How to ensure two tables reference the same record in a third table?

class Part < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_many :lots
  has_many :components # or, maybe not
end

class Lot < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :part
  has_many :components
end

class Component < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :part # or, maybe not
  belongs_to :lot
end

In my domain, a "lot" of "components" has a part number (which I
represent in RoR as a #belongs_to relationship, even though the term
"belongs_to" is somewhat misleading). Each component in the lot has a
part number which is the same as the part number for the entire lot.

What is the best way to ensure that this consistency is maintained?
That is, that all parts in a lot reference the same part number as the
lot itself.

One way to ensure the consistency is to remove the "part_id" column
from the component table and to reference a components part number
through the lot association, i.e. mycomponent.lot.part.number. The
problem is, sometimes I want to look at all of the parts that have a
given part number, and the only way I can see to do that is to collect
all of the lots with a given part number and then collect all of the
components in each of the lots, using something like:
mypart.lots.map(&:components).flatten. Unfortunately, that returns an
array of components instead of the dynamic finder that would be
returned by mypart.components.

A second way to ensure the consistency is to add validations to the
Lot and/or Component models. I could do that, but I have been advised
elsewhere that validations are best when augmented by database
constraints. (See
http://groups.google.com/group/rubyonrails-talk/browse_thread/thread/3b023e81df58619d,
if you are interested). Is there some database agnostic way to add
this sort of constraint?

Or is there some other mechanism to implement this?

--wpd

Patrick Doyle wrote:

class Part < ActiveRecord::Base
  has_many :lots
  has_many :components # or, maybe not
end

class Lot < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :part
  has_many :components
end

class Component < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :part # or, maybe not
  belongs_to :lot
end

In my domain, a "lot" of "components" has a part number (which I
represent in RoR as a #belongs_to relationship, even though the term
"belongs_to" is somewhat misleading). Each component in the lot has a
part number which is the same as the part number for the entire lot

Then the part number is a property of the lot, not the component.

What is the best way to ensure that this consistency is maintained?
That is, that all parts in a lot reference the same part number as the
lot itself.

Model the data correctly. Represent the part number once and only once,
presumably in the lot.

One way to ensure the consistency is to remove the "part_id" column
from the component table and to reference a components part number
through the lot association, i.e. mycomponent.lot.part.number.

That is the correct way to do it. Repeating data in the database is
always a sign that something is wrong with your schema.

The
problem is, sometimes I want to look at all of the parts that have a
given part number, and the only way I can see to do that is to collect
all of the lots with a given part number and then collect all of the
components in each of the lots, using something like:
mypart.lots.map(&:components).flatten.

Part has_many :components, :through => lots

mypart.components

Done!

[...]

--wpd

Best,

Light dawns on marble head.

Of course! Sorry for the noise.

--wpd

oh yeah, and thanks!

--wpd

Wow, so now I can do:

class Component < ActiveRecord::Base
  