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alba

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Alba is the fastest JSON serializer for Ruby. It focuses on performance, flexibility and usability.
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Alba

Alba is a JSON serializer for Ruby, JRuby, and TruffleRuby.

Discussions

Alba uses GitHub Discussions to openly discuss the project.

If you've already used Alba, please consider posting your thoughts and feelings on Feedback. The fact that you enjoy using Alba gives me energy to keep developing Alba!

If you have feature requests or interesting ideas, join us with Ideas. Let's make Alba even better, together!

Resources

If you want to know more about Alba, there's a screencast created by Sebastian from Hanami Mastery. It covers basic features of Alba and how to use it in Hanami.

Why Alba?

Because it's fast, easy and feature rich!

Fast

Alba is faster than most of the alternatives. We have a benchmark.

Easy

Alba is easy to use because there are only a few methods to remember. It's also easy to understand due to clean and short codebase. Finally it's easy to extend since it provides some methods for override to change default behavior of Alba.

Feature rich

While Alba's core is simple, it provides additional features when you need them, For example, Alba provides a way to control circular associations, root key and association resource name inference and supports layouts.

Installation

Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'alba'

And then execute:

$ bundle install

Or install it yourself as:

$ gem install alba

Supported Ruby versions

Alba supports CRuby 2.6 and higher and latest JRuby and TruffleRuby.

Documentation

You can find the documentation on RubyDoc.

Features

  • Conditional attributes and associations
  • Selectable backend
  • Key transformation
  • Root key and association resource name inference
  • Error handling
  • Nil handling
  • Circular associations control
  • [Experimental] Types for validation and conversion
  • Layout
  • No runtime dependencies

Usage

Configuration

Alba's configuration is fairly simple.

Backend configuration

Backend is the actual part serializing an object into JSON. Alba supports these backends.

name description requires_external_gem
oj, oj_strict Using Oj in strict mode Yes(C extension)
oj_rails It's oj but in rails mode Yes(C extension)
oj_default It's oj but respects mode set by users Yes(C extension)
active_support For Rails compatibility Yes
default, json Using json gem No

You can set a backend like this:

Alba.backend = :oj

Encoder configuration

You can also set JSON encoder directly with a Proc.

Alba.encoder = ->(object) { JSON.generate(object) }

You can consider setting a backend with Symbol as a shortcut to set encoder.

Inference configuration

You can enable the inference feature using the Alba.inflector = SomeInflector API. For example, in a Rails initializer:

Alba.inflector = :active_support

You can choose which inflector Alba uses for inference. Possible options are:

  • :active_support for ActiveSupport::Inflector
  • :dry for Dry::Inflector
  • any object which conforms to the protocol (see below)

To disable inference, set the inflector to nil:

Alba.inflector = nil

To check if inference is enabled etc, inspect the return value of inflector:

if Alba.inflector == nil
  puts "inflector not set"
else
  puts "inflector is set to #{Alba.inflector}"
end

Simple serialization with root key

You can define attributes with (yes) attributes macro with attribute names. If your attribute need some calculations, you can use attribute with block.

class User
  attr_accessor :id, :name, :email, :created_at, :updated_at
  def initialize(id, name, email)
    @id = id
    @name = name
    @email = email
    @created_at = Time.now
    @updated_at = Time.now
  end
end

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  root_key :user

  attributes :id, :name

  attribute :name_with_email do |resource|
    "#{resource.name}: #{resource.email}"
  end
end

user = User.new(1, 'Masafumi OKURA', 'masafumi@example.com')
UserResource.new(user).serialize
# => '{"user":{"id":1,"name":"Masafumi OKURA","name_with_email":"Masafumi OKURA: masafumi@example.com"}}'

You can define instance methods on resources so that you can use it as attribute name in attributes.

# The serialization result is the same as above
class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  root_key :user, :users # Later is for plural

  attributes :id, :name, :name_with_email

  # Attribute methods must accept one argument for each serialized object
  def name_with_email(user)
    "#{user.name}: #{user.email}"
  end
end

This even works with users collection.

user1 = User.new(1, 'Masafumi OKURA', 'masafumi@example.com')
user2 = User.new(2, 'Test User', 'test@example.com')
UserResource.new([user1, user2]).serialize
# => '{"users":[{"id":1,"name":"Masafumi OKURA","name_with_email":"Masafumi OKURA: masafumi@example.com"},{"id":2,"name":"Test User","name_with_email":"Test User: test@example.com"}]}'

If you have a simple case where you want to change only the name, you can use the Symbol to Proc shortcut:

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attribute :some_other_name, &:name
end

Params

You can pass a Hash to the resource for internal use. It can be used as "flags" to control attribute content.

