How do I automatically modify a method when accessing it?

I'm in a weird situation where I'm storing encrypted information in a database. For example, a field would be stored in its encrypted format, so its not human-readable when accessing: => ")@Nw0asna;sd//20b3Q#A02nsoasd \n"

(This is just an example. I'm not actually encrypting names and the model isn't User :wink: But you get the idea.)

What I'm trying to figure out is the right way to go about automatically assigning the "name" method to decrypt the data itself when it's being pulled out for display.

For example, I tried:

def name = decrypt_name end

private def decrypt_name decryption_object.decrypt( end

Okay, I think I'm on the right track.

I just found out that ActiveRecord::Base has a section on overwriting default accessors. So my basic method is now:

def name   decrypt(read_attribute(:name)) end

The only thing that concerns me is that I also have a before_save :encrypt_data call as part of the class definition. So let's say I submit a form via post:

@user =[:user])

If I read this right, when I call, or if I were to specify User.find(:first, :conditions => {:name => "John Doe"}), it would first try to decrypt data *that isn't encrypted in the first place*).

Am I way off track here or is this about right, and if so, is there any way I can automate the abstraction that needs to take place, so that, when accessed, is decrypted only if it's in an encrypted form?

Hope that makes sense :slight_smile: