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?


def office_people_count_needs_update?
  office_id_changed? || trashed_changed?

Or, move t…


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/...

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).


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

class Item < ActiveRecord::Base
External contentRepeats

Tasks, microtasks, queues and schedules -

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() {
}, 0);

Promise.resolve().then(function() {
}).then(function() {
}); …

Logic in media queries

Here is how to model basic logic in media queries.


With keyword and.

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



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


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.


Concurrency issues with find-as-you-type boxes

Find-as-you-type boxes are usually built by observing changes in a text field, and querying the server via AJAX for search results or suggestions when the field has changed.

A common problem with this implementation is that there is no guarantee that AJAX responses are evaluated in the same order as the original requests. The effect for the user is that the search results are flashing back and forth while the user is typing the query, and when the user has stopped typing the last results don't always match the final query.

You won't notice…

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 generated the same selector ov…


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.


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:



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

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:

External 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…


ActiveRecord: validate_uniqueness_of is case sensitive by default

By default, validates_uniqueness_of does not consider "username" and "USERNAME" to be a collision. If you use MySQL this is probably not what you want, since string comparisons are case-insensitive in MySQL.

(If you use PostgreSQL, read this instead.)

Say you have a user model

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  validates_uniqueness_of :name

with a unique index in the database.

If you try to create the users "user" and "USER", this will not trigger a validation error, but may fail with a SQL error due to d…

ActiveRecord::Store: migrate data in store

When you need to store structured data (like Ruby hashes) in a single database column with ActiveRecord, a simple way is to use PostgreSQL's jsonb columns. ActiveRecord will automatically serialize and deserialize your Hash to and from JSON, and you can index JSON paths for fast reads.

As an alternative, ActiveRecord::Store offers a way to store hashes in a single database column. This card will show you how to migrate those hashes in an ActiveRecord::Migration by example: …


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 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 ...

You would not expect, but this also runs with Spring. However, bundle exec rake does not. Better use binstubs :)

bundle exec rails co…


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…


count vs. size on ActiveRecord associations


  • 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.


  • 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 …

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).


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…


Find an ActiveRecord by any column (useful for Cucumber steps)

The attached patch lets you find a record by a string or number in any column:


There's also a bang variant that raises ActiveRecord::NotFound if no record matches the given value:


Boolean and binary columns are excluded from the search because that would be crazy.

I recommend copying the attachment to features/support/find_by_anything.rb, since it is most useful in Cucumber step …


MySQL: CONCAT with NULL fields


CONCAT('foo', 'bar', NULL) = NULL

the NULL always wins in MySQL.

If you would rather treat NULL as an empty string, use CONCAT_WS (concatenation with separator) instead:

CONCAT_WS('', 'foo', 'bar', NULL) = 'foobar'


In PostgreSQL the NULL is not viral in CONCAT:

CONCAT('foo', 'bar', NULL) = 'foobar'
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