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource
  attribute :name do |user|
    params[:upcase] ? user.name.upcase : user.name
  end
end

user = User.new(1, 'Masa', 'test@example.com')
UserResource.new(user).serialize # => '{"name":"Masa"}'
UserResource.new(user, params: {upcase: true}).serialize # => '{"name":"MASA"}'

Serialization with associations

Associations can be defined using the association macro, which is also aliased as one, many, has_one, and has_many for convenience.

class User
  attr_reader :id, :created_at, :updated_at
  attr_accessor :articles

  def initialize(id)
    @id = id
    @created_at = Time.now
    @updated_at = Time.now
    @articles = []
  end
end

class Article
  attr_accessor :user_id, :title, :body

  def initialize(user_id, title, body)
    @user_id = user_id
    @title = title
    @body = body
  end
end

class ArticleResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :title
end

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :id

  many :articles, resource: ArticleResource
end

user = User.new(1)
article1 = Article.new(1, 'Hello World!', 'Hello World!!!')
user.articles << article1
article2 = Article.new(2, 'Super nice', 'Really nice!')
user.articles << article2

UserResource.new(user).serialize
# => '{"id":1,"articles":[{"title":"Hello World!"},{"title":"Super nice"}]}'

You can define associations inline if you don't need a class for association.

class ArticleResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :title
end

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :id

  many :articles, resource: ArticleResource
end

# This class works the same as `UserResource`
class AnotherUserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :id

  many :articles do
    attributes :title
  end
end

You can "filter" association using second proc argument. This proc takes association object, params and initial object.

This feature is useful when you want to modify association, such as adding includes or order to ActiveRecord relations.

class User
  attr_reader :id, :banned
  attr_accessor :articles

  def initialize(id, banned = false)
    @id = id
    @banned = banned
    @articles = []
  end
end

class Article
  attr_accessor :id, :title, :body

  def initialize(id, title, body)
    @id = id
    @title = title
    @body = body
  end
end

class ArticleResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :title
end

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :id

  # Second proc works as a filter
  many :articles,
    proc { |articles, params, user|
      filter = params[:filter] || :odd?
      articles.select {|a| a.id.send(filter) && !user.banned  }
    },
    resource: ArticleResource
end

user = User.new(1)
article1 = Article.new(1, 'Hello World!', 'Hello World!!!')
user.articles << article1
article2 = Article.new(2, 'Super nice', 'Really nice!')
user.articles << article2

UserResource.new(user).serialize
# => '{"id":1,"articles":[{"title":"Hello World!"}]}'
UserResource.new(user, params: {filter: :even?}).serialize
# => '{"id":1,"articles":[{"title":"Super nice"}]}'

You can change a key for association with key option.

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :id

  many :articles,
    key: 'my_articles', # Set key here
    resource: ArticleResource
end
UserResource.new(user).serialize
# => '{"id":1,"my_articles":[{"title":"Hello World!"}]}'

You can omit the resource option if you enable Alba's inference feature.

Alba.inflector = :active_support

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :id

  many :articles # Using `ArticleResource`
end
UserResource.new(user).serialize
# => '{"id":1,"my_articles":[{"title":"Hello World!"}]}'

If you need complex logic to determine what resource to use for association, you can use a Proc for resource option.

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :id

  many :articles, ->(article) { article.with_comment? ? ArticleWithCommentResource : ArticleResource }
end

Note that using a Proc slows down serialization if there are too many associated objects.

Params override

Associations can override params. This is useful when associations are deeply nested.

class BazResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :data
  attributes :secret, if: proc { params[:expose_secret] }
end

class BarResource
  include Alba::Resource

  one :baz, resource: BazResource
end

class FooResource
  include Alba::Resource

  root_key :foo

  one :bar, resource: BarResource
end

class FooResourceWithParamsOverride
  include Alba::Resource

  root_key :foo

  one :bar, resource: BarResource, params: { expose_secret: false }
end

Baz = Struct.new(:data, :secret)
Bar = Struct.new(:baz)
Foo = Struct.new(:bar)

foo = Foo.new(Bar.new(Baz.new(1, 'secret')))
FooResource.new(foo, params: {expose_secret: true}).serialize # => '{"foo":{"bar":{"baz":{"data":1,"secret":"secret"}}}}'
FooResourceWithParamsOverride.new(foo, params: {expose_secret: true}).serialize # => '{"foo":{"bar":{"baz":{"data":1}}}}'

Nested Attribute

Alba supports nested attributes that makes it easy to build complex data structure from single object.

