Problems Processing multiple form elements generated by javascript actions

Hi all,

After many days of struggling, I have a multi-model form with ajax
elements more or less working, but I’m hitting a wall with a few bugs
that I can’t figure out. Guidance would be very much appreciated.

I’m using the Ryan B. technique from Advanced Rails recipes to
dynamically add and remove elements on a multi-model form.

I have 3 models: users, schedules and markets.
has_many :schedules
has_many :markets, :through => :schedules

has_many :schedules
has_many :users, :through => :schedules

belongs_to :users
belongs_to :markets

Schedules has columns user_id and market_id, but also has additional
columns: monday, tuesday, wednesday, thursday, friday, saturday,
sunday. These are booleans.

All the editing in my app happens from the user model. The list of
available markets are prepopulated in the app, and the user cannot add
new ones. On the user#edit view, I’m showing the user a dropdown for
each of his existing markets and for each market, I’m rendering 7
checkboxes representing each day of the week. The goal is that each
market selected and its associated selected dates should be saved as a
“schedule” record in the schedules table. The row in that table should
contain a user_id, a market_id, and each selected day of the week as
true. When a user removes a market from the edit page, then that
schedule row should be destroyed.

As discussed in Ryan’s tutorial, there are issues regarding new vs.
existing data. I’m running into one of these. I’m also having problems
with deleting records. I’m going to explain my issues and then lay out
my full set up below.

New vs. existing data: The schema I explained above is mostly working.
However, I’m having issues when the user selects a new market AND
selects some checkboxes to indicate the days he attends. Using the
technique described below, I have an “add new schedule” link that
dynamically generates a market dropdown along with seven checkboxes
for the dates. This works fine. I can select one of my markets and
check off some days. However, when I click update, these inputs save
as multiple records in the schedules table. The market_id, user_id and
monday=false save as one row. Then, for each checkbox that I selected,
the user_id and day save as a row. So if I select 3 days, then I get 4
new records: one for the market and one for each data checked.

Here’s the part about new vs. existing data: When I go back to the
edit page, I see the correct market in one dropdown with no checkboxes
selected and then one additional empty dropdown with one checkbox
selected for each checkbox that the user selected before hitting
update. Now that the schedule is an “existing” record, when I check
off some days associated with the dropdown where the market is
selected, and I hit “update”, these save perfectly and render
correctly on the user#show page. So basically, the edit/update action
is working perfectly and the creation of new schedules is not. The
problem is really just the checkboxes because the market actually
saves correctly. One solution I tried was to add something like the
following to each check_box method, but this blew up the app: :index
=> (showing.new_record? ? ‘’ : nil). This is problem #1.

Problem #2 is that when I click the “remove” link for a given schedule
(i.e. a market and its 7 available checkboxes combination, and I hit
update, the user_id and market_id are properly deleted from the
schedules table. However, the record itself is not deleting and the
boolean fields representing the days of the week remain as well. I’m
able to hack around this and technically the app works because these
half-empty rows aren’t associated with any of my models, but I’m
quickly building up a database table filled with orphaned, useless
data. Ideally, when I delete a “schedule” record, I’d like it to be

The following is my setup. You’ll see that I’m following Ryan’s
tutorial very closely. One area where I depart from it is the
checkboxes, which I implemented based on the Rails API fields_for
method examples.

User#Edit view:

<%= error_messages_for :user %>
<% form_for @user do |f| %>
<%= add_schedule_link “+ Add another market” %>

<%= render :partial => ‘schedule’, :collection =>
@user.schedules %>

<%= f.submit 'Update My Profile' %> <% end %>


<% new_or_existing = schedule.new_record? ? 'new' : 'existing' %> <% prefix = "user[#{new_or_existing}_schedule_attributes][]" %>

<% fields_for prefix, schedule do |schedule_form| -%>
<%= error_messages_for :schedule, :object => schedule %>

<%= schedule_form.collection_select :market_id,
Market.all, :id, :name, {:prompt => true} %>

<%= link_to_function “- Remove Market”, “$(this).up
(‘.schedule’).remove()” %>

<%= schedule_form.check_box :monday %>
<%= schedule_form.check_box :tuesday %>
<%= schedule_form.check_box :wednesday %>
<%= schedule_form.check_box :thursday %>
<%= schedule_form.check_box :friday %>
<%= schedule_form.check_box :saturday %>
<%= schedule_form.check_box :sunday %>
<% end -%>

User Model:

validates_associated :schedules, :on => :update
after_update :save_schedules

accepts_nested_attributes_for :schedules, :allow_destroy => :true,
:reject_if => :all_blank

def new_schedule_attributes=(schedule_attributes)
schedule_attributes.each do |attributes|

def existing_schedule_attributes=(schedule_attributes)
schedules.reject(&:new_record?).each do |schedule|
attributes = schedule_attributes[]
if attributes
schedule.attributes = attributes

def save_schedules
schedules.each do |schedule|

User Controller

def new
@user =

def create
cookies.delete :auth_token
@user =[:user])!
flash[:notice] = “Thanks for signing up! Please check your email to
activate your account before logging in.”
redirect_to login_path
rescue ActiveRecord::RecordInvalid
flash[:error] = “There was a problem creating your account.”
render :action => ‘new’

def edit
@user = current_user

def update
params[:user][:existing_schedule_attributes] ||= {}
params[:user][:existing_season_attributes] ||= {}

@user = User.find(current_user)
if @user.update_attributes(params[:user])
flash[:notice] = “Your information has been updated.”
redirect_to :action => ‘show’, :id => current_user
render :action => ‘edit’

def destroy
@user = User.find(params[:id])
if @user.update_attribute(:enabled, false)
flash[:notice] = “User disabled”
flash[:error] = “There was a problem disabling this user.”
redirect_to :back #action => ‘index’

Helpers: users_helper.rb

module UsersHelper
def add_schedule_link(name)
link_to_function name do |page|
page.insert_html :bottom, :schedules, :partial =>
‘schedule’, :object =>


As a quick follow up, it looks like the first problem I’m facing is
because of the checkboxes. Ryan actually states at the end of his
chapter in Rails Recipes that checkboxes won’t work because their
value is not passed by the browser when the box is unchecked. So you
cannot tell which market a given checkbox belongs to when a new
schedule record is created. His solution is to use a select menu for
boolean fields, where No =false and Yes = true. I tried that and it
does fix my problem. However, I’d prefer to use checkboxes if there’s
a way around this.

My second problem regarding destroying schedule records still remains