Searcher is a pure SQL implementation which lets you find by pre-defined labels, as well as wildcard matching queries. It should be used as a lo-fi precursor to a proper full-text search platform, such as the built-in one to PostgreSQL.

The idea of this gem came from Joost Schuur.

This gem is used in Chapter 10 of Rails 3 in Action and was crafted specifically for it. YMMV.


This gem is only compatible with versions of Active Record that are greater than or equal to 3.0. You are using Active Record 3, right?

Add this gem to your Gemfile (You are using Bundler, right?):

gem 'searcher'


To define labels for your field, use the searcher method inside your model like this:

class Ticket < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_and_belongs_to_many :tags

  searcher do
    label :tag, :from => :tags, :field => "name"
    label :state, :from => :state, :field => "name"

To query for these labels, use the search class method on your model:"tag:v3.0.0 state:open")

Boom! There's all your tickets that have the tag v3.0.0 and are marked (state-wise) as being open.


Currently Searcher works only with has_and_belongs_to_many and belongs_to associations, as that is all that is needed in the book.