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[rails] store your settings in a model

Most of the times I use a config.yml to store application settings, that I want to be able to change quickly between environments, servers, deployments. But what with settings that need to be changed on the fly, by a user?

I create a small model, with three fields.

rails g model Setting name:string description:string value:string

I use a seed file to define the different settings. Settings are checked in code, but I can not preload them, since a user might change them. So first I added a method as_hash that loads all settings, and I can then directly use a hash, but that gets wordy quickly.

What if ... I could provide a method on the class Setting for each setting in the database? That would be really nice. This seems like a job for ... method-missing-man Special superpower: seeing places where method_missing could be used :)

class Setting < ActiveRecord::Base

  validates_presence_of :name

  def self.as_hash
    settings = {}
    Setting.all.each do |setting|
      settings[setting.name.to_sym] = setting.value
    end
    settings
  end

  # offer all settings as methods on the class
  def self.method_missing(meth, *args, &block) #:nodoc:
    @all_settings ||= Setting.as_hash
    if @all_settings.keys.include?(meth)
      @all_settings[meth]
    else
      super
    end
  end
end

For documentation, the test:

context "convenience: define methods for all settings" do
  before do
    Setting.instance_variable_set('@all_settings', nil)
    Setting.create(name: 'my_other_test_setting', value: '123ZZZ')
  end
  it "Setting.my_other_test_setting returns the correct result" do
    Setting.my_other_test_setting.should == '123ZZZ'
  end
  it "an unexisting setting behaves as a normal missing method" do
    expect {
      Setting.this_setting_does_not_exist
    }.to raise_exception(NoMethodError)
  end
end

I love ruby :) :)