We don't need no stinking Badges! Guidance, anyone?


Hi, Thanks for taking a look at this. I am in need of some guidance for
a particular problem:

My Requirements:
The concept of a user
The concept of a badge

A badge is simply a small image over the user’s avatar that displays
extra information about the user.
An admin user will be able to assign a badge to any user and the
assigned badge will become the user’s current badge, displayed for all
the world to see.

Not required for now but required in the future: a user will be able to
choose from a list of badges and create their own custom badges.

The Way of the Lost:

After toying with these requirements and bits of code for a few days, I
have decided to ask for help.
Please enlighten me on a better, a more rails way of implementing this.
I am truly curious to know. There MUST be a better way!


I decided to implement the requirements by using a HasManyThrough
I have three classes that collaborate: User, Badge, UserBadge

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
has_many :user_badges
has_many :badges, :through => :user_badges
has_one :current_badge, :class_name => “UserBadge”, :conditions =>
{ :current => true }

class Badge < ActiveRecord::Base
# t.string :title
# t.string :image_file_name
# t.string :image_content_type
# t.integer :image_file_size
# t.datetime :image_updated_at
# t.timestamps

has_many :user_badges
has_many :users, :through => :user_badges


class UserBadge < ActiveRecord::Base

#  t.integer :user_id
#  t.integer :badge_id
#  t.boolean :current, :default => false
#  t.timestamps

belongs_to :user
belongs_to :badge



I need a way to assign a badge to a user, so I created an attr_accessor
in the User class called :assign_current_badge
Then, I override the assign_current_badge setter method.

The assign_current_badge=(badge_id) method:

  • accepts a badge_id as a formal parameter
  • updates any other current user_badges to “current=false” with the
    deactivate_badges method
  • checks for existance of a user_badge with the user’s id and badge_id
    • setting the user_badge.current to true if it exists
    • creating and setting the user_badge.current to true if it does not
  • sets the user’s current_badge_id to the badge_id

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
… # relationships

attr_accessor :assign_current_badge

def assign_current_badge=(badge_id)
if UserBadge.exists?(:user_id => id, :badge_id => badge_id)
user_badges.create!(:badge => Badge.find(badge_id), :current =>
self.current_badge_id = badge_id

def deactivate_badges
user_badges.update_all(“current = 0”)


The main problem I encounter is setting the current badge to a blank
value through the user’s edit form.
“Couldn’t find Badge with ID=” is being raised since there really is
no badge with a blank id.
This tells me, obviously, that there is a better way to go about this.
My gut tells me there is something shady about passing in the badge_id
instead of an existing badge object.

  • form_for @user, :url => admin_user_path(@user) do |f|
    = f.error_message

    … more fields

    = f.label :assign_current_badge
    = f.select :assign_current_badge, Badge.all.map {|b| [b.title, b.id]}, { :selected => @user.current_badge_id, :include_blank => true }

    … submit button

If you have any advice for me, please reply. Hopefully I explained my
situation well enough through code and writing. If you would like me to
elaborate on anything, just ask.


Could you explain your problem more clearly? The rest was beautiful.

Blog: http://random8.zenunit.com/
Learn rails: http://sensei.zenunit.com/

On 05/02/2009, at 6:37 AM, Lake D. <rails-mailing-list@andreas-


Why do you even need a UserBadge model?

I would have User model, a Badge model, where the relationship is User
belongs_to :badge, and badge has_many :users.

Then you can simply assign it with some_user.badge = some_badge. It
seems like you’re adding complexity with the UserBadge model and the
current attribute.

Maybe I’m missing something but looks like, from the requirements
you’ve outlined, you can drop that model altogether, and keep your
design simple…


On Feb 4, 2:37 pm, Lake D. removed_email_address@domain.invalid