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How to make changes to a Ruby gem (as a Rails developer)

At makandra, we've built a few gems over the years. Some of these are quite popular: spreewald (475k downloads), active_type (330k downloads), and geordi (210k downloads) for example (numbers from 2018).

Developing a Ruby gem is different from developing Rails applications, with the biggest difference: there is no Rails. This means:

  • no defined structure (neither for code nor directories)
  • no autoloading of classes, i.e. you need to require all files yourself
  • no [active_support](https://api.rubyonrails.org/classes/ActiveSupport.ht…

SSH: X-Forwarding

If you need to run a program on a remote machine (e.g. to your office PC) with a graphical UI (and you trust the remote machine), you can use SSH X-Forwarding. I sometimes use this to connect to a virtual machine installed on my work PC from my home office.

Forwarding X over SSH

To use X forwarding, when connecting to the remote machine, and add -X to the ssh call. Now, when you start a program with a UI (e.g. virtualbox) in that SSH session, a window will open on your local machine. It will not be particularly …

Repeats

Best practices: Large data migrations from legacy systems

Migrating data from a legacy into a new system can be a surprisingly large undertaking. We have done this a few times. While there are significant differences from project to project, we do have a list of general suggestions.

Before you start, talk to someone who has done it before, and read the following hints:

Understand the old system

Before any technical considerations, you need to understand the old system as best as possible. If feasible, do not only look at its API, or database, or frontend, but let a user of the old system sho…

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PostgreSQL and its way of sorting strings

PostgreSQL uses the C library's locale facilities for sorting strings:

  • First, all the letters are compared, ignoring spaces and punctuation.
  • Then, spaces and punctuation are compared to break ties.
  • It sorts upper and lower case letters together. So the order will be something like a A b B c C

Example:

Ruby PostgreSQL
IMAGE3.jpg image2.jpg
image.jpg image3.jpg
image2.jpg IMAGE3.jpg
image3.jpg image.jpg

[PostgreSQL-FAQ: Why_do_my_strings_sort_incorrectly](https://wiki.postgresql.org/wiki…

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AppArmor in Linux

This note is a reminder that there is something called AppArmor that could cause weird errors ("File not found", "Can't open file or directory", …) after configuration changes, e.g. when changing MySQL's data directory.

Remember to have a look at AppArmor's daemon configuration (usually at /etc/apparmor.d/) if you change daemon configuration and run into errors such as the one above.

Repeats

Pitfall: ActiveRecord callbacks: Method call with multiple conditions

In the following example the method update_offices_people_count won't be called when office_id changes, because it gets overwritten by the second line:

after_save :update_offices_people_count, :if => :office_id_changed? # is overwritten …
after_save :update_offices_people_count, :if => :trashed_changed? # … by this line

Instead write:

after_save :update_offices_people_count, :if => :office_people_count_needs_update?

private

def office_people_count_needs_update?
  office_id_changed? || trashed_changed?
end

Or, move t…

Haml: Generating a unique selector for an element

Having a unique selector for an element is useful to later select it from JavaScript or to update a fragment with an Unpoly.

Haml lets you use square brackets ([]) to generate a unique class name and ID from a given Ruby object. Haml will infer a class attribute from the given object's Ruby class. It will also infer an id attribute from the given object's Ruby class and #id method.

This is especially useful with ActiveRecord instances, which have a persisted #id and will hence **generate the same selector o…

3 ways to run Spring (the Rails app preloader) and how to disable it

spring ...

The most obvious way to use spring is to call it explicitly:

spring rails console
spring rake db:migrate

Binstubs

Binstubs are wrapper scripts around executables. In Rails they live inside bin/. If you run spring binstub --all, your binstubs will be using Spring.

bin/rails console
bin/rake db:migrate

bundle exec rails ...

