Table relations and record creation

I have a situation where I have three models, Album, Artists and
class Album < ActiveRecord::Base
belongs_to :song

class Artist < ActiveRecord::Base
belongs_to :song

class Song < ActiveRecord::Base
belongs_to :artist

So, an album can have songs that have artists.

The problem is that on the Album create form, the user is allowed to
enter all three values. So, the user may enter an existing album that
has a new song by a new artist. Or they have enter a new album that
has an existing song by an existing artist.

I can’t figure out how to manage this create in the controller. So,
far I have:
def create
@artist = Artist.find_or_create_by_name(params[:artists][:name])

@song = Song.find_by_name(params[:songs][:name])
if @song.nil?
      @song = => params[:songs][:name], :artist_id

if !
flash[:error] = “Couldn’t create song”
redirect_to :action => ‘new’

@album =
@album.item_id =
@album.song_id =
  flash[:notice] = 'Album was successfully created.'
  redirect_to :action => 'show', :id =>
  render :action => 'new'


This seems to work, but it feels kludgy and I’m not sure if there is
another, more Rails appropriate way to do it. Any suggestions?

That does help. I didn’t know about the :through and I didn’t think to
use an association table. Thanks for the help.

uhm your code is a bit confusing …

  1. where does @item come from? it’s not created in the “create”
    action… some before filter? what is it?
  2. you say users can enter an existing album, but you always create a
    new one ? and doesn’t it get a name or something?
  3. how are your associations set up?

while because of the above, i’m not sure what you exactly want or
need, i was in the mood to type some stuff out as i like associations
problems. If it doesn’t suit your needs exactly maybe you can get some
hints out of it:

First the associations, i guess how you have (or should have) set them
up, due to above unclarities:

lass Artist < ActiveRecord::Base
has_many :songs
has_many :albums, :through => :songs

class Song < ActiveRecord::Base
belongs_to :artist
has_many :album_appearances
has_many :albums, :through => :album_appearances

class AlbumAppearances < ActiveRecord::Base
belongs_to :album
belongs_to :song

class Album < ActiveRecord::Base
has_many :songs
has_many :artists, :through => :songs
so the association works like this


Now, the controller. I shortened the code for better readability, you
might add an error check here and there:

def create
#find or create the Artist:
@artist = Artist.find_or_create_by_name(params[:artist][:name])

#we have the artist, now find the song by this artist if it exists,
if not, create a new one, associated to the artist:
song = @artist.songs.find_by_name(params[:songs][:name])
if @song = nil
@song = @artist.songs.create(params[:song])

#Now we got the song, associated to the artist.
#So we find or create the Album, and add the song to the
has_many :through relationship
@album = Album.find_or_create_by_name(params[:albums][:name])
@album.songs << @song #creates an association in the join table

#Redirect to the Show page for the album:
redirect_to action => ‘show’, :id =>

Hope that helps

Glad i could help.

One more thing:

the “has many :albums” in the Artist class won’t work i guess, it
slipped in there accidentally. :wink:
The rest should be fine though.