In order to define nested attributes, you can use nested or nested_attribute (alias of nested).

class User
  attr_accessor :id, :name, :email, :city, :zipcode

  def initialize(id, name, email, city, zipcode)
    @id = id
    @name = name
    @email = email
    @city = city
    @zipcode = zipcode
  end
end

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  root_key :user

  attributes :id

  nested_attribute :address do
    attributes :city, :zipcode
  end
end

user = User.new(1, 'Masafumi OKURA', 'masafumi@example.com', 'Tokyo', '0000000')
UserResource.new(user).serialize
# => '{"user":{"id":1,"address":{"city":"Tokyo","zipcode":"0000000"}}}'

Nested attributes can be nested deeply.

class FooResource
  include Alba::Resource

  root_key :foo

  nested :bar do
    nested :baz do
      attribute :deep do
        42
      end
    end
  end
end

FooResource.new(nil).serialize
# => '{"foo":{"bar":{"baz":{"deep":42}}}}'

Inline definition with Alba.serialize

Alba.serialize method is a shortcut to define everything inline.

Alba.serialize(user, root_key: :foo) do
  attributes :id
  many :articles do
    attributes :title, :body
  end
end
# => '{"foo":{"id":1,"articles":[{"title":"Hello World!","body":"Hello World!!!"},{"title":"Super nice","body":"Really nice!"}]}}'

Alba.serialize can be used when you don't know what kind of object you serialize. For example:

Alba.serialize(something)
# => Same as `FooResource.new(something).serialize` when `something` is an instance of `Foo`.

Although this might be useful sometimes, it's generally recommended to define a class for Resource.

Serializable Hash

Instead of serializing to JSON, you can also output a Hash by calling serializable_hash or the to_h alias. Note also that the serialize method is aliased as to_json.

# These are equivalent and will return serialized JSON
UserResource.new(user).serialize
UserResource.new(user).to_json

# These are equivalent and will return a Hash
UserResource.new(user).serializable_hash
UserResource.new(user).to_h

If you want a Hash that corresponds to a JSON String returned by serialize method, you can use as_json.

# These are equivalent and will return the same result
UserResource.new(user).serialize
UserResource.new(user).to_json
JSON.generate(UserResource.new(user).as_json)

Inheritance

When you include Alba::Resource in your class, it's just a class so you can define any class that inherits from it. You can add new attributes to inherited class like below:

class FooResource
  include Alba::Resource

  root_key :foo

  attributes :bar
end

class ExtendedFooResource < FooResource
  root_key :foofoo

  attributes :baz
end

Foo = Struct.new(:bar, :baz)
foo = Foo.new(1, 2)
FooResource.new(foo).serialize # => '{"foo":{"bar":1}}'
ExtendedFooResource.new(foo).serialize # => '{"foofoo":{"bar":1,"baz":2}}'

In this example we add baz attribute and change root_key. This way, you can extend existing resource classes just like normal OOP. Don't forget that when your inheritance structure is too deep it'll become difficult to modify existing classes.

Filtering attributes

Filtering attributes can be done in two ways - with attributes and select. They have different semantics and usage.

select is a new and more intuitive API, so generally it's recommended to use select.

Filtering attributes with attributes

You can filter out certain attributes by overriding attributes instance method. This is useful when you want to customize existing resource with inheritance.

