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Casting ActiveRecord scopes or instances to ActiveType extended model classes

When working with ActiveType you will often find it useful to cast an ActiveRecord instance to its extended ActiveType::Record variant.

Starting with active_type 0.4.0 you can use ActiveType.cast for this:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base

class SignUp < ActiveType::Record[User]

user = User.find(1)
sign_up = ActiveType.cast(user, SignUp)
sign_up.is_a?(SignUp) # => true

This is basically like [ActiveRecord#becomes](…

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Running a single unique instance of command + arguments

run-one is a wrapper script that won't run the given command while another instance of it is running. Is brings several utility commands that offer similar behavior.

run-one - run just one instance at a time of some command and unique set of arguments (useful for cronjobs, eg)

run-one COMMAND [ARGS]

   run-this-one COMMAND [ARGS]

   run-one-constantly COMMAND [ARGS]

   keep-one-running COMMAND [ARGS]

   run-one-until-success COMMAND [ARGS]

   run-one-until-failure COMMAND [ARGS]


Dealing with I18n::InvalidPluralizationData errors

When localizing model attributes via I18n you may run into errors like this:

I18n::InvalidPluralizationData: translation data { ... } can not be used with :count => 1. key 'one' is missing.

They seem to appear out of the blue and the error message is more confusing than helpful.

TL;DR A model (e.g. Post) is lacking an attribute (e.g. thread) translation.
Fix it by adding a translation for that model's attribute ( The error message reveals the (wrongly) located I18n data (from attributes.thread)….


Regex: Be careful when trying to match the start and/or end of a text

Ruby has two different ways to match the start and the end of a text:

  • ^ (Start of line) and $ (End of line)
  • \A (Start of string) and \z (End of string)

Most often you want to use \A and \z.

Here is a short example in which we want to validate the content type of a file attachment. Normally we would not expect content_type_1 to be a valid content type with the used regular expression image\/(jpeg|png). But as ^ and $ will match lines, it matches both content_type_1 and content_type_2. Using \A and \z will wo…

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Write custom RSpec matchers

There are three ways to define your own RSpec matchers, with increasing complexibility and options:

1) Use RSpec::Matchers.define

RSpec::Matchers.define :be_a_multiple_of do |expected|
  match do |actual|
    actual % expected == 0
  # optional
  failure_message do |actual|
    "expected that #{actual} would be a multiple of #{expected}"
  # optional
  failure_message_when_negated do |actual|
    "expected that #{actual} would not be a multiple of #{expected}"

This is automat…

Auto-destruct in 51 days

Gemika 0.4.0 released

We added support to read the include option from the travis.yml file. All combinations defined in the include option are added to the existing matrix. If no matrix exist, these are the only ones that are run.

This change should make it simpler to understand, which Ruby versions are actually run for a specific Gemfile.

Example with matrix

  - 2.1.8
  - 2.3.1
  - gemfiles/Gemfile1
  - gemfiles/Gemfile2

    - rvm: 2.6.3
      gemfile: gemfiles/Gemfile3

This will run all these 5 combinations: …


Matching unicode characters in a Ruby (1.9+) regexp

On Ruby 1.9+, standard ruby character classes like \w, \d will only match 7-Bit ASCII characters:

"foo" =~ /\w+/   # matches "foo"
"füü" =~ /\w+/   # matches "f", ü is not 7-Bit ASCII

There is a collection of character classes that will match unicode characters. From the documentation:

  • /[[:alnum:]]/ Alphabetic and numeric character
  • /[[:alpha:]]/ Alphabetic character
  • /[[:blank:]]/ Space or tab
  • /[[:cntrl:]]/ Control character
  • /[[:digit:]]/ Digit
  • /[[:graph:]]/ Non-blank character (excludes spaces, co…
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RubyMine users: you should be using bookmarks

RubyMine allows bookmarking lines of code. This is super-helpful when working on a complex problem.
I've been using this feature for a few years now, and so should you! :)

Here are the default Linux/Windows keystrokes. See the documentation for other keybindings.

