This Rails plugin stores NULL values in your database, instead of empty strings.
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This Rails gem/plugin stores NULL in your database when you try to store an empty string.

Build Status

It only works for columns you explicitly mention inside your model. It comes with a rake task which prints out all the columns eligible for nillification.

Since HTTP parameters are always strings, an empty string is sent by form values for which you did not mean to enter any value. This plugin makes sure to save NULL in database varchar columns that are defined with DEFAULT NULL.


class Comment < ActiveRecord::Base
  nillify :author_url

comment = Comment.create :author_url => ""
comment.author_url        # -> nil


Install this gem using Bundler:

gem 'nilly_vanilly'

and then run bundle.


To see what columns are eligible for nillification, run the following:

rake nilly:vanilly:inspect

This will print a list of all tables in your database, cross-referenced with the models in your application. All text columns which may be NULL and are nil by default are shown, i.e. all these columns should be safe to nillify. This does not take into account any validations you might have.

When a column has already been nillified, it will be indicated with [OK].

But WHY?!!

You: who cares that empty strings are stored in the database? Me: if you don't care, just move along. And would I recommend you nillify every attribute in your application? No. But beside from the fact that NULL is the "correct" value for something you don't know, enforcing this is required if you have a unique index on that column. Unique indexes are the fastest you can have, and they deal great with NULL values. Empty strings? Not so much so.


After checking out the repo, run bin/setup to install dependencies. Then, run rake spec to run the tests. You can also run bin/console for an interactive prompt that will allow you to experiment.

To install this gem onto your local machine, run bundle exec rake install. To release a new version, update the version number in version.rb, and then run bundle exec rake release, which will create a git tag for the version, push git commits and tags, and push the .gem file to


Bug reports and pull requests are welcome on GitHub at This project is intended to be a safe, welcoming space for collaboration, and contributors are expected to adhere to the Contributor Covenant code of conduct.


The gem is available as open source under the terms of the MIT License.

Code of Conduct

Everyone interacting in the NillyVanilly project’s codebases, issue trackers, chat rooms and mailing lists is expected to follow the code of conduct.


Joost Baaij