You can access raw attributes via super call. It returns a Hash whose keys are the name of the attribute and whose values are the body. Usually you need only keys to filter out, like below.

class Foo
  attr_accessor :id, :name, :body

  def initialize(id, name, body)
    @id = id
    @name = name
    @body = body
  end
end

class GenericFooResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :id, :name, :body
end

class RestrictedFooResource < GenericFooResource
  def attributes
    super.select { |key, _| key.to_sym == :name }
  end
end

foo = Foo.new(1, 'my foo', 'body')

RestrictedFooResource.new(foo).serialize
# => '{"name":"my foo"}'

Filtering attributes with select

When you want to filter attributes based on more complex logic, you can use select instance method. select takes two parameters, the name of an attribute and the value of an attribute. If it returns false that attribute is rejected.

class Foo
  attr_accessor :id, :name, :body

  def initialize(id, name, body)
    @id = id
    @name = name
    @body = body
  end
end

class GenericFooResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :id, :name, :body
end

class RestrictedFooResource < GenericFooResource
  def select(_key, value)
    !value.nil?
  end
end

foo = Foo.new(1, nil, 'body')

RestrictedFooResource.new(foo).serialize
# => '{"id":1,"body":"body"}'

Key transformation

If you have inference enabled, you can use the transform_keys DSL to transform attribute keys.

Alba.inflector = :active_support

class User
  attr_reader :id, :first_name, :last_name

  def initialize(id, first_name, last_name)
    @id = id
    @first_name = first_name
    @last_name = last_name
  end
end

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :id, :first_name, :last_name

  transform_keys :lower_camel
end

user = User.new(1, 'Masafumi', 'Okura')
UserResourceCamel.new(user).serialize
# => '{"id":1,"firstName":"Masafumi","lastName":"Okura"}'

Possible values for transform_keys argument are:

  • :camel for CamelCase
  • :lower_camel for lowerCamelCase
  • :dash for dash-case
  • :snake for snake_case
  • :none for not transforming keys

Root key transformation

You can also transform root key when:

  • Alba.inflector is set
  • root_key! is called in Resource class
  • root option of transform_keys is set to true
Alba.inflector = :active_support

class BankAccount
  attr_reader :account_number

  def initialize(account_number)
    @account_number = account_number
  end
end

class BankAccountResource
  include Alba::Resource

  root_key!

  attributes :account_number
  transform_keys :dash, root: true
end

bank_account = BankAccount.new(123_456_789)
BankAccountResource.new(bank_account).serialize
# => '{"bank-account":{"account-number":123456789}}'

This is the default behavior from version 2.

Find more details in the Inference configuration section.

Key transformation cascading

When you use transform_keys with inline association, it automatically applies the same transformation type to those inline association.

This is the default behavior from version 2, but you can do the same thing with adding transform_keys to each association.

You can also turn it off by setting cascade: false option to transform_keys.

class User
  attr_reader :id, :first_name, :last_name, :bank_account

  def initialize(id, first_name, last_name)
    @id = id
    @first_name = first_name
    @last_name = last_name
    @bank_account = BankAccount.new(1234)
  end
end

class BankAccount
  attr_reader :account_number

  def initialize(account_number)
    @account_number = account_number
  end
end

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :id, :first_name, :last_name

  transform_keys :lower_camel # Default is cascade: true

  one :bank_account do
    attributes :account_number
  end
end

user = User.new(1, 'Masafumi', 'Okura')
UserResource.new(user).serialize
# => '{"id":1,"firstName":"Masafumi","lastName":"Okura","bankAccount":{"accountNumber":1234}}'

Custom inflector

A custom inflector can be plugged in as follows.

module CustomInflector
  module_function

  def camelize(string)
  end

  def camelize_lower(string)
  end

  def dasherize(string)
  end

  def underscore(string)
  end

  def classify(string)
  end
end

Alba.inflector = CustomInflector

Conditional attributes

Filtering attributes with overriding attributes works well for simple cases. However, It's cumbersome when we want to filter various attributes based on different conditions for keys.

In these cases, conditional attributes works well. We can pass if option to attributes, attribute, one and many. Below is an example for the same effect as filtering attributes section.

class User
  attr_accessor :id, :name, :email

  def initialize(id, name, email)
    @id = id
    @name = name
    @email = email
  end
end

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :id, :name, :email, if: proc { |user, attribute| !attribute.nil? }
end

user = User.new(1, nil, nil)
UserResource.new(user).serialize # => '{"id":1}'

Default

Alba doesn't support default value for attributes, but it's easy to set a default value.

class FooResource
  attribute :bar do |foo|
    foo.bar || 'default bar'
  end
end

We believe this is clearer than using some (not implemented yet) DSL such as default because there are some conditions where default values should be applied (nil, blank?, empty? etc.)

Root key and association resource name inference

If inference is enabled, Alba tries to infer the root key and association resource names.

