Unread

Ruby gem to manage read/unread status of ActiveRecord objects - and it's fast.

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Features

  • Manages unread records for anything you want users to read (like messages, documents, comments etc.)
  • Supports mark as read to mark a single record as read
  • Supports mark all as read to mark all records as read in a single step
  • Gives you a scope to get the unread records for a given user
  • Needs only one additional database table
  • Most important: Great performance

Requirements

  • Ruby 1.9.3 or newer
  • Rails 3 (including 3.0, 3.1, 3.2) and Rails 4. For use with Rails 2.3 there is a branch named "rails2"
  • Needs a timestamp field in your models (like created_at or updated_at) with a database index on it

Changelog

https://github.com/ledermann/unread/releases

Installation

Step 1: Add this to your Gemfile:

gem 'unread'

and run

bundle

Step 2: Generate and run the migration:

rails g unread:migration
rake db:migrate

Usage

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  acts_as_reader
end

class Message < ActiveRecord::Base
  acts_as_readable :on => :created_at
end

message1 = Message.create!
message2 = Message.create!

## Get unread messages for a given user
Message.unread_by(current_user)
# => [ message1, message2 ]

message1.mark_as_read! :for => current_user
Message.unread_by(current_user)
# => [ message2 ]

## Get all messages including the read status for a given user
messages = Message.with_read_marks_for(current_user)
# => [ message1, message2 ]
messages[0].unread?(current_user)
# => false
messages[1].unread?(current_user)
# => true

Message.mark_as_read! :all, :for => current_user
Message.unread_by(current_user)
# => [ ]

# Optional: Cleaning up unneeded markers.
# Do this in a cron job once a day.
Message.cleanup_read_marks!

How does it work?

The main idea of this gem is to manage a list of read items for every reader after a certain timestamp.

The gem defines a scope doing a LEFT JOIN to this list, so your app can get the unread items in a performant manner. Of course, other scopes can be combined.

It will be ensured that the list of read items will not grow up too much:

  • If a user uses "mark all as read", his list gets deleted and the timestamp is set to the current time.
  • If a user never uses "mark all as read", the list will grow and grow with each item he reads. But there is help: Your app can use a cleanup method which removes unnecessary list items.

Overall, this gem can be used for large data. Please have a look at the generated SQL queries, here is an example:

# Assuming we have a user who has marked all messages as read on 2010-10-20 08:50
current_user = User.find(42)

# Get the unread messages for this user
Message.unread_by(current_user)

Generated query:

SELECT messages.*
FROM messages
LEFT JOIN read_marks ON read_marks.readable_type = 'Message'
                    AND read_marks.readable_id = messages.id
                    AND read_marks.user_id = 42
                    AND read_marks.timestamp >= messages.created_at
WHERE read_marks.id IS NULL
AND messages.created_at > '2010-10-20 08:50:00'

Hint: You should add a database index on messages.created_at.

Similar tools

There are two other gems/plugins doing a similar job:

Unfortunately, both of them have a lack of performance, because they calculate the unread records doing a find(:all), which should be avoided for a large amount of records. This gem is based on a timestamp algorithm and therefore it's very fast.

Copyright (c) 2010-2014 Georg Ledermann, released under the MIT license