed onto CouchDB.

Composite keys are also possible:

class User
  property :name

  view :all, :key => [:created_at, :name]

The creation of views is based on view specification classes (see the CouchPotato::View) module. The above code used the ModelViewSpec class which is used to the simple find model by property searches. For more sophisticated searches you can use other view specifications (either use the built-in or provide your own) by passing a type parameter:

If you have larger structures and you only want to load some attributes you can customize the view you can use the PropertiesViewSpec (the full class name is automatically derived):

class User
  property :name
  property :bio

  view :all, :key => :created_at, :properties => [:name], :type => :properties

CouchPotato.database.view(User.everyone) # => "joe" CouchPotato.database.view(User.everyone) # => nil

You can also pass in custom map/reduce functions with the custom view spec:

class User
  view :all, :map => "function(doc) { emit(doc.created_at, null)}", :include_docs => true, :type => :custom

If you don't want the results to be converted into models the raw view is your friend:

class User
  view :all, :map => "function(doc) { emit(doc.created_at,}", :type => :raw

When querying this view you will get the raw data returned by CouchDB which looks something like this: {'total_entries': 2, 'rows': [{'value': 'alex', 'key': '2009-01-03 00:02:34 +000', 'id': '75976rgi7546gi02a'}]}

To process this raw data you can also pass in a results filter:

class User
  view :all, :map => "function(doc) { emit(doc.created_at,}", :type => :raw, :results_filter => lambda {|results| results['rows'].map{|row| row['value']}}

In this case querying the view would only return the emitted value for each row.


Not supported. Not sure if they ever will be. You can implement those yourself using views and custom methods on your models.


Couch Potato supports the usual lifecycle callbacks known from ActiveRecord:

class User
  include CouchPotato::Persistence

  before_create :do_something_before_create
  before_update {|user, db| user.do_something_on_update}

This will call the method do_something_before_create before creating an object and run the given lambda before updating one. Lambda callbacks get passed the model as their first argument. Optionally if a lambda declares two arguments it also gets passed the database object. This is useful for creating other objects or querying views. Method callbacks don't receive any arguments by default but will get passed the database if they declare an argument.

Supported callbacks are: :before_validation_on_create, :before_validation_on_update, :before_validation_on_save, :before_create, :after_create, :before_update, :after_update, :before_save, :after_save, :before_destroy, :after_destroy.


To make testing easier and faster database logic has been put into its own class, which you can replace and stub out in whatever way you want:

class User
  include CouchPotato::Persistence

# RSpec
describe 'save a user' do
  it 'should save' do
    couchrest_db = stub 'couchrest_db', 
    database = couchrest_db
    user =
    database.save_document user

By creating you own instances of CouchPotato::Database and passing them a fake CouchRest database instance you can completely disconnect your unit tests/spec from the database.

Helping out

Please fix bugs, add more specs, implement new features by forking the github repo at

You can run all the specs by calling 'rake spec_unit' and 'rake spec_functional' in the root folder of Couch Potato. The specs require a running CouchDB instance at http://localhost:5984

I will only accept patches that are covered by specs - sorry.


If you have any questions/suggestions etc. please contact me at alex at or @langalex on twitter.