Acts As Revisionable

This gem can handle automatically keeping revisions of a model each time it is updated. It is intended to allow you to keep a history of changes that can be reviewed or restored. This implementation has the advantages that it can track associations with a parent record and that it takes less space in the database to store the revisions.

To make any ActiveRecord model revisionable, simply declare acts_as_revisionable in the class definition. Revisions are only added when a record is updated, so newly created records don't have revisions. This is intentional to reduce the number of revisions that need to be kept. In many applications, the majority of records are created once and never edited and adding the revision on create ends up at least doubling your storage needs. The attributes of the original record are serialized and compressed for in the revision record to minimize the amount of disk space used. Finally, you can limit the number of associations that are kept at any one time by supplying a :limit option to the acts_as_revisionable statement:

acts_as_revisionable :limit => 25

You can insure that revisions are kept for a minimum length of time by specifying :minimum_age:

acts_as_revisionable :limit => 15, :minimum_age => 2.weeks

Revisions are accessible on a record via a has_many :revision_records association. The revision records are sorted in reverse order. The revisions will be destroyed along with the parent record.


You can specify associations that you'd like to include in each revision by providing a list of them with the :associations key to the acts_as_revisionable options hash. You can either provide a symbol with the association name or, if you'd like to include sub-associations, a hash with the association name as the key and the value as a list of sub-associations to include. These are are valid :associations values:

:associations => :comments  # include has_many :comments in the revision
:associations => [:comments, :tags]  # include both :comments and :tags
:associations => [{:comments => :ratings}, :tags]  # include both :comments and :tags as well as has_many :ratings on the comments

You can only revision has_many, has_one, and has_and_belongs_to_many associations. You cannot revision belongs_to.

Storing Revisions

Normally, revisions are only created when an update is done inside of a store_revision block. You can make this behavior automatic on update by specifying :on_update => true in the acts_as_revisionable call. This can be handy if you have a simple records without associations. If you do have associations in your model, you should not use this feature because you may end up revisioning associations in an indeterminate state. In this case, surround all your update statements with a store_revision block:

store_revision do
  model.update_has_many_records(params[:has_many])! end The revision will only be saved if the block successfully updates the record to the database.

Restoring Revisions

You can restore revisions into an object in memory by calling restore_revision with the revision number. This will return a new object with all the attributes and associations restored from the revision record. The object will not have been saved yet to the database. If any errors were encountered restoring an attribute or association, an error will be added to the record errors. This should make it easy to reuse the model's edit interface for restoring the revision. You can also call restore_revision! to restore the record and save it and all it's associations.

If you are revisioning associations, you should always call restore_revision! instead of simply restoring the revision and calling save. Otherwise associations added since the revision will not be removed. This is a limitation on how active record handles removing revisions.


By default revisions are serialized using Ruby's Marshal class. This is the most reliable mechanism, but the least portable. As an alternative, you can specify :encoding => :yaml in the acts_as_revisionable options. This will store the data as YAML. There are some issues with the Ruby 1.8 YAML parser where some values are not deserialized properly, so only use this option if you really need the portability. You can also specify :encoding => :xml to store the revisions as XML. This should work fine unless the record contains binary data.


To create the table structure for ActsAsRevisionable::RevisionRecord, simply add a migration to your project that calls


Note that the table definition changed from version 1.0.x to 1.1.x. If you originally created the table with version 1.0.x, you'll need to add another migration containing:


As of version 1.2, you can customize the RevisionRecord model by adding your own columns or even create a subclass of RevisionRecord that uses its own table. See the documentation in ActsAsRevisionable for more details.


By default, the revision history of a record is destroyed along with the record. If you'd like to keep the history and be able to restore deleted records, then you can specify :dependent => :keep, :on_destroy => true in options of the acts_as_revisionable call. This will keep the revision records and also automatically wrap all destroy calls in a store_revision block. It is highly recommended that you turn on these options.

Destroyed records can be restored by restoring the last revision.

record = Model.find(100)
restored = Model.restore_last_revision!(100)