has_slug is a plugin that add’s slugging capabilities to ActiveRecord models. It allows you to create SEO friendly URL’s that will work the same as the numeric defaults Rails provides you.

Using has_slug, you can make this:


Look like this:


Or even better:


has_slug is inspired by friendly_id (github.com/norman/friendly_id/tree/master), but instead of adding a new table for the slugs it uses a single column per model.

The use of the unicode gem for ruby 1.8, or unicode_utils gem for ruby 1.9 is recommended.


  • Text-based id’s look better

  • They make URL’s easier to remember.

  • They give no hint about the number of records in your database.

  • They are better for search engine optimization.

But …

  • It can be tricky to ensure they’re always unique.

  • They can change, breaking your URL’s and your SEO.

  • They can conflict with your application’s namespace.

has_slug takes care of creating unique slugs by using a counter. The first time a slug is generated for “Some Title”, it will become “some-title”. The second time this is done, it will use the slug “some-title_2”.

has_slug DOES NOT take care of changing slugs! If you need to care of this, either use the friendly_id plugin, which DOES take care of this, or use a custom solution.

has_slug also doesn’t take care of the namespace conflicts (a slug named ‘new’ for instance), you could use the following technique if this is required: henrik.nyh.se/2008/10/validating-slugs-against-existing-routes-in-rails


Typical usage (with slug column)

Blog posts have a distinct, but not necessarily unique title stored in a column in the database. If we add a slug column to the posts table, we can use has_slug to generate slugs automatically.

class Post < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_slug :title

We can then use the standard url helpers to generate a SEO friendly URL:

@post_1 = Post.create(:title       => 'First Post',
                      :description => 'Description ...')

@post_2 = Post.create(:title       => 'First Post',
                      :description => 'Description ...')

# => http://example.com/posts/first-post

# => http://example.com/posts/first-post_2

And use the standard finder to find the corresponding post:

@post = Post.find('first-post')

You can also use the found_by_slug? method to find out if the record was found by the slug. You could use this to redirect to the URL with the slug for SEO purposes.

redirect_to(@post, :status => 301) unless @post.found_by_slug?

Typical usage (without slug column)

We can also use has_slug without adding the slug column. If we do this, the id of the record is prepended to the slug.

@post = Post.find(1)

# => http://example.com/posts/1-first-post

Preserving characters

Sometimes you’d like to preserve characters. For instance, if you’d like to have slugs that look like filenames, you would want to preserve the “.”. This is made possible by the preserve option:

has_slug :filename, :preserve => "."

Scoped usage

Restaurants belong to a city. They have a unique name, but only in the city they are in. If we add a slug column to the restaurants table, we can use has_slug to generate scoped slugs automatically.

class Restaurant < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :city

  has_slug :name, :scope => :city

We can then use the standard url helpers to generate a SEO friendly URL:

@restaurant_1 = Restaurant.create(:name => 'Da Marco',
                                  :city => City.find('new-york'))

@restaurant_2 = Restaurant.create(:name => 'Da Marco',
                                  :city => City.find('san-fransisco'))

url_for(@restaurant_1.city, @restaurant)
# => http://example.com/cities/new-york/restaurants/da-marco

url_for(@restaurant_2.city, @restaurant)
# => http://example.com/cities/san-fransisco/restaurants/da-marco