Utility Scopes


Utility scopes provides a collection of utilitarian named scopes for use with your ActiveRecord models.

Utility scopes was originally announced here and has expanded in scope and functionality since then thanks to user contributions. See the CHANGELOG for contribution details.

Utility scopes has the following dependencies:

  • activerecord >= 2.1.0
  • rspec >= 1.1.4 (for specs only, not runtime)


To install the utility_scopes gem run the following:

sudo gem install utility_scopes

And to enable the scopes in your project just require utility_scopes:

require ‘utility_scopes’


You can also specify the gem dependency if you’re running Rails 2.1 in your config/environment.rb file:

Rails::Initializer.run do |config|
  1. … config.gem “utility_scopes” end

You don’t need to require 'utility_scopes' in this case as Rails will automatically require it.


Most examples assume the following Article class:

class Article < ActiveRecord::Base has_many :comments # (assume each comment also has a :user) has_many :contributors belongs_to :author, :class_name => ‘User’ end

Named scopes are chainable by nature, meaning that the following is possible:

Article.with(:comments).except(1, 2, 3).ordered.limited(5)

Any exceptions to chainable scopes will be specified in their section below.

With (eager-loading)

The with scope let’s you eager load your model associations. So instead of having to invoke find(:all, :include => [:association1, :association2]) just pass these association names into the with named scope:

  <li>Get all articles and eager-load their comments, each comments

Again, just pass in the same arguments into eager that you would pass in as the :include value to ActiveRecord::Base#find


contributed by danielmorrison

except excludes the given records from the result set:

Article.except(1, 2, 3) # Get all articles whose id is NOT 1, 2 or 3 Article.except(@article) # Get all articles except the given one Article.except(@new_articles) # Get all non-new articles


limited lets you place a limit on the number of results returned. By default the scope will limit the result set to 10 results if no argument is passed in:

Article.limited # Get the first 10 articles Article.except(1).limited(5) # Get the first 5 articles where id != 1

If you’re using will_paginate and don’t pass an argument to the scope then the per_page value that is used by will_paginate will be used:

Article.per_page #=> 20 Article.limited # Get the first 20 articles

If you would like to specify a different default value you can do so on a per class basis using default_limit:

  <li>Set the default limit to be 15  
  class Article < ActiveRecord::Base
    default_limit 15
Article.limited  # Get the first 15 articles


Note: the ordered scope cannot be chained with any other order clauses

ordered lets you dynamically specify the ordering of your result set. If no arguments are given it will default to created_at DESC. (ordered is also available as order_by and sort_by)

Article.ordered # Get all articles ordered by “created_at DESC” Article.ordered(:id) # Get all articles ordered by “id” Article.ordered(“rank ASC”) # Get all articles ordered by “rank ASC” Article.order_by(:id) # order_by and sort_by are alias to ordered Article.order_by([:id, :desc], :popularity) # can take a two-element array as parameter Article.sort_by(:id => :desc, :popularity => :asc) # can take a hash as parameter
  1. only available for jruby/ruby 1.9 Article.order_by_id # can be set as a sentence

If you would like to specify a different default sort order you can do so on a per class basis using ordered_by:

  <li>Set the default order to be 

The current default ordering for a class can always be accessed via default_ordering:

Article.default_ordering #=> “published_at DESC


only_pks selects only the primary key column. This is useful when combined with the pks class method to get the primary key values as an array:

Article.published.limited(10).only_pks # Get the first 10 published articles with only the ‘id’ value populated [, , …] Article.published.limited(10).pks # Get the first 10 published article ids: [1, 2, 3 …]