Provides some basic functionality for integrating Postgresql's HStore columsn into ActiveRecord 2.3.x
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What is this?

This is a gem that provides some very basic functionality for working with Postgresql's Hstore columns in ActiveRecord 2.

Documentation about the Postgresql Hstore feature can be found here.

Requirements (aka boring stuff)

This gem requires:

  • ActiveRecord and ActiveSupport 2.3.x
  • pg gem
  • rspec (for running tests, duh)
  • Ruby (Tested on 1.8.7 MRI, 1.9.2, and REE. Should work on jruby.)
  • Postgresql (Tested on 9.1)

Setup (aka more boring stuff)

Install the gem like you would normally install any gem.

Enable the hstore extension on the postgres database(s) you wish to use. Ether by creating a migration in your project that runs this SQL statement or manually running it directly in psql console...


NOTE THAT THE ABOVE SQL WILL ONLY WORK ON POSTGRESQL 9.1 and above. For earlier versions, please consult the documentation for enabling hstore

Instead of me trying to hack ActiveRecord to add an actual hstore column type, and risk breaking the universe, just manually write a migration that adds a hstore column to your table. Here, I'll even give you an example:

ALTER TABLE my_table ADD COLUMN some_field hstore;

I recommend you add an index to that column. Supported indexes are BTREE, HASH, GIST, and GIN. I'll leave you to handle that on your own.

Usage (aka the stuff you care about)

Now that the boring stuff is out of the way, you need to tell your model that you have a hstore column.

Assume you have the following table:

id: integer
name: string
infos: hstore

You can tell your model infos is a hstore column thusly...

class Peep < ActiveRecord::Base
  hstore_column :infos

What does that one line get you?

  • A getter that returns the hstore column as a hash...

    >> {"age" => "25", "haircolor" => "black", "height" => "5'3\"", "likes" => "Cuddling while watching TV"}
  • A setter that takes a hash and converts it to a hstore string (or the method can just take a hstore string)

    @peeps.infos = some_hash
  • These name scopes:

    • infos_has_key (takes a string)
    • infos_has_all_keys (takes a string or an array of strings)
    • infos_has_any_keys (takes a string or an array of strings)

So what about querying the data in that colum? Well, you can always use the standard condisions key in ActiveRecord's find method and use the proper syntax from the Postgresql documentation. But if you're like me and like using searchlogic, that's not an option. So in the same line in your model, you can specifiy some keys you'd want to filter by...

class Peep < ActiveRecord::Base
  hstore_column :infos, [:age, :haircolor, :likes]

Passing in an array of hstore keys will give you the following named scopes to play with...

  • infos_age_eq
  • infos_age_neq
  • infos_age_eq_any
  • infos_age_neq_any
  • infos_age_like
  • infos_age_beigns_with
  • infos_age_ends_with
  • (Repeat list for "haircolor" and "likes")

Which means you can then do...

Peep.infos_likes_eq("Cuddling while watching TV")
Peep.searchlogic(:infos_age_neq => "23")

But Wait, There's More!

The gem also adds a helper method to the Hash and String objects for converting hashes to hstore strings and back again.

These methods were originally implemented in a gem by softa to add hstore to ActiveReocord 3 and tweaked slightly for this gem.

Converting a hash into a hstore string that can be used to direclty store data in a query...

{"something something" => "something", :dark => "side"}.to_hstore
>> "\"something something\"=>something,dark=>side"

Converting a hstore string that is returned from the database into a hash so you can actually do something with it...

"\"something something\"=>something,dark=>side".from_hstore
>> {"something something" => "something", "dark" => "side"}

Note that taking a string from hstore into a hash will produce a hash where its keys and values are all strings.

Running Tests

For the tests to run, it's assumed there is a Postgres database called activerecord2_hstore_test. The specs will create a test table and populate it with data for you. If you want to use a different database, then edit spec/hstore_spec.rb to your liking.

Then just run...

rake spec

Background / Why make this? / Me Rambling

At my current employor, I'm helping to support a rather large Rails 2.3 app (that unfortunatly will be stuck in 2.3 for quite some time) that runs on Postgresql. The app's primary purpose is reporting on data from its data warehouse of well... data. Because it's on Postgresql, the development team was interested in using some of Postgresql's special features such as array columns and hstore datatypes. We need the ability to easily take a hash and store that as a hstore and read the column out as a hash. Also because we're big on reporting and use searchlogic for filtering out data, we need some way to search a hstore field for key with certain values.

To accomplish the first goal, I first needed a way to convert a Postgresql hstore string into a Ruby hash and back to a string. I'm using the hash and string methods from softa's gem that provides hstore support for ActiveRecord 3. With those methods, I created a way for you to tell ActiveRecord what columns are hstore columns and this gem will override the default column getter method to return a hash and the setter method to accept a hash which it then converts into a hstore string.

Part two of this gem is determining a way to query a hstore field. I decided to have the gem generate searchlogic-like named scopes by sepcifying in the model what keys in the hstore column you'll want to filter on. The gem will create scopes in the style of "mycolumn_key_eq", "mycolumn_key_like", etc.