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  • kmitov 9:32 pm on January 11, 2021 Permalink |
    Tags: acts_as_paranoid, cancancan, globalize-rails, i18n, ,   

    The problems with acts_as_paranoid and generally with Soft Delete of records in Rails 

    I am about to refactor and completely remove acts_as_paranoid from one of the models in our platform. There are certain issues that were piling up in the last few years and it is now already difficult to support it. As I am about to tell this to colleagues tomorrow I thought to first structure the summary in an article and directly send the article to the whole team.

    If you are thinking about using acts_as_paranoid and generally soft delete your records then this article could give you a good understanding of what to expect.

    Disclaimer: I am not trying to roast acts_as_paranoid here. I think it is a great gem that I’ve used successfully for years and it has helped me save people’s work where they accidentally delete something. It could be exactly what you need. For us it got too entangled and dependent on workarounds with other gems and I am planning to remove it.

    acts_as_paranoid VS Globalize – problem 1

    We have a model called Material. Material has a title. The title is managed by globalize as we are delivering the content in a number of languages.

    class Material < ApplicationRecord
      acts_as_paranoid
      translates :title
    end

    The problem is that Globalize knows nothing about acts_as_paranoid. You can delete a Material, and it should delete the translations, but when you try to recover the Material then there is an error because of how the translations are implemented and the order in which the translations and the Material are recovered. Which record should be recovered first? Details are at https://github.com/ActsAsParanoid/acts_as_paranoid/issues/166#issuecomment-650974373, but as a quote here

    Ok, then I think I see what happens: ActsAsParanoid tries to recover your translations but their validation fails because they are recovered before the main object. When you just call recover this means the records are just not saved and the code proceeds to save the main record. However, when you call recover!, the validation failure leads to the exception you see.

    In this case, it seems, the main record needs to be recovered first. I wonder if that should be made the default.

    I have work around this and I used it like this for an year

    module TranslatableSoftdeletable
      extend ActiveSupport::Concern
    
      included do
    
        translation_class.class_eval do
          acts_as_paranoid
        end
    
        before_recover :restore_translations
      
      end
    
      def restore_translations
        translations.with_deleted.each do |translation|
          translation.deleted_at = nil
          translation.save(validate: false)
        end
        self.translations.reload
      end
    
    end

    acts_as_paranoid VS Globalize – problem 2

    Let’s say that you delete a Material. What is the title of this deleted material?

    material = Material.find(1)
    material.destroy
    material.title == ?

    Remember that the Material has all of its translations for the title in a table that just got soft deleted. So the correct answer is “nil”. The title of the delete material is nil.

    material = Material.find(1)
    material.destroy
    material.title == nil # is true

    You can workaround this with

    material.translations.with_deleted.where(locale: I18n.locale).first.title

    But this is quite ugly.

    acts_as_paranoid VS cancancan

    The material could have authors. An author is the connection between the User and the Material. We are using cancancan for the controllers.

    In the controller for a specific author we show only the models that are for this author. We have the following rule:

    can [:access, :read, :update, :destroy], clazz, authors: { user_id: user.id }
    

    Here the problem is that you can only return non deleted records. If you would like to implement a Trash/Recycle Bin/Bin functionality for the Materials that you can not reuse the rule. The reason is the cancancan can not have can? and cannot? with an sql statement and the “authors: {user_id: user.id}” is an sql statement.

    What we could do is to use scopes

    # in the ability
    can [:access, :read, :update, :destroy], Material, Material.with_authors(user.id)
    
    # In the Material
    scope :with_authors, -> (user_ids) {
        joins(:authors).where(authors: {user_id: user_ids})
    }
    

    We move the logic for authorization from the ability to the model. I can live with that. It is not that outrageous. But it does not work, because the association with authors will return empty authors for the Material as the materials are also soft deleted.

    acts_as_paranoid vs cancancan – case 2

    When declaring load_and_authorize in the controller it will not fetch records that are already deleted. So you can not use cancancan to load in the controller a record that is deleted and you must load it yourself.

    class MaterialsTrashController < ApplicationController
    
      before_action only: [:show, :edit, :update, :destroy] do
        @content_picture = Material.only_deleted.find(params[:id])
      end
    
    
      load_and_authorize_resource :content_picture, class: "Material", parent: false
    
    end

    This was ugly, but as we had one trash controller it was kind of acceptable. But with a second one it got more difficult and deviated from the other controllers logic.

    acts_as_paranoid vs ContentPictures

    Every Material has many ContentPictures on our platform. There is a ContentPictureRef model. One of the pictures could be the thumbnail. Once you delete a material what is the thumbnail that we can show for this material?