Alba.inflector = :active_support

class User
  attr_reader :id
  attr_accessor :articles

  def initialize(id)
    @id = id
    @articles = []
  end
end

class Article
  attr_accessor :id, :title

  def initialize(id, title)
    @id = id
    @title = title
  end
end

class ArticleResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :title
end

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  root_key!

  attributes :id

  many :articles
end

user = User.new(1)
user.articles << Article.new(1, 'The title')

UserResource.new(user).serialize # => '{"user":{"id":1,"articles":[{"title":"The title"}]}}'
UserResource.new([user]).serialize # => '{"users":[{"id":1,"articles":[{"title":"The title"}]}]}'

This resource automatically sets its root key to either "users" or "user", depending on the given object is collection or not.

Also, you don't have to specify which resource class to use with many. Alba infers it from association name.

Find more details in the Inference configuration section.

Error handling

You can set error handler globally or per resource using on_error.

class User
  attr_accessor :id, :name

  def initialize(id, name, email)
    @id = id
    @name = name
    @email = email
  end

  def email
    raise RuntimeError, 'Error!'
  end
end

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :id, :name, :email

  on_error :ignore
end

user = User.new(1, 'Test', 'email@example.com')
UserResource.new(user).serialize # => '{"id":1,"name":"Test"}'

This way you can exclude an entry when fetching an attribute gives an exception.

There are four possible arguments on_error method accepts.

  • :raise re-raises an error. This is the default behavior.
  • :ignore ignores the entry with the error.
  • :nullify sets the attribute with the error to nil.
  • Block gives you more control over what to be returned.

The block receives five arguments, error, object, key, attribute and resource class and must return a two-element array. Below is an example.

class ExampleResource
  include Alba::Resource
  on_error do |error, object, key, attribute, resource_class|
    if resource_class == MyResource
      ['error_fallback', object.error_fallback]
    else
      [key, error.message]
    end
  end
end

Nil handling

Sometimes we want to convert nil to different values such as empty string. Alba provides a flexible way to handle nil.

class User
  attr_reader :id, :name, :age

  def initialize(id, name = nil, age = nil)
    @id = id
    @name = name
    @age = age
  end
end

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  on_nil { '' }

  root_key :user, :users

  attributes :id, :name, :age
end

UserResource.new(User.new(1)).serialize
# => '{"user":{"id":1,"name":"","age":""}}'

You can get various information via block parameters.

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  on_nil do |object, key|
    if key == 'age'
      20
    else
      "User#{object.id}"
    end
  end

  root_key :user, :users

  attributes :id, :name, :age
end

UserResource.new(User.new(1)).serialize
# => '{"user":{"id":1,"name":"User1","age":20}}'

Metadata

You can set a metadata with meta DSL or meta option.

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  root_key :user, :users

  attributes :id, :name

  meta do
    if object.is_a?(Enumerable)
      {size: object.size}
    else
      {foo: :bar}
    end
  end
end

user = User.new(1, 'Masafumi OKURA', 'masafumi@example.com')
UserResource.new([user]).serialize
# => '{"users":[{"id":1,"name":"Masafumi OKURA"}],"meta":{"size":1}}'

# You can merge metadata with `meta` option

UserResource.new([user]).serialize(meta: {foo: :bar})
# => '{"users":[{"id":1,"name":"Masafumi OKURA"}],"meta":{"size":1,"foo":"bar"}}'

# You can set metadata with `meta` option alone

class UserResourceWithoutMeta
  include Alba::Resource

  root_key :user, :users

  attributes :id, :name
end

UserResourceWithoutMeta.new([user]).serialize(meta: {foo: :bar})
# => '{"users":[{"id":1,"name":"Masafumi OKURA"}],"meta":{"foo":"bar"}}'

You can use object method to access the underlying object and params to access the params in meta block.

Note that setting root key is required when setting a metadata.

Circular associations control

Note that this feature works correctly since version 1.3. In previous versions it doesn't work as expected.

You can control circular associations with within option. within option is a nested Hash such as {book: {authors: books}}. In this example, Alba serializes a book's authors' books. This means you can reference BookResource from AuthorResource and vice versa. This is really powerful when you have a complex data structure and serialize certain parts of it.