Bundle exec is inconsistent when it comes to spring. Some commands will use it, some won't.

```
bundle exec rails console # starts Spring…

Repeats

ActiveRecord: When aggregating nested children, always exclude children marked for destruction

When your model is using a callback like before_save or before_validation to calculate an aggregated value from its children, it needs to skip those children that are #marked_for_destruction?. Otherwise you will include children that have been ticked for deletion in a nested form.

Wrong way

class Invoice
  has_many :invoice_items
  accepts_nested_attributes_for :invoice_items, :allow_destroy => true # the critical code 1/2
  before_save :calculate_and_store_amount                              # the critical code 2/...
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What edge_rider gives you

edge_rider is Power tools for ActiveRecord relations (scopes). Please note that some of the functions edge_rider provides have native implementations in newer rails versions.

Relation#traverse_association(*names)

Edge Rider gives your relations a method #traverse_association which returns a new relation by "pivoting" around a named association. You can traverse multiple associations in a single call. E.g. to turn a relation of posts into a relation of all posts of their authors:

```
posts…

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Devise: Invalidating all sessions for a user

Background information about session storage in Rails

Rails has a default mechanism to store the session in the CookieStore. This is a cookie which holds the entire user session hash in the browser. This cookie is serialized, encoded with base64, and signed.

How Devise handles authentication

Devise uses this CookieStore. To track a users session, a salt is stored in the session cookie when a user logs in.
When a user logs out this CookieStore is overwrit…

Repeats

Why has_many :through associations can return the same record multiple times

An association defined with has_many :through will return the same record multiple times if multiple join models for the same record exist. To prevent this, you need to add ->{ uniq } as second argument to has_many (below Rails 4 it is a simple option: has_many :xyz, :uniq => true).

Example

Say you have an Invoice with multiple Items. Each Item has a Product:

class Invoice < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_many :items
  has_many :products, :through => :items
end

class Item < ActiveRecord::Base
  b...
Repeats

Ruby constant lookup: The good, the bad and the ugly

In Ruby, classes and modules are called constants. This card explains how Ruby resolves the meaning of a constant.

The good

E. g. in the following example, Array could mean either Foo::Array or simply Array:

class Foo
  def list
    Array.new
  end
end

What Ruby does here is to see if the name Array makes sense inside of Foo::, and if that fails, resolves it to ::Array (without a namespace).

The bad

You might be surprised that these are all valid ways to reference Ruby's String class:

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count vs. size on ActiveRecord associations

TLDR

  • When counting records in an association, you should use #size in most cases.
  • It will not work if the parent record has never been saved. Also there are finer distinctions between #size and #count. See below.

count

  • Always makes a COUNT(*) query if a counter cache is not set up.
  • If a counter cache is set up on the association, #count will return that cached value instead of executing a new query.

size, if the association has already been loaded

  • Counts elements in the already loaded array.
  • Does not …
Linked contentRepeats

Tasks, microtasks, queues and schedules - JakeArchibald.com

The way that Javascript schedules timeouts and promise callbacks is more complicated than you think. This can be the reason why callbacks are not executed in the order that they are queued.

Please read this article!


This is an extract of the example in the article which demonstrates the execution order of tasks and microtasks.

```
console.log('script start');

setTimeout(function() {
console.log('setTimeout');
}, 0);

Promise.resolve().then(function() {
console.log('promise1');
}).then(function() {
console.log('promise2');
}); …

Linked content

Rails' Insecure Defaults - Code Climate Blog

Rails’ reputation as a relatively secure Web framework is well deserved. Out-of-the-box, there is protection against many common attacks: cross site scripting (XSS), cross site request forgery (CSRF) and SQL injection. Core members are knowledgeable and genuinely concerned with security.

However, there are places where the default behavior could be more secure. This post explores potential security issues in Rails 3 that are fixed in Rails 4, as well as some that are still risky. I hope this post will help you secure your own apps, as w…

Linked content

CSS: Using interaction media detection to disable hover styles for devices that have no hover

Since late 2015, all major browsers (still excluding Firefox) support pointing device media queries. These can be used to distinguish e.g. coarse from fine pointers (e.g. finger vs mouse), or a device with hover support from one without (e.g. desktop with mouse vs tablet).

Motivation

When hover styles modify the DOM, most mobile devices activate the hover styles on first tap. A second tap is required to trigger a click. While this can be handy, at times it makes the UX worse.

Another issue with hover styles is that they tend to st…

Linked content

Logic in media queries

Here is how to model basic logic in media queries.

AND

With keyword and.

# Target viewport widths between 500 and 800px
@media (min-width: 500px) and (max-width: 800px)

OR

Comma-separated.

# Target viewport widths below 500 or above 800px
@media (max-width: 500px), (min-width: 800px)

NOT

Needs a little overhead with not all and.

# Target devices that can't hover
@media not all and (hover)

See CSS: Using interaction media detection on why you'd need this.

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