Easily build timelines, much like GitHub’s news feed.


TimelineFu requires you to have a TimelineEvent model. The simplest way is to use the generator.

$ script/generate timeline_fu && rake db:migrate
      exists  db/migrate
      create  db/migrate/20090333222034_create_timeline_events.rb
      create  app/models/timeline_event.rb
# Migration blabber...

Next step is to determine what generates an event in your various models.

class Post < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :author, :class_name => 'Person'
  fires :new_post, :on    => :create,
                   :actor => :author

You can add ‘fires’ statements to as many models as you want on as many models as you want.

They are hooked for you after standard ActiveRecord events. In the previous example, it’s an after_create on Posts.

Parameters for #fires

You can supply a few parameters to fires, two of them are mandatory.

  • the first param is a custom name for the event type. It’ll be your way of figuring out what events your reading back from the timeline_events table later.

    • :new_post in the example

The rest all fit neatly in an options hash.

  • :on => [ActiveRecord event]

    • mandatory. You use it to specify whether you want the event created after a create, update or destroy. You can also supply an array of events, e.g. [:create, :update].

  • :actor is your way of specifying who took this action.

    • In the example, post.author is going to be this person.

  • :subject is automatically set to self, which is good most of the time. You can however override it if you need to, using :subject.

  • :secondary_subject can let you specify something else that’s related to the event. A comment to a blog post would be a good example.

  • :if => symbol or proc/lambda lets you put conditions on when a TimelineEvent is created. It’s passed right to the after_xxx ActiveRecord event hook, so it’s has the same behavior.

Here’s another example:

class Comment < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :commenter, :class_name => 'Person'
  belongs_to :post
  fires :new_comment, :on                 => :create,
                      :actor              => :commenter,
                      #implicit :subject  => self,
                      :secondary_subject  => 'post',
                      :if => lambda { |comment| comment.commenter != comment.post.author }

TimelineEvent instantiation

The ActiveRecord event hook will automatically instantiate a TimelineEvent instance for you. It will receive the following parameters in #create!

  • event_type

    • “new_comment” in the comment example

  • actor

    • the commenter

  • subject

    • the comment instance

  • secondary_subject

    • the post instance

The generated model stores most of its info as polymorphic relationships.

class TimelineEvent < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :actor,              :polymorphic => true
  belongs_to :subject,            :polymorphic => true
  belongs_to :secondary_subject,  :polymorphic => true

How you actually get your timeline

To get your timeline you’ll probably have to create your own finder SQL or scopes (if your situation is extremely simple).

TimelineFu is not currently providing anything to generate your timeline because different situations will have wildly different requirements. Like access control issues and actually just what crazy stuff you’re cramming in that timeline.

We’re not saying it can’t be done, just that we haven’t done it yet. Contributions are welcome :-)

Get it

timeline_fu can be used as a plugin:

$ script/plugin install git://github.com/giraffesoft/timeline_fu.git

or as a gem plugin:

config.gem "giraffesoft-timeline_fu", :lib => "timeline_fu", 
  :source => "http://gems.github.com"


Copyright © 2008 James Golick, released under the MIT license