    As the content_picture_refs relation as also soft deleted we should change the logic for returning the thumbnail. We change it from

    def thumbnail
        thumbnail_ref = self.content_picture_refs.where(content_picture_type:  :thumbnail).first
    end

    to

    def thumbnail
        thumbnail_ref = self.content_picture_refs.with_deleted.where(content_picture_type:  :thumbnail).first
    end

    I can live with this. Even relation that we have for the deleted record we must call with “with_deleted”. ContentPictures, Authors and other relations all should be changed for us to be able to see the deleted materials in a table that represents the Trash.

    acts_as_paranoid vs Active Record Callbacks

    There is another issue right at https://github.com/ActsAsParanoid/acts_as_paranoid/issues/168

    It took me hours to debug it a few months back. The order of before_destroy should not really matter.

    class Episode < ApplicationRecord
       acts_as_paranoid
       before_destroy do 
          puts self.authors.count
       end
       has_many :authors, dependent: :destroy
    
    class Episode < ApplicationRecord
       before_destroy do 
          puts self.authors.count
       end
       acts_as_paranoid 
       has_many :authors, dependent: :destroy

    acts_as_paranoid vs belongs_to

    By using acts_as_paranoid belongs_to should be:

    class Author < ApplicationRecord
       belongs_to :material, with_deleted: true
    end

    I could also live with this. At a certain stage it was easier to just add with_deleted: true to the belongs_to relations.

    acts_as_paranoid vs Shrine

    So the Material has a Shrine attachment stored on Amazon S3. What should happen when you delete the Material. Should you delete the file from S3? Of course not. If you delete the file you will not be able to recover the file.

    The solution was to modify the Shrine Uploader

    class Attacher < Shrine::Attacher
    
      def activerecord_after_destroy 
        # Just dont call super and keep the file
        # Sine objects at BuildIn3D & FLLCasts are softdeleted we want to 
        # handle the deletion logic in another way.
        true
      end
    
    end
    

    I was living with this for months and did not had many issues.

    What Pain and Problem are we addressing?

    The current problem that I can not find a workaround for is the MaterialsTrashController that is using CanCanCan. All the solutions would require for this controller to be different than the rest of the controllers and my biggest concern is that this will later result in issues. I would like to have a single place were we check if a User has access to the Material and whether they could read or update it or recover it. If we split the logic of the MaterialsController and the MaterialsTrashController we would end up with a hidden and difficult to maintain duplication.

    But was is the real problem that we want to solve?

    On our platform we have authors for the instructions and we work close with them. I imaging one particular author that I will call TM (Taekwondon Master). So TM uploads a material and from time to time he incidentally could delete and material. That’s it. When he deletes a Material it should not be deleted, but rather put in a trash. Then when he deletes it from the trash he must confirm with a blood sample. That’s he. I just want to stop TM from losing any Material by accident.

    The solution is pretty simple.

    In the MaterialsController just show all the materials that do not have a :deleted_at column set.

    In the MaterialsTrashController just show only the Materials with :delete_at controller.

    I can solve the whole problem with one simple filter that would take me like 1 minute to implement. We don’t need any of the problems above. They simply will not exist.

    That’s it. I will start with the Material and I will move through the other models as we are implementing the additional Trash controllers for the other models.

     
  • kmitov 2:02 pm on January 9, 2019 Permalink |
    Tags: i18n, parallel, , ,   

    i18n locales and the pass of rspec parallel specs and 

    First rule of good unit testing is: each test should be independent of the other tests.

    But if there is a global variable like I18n.locale than one spec could touch it and another spec will be run in a different locale from the default.

    TL;DR;

    Before each suite of specs set the locale to the default. This ensures that the specs are run against the same locale each time. Specific code is:

    # spec/rails_helper.rb
    RSpec.configure do |config|
      config.before :each do
        I18n.locale = Globalize.locale = I18n.default_locale
      end
    end
    

    i18n breaks spec isolation

    Internationalization, or i18n, should be part of most platforms. This means that i18n features should be properly tests. In suites when one of the specs modifies i18n the specs that are run after that are dependent on this new local.

    This seem trivial, but we only go to explore it the moment we started running specs in parallel on different CPU cores. The specs were started and run in different times and order on each run.

     
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