Linked contentRepeats

Regular Expressions: Excessive backtracking can get yourself in trouble

Two weeks ago, Cloudflare was struck by a global outage that lasted ~30 minutes. The incident was rooted on a CPU exhaustion caused by a single regular expression containing some catastrophic backtracking:


This is a small reminder do keep using the lazy operator ? whenever possible and furthermore be aware that regular expressions should not only be unit-tested but also evaluated in terms of performance.


Webpack(er): A primer

webpack is a very powerful asset bundler written in node.js to bundle (ES6) JavaScript modules, stylesheets, images, and other assets for consumption in browsers.

Webpacker is a wrapper around webpack that handles integration with Rails.

This is a short introduction.


If you haven't already, you need to install node.js and Yarn.

Then, put

gem 'webpacker', '~> 4.x' # check if 4.x is still cu...

ActiveType 1.2 supports "change_association"

With ActiveType 1.2 you can modify associations (has_many etc.) after they have been defined.

One common use case for this is to change an association inside a form model, like this:

class Credential < ActiveRecord::Base

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_many :credentials

class SignUpCredential < ActiveType::Record[Credential]

class SignUp < ActiveType::Record[User]
  change_association :credentials, class_name: 'SignUpCredential'

Now, if you load credentials, y...

Linked content

Katapult EOL

Katapult was an endeavor to dramatically speed up starting a new Rails application. However, it turned out to save less time than expected, while requiring more time for maintenance than anticipated. Since its benefits fell too low, we have decided to not continue developing Katapult.

You can still use Katapult for generating ready-to-run applications with model CRUD, authentication and all of Katapult's features, but the rapid development of the web will quickly render the generated code antiquated. Nevertheless, its architecture may remai...

Linked content

Active Record and PostgreSQL — Ruby on Rails Guides

Rails guide that covers PostgreSQL-specific column types and usages for Active Record.

You should especially keep in mind the special datatypes that PostgreSQL offers. \
Types like json and array take away a lot of the pain that you had on MySQL projects.

Example use cases for array are tags or storing foreign keys (instead of a join model). You can even index them.

Deal with certain travis CI failures

Travis changed their default distribution from Ubuntu 14.04 (trusty) to 16.04 (precise). This might break your test setup for new builds.

You can solve this issue by freezing your test distribution in the .travis.yml to Ubuntu 14.04 until you have the time to solve all the issues you will have in 16.04:

dist: trusty

Error details

Here are few indicators that you ran into this issue:

Connection to the PostgreSQL database does not work anymore

Your travis-ci builds might have started failing on the usual

psql -c...

Documenting your Rails project's Node.js version in .nvmrc

Not all versions of Node.js are compatible with each other. Also npm packages may require a minimum or maximum version of Node.js. We use nvm on our development PCs so we can operate multiple versions of Node.js in parallel.

To make sure that all developers use a compatible version of Node.js, your Rails project should declare the required Node.js in a file called .nvmrc.

When a .nvmrc exists, developers can cd in your project directory and activate...

cucumber_factory: How to keep using Cucumber 2 Transforms in Cucumber 3

Cucumber up to version 2 had a neat feature called Step Argument Transforms which was dropped in favor of Cucumber 3 ParameterTypes. While I strongly encourage you to drop your legacy Transforms when upgrading to Cucumber 3, it might not always be possible due to their different design.
This is a guide on how to keep the exact same functionality of your old Transforms while writing them in the style of new `Paramet...


Git: Show commits that have touched specific text in a file

If you want to find the commits that touched a specific text in a file, use git log -S 'text in the code' -- path/to/file.

Here is an example, where the move of the convert_number_column_value(value) method in active record is traced (simplified output):

git log -n 1 --pretty=oneline -S 'convert_number_column_value(value)' -- activerecord/lib/active_record/base.rb
ceb33f84933639d3b61aac62e5e71fd087ab65ed Split out most of the AR::Base code into separate modules :cake:
git show ceb33f84933639d3b61aac62e5e71fd087ab65ed...

How to recognize CVE-2019-5418

If you get requests with values for formats like this:

{:locale=>[:de], :formats=>["../../../../../../../../../../etc/services{{"], :variants=>[], :handlers=>[:erb, :builder, :raw, :ruby, :coffee, :haml]}

or fails like this:

Invalid query parameters: invalid %-encoding (../../../../../../../../../etc/passwd%%0000.html)

Someone tries to exploit CVE-2019-5418.
If you use the latest Rails (or latest Rails LTS) you're...


The many gotchas of Ruby class variables

TLDR: Ruby class variables (@@foo) are dangerous in many ways. You should avoid them at all cost. See bottom of this card for alternatives.

Class variables are shared between a class hierarchy

When you declare a class variable, it is shared between this and all descending (inheriting) classes. This is rarely what you want.

Class variables are bound at compile-time

Like unqualified constants, class variables are bound to your current scope *whe...


Self-expiring URLs with Apache

When delivering non-public uploaded files (images, documents etc), one has to decide whether and how to do authorization. The usual approaches are:

  • Using send_file with a regular controller. This is secure, but potentially slow, especially for large collections of images.
  • Using unguessable URLs. This is fast (because Apache can deliver assets without going through Rails), but less secure.

When going with the "unguessable URL" approach, it is possible to somewhat increase security by using expiring URLs. The idea is to encode the expi...


Recommended git workflow for feature branches

This is a guide on how to effectively use git when working on a feature branch. It is designed to get out of your way as much as possible while you work, and ensure you end up with clean commits in the end.

We assume you are the only person working on this branch. We also assume the branch has never been "partially" merged into master.

You want to start a feature branch

git checkout master
git checkout -b my-feature-branch
git push -u origin my-feature-branch

You've added code that works ind...

Linked content

Function Composition in Ruby

Along with a number of other cool new features and performance improvements, Ruby 2.6 added function composition to the Proc and Method classes. Today we’ll take a look at how this allows us to use some functional programming goodness in our Ruby code.

PostgreSQL vs MySQL: How to UPDATE using a JOIN

When you want to UPDATE a table with information from an associated table, you can JOIN the associated table into the statement.


Let's say you have a database schema where an Employee belongs_to :department:

| Employee        |                   +------------+
|-----------------| n               1 | Department |
| email           |-------------------|------------+
| department_id   |                   | name       |
+-----------------+                   +------------+

Because of perfo...


Tod: A Gem for handling daytime without a date

Tod is a gem for working with daytimes.

Another additional gem?

Thus SQL has a time datatype for storing time of day in the format hh:mm:ss, neither Ruby nor Rails themselves offer an elegant way to deal with day times.

Time and DateTime both handle daytime values AND calendar date, using them to only store the time of day will end in inconsistent and thus confusing data, e. g. will initialize with the current Time in your Timezone, initializes at January 1, at an undefined year, without a timezone o...


When reading model columns during class definition, you must handle a missing/empty database

When doing some meta-programming magic and you want to do something for all attributes of a class, you may need to access connection or some of its methods (e.g. columns) during class definition.

While everything will be fine while you are working on a project that is in active development, the application will fail to boot when the database is missing or has no tables. This means that Raketasks like db:create or db:migrate fail on a freshly cloned project.

The reason is your environment.rb which is loaded for Raketasks and calls...


ActionMailer: Preview mails directly in your email client

In Rails, we usually have a mailer setup like this:

class MyMailer < ActionMailer::Base

  def newsletter
    mail to: 'receiver@host.tld',
      from: 'sender@host.tld',
      subject: 'My mail'


If you want to preview your mail in the browser, you can use the Action Mailer Preview. To inspect the mail directly in your email client, just create an .eml file and open it with your client:

mail = MyMailer.newsletter
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