Add an anonymous bookmark


A gray checkmark will be shown in the gutter on the left.
If you press F11 again on a bookmarked line, the bookmark will be removed.

Add a named bookmark ("mnemonic")



When upgrading/downgrading RubyGems and Bundler on a server, you must clear bundled gems

On application servers, gems are usually bundled into the project directory, at a location shared across deployments.

This is usually shared/bundle inside your project's root directory, e.g. /var/www/your-project/shared/bundle/.
If you can't find that, take a look at current/.bundle/config and look for BUNDLE_PATH.

When you are changing the version of RubyGems or Bundler on a system where gems are installed this way, you must wipe that bundle directory in addition to the user and system gems or gems that are already ins…


Ruby: How to use global variables for a conditional debugger

You can share a state in Ruby with global variables. Even if you should avoid them whenever possible, for debugging an application this could be temporary quite handy.


class User

  after_save { byebug if $debug; nil }

  def lock
   self.locked = true


Rspec.describe User do

let(:user) { create(:user) }

before do
# Many users are created and saved in this hook, but we don't want the debugger to stop for them
end …

DOM API for jQuery users

General hints on the DOM

  • the root of the DOM is document
  • custom elements inherit from HTMLElement. They need a - (dash) in their name, e.g. <notification-box>.
  • event listeners don't have event delegation à la .on('click', cssSelector, handler)


Action jQuery DOM API equivalent
Find descendant(s) by CSS selector .find(selector) one: `.querySelector(selecto…

Unpoly: Automatically show the full better_errors page when Rails raises an error

When an AJAX request raises an exception on the server, Rails will show a minimal error page with only basic information. Because all Unpoly updates work using AJAX requests, you won't get the more detailled better_errors page with the interactive REPL.

Below is an event listener that automatically repeats the request as a full-page load if your development error shows an error page. This means you get…

Restore changes, even from deleted files, with RubyMines "Local History"-Feature

Sometimes, due to git or other "accidents", important files get deleted or overwritten.

At a state when even Ctrl+Z doesn't work anymore, you maybe can rescue your files with RubyMines "Local History"-Feature!

To do this try the following:

  • If the file got deleted, recreate a new empty file with the same name on the exact same place
  • Open that file in the editor
  • Go to RubyMine and click on VCS -> Local History -> Show History
  • In the now open window, you should see all greater changes made to the File, even before it got deleted/temp…
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Choosing the right gems for your project

Adding a gem means you take over the liability towards the external code.


Based on "To gem, or not to gem":

  • Gem is really needed (prefer writing your own code for simple requirements without many edge cases)
  • Gem is tested well (coverage and quality)
  • Gem has a good code quality
  • Gem's licence fits to the project requirement
  • Try to avoid gems that do much more than your requireme…

Working with or without time zones in Rails applications

Rails supports time zones, but there are several pitfalls. Most importantly because and Time.current are completely different things and code from gems might use one or the other.

Especially configuring an application that cares only about one time zone is a bit tricky.

The following was tested on Rails 5.1 but should apply to Rails 4.2 as well.

Using only local time

Your life will be easier if your application does not need to support time zones. Disable them like this:

config.time_zone = 'Berlin' # Your local time…


RubyMine: Efficiently filtering results in the "Finder" overlay

RubyMine comes with a nice way to grep through your project's files: The finder (ctrl + shift + f). Don't be discouraged about the notice 100+ matches in n+ files if your searched keyword is too general or widely used in your project.


RubyMine comes with a few ways to narrow down the resulting list, don't hesitate to apply those filters to speed up your search. Your keybinding might vary based on your personal settings.

File mask (alt + k)

If you already know the file extension of your …

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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.


Beware of "nil" values in params

Recent rails security updates have shown that people make incorrect assumptions about the possible contents of the params hash.

Just don't make any! Treat it as what it is: potentially unsafe user input. For example:

/pages/edit?foo    --> params == {:foo => nil}
/pages/edit?foo[]  --> params == {:foo => [nil]} # at least in older rails 3 and in rails 2.x

Be especially wary about stuff like


If params[:password_reset_token] is nil, you'll retriev…

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