For more details, please refer to test code

Experimental support of types

You can validate and convert input with types.

class User
  attr_reader :id, :name, :age, :bio, :admin, :created_at

  def initialize(id, name, age, bio = '', admin = false) # rubocop:disable Style/OptionalBooleanParameter
    @id = id
    @name = name
    @age = age
    @admin = admin
    @bio = bio
    @created_at = Time.new(2020, 10, 10)
  end
end

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  attributes :name, id: [String, true], age: [Integer, true], bio: String, admin: [:Boolean, true], created_at: [String, ->(object) { object.strftime('%F') }]
end

user = User.new(1, 'Masafumi OKURA', '32', 'Ruby dev')
UserResource.new(user).serialize
# => '{"name":"Masafumi OKURA","id":"1","age":32,"bio":"Ruby dev","admin":false,"created_at":"2020-10-10"}'

Notice that id and created_at are converted to String and age is converted to Integer.

If type is not correct and auto conversion is disabled (default), TypeError occurs.

user = User.new(1, 'Masafumi OKURA', '32', nil) # bio is nil and auto conversion is disabled for bio
UserResource.new(user).serialize
# => TypeError, 'Attribute bio is expected to be String but actually nil.'

Note that this feature is experimental and interfaces are subject to change.

Collection serialization into Hash

Sometimes we want to serialize a collection into a Hash, not an Array. It's possible with Alba.

class User
  attr_reader :id, :name
  def initialize(id, name)
    @id, @name = id, name
  end
end

class UserResource
  include Alba::Resource

  collection_key :id # This line is important

  attributes :id, :name
end

user1 = User.new(1, 'John')
user2 = User.new(2, 'Masafumi')

UserResource.new([user1, user2]).serialize
# => '{"1":{"id":1,"name":"John"},"2":{"id":2,"name":"Masafumi"}}'

In the snippet above, collection_key :id specifies the key used for the key of the collection hash. In this example it's :id.

Make sure that collection key is unique for the collection.

Layout

Sometimes we'd like to serialize JSON into a template. In other words, we need some structure OUTSIDE OF serialized JSON. IN HTML world, we call it a "layout".

Alba supports serializing JSON in a layout. You need a file for layout and then to specify file with layout method.

{
  "header": "my_header",
  "body": <%= serialized_json %>
}
class FooResource
  include Alba::Resource
  layout file: 'my_layout.json.erb'
end

Note that layout files are treated as json and erb and evaluated in a context of the resource, meaning

  • A layout file must be a valid JSON
  • You must write <%= serialized_json %> in a layout to put serialized JSON string into a layout
  • You can access params in a layout so that you can add virtually any objects to a layout
    • When you access params, it's usually a Hash. You can use encode method in a layout to convert params Hash into a JSON with the backend you use
  • You can also access object, the underlying object for the resource

In case you don't want to have a file for layout, Alba lets you define and apply layouts inline:

class FooResource
  include Alba::Resource
  layout inline: proc do
    {
      header: 'my header',
      body: serializable_hash
    }
  end
end

In the example above, we specify a Proc which returns a Hash as an inline layout. In the Proc we can use serializable_hash method to access a Hash right before serialization.

You can also use a Proc which returns String, not a Hash, for an inline layout.

class FooResource
  include Alba::Resource
  layout inline: proc do
    %({
      "header": "my header",
      "body": #{serialized_json}
    })
  end
end

It looks similar to file layout but you must use string interpolation for method calls since it's not an ERB.

Also note that we use percentage notation here to use double quotes. Using single quotes in inline string layout causes the error which might be resolved in other ways.

Caching

Currently, Alba doesn't support caching, primarily due to the behavior of ActiveRecord::Relation's cache. See the issue.

Extend Alba

Sometimes we have shared behaviors across resources. In such cases we can have a module for common logic.

In attribute block we can call instance method so we can improve the code below:

class FooResource
  include Alba::Resource
  # other attributes
  attribute :created_at do |foo|
    foo.created_at.strftime('%m/%d/%Y')
  end

  attribute :updated_at do |foo|
    foo.updated_at.strftime('%m/%d/%Y')
  end
end

class BarResource
  include Alba::Resource
  # other attributes
  attribute :created_at do |bar|
    bar.created_at.strftime('%m/%d/%Y')
  end

  attribute :updated_at do |bar|
    bar.updated_at.strftime('%m/%d/%Y')
  end
end

to:

module SharedLogic
  def format_time(time)
    time.strftime('%m/%d/%Y')
  end
end

class FooResource
  include Alba::Resource
  include SharedLogic
  # other attributes
  attribute :created_at do |foo|
    format_time(foo.created_at)
  end

  attribute :updated_at do |foo|
    format_time(foo.updated_at)
  end
end

class BarResource
  include Alba::Resource
  include SharedLogic
  # other attributes
  attribute :created_at do |bar|
    format_time(bar.created_at)
  end

  attribute :updated_at do |bar|
    format_time(bar.updated_at)
  end
end

We can even add our own DSL to serialize attributes for readability and removing code duplications.

