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Quick Tip: Readable Conditional Validations in Rails

This is something that many may already use as a best practice, but if not it’s something simple and convenient to add to your repertoire. Sometimes you may have a model that requires additional information if a certain condition is met. For example, I may require a user to add more information about themselves if they wish to be listed publicly, whereas I would not if they do not wish to be listed. By combining ActiveSupport’s Object#with_options and ActiveRecord’s conditional validations, we can implement this behavior in a straightforward and readable manner (assuming here that there is a boolean field called “listed” in the database that is exposed as a checkbox or similar to the user):

class User < ActiveRecord::Base   # Our standard validations   validates_presence_of :login   validates_uniqueness_of :login    # Validations for listed users   with_options :if => :listed? do |l|     l.validates_presence_of :email     l.validates_length_of :description, :minimum => 100   end end

It’s a simple technique that piggybacks off of Rails’s automatic construction of existence query methods (in this case, listed?) for fields in the database combined with the mapping power of with_options and standard conditional validations.

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