ruby-on-rails rails - How to return an empty ActiveRecord relation?

add create (9)

If I have a scope with a lambda and it takes an argument, depending on the value of the argument, I might know that there will not be any matches, but I still want to return a relation, not an empty array:

scope :for_users, lambda { |users| users.any? ? where("user_id IN (?)",',')) : [] }

What I really want is a "none" method, the opposite of "all", that returns a relation that can still be chained, but results in the query being short-circuited.


scope :none, limit(0)

Is a dangerous solution because your scope might be chained upon.


will return the first user. It's safer to use

scope :none, where('1 = 0')

Coming in Rails 4

In Rails 4, a chainable ActiveRecord::NullRelation will be returned from calls like Post.none.

Neither it, nor chained methods, will generate queries to the database.

According to the comments:

The returned ActiveRecord::NullRelation inherits from Relation and implements the Null Object pattern. It is an object with defined null behavior and always returns an empty array of records without quering the database.

See the source code.

There is a now a "correct" mechanism in Rails 4:

>> Model.none 
=> #<ActiveRecord::Relation []>

I think I prefer the way this looks to the other options:

scope :none, limit(0)

Leading to something like this:

scope :users, lambda { |ids| ids.present? ? where("user_id IN (?)", ids) : limit(0) }

You can add a scope called "none":

scope :none, where(:id => nil).where("id IS NOT ?", nil)

That will give you an empty ActiveRecord::Relation

You could also add it to ActiveRecord::Base in an initializer (if you want):

class ActiveRecord::Base
 def self.none

Plenty of ways to get something like this, but certainly not the best thing to keep in a code base. I have used the scope :none when refactoring and finding that I need to guarantee an empty ActiveRecord::Relation for a short time.

A more portable solution that doesn't require an "id" column and doesn't assume there won't be a row with an id of 0:

scope :none, where("1 = 0")

I'm still looking for a more "correct" way.

There are also variants, but all of these are making request to db


The other answers and comments covered table renaming, file renaming, and grepping through your code.

I'd like to add a few more caveats:

Let's use a real-world example I faced today: renaming a model from 'Merchant' to 'Business.'

  • Don't forget to change the names of dependent tables and models in the same migration. I changed my Merchant and MerchantStat models to Business and BusinessStat at the same time. Otherwise I'd have had to do way too much picking and choosing when performing search-and-replace.
  • For any other models that depend on your model via foreign keys, the other tables' foreign-key column names will be derived from your original model name. So you'll also want to do some rename_column calls on these dependent models. For instance, I had to rename the 'merchant_id' column to 'business_id' in various join tables (for has_and_belongs_to_many relationship) and other dependent tables (for normal has_one and has_many relationships). Otherwise I would have ended up with columns like 'business_stat.merchant_id' pointing to ''. Here's a good answer about doing column renames.
  • When grepping, remember to search for singular, plural, capitalized, lowercase, and even UPPERCASE (which may occur in comments) versions of your strings.
  • It's best to search for plural versions first, then singular. That way if you have an irregular plural - such as in my merchants :: businesses example - you can get all the irregular plurals correct. Otherwise you may end up with, for example, 'businesss' (3 s's) as an intermediate state, resulting in yet more search-and-replace.
  • Don't blindly replace every occurrence. If your model names collide with common programming terms, with values in other models, or with textual content in your views, you may end up being too over-eager. In my example, I wanted to change my model name to 'Business' but still refer to them as 'merchants' in the content in my UI. I also had a 'merchant' role for my users in CanCan - it was the confusion between the merchant role and the Merchant model that caused me to rename the model in the first place.

ruby-on-rails activerecord relation