29
.
04
.
2024
25
.
07
.
2022
Ruby on Rails
Backend
Tutorial

Should I use Action Filters?

Mateusz Woźniczka
Ruby Developer

You are developing your first Rails app, which is most likely a Blog - we all have been there :).

At some point, you end up with a controller created by scaffold, which looks more or less, like this:


class PostsController < ApplicationController
  before_action :set_post, only: %i[ show edit update destroy ]

  # GET /posts or /posts.json
  def index
    @posts = Post.all
  end

  # GET /posts/1 or /posts/1.json
  def show
  end

  # GET /posts/new
  def new
    @post = Post.new
  end

  # GET /posts/1/edit
  def edit
  end

  # (...) update create and destroy actions are hidden
  # for the sake of readability

  private
    # Use callbacks to share common setup or constraints between actions.
  def set_post
    @post = Post.find(params[:id])
  end
end

Rails generated set_post method, and even tells you to Use callbacks to share common setup or constraints between actions.

The code is DRY as it can be, you have a nice looking before_action, so it must be the famous Rails way of doing things - and it is.

However some developers (including me) are writing code in a different way.

Why?

Let's assume, that we stick to Filters (it is the official name of this feature despite the fact, that scaffold is calling it callback) - after implementing additional functionalities we can end up with something like this:


class PostsController < ApplicationController
  before_action :set_post, only: %i[ show edit update destroy ]
  before_action :set_user, only: %i[ edit update ]
  before_action :check_admin, only: :destroy
  after_action :send_email, only: %i[ update destroy ]

  # GET /posts or /posts.json
  def index
    @posts = Post.all
  end

  # GET /posts/1 or /posts/1.json
  def show
  end

  # GET /posts/new
  def new
    @post = Post.new
  end

  # GET /posts/1/edit
  def edit
  end

  # (...)

end

Reading edit action has just become a bit harder, because you ended up with an empty action, which is in fact does quite a lot of things.

So in order to understand what is going on there you have to jump back and forth between the filters. And this is relatively simple action - you can image what happens, when the app grows.

What is the 'right' way?

Alternative approach is actually really simple - just call the method inside the action. That's it.

Then you end up with code like this:


class PostsController < ApplicationController

  # GET /posts or /posts.json
  def index
    @posts = Post.all
  end

  # GET /posts/1 or /posts/1.json
  def show
    set_post
  end

  # GET /posts/new
  def new
    @post = Post.new
  end

  # GET /posts/1/edit
  def edit
    set_post
  end

  # (...) update create and destroy actions are hidden
  # for the sake of readability

  private
    # Use callbacks to share common setup or constraints between actions.
  def set_post
    @post = Post.find(params[:id])
  end
end

Now, at first glance at edit or show action you know which method is called.

Got it - let's forget about Action Filters

Actually, not really - they are used for authentication / authorization - you will more than once see code like this, especially when working with devise gem:


class PostsController < ApplicationController
  before_action :authenticate_user!
end

Wrap up

If you are not dealing with authentication / autorization try avoiding using Action Filters (referred by some as ''callbacks'') - they make code harder to read.

Mateusz Woźniczka
Ruby Developer

Check my Twitter

Check my Linkedin

Did you like it? 

Sign up To VIsuality newsletter

READ ALSO

Michal - Highlights from Ruby Unconf 2024

Highlights from Ruby Unconf 2024

14
.
11
.
2023
Michał Łęcicki
Conferences
Visuality
Cezary Kłos - Optimizing Cloud Infrastructure by $40 000 Annually

Optimizing Cloud Infrastructure by $40 000 Annually

14
.
11
.
2023
Cezary Kłos
Backend
Ruby on Rails

Smooth Concurrent Updates with Hotwire Stimulus

14
.
11
.
2023
Michał Łęcicki
Hotwire
Ruby on Rails
Software
Tutorial

Table partitioning in Rails, part 2 - Postgres Stories

14
.
11
.
2023
Jarosław Kowalewski
Backend
Postgresql
Ruby on Rails

N+1 in Ruby on Rails

14
.
11
.
2023
Katarzyna Melon-Markowska
Ruby on Rails
Ruby
Backend

Turbo Streams and current user

29
.
11
.
2023
Mateusz Bilski
Hotwire
Ruby on Rails
Backend
Frontend

Showing progress of background jobs with Turbo

14
.
11
.
2023
Michał Łęcicki
Ruby on Rails
Ruby
Hotwire
Frontend
Backend

Table partitioning in Rails, part 1 - Postgres Stories

14
.
11
.
2023
Jarosław Kowalewski
Postgresql
Backend
Ruby on Rails

Table partitioning types - Postgres Stories

14
.
11
.
2023
Jarosław Kowalewski
Postgresql
Backend

Indexing partitioned table - Postgres Stories

14
.
11
.
2023
Jarosław Kowalewski
Backend
Postgresql
SQL Views in Ruby on Rails

SQL views in Ruby on Rails

14
.
11
.
2023
Jan Grela
Backend
Ruby
Ruby on Rails
Postgresql
Design your bathroom in React

Design your bathroom in React

14
.
11
.
2023
Bartosz Bazański
Frontend
React
Lazy Attributes in Ruby - Krzysztof Wawer

Lazy attributes in Ruby

14
.
11
.
2023
Krzysztof Wawer
Ruby
Software

Exporting CSV files using COPY - Postgres Stories

14
.
11
.
2023
Jarosław Kowalewski
Postgresql
Ruby
Ruby on Rails
Michał Łęcicki - From Celluloid to Concurrent Ruby

From Celluloid to Concurrent Ruby: Practical Examples Of Multithreading Calls

14
.
11
.
2023
Michał Łęcicki
Backend
Ruby
Ruby on Rails
Software

Super Slide Me - Game Written in React

14
.
11
.
2023
Antoni Smoliński
Frontend
React
Jarek Kowalewski - ILIKE vs LIKE/LOWER - Postgres Stories

ILIKE vs LIKE/LOWER - Postgres Stories

14
.
11
.
2023
Jarosław Kowalewski
Ruby
Ruby on Rails
Postgresql

A look back at Friendly.rb 2023

14
.
11
.
2023
Cezary Kłos
Conferences
Ruby

Debugging Rails - Ruby Junior Chronicles

14
.
11
.
2023
Piotr Witek
Ruby on Rails
Backend
Tutorial

GraphQL in Ruby on Rails: How to Extend Connections

14
.
11
.
2023
Cezary Kłos
Ruby on Rails
GraphQL
Backend
Tutorial

Tetris on Rails

17
.
03
.
2024
Paweł Strzałkowski
Ruby on Rails
Backend
Frontend
Hotwire

EURUKO 2023 - here's what you've missed

14
.
11
.
2023
Michał Łęcicki
Ruby
Conferences

Easy introduction to Connection Pool in ruby

14
.
11
.
2023
Michał Łęcicki
Ruby on Rails
Backend
Ruby
Tutorial

When crazy ideas bring great time or how we organized our first Conference!

04
.
12
.
2023
Alexander Repnikov
Ruby on Rails
Conferences
Visuality