Let's suppose I'm designing an app for defining and storing information about Widgets. Widgets have a number of properties. They have a color, a shape, a size, a weight, a texture, etc. Each of these properties is chosen from a pre-defined list of possibilities for that property. My initial thought was that each property subclasses a parent property (via STI): class WidgetProperty < ActiveRecord::Base end Its migration self.up would look something like this: create_table widget_properties do |t| t.column :value, :string t.column :type, :string end Presumably it's subclasses would all be along these lines: class WidgetColor < WidgetProperty end class WidgetShape < WidgetProperty end . . . and so on. In the properties database, we'd have tables defining properties such as: :id => 1, :value => :blue, :type => 'WidgetColor' :id => 2, :value => 'yellow', :type => 'WidgetColor' . . . :id => 36, :value => 'square', :type => 'WidgetShape' There about two dozen different kinds of property, each with 6-8 values. But essentially they're all the same - just an id and a string value. What I haven't yet figured out is the following: 1) Is STI really the way to go here? I'm not sure if it's buying me anything or not. 2) In my Widget model class, should my Widgets "have_one :widget_color, have_one :widget_shape" and so on, or should they "have_many :widget_properties"? Or maybe they should "has_and_belongs_to_many :widget_properties"? Question 2 is where most of my confusion is. The properties aren't really "things" themselves, they're just attributes that are assigned to Widgets, and otherwise have no meaning. But many Widgets are going to share properties (for example, there will be a lot of square, blue Widgets), so the properties don't exactly belong to the Widgets. I have a feeling there is probably a pretty straightforward way to do this (since this situation isn't exactly unique, I'm sure), but for whatever reason it isn't coming to me. I'm hoping someone can toss me a lifeline here. Thanks very much. -- Bill Kocik
on 2007-05-16 03:10
on 2007-05-16 06:06
I'm not seeing the need to use associations in what you're describing. Why not just a single Widget class? You can treat the properties as strings. create_table widgets do |t| t.column :name, :string t.column :color, :string t.column :shape, :string ... and so on ... end You can limit them to a list of possibilities in the model itself. class Widget < ActiveRecord::Base validates_presence_of :name, :color, :shape validates_inclusion_of :color, :in => ['blue', 'yellow', 'red' ... ], :message => "invalid color" validates_inclusion_of :shape, :in => ['square', 'round', 'rectangular' ... ], :message => "invalid shape" end In other words, since a Widget is the thing that has properties, as you point out, it might not make sense to treat the properties as things. If you still want to think of the individual instances of properties (so to speak) as things in their own right, you could still access them through find_by methods: blue_widgets = Widget.find_all_by_color("blue")
on 2007-05-16 07:08
On May 16, 12:06 am, Eleatic Ephesian <rails-mailing-l...@andreas- s.net> wrote: > I'm not seeing the need to use associations in what you're describing. > Why not just a single Widget class? You can treat the properties as > strings. > > create_table widgets do |t| > t.column :name, :string > t.column :color, :string > t.column :shape, :string > ... and so on ... > end I see what you're saying. The catch, though, is that I also need to be able to easily pull them out of the database to include them in forms (as members of select lists, groups of radio buttons, etc.), so that's kind of why they're going in their own table.
on 2007-05-16 07:25
Bill Kocik wrote: > I see what you're saying. The catch, though, is that I also need to be > able to easily pull them out of the database to include them in forms > (as members of select lists, groups of radio buttons, etc.), so that's > kind of why they're going in their own table. OK. So you know what colors, etc., will be the only possibilities ahead of time? Then why not this? colors(name) shapes(name) widgets(name, color_id, shape_id) Color :has_many => :widgets Shape :has_many => :widgets Widget :belongs_to => :color, :shape Then, collection_select for your selection lists, blue_color.widgets for a list a of blue widgets, etc. Simpler, I think, than creating an abstract class called WidgetProperty.
on 2007-05-16 13:29
On May 16, 1:25 am, Eleatic Ephesian <rails-mailing-l...@andreas- s.net> wrote: > OK. So you know what colors, etc., will be the only possibilities ahead > of time? Yes. > Then, collection_select for your selection lists, blue_color.widgets > for a list a of blue widgets, etc. Simpler, I think, than creating an > abstract class called WidgetProperty. It is a bit simpler, but it also means I'll have a couple dozen tables with 6-8 rows in them. It isn't a tragedy, but it seems a bit less than optimal. What about a combined approach: class WidgetProperty < ActiveRecord::Base end create_table :widget_properties do |t| t.column :value, :string t.column :type, :string class Color < WidgetProperty end class Shape < WidgetProperty end Color :has_many => :widgets Shape :has_many => :widgets Widget :belongs_to => :color, :shape I think then I can use a single table for all of my properties. Or am I missing something? Not having used STI before, I'm not sure if ActiveRecord will know that it needs to look in the widget_properties table to find a Color or not. I suppose I could try it and find out. Thanks for your advice so far.