Posted over 8 years ago. Visible to the public. Linked content.

Working around the ancestry gem's way of object destruction

The ancestry gem allows you to easily use tree structures in your Rails application.

There is one somewhat unobvious pitfall to it: its way of applying the orphan_strategy which defines how it handles children of an object going to be destroyed.

What's this all about?

In many cases you might want to disallow destruction if there are any child nodes present. The restrict strategy does the trick but raises an exception when destroy is called:
has_ancestry :orphan_strategy => :restrict

One solution seems to be to prevent destruction by adding a check to the callback chain of destroy, either by a custom method or like that:
before_destroy :is_childless?

Unfortunately, this does not work as the gem has already put its method apply_orphan_strategy into the callback chain.

The problem of apply_orphan_strategy

The current implementation of this method does not add any errors or return false to prevent destruction – it either raises an exception (for restrict) or destroys or moves all children, depending on your strategy.

If you tried to apply your own way you might not have set one which means the default: deletion of all child nodes before your method is even called.


Disable the gem's method by overwriting it:

def apply_orphan_strategy # Destruction will be handled separately. end

You might package that (including a method adding errors) it into a neat trait which will keep this away from your model code.

Does your version of Ruby on Rails still receive security updates?
Rails LTS provides security patches for old versions of Ruby on Rails (3.2 and 2.3).

Owner of this card:

Martin Straub
Last edit:
over 8 years ago
About this deck:
We are makandra and do test-driven, agile Ruby on Rails software development.
License for source code
Posted by Martin Straub to makandra dev
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