Automatically create one child record when parent record is initially created

Sorry for the newbie question in advance... I've got three models, a
user, site and user_site model. A site can have many users and a user
can have many sites. The relationship between these two is stored in
user_site. In my model defs user and sites both have has_many
user_sites statement. Within my user_sites file, there are two
belongs_to statements, one for user and one for site. within the What
I'm looking to do is when a user is created initially to automatically
create a record in user_site for a default site (I have it contained
in an instance variable within the user controller). What I'm not
sure is how to most effectively do this so that the generated id for
user is automatically pulled into the child record in user_site,
basically I'm trying to come up with an efficient method for creating
the user and user_site records. Any guidance is much appreciated.

Hi Chris,

How would I handle a failure in that second piece? Can I put it in
transaction and roll it back?

Probabl, though you'd have to throw an exception for a transaction to
be effective. IIRC, Rails3 has support for creating associated
records built in but I haven't gotten around to working with 3 and you
didn't say what version you're using.

The easiest, most readable thing to do might be to just, in the controller...

if and @user.user_site

It's probably better, though, to move it into the User model's
after_create (untested code)

after_create :create_default_user_site_rec

def create_default_user_site_rec
  user_site_rec =
  user_site_rec.user_id =

Tricky thing here is I'm not sure off the top of my head if the
failure of the after_create and its returning false will translate
into the save itself returning false. Sorry I don't have the time to
run it to ground for you. Hopefully this will give you some options
to investigate.

Best regards,


I am using Rails 3. I got it to work with the following code, but it
is not currently transactional (if the creation of a UserSite fails
the original user record will still exist in the db).

@user =[:user])
   @user.user_sites << UserSite.create(:site_id =>

While this works I'm not sure if there is a better way to accomplish
this (some Rails goodness I'm not familiar with). If anyone has an
opinion on it, please let me know.

I think I've improved on it and made it transactional (please correct
me if I'm wrong). My new code look as follows:

@user =[:user])
@user.user_sites << =>

I'm using the new method instead of the create on the UserSite
object. From what I could tell in the docs, when done this way, the
creation of the user (parent record) and the usersite (child record)
are automatically included in a transaction as an atomic unit, so I
shouldn't have to do anything more.

As I said above please correct me if I'm misunderstanding something