With listable you can consolidate fields from several ActiveRecord models into one, backed up by a database view. It is perfect for e.g. a front page where you may want to display the most recent additions to your site in a joint list. By providing scopes for each model you wish to include in a view, listable will automatically create the database view for you. The view model and the models it lists will have a polymorphic association for convenience. Listable currently supports the following connection adapters: SQLite, PostgreSQL and MySQL2.


  • ActiveRecord >= 3.2

  • Tested with Rails 4

How to use

This chapter shows some basic examples of all the steps needed to get started.

Configuring the models

Every model that should be listable in the same context must provide a scope that select columns of the same name, in the same order and with compatible data types. Listable extends ActiveRecord with two query methods to make this easy without being forced to write database specific SQL in your models. N.B. The timestamps “created_at” and “updated_at” will be include automatically, so don't include them in the scope.

Here is a basic example:

class Employee << ActiveRecord::Base
  # This model will be listable through the view backed model ListItem,
  # with the data provided by the "listables" scope 
  listable_through :list_item, :listables

  # The "first_name" and "last_name" columns will be concatenated and selected as "name" 
  scope :listables, concat_select([:first_name, ' ', :last_name], :name)

class Article << ActiveRecord::Base
  # You can also provide the target model name in plural if that feels more natural for you
  listable_through :list_items, :listables

  # The select_as method takes a hash as argument, the keys are the original column names
  # and the values are their new names
  scope :listables, select_as(title: 'name')

class ListItem << ActiveRecord::Base
  # This method call is needed to configure the model correctly

Creating the database views

You can create the database views by running the rake task listable:create. But you will hardly ever need to do that since all listable views are automatically (re)created when running Rails' db:migrate.

The views created by listable will also conveniently be dropped and recreated when running db:setup or db:reset, and dropped when running db:drop. If you need to drop the views manually, just run the rake task listable:drop

Why not generate Rails migrations to create the views?

I believe it is very awkward to create views through migrations for several reasons. The basic role of a migration is to either add or remove columns where you can store data. When creating a view, you are not adding more means to store data. You are just creating an alternative view of what's already there.

Since a view is 100% dependant on your existing columns, you will need to recreate the view everytime you need to change the columns it depend on. Because that's the thing with views, everytime you need to change it, you will have to drop it and create it again from scratch. You can imagine how ugly, and not so very DRY, your migrations could end up.

There is also not any built in support for creating views in Rails, which means you would probably end up writing database specific SQL, which could potentially become a problem along the way.

Migrations is just not a natural place for views. Just let listable handle it for you instead…

Using your listable models

You can query your view backed model like any other model:

class ListItemsController < ApplicationController
  def index
    @items = ListItem.order("name")

The original model is accessible through the “listable” property.

# index.html.erb
render @items

# _list_item.html.erb
link_to list_item.listable # Links to the original model

Contributing to listable

  • Check out the latest master to make sure the feature hasn't been implemented or the bug hasn't been fixed yet.

  • Check out the issue tracker to make sure someone already hasn't requested it and/or contributed it.

  • Fork the project.

  • Start a feature/bugfix branch.

  • Commit and push until you are happy with your contribution.

  • Make sure to add tests for it. This is important so I don't break it in a future version unintentionally.

  • Please try not to mess with the Rakefile, version, or history. If you want to have your own version, or is otherwise necessary, that is fine, but please isolate to its own commit so I can cherry-pick around it.

Copyright © 2013 Johannes Baldursson. See LICENSE.txt for further details.