To do so, we need to extend our module. Let's see how we can achieve the same goal with this approach.

module AlbaExtension
  # Here attrs are an Array of Symbol
  def formatted_time_attributes(*attrs)
    attrs.each do |attr|
      attribute attr do |object|
        time = object.send(attr)
        time.strftime('%m/%d/%Y')
      end
    end
  end
end

class FooResource
  include Alba::Resource
  extend AlbaExtension
  # other attributes
  formatted_time_attributes :created_at, :updated_at
end

class BarResource
  include Alba::Resource
  extend AlbaExtension
  # other attributes
  formatted_time_attributes :created_at, :updated_at
end

In this way we have shorter and cleaner code. Note that we need to use send or public_send in attribute block to get attribute data.

Debugging

Debugging is not easy. If you find Alba not working as you expect, there are a few things to do:

  1. Inspect

The typical code looks like this:

class FooResource
  include Alba::Resource
  attributes :id
end
FooResource.new(foo).serialize

Notice that we instantiate FooResource and then call serialize method. We can get various information by calling inspect method on it.

puts FooResource.new(foo).inspect # or: p class FooResource.new(foo)
# => "#<FooResource:0x000000010e21f408 @object=[#<Foo:0x000000010e3470d8 @id=1>], @params={}, @within=#<Object:0x000000010df2eac8>, @method_existence={}, @_attributes={:id=>:id}, @_key=nil, @_key_for_collection=nil, @_meta=nil, @_transform_type=:none, @_transforming_root_key=false, @_on_error=nil, @_on_nil=nil, @_layout=nil, @_collection_key=nil>"

The output might be different depending on the version of Alba or the object you give, but the concepts are the same. @object represents the object you gave as an argument to new method, @_attributes represents the attributes you defined in FooResource class using attributes DSL.

Other things are not so important, but you need to take care of corresponding part when you use additional features such as root_key, transform_keys and adding params.

  1. Logging

Alba currently doesn't support logging directly, but you can add your own logging module to Alba easily.

module Logging
  def serialize(...) # `...` was added in Ruby 2.7
    puts serializable_hash
    super(...)
  end
end

FooResource.prepend Logging
FooResource.new(foo).serialize
# => "{:id=>1}" is printed

Here, we override serialize method with prepend. In overridden method we print the result of serializable_hash that gives the basic hash for serialization to serialize method. Using ... allows us to override without knowing method signiture of serialize.

Don't forget calling super in this way.

Rails

When you use Alba in Rails, you can create an initializer file with the line below for compatibility with Rails JSON encoder.

Alba.backend = :active_support
# or
Alba.backend = :oj_rails

To find out more details, please see https://github.com/okuramasafumi/alba/blob/main/docs/rails.md

Why named "Alba"?

The name "Alba" comes from "albatross", a kind of birds. In Japanese, this bird is called "Aho-dori", which means "stupid bird". I find it funny because in fact albatrosses fly really fast. I hope Alba looks stupid but in fact it does its job quick.

Pioneers

There are great pioneers in Ruby's ecosystem which does basically the same thing as Alba does. To name a few:

Development

After checking out the repo, run bin/setup to install dependencies. Then, run bundle exec rake test to run the tests. You can also run bin/console for an interactive prompt that will allow you to experiment.

To install this gem onto your local machine, run bundle exec rake install. To release a new version, update the version number in version.rb, and then run bundle exec rake release, which will create a git tag for the version, push git commits and tags, and push the .gem file to rubygems.org.

Contributing

Thank you for begin interested in contributing to Alba! Please see contributors guide before start contributing. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in Discussions.

License

The gem is available as open source under the terms of the MIT License.

Code of Conduct

Everyone interacting in the Alba project's codebases, issue trackers, chat rooms and mailing lists is expected to follow the code of conduct.