A long-lived project that still receives updates
Identify database issues before they hit production.
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 Dependencies

Development

~> 0.5.3
~> 1.1.4
~> 12.3.3
~> 1.14.0
>= 4.2.0

Runtime

>= 4.2.0
 Project Readme

Active Record Doctor

Active Record Doctor helps to keep the database in a good shape. Currently, it can detect:

  • extraneous indexes - active_record_doctor:extraneous_indexes
  • unindexed deleted_at columns - active_record_doctor:unindexed_deleted_at
  • missing foreign key constraints - active_record_doctor:missing_foreign_keys
  • models referencing undefined tables - active_record_doctor:undefined_table_references
  • uniqueness validations not backed by an unique index - active_record_doctor:missing_unique_indexes
  • missing non-NULL constraints - active_record_doctor:missing_non_null_constraint
  • missing presence validations - active_record_doctor:missing_presence_validation
  • incorrect presence validations on boolean columns - active_record_doctor:incorrect_boolean_presence_validation
  • mismatches between model length validations and database validation constraints - active_record_doctor:incorrect_length_validation
  • incorrect values of dependent on associations - active_record_doctor:incorrect_dependent_option
  • primary keys having short integer types - active_record_doctor:short_primary_key_type
  • mismatched foreign key types - active_record_doctor:mismatched_foreign_key_type

It can also:

  • index unindexed foreign keys - active_record_doctor:unindexed_foreign_keys

Build Status

Installation

In order to use the latest production release, please add the following to your Gemfile:

gem 'active_record_doctor', group: :development

and run bundle install. If you'd like to use the most recent development version then use this instead:

gem 'active_record_doctor', github: 'gregnavis/active_record_doctor'

That's it when it comes to Rails projects. If your project doesn't use Rails then you can use active_record_doctor via Rakefile.

Additional Installation Steps for non-Rails Projects

If your project uses Rake then you can add the following to Rakefile in order to use active_record_doctor:

require "active_record_doctor"

ActiveRecordDoctor::Rake::Task.new do |task|
  # Add project-specific Rake dependencies that should be run before running
  # active_record_doctor.
  task.deps = []

  # A path to your active_record_doctor configuration file.
  task.config_path = ::Rails.root.join(".active_record_doctor")

  # A Proc called right before running detectors that should ensure your Active
  # Record models are preloaded and a database connection is ready.
  task.setup = -> { ::Rails.application.eager_load! }
end

IMPORTANT. active_record_doctor expects that after running deps and calling setup your Active Record models are loaded and a database connection is established.

Usage

active_record_doctor can be used via rake or rails.

You can run all available detectors via:

bundle exec rake active_record_doctor

You can run a specific detector via:

bundle exec rake active_record_doctor:extraneous_indexes

Continuous Integration

If you want to use active_record_doctor in a Continuous Integration setting then ensure the configuration file is committed and run the tool as one of your build steps -- it returns a non-zero exit status if any errors were reported.

Obtaining Help

If you'd like to obtain help on a specific detector then use the help sub-task:

bundle exec rake active_record_doctor:extraneous_indexes:help

This will show the detector help text in the terminal, along with supported configuration options, their meaning, and whether they're global or local.

Configuration

active_record_doctor can be configured to better suit your project's needs. For example, if it complains about a model that you want ignored then you can add that model to the configuration file.

If you want to use the default configuration then you don't have to do anything. Just run active_record_doctor in your project directory.

If you want to customize the tool you should create a file named .active_record_doctor in your project root directory with content like:

ActiveRecordDoctor.configure do
  # Global settings affect all detectors.
  global :ignore_tables, [
    # Ignore internal Rails-related tables.
    "ar_internal_metadata",
    "schema_migrations",
    "active_storage_blobs",
    "active_storage_attachments",
    "action_text_rich_texts",

    # Add project-specific tables here.
    "legacy_users"
  ]

  # Detector-specific settings affect only one specific detector.
  detector :extraneous_indexes,
    ignore_tables: ["users"],
    ignore_indexes: ["accounts_on_email_organization_id"]
end

The configuration file above will make active_record_doctor ignore internal Rails tables (which are ignored by default) and also the legacy_users table. It'll also make the extraneous_indexes detector skip the users table entirely and will not report the index named accounts_on_email_organization_id as extraneous.

Configuration options for each detector are listed below. They can also be obtained via the help mechanism described in the previous section.

Indexing Unindexed Foreign Keys

Foreign keys should be indexed unless it's proven ineffective. However, Rails makes it easy to create an unindexed foreign key. Active Record Doctor can automatically generate database migrations that add the missing indexes. It's a three-step process:

  1. Generate a list of unindexed foreign keys by running
bundle exec rake active_record_doctor:unindexed_foreign_keys > unindexed_foreign_keys.txt
  1. Remove columns that should not be indexed from unindexed_foreign_keys.txt as a column can look like a foreign key (i.e. end with _id) without being one.

  2. Generate the migrations

rails generate active_record_doctor:add_indexes unindexed_foreign_keys.txt
  1. Run the migrations
bundle exec rake db:migrate

Supported configuration options:

  • enabled - set to false to disable the detector altogether
  • ignore_tables - tables whose foreign keys should not be checked
  • ignore_columns - columns, written as table.column, that should not be checked.

Removing Extraneous Indexes

Let me illustrate with an example. Consider a users table with columns first_name and last_name. If there are two indexes:

  • A two-column index on last_name, first_name.
  • A single-column index on last_name.

Then the latter index can be dropped as the former can play its role. In general, a multi-column index on column_1, column_2, ..., column_n can replace indexes on:

  • column_1
  • column_1, column_2
  • ...
  • column_1, column_2, ..., column_(n - 1)

To discover such indexes automatically just follow these steps:

  1. List extraneous indexes by running:
bundle exec rake active_record_doctor:extraneous_indexes
  1. Confirm that each of the indexes can be indeed dropped.

  2. Create a migration to drop the indexes.

The indexes aren't dropped automatically because there's usually just a few of them and it's a good idea to double-check that you won't drop something necessary.

Also, extra indexes on primary keys are considered extraneous too and will be reported.

Note that a unique index can never be replaced by a non-unique one. For example, if there's a unique index on users.login and a non-unique index on users.login, users.domain then the tool will not suggest dropping users.login as it could violate the uniqueness assumption. However, a unique index on users.login, user.domain might be replaceable with users.login as the uniqueness of the latter implies the uniqueness of the former (if a given login can appear only once then it can be present in only one login, domain pair).

Supported configuration options:

  • enabled - set to false to disable the detector altogether
  • ignore_tables - tables whose indexes should never be reported as extraneous.
  • ignore_columns - indexes that should never be reported as extraneous.

Detecting Unindexed deleted_at Columns

If you soft-delete some models (e.g. with paranoia) then you need to modify your indexes to include only non-deleted rows. Otherwise they will include logically non-existent rows. This will make them larger and slower to use. Most of the time they should only cover columns satisfying deleted_at IS NULL (to cover existing records) or deleted_at IS NOT NULL (to cover deleted records).

active_record_doctor can automatically detect indexes on tables with a deleted_at column. Just run:

bundle exec rake active_record_doctor:unindexed_deleted_at

This will print a list of indexes that don't have the deleted_at IS NULL clause. Currently, active_record_doctor cannot automatically generate appropriate migrations. You need to do that manually.

Supported configuration options:

  • enabled - set to false to disable the detector altogether
  • ignore_tables - tables whose indexes should not be checked.
  • ignore_columns - specific columns, written as table.column, that should not be reported as unindexed.
  • ignore_indexes - specific indexes that should not be reported as excluding a timestamp column.
  • column_names - deletion timestamp column names.

Detecting Missing Foreign Key Constraints

If users.profile_id references a row in profiles then this can be expressed at the database level with a foreign key constraint. It forces users.profile_id to point to an existing row in profiles. The problem is that in many legacy Rails apps the constraint isn't enforced at the database level.

active_record_doctor can automatically detect foreign keys that could benefit from a foreign key constraint (a future version will generate a migrations that add the constraint; for now, it's your job). You can obtain the list of foreign keys with the following command:

bundle exec rake active_record_doctor:missing_foreign_keys

In order to add a foreign key constraint to users.profile_id use a migration like:

class AddForeignKeyConstraintToUsersProfileId < ActiveRecord::Migration
  def change
    add_foreign_key :users, :profiles
  end
end

Supported configuration options:

  • enabled - set to false to disable the detector altogether
  • ignore_tables - tables whose columns should not be checked.
  • ignore_columns - columns, written as table.column, that should not be checked.

Detecting Models Referencing Undefined Tables

Active Record guesses the table name based on the class name. There are a few cases where the name can be wrong (e.g. you forgot to commit a migration or changed the table name). Active Record Doctor can help you identify these cases before they hit production.

IMPORTANT. Models backed by views are supported only in:

  • Rails 5+ and any database or
  • Rails 4.2 with PostgreSQL.

The only think you need to do is run:

bundle exec rake active_record_doctor:undefined_table_references

If there a model references an undefined table then you'll see a message like this:

Contract references a non-existent table or view named contract_records

On top of that rake will exit with status code of 1. This allows you to use this check as part of your Continuous Integration pipeline.

Supported configuration options:

  • enabled - set to false to disable the detector altogether
  • ignore_models - models whose underlying tables should not be checked for existence.

Detecting Uniqueness Validations not Backed by an Index

Model-level uniqueness validations and has_one associations should be backed by a database index in order to be robust. Otherwise you risk inserting duplicate values under heavy load.

In order to detect such validations run:

bundle exec rake active_record_doctor:missing_unique_indexes

If there are such indexes then the command will print:

add a unique index on users(email) - validating uniqueness in the model without an index can lead to duplicates

This means that you should create a unique index on users.email.

Supported configuration options:

  • enabled - set to false to disable the detector altogether
  • ignore_models - models whose uniqueness validators should not be checked.
  • ignore_columns - specific validators, written as Model(column1, ...), that should not be checked.

Detecting Missing Non-NULL Constraints

If there's an unconditional presence validation on a column then it should be marked as non-NULL-able at the database level or should have a IS NOT NULL constraint.

In order to detect columns whose presence is required but that are marked null: true in the database run the following command:

bundle exec rake active_record_doctor:missing_non_null_constraint

The output of the command is similar to:

add `NOT NULL` to users.name - models validates its presence but it's not non-NULL in the database

You can mark the columns mentioned in the output as null: false by creating a migration and calling change_column_null.

This validator skips models whose corresponding database tables don't exist.

Supported configuration options:

  • enabled - set to false to disable the detector altogether
  • ignore_tables - tables whose columns should not be checked.
  • ignore_columns - columns, written as table.column, that should not be checked.

Detecting Missing Presence Validations

If a column is marked as null: false then it's likely it should have the corresponding presence validator.

In order to detect models lacking these validations run:

bundle exec rake active_record_doctor:missing_presence_validation

The output of the command looks like this:

add a `presence` validator to User.email - it's NOT NULL but lacks a validator
add a `presence` validator to User.name - it's NOT NULL but lacks a validator

This means User should have a presence validator on email and name.

This validator skips models whose corresponding database tables don't exist.

Supported configuration options:

  • enabled - set to false to disable the detector altogether
  • ignore_models - models whose underlying tables' columns should not be checked.
  • ignore_attributes - specific attributes, written as Model.attribute, that should not be checked.

Detecting Incorrect Presence Validations on Boolean Columns

A boolean column's presence should be validated using inclusion or exclusion validators instead of the usual presence validator.

In order to detect boolean columns whose presence is validated incorrectly run:

bundle exec rake active_record_doctor:incorrect_boolean_presence_validation

The output of the command looks like this:

replace the `presence` validator on User.active with `inclusion` - `presence` can't be used on booleans

This means active is validated with presence: true instead of inclusion: { in: [true, false] } or exclusion: { in: [nil] }.

This validator skips models whose corresponding database tables don't exist.

Supported configuration options:

  • enabled - set to false to disable the detector altogether
  • ignore_models - models whose validators should not be checked.
  • ignore_columns - attributes, written as Model.attribute, whose validators should not be checked.

Detecting Incorrect Length Validations

String length can be enforced by both the database and the application. If there's a database limit then it's a good idea to add a model validation to ensure user-friendly error messages. Similarly, if there's a model validator without the corresponding database constraint then it's a good idea to add one to avoid saving invalid models.

In order to detect columns whose length isn't validated properly run:

bundle exec rake active_record_doctor:incorrect_length_validation

The output of the command looks like this:

set the maximum length in the validator of User.email (currently 32) and the database limit on users.email (currently 64) to the same value
add a length validator on User.address to enforce a maximum length of 64 defined on users.address

The first message means the validator on User.email is checking for a different maximum than the database limit on users.email. The second message means there's a database limit on users.address without the corresponding model validation.

Supported configuration options:

  • enabled - set to false to disable the detector altogether
  • ignore_models - models whose validators should not be checked.
  • ignore_columns - attributes, written as Model.attribute, whose validators should not be checked.

Detecting Incorrect dependent Option on Associations

Cascading model deletions can be sped up with dependent: :delete_all (to delete all dependent models with one SQL query) but only if the deleted models have no callbacks as they're skipped.

This can lead to two types of errors:

  • Using delete_all when dependent models define callbacks - they will NOT be invoked.
  • Using destroy when dependent models define no callbacks - dependent models will be loaded one-by-one with no reason

In order to detect associations affected by the two aforementioned problems run the following command:

bundle exec rake active_record_doctor:incorrect_dependent_option

The output of the command looks like this:

use `dependent: :delete_all` or similar on Company.users - associated models have no validations and can be deleted in bulk
use `dependent: :destroy` or similar on Post.comments - the associated model has callbacks that are currently skipped

Supported configuration options:

  • enabled - set to false to disable the detector altogether
  • ignore_models - models whose associations should not be checked.
  • ignore_columns - associations, written as Model.association, that should not be checked.

Detecting Primary Keys Having Short Integer Types

Active Record 5.1 changed the default primary and foreign key type from INTEGER to BIGINT. The reason is to reduce the risk of running out of IDs on inserts.

In order to detect primary keys using shorter integer types, for example created before migrating to 5.1, you can run the following command:

bundle exec rake active_record_doctor:short_primary_key_type

The output of the command looks like this:

change the type of companies.id to bigint

The above means comanies.id should be migrated to a wider integer type. An example migration to accomplish this looks likes this:

class ChangeCompaniesPrimaryKeyType < ActiveRecord::Migration[5.1]
  def change
    change_column :companies, :id, :bigint
  end
end

IMPORTANT. Running the above migration on a large table can cause downtime as all rows need to be rewritten.

Supported configuration options:

  • enabled - set to false to disable the detector altogether
  • ignore_tables - tables whose primary keys should not be checked.

Detecting Mismatched Foreign Key Types

Foreign keys should be of the same type as the referenced primary key. Otherwise, there's a risk of bugs caused by IDs representable by one type but not the other.

Running the command below will list all foreign keys whose type is different from the referenced primary key:

bundle exec rake active_record_doctor:mismatched_foreign_key_type

The output of the command looks like this:

companies.user_id references a column of different type - foreign keys should be of the same type as the referenced column

Supported configuration options:

  • enabled - set to false to disable the detector altogether
  • ignore_tables - tables whose foreign keys should not be checked.
  • ignore_columns - foreign keys, written as table.column, that should not be checked.

Ruby and Rails Compatibility Policy

The goal of the policy is to ensure proper functioning in reasonable combinations of Ruby and Rails versions. Specifically:

  1. If a Rails version is officially supported by the Rails Core Team then it's supported by active_record_doctor.
  2. If a Ruby version is compatible with a supported Rails version then it's also supported by active_record_doctor.
  3. Only most recent teeny Ruby versions and patch Rails versions are supported.

Author

This gem is developed and maintained by Greg Navis.