Module: ActiveRecord::Acts::NestedSet::ClassMethods

Defined in:
lib/active_record/acts/nested_set.rb

Overview

This acts_as extension provides Nested Set functionality. Nested Set is similiar to Tree, but with the added feature that you can select the children and all of their descendents with a single query. A good use case for this is a threaded post system, where you want to display every reply to a comment without multiple selects.

A Google search for “Nested Set” should point you to in the right direction to explain the database theory. I figured out a bunch of this from threebit.net/tutorials/nestedset/tutorial1.html

Instead of picturing a leaf node structure with children pointing back to their parent, the best way to imagine how this works is to think of the parent entity surrounding all of its children, and its parent surrounding it, etc. Assuming that they are lined up horizontally, we store the left and right boundries in the database.

Imagine:

root
  |_ Child 1
    |_ Child 1.1
    |_ Child 1.2
  |_ Child 2
    |_ Child 2.1
    |_ Child 2.2

If my cirlces in circles description didn't make sense, check out this sweet ASCII art:

 ___________________________________________________________________
|  Root                                                             |
|    ____________________________    ____________________________   |
|   |  Child 1                  |   |  Child 2                  |   |
|   |   __________   _________  |   |   __________   _________  |   |
|   |  |  C 1.1  |  |  C 1.2 |  |   |  |  C 2.1  |  |  C 2.2 |  |   |
1   2  3_________4  5________6  7   8  9_________10 11_______12 13  14
|   |___________________________|   |___________________________|   |
|___________________________________________________________________|

The numbers represent the left and right boundries. The table then might look like this:

ID | PARENT | LEFT | RIGHT | DATA
 1 |      0 |    1 |    14 | root
 2 |      1 |    2 |     7 | Child 1
 3 |      2 |    3 |     4 | Child 1.1
 4 |      2 |    5 |     6 | Child 1.2
 5 |      1 |    8 |    13 | Child 2
 6 |      5 |    9 |    10 | Child 2.1
 7 |      5 |   11 |    12 | Child 2.2

So, to get all children of an entry, you

SELECT * WHERE CHILD.LEFT IS BETWEEN PARENT.LEFT AND PARENT.RIGHT

To get the count, it's (LEFT - RIGHT + 1)/2, etc.

To get the direct parent, it falls back to using the PARENT_ID field.

There are instance methods for all of these.

The structure is good if you need to group things together; the downside is that keeping data integrity is a pain, and both adding and removing an entry require a full table write.

This sets up a before_destroy callback to prune the tree correctly if one of its elements gets deleted.

Instance Method Summary collapse

Instance Method Details

#acts_as_nested_set(options = {}) ⇒ Object

Configuration options are:

  • parent_column - specifies the column name to use for keeping the position integer (default: parent_id)

  • left_column - column name for left boundry data, default lft

  • right_column - column name for right boundry data, default rgt

  • scope - restricts what is to be considered a list. Given a symbol, it'll attach _id (if it hasn't already been added) and use that as the foreign key restriction. It's also possible to give it an entire string that is interpolated if you need a tighter scope than just a foreign key. Example: acts_as_nested_set :scope => 'todo_list_id = #{todo_list_id} AND completed = 0'



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# File 'lib/active_record/acts/nested_set.rb', line 81

def acts_as_nested_set(options = {})
  configuration = { :parent_column => "parent_id", :left_column => "lft", :right_column => "rgt", :scope => "1 = 1" }

  configuration.update(options) if options.is_a?(Hash)

  configuration[:scope] = "#{configuration[:scope]}_id".intern if configuration[:scope].is_a?(Symbol) && configuration[:scope].to_s !~ /_id$/

  if configuration[:scope].is_a?(Symbol)
    scope_condition_method = %(
      def scope_condition
        if #{configuration[:scope].to_s}.nil?
          "#{configuration[:scope].to_s} IS NULL"
        else
          "#{configuration[:scope].to_s} = \#{#{configuration[:scope].to_s}}"
        end
      end
    )
  else
    scope_condition_method = "def scope_condition() \"#{configuration[:scope]}\" end"
  end

  class_eval "include ActiveRecord::Acts::NestedSet::InstanceMethods\n\n\#{scope_condition_method}\n\ndef left_col_name() \"\#{configuration[:left_column]}\" end\n\ndef right_col_name() \"\#{configuration[:right_column]}\" end\n\ndef parent_column() \"\#{configuration[:parent_column]}\" end\n\n"
end