Time Zone / Active Record Persistence Error (Windows Only)

The error below has been encountered using both Rails 2.1.1 and 2.1.2.

I have a strange Time Zone / Active Record persistence error that only
occurs on Windows (it works fine on OS X). In addition, it only occurs
when I run my entire test suite (units). If I only run a single test, it
works fine. And the code works fine when I run my application on either
operating system.

It appears Active Record is trying to serialize the entire
TZInfo::DataTimezone object into the database column when my “user”
object is saved. This results in a “Data too long for column error”.

The time zone field is mapped as a string in the database. I create a
time_zone object in my “user” model object as follows:

def time_zone_object

The error message is:

ActiveRecord::StatementInvalid: Mysql::Error: #22001Data too long for
column ‘time_zone’ at row 1:
!ruby/object:ActiveSupport::TimeZone \nname: Central Time (US &
Canada)\ntzinfo: !ruby/object:TZInfo::DataTimezone \n info:
!ruby/object:TZInfo::DataTimezoneInfo \n identifier:
America/Chicago\n last_month: 11\n last_year: 2050\n offsets:
\n :o4: &id005 !ruby/object:TZInfo::TimezoneOffsetInfo \n
abbreviation: :CWT\n std_offset: 3600\n utc_offset:
-21600\n utc_total_

Attached is the entire error message. This is really strange and any
tips on a workaround would be greatly appreciated. Here is the unit test
code that is failing:

require File.dirname(FILE) + ‘/…/test_helper’
require “active_support/values/time_zone”

class UserTest < Test::Unit::TestCase
fixtures :users, :teams, :seasons, :countries

def setup
@usa = countries(:us)
@central = ::ActiveSupport::TimeZone[“Central Time (US & Canada)”]

def test_active?
bob = User.new(:name => Name.new(‘bob’, nil, ‘smith’),
:email => ‘[email protected]’,
:password => ‘secret’,
:password_confirmation => ‘secret’,
:time_zone => @central,
:country_flag => @usa)
bob.admin = true

assert !bob.active?

bob.teams << Team.new(:name => "bob's team", :season =>

assert bob.active?

Anyone ever seen anything like this before? Thanks!

On 15 Nov 2008, at 05:47, John H. wrote:

operating system.

If the time_zone attribute is supposed to be a name like “Central Time
(US & Canada)” shouldn’t you be trying to set it to such a string
rather than trying to set it to the actual TimeZone instance?


Hi Frederick,

That makes a lot more sense and that’s what I’ve done. I think I was
expecting too much magic out of Active Record / Rails. I’m still
getting up to speed on this time zone stuff. I’m not sure why the prior
approach ever worked at all (on my Mac). There are times where I still
need an actual TimeZone object, so I’ve added the following method to my
User class.

def time_zone_object

And the following if I need to format a time based on the user’s time

def tz_strftime(format, time)
time_zone_object.tzinfo.strftime(format, time)

Problem solved. Thanks again for the help.