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By Geoff Hodgson

Using ActiveRecord scopes with activeadmin

Activeadmin replaced metasearch with ransack around six months ago (mid-late 2013).

Activeadmin is good.

Ransack is good.

Activeadmin filtering via Ransack, not so good.

It works in the simple cases, but may just suck your will to live for more complicated filters across associations. Here's a simple way to use plain old ActiveRecord scopes instead of having to define custom ransackers.

I'll demonstrate the example with the following models:

class Organisation < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_many :users

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :organisation
  has_many :addresses

class Address < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :user

A working copy of this example is also available on github.

On the activeadmin page for organisations, we want to be able to filter organisations by address. We can't list every address in a select so we need some kind of text search.

When registering the organisation model, first turn off the filters:

config.filters = false

Next add a filters partial to the sidebar:

sidebar :filters, only: :index do
  render 'admin/organisations/filters'

When adding the necessary form elements to this partial to handle the filtering, it is easiest to follow the basic structure (divs, classes, names etc) of the standard activeadmin filters form, so that it follows the same styles. There's just a couple of small gotchas if you render exactly the same form: - Activeadmin expects the filter params to be in a hash with the [:q] key at the top level. If a filter results in no organisations being returned and there isn't a [:q] param in the request, activeadmin will show the message 'No Organisations yet' instead of 'No Organisations found'. A minor issue, easily fixed by either (preferably) building the form with the filter params inside the [:q] hash, or by adding a hidden field to the form that does nothing but ensure activeadmin recognises that filtering is present. - There is an activeadmin form helper (activeadminformfor) that wraps the semanticformfor call with a custom builder, but the custom builder has a few references to ransack, so if you are looking for a way to keep the form clean and terse, you'll probably have to start with semanticform_for.

Next up we override the activeadmin apply_filtering method. Yes, monkey patching is carcinogenic, but we're overriding a method from an engine in the most obvious spot, and it is the recommended way to modify the default behaviour of activeadmin.

Inside the register block:

controller do

  # Override the default apply_filtering method so that we can use AR scopes instead of ransack
  def apply_filtering(chain)
    Organisation.filtering_scopes.each do |scope|
      chain = chain.filter_by(scope, params[scope]) unless params[scope].blank?


Then in the organisation model, define: - the scopes that will perform the filtering - the filterby method to return the scope to be added to the chain - the .filteringscopes method (mostly as a precaution to lock down which methods can be passed through)

class Organisation < ActiveRecord::Base

  scope :by_name, ->(name) { where('name LIKE ?', "%#{name}%") }
  scope :by_address, ->(address) { joins(users: :addresses)
    .where('addresses.street LIKE ? OR LIKE ? OR addresses.state LIKE ?',

  def self.filter_by(filter_type, filter_argument)
    # check if the filter_type is in the allowed filters list,
    # to lock down the send call
    if filtering_scopes.include?(filter_type)

  def self.filtering_scopes
    [:name, :address]


And that's it, you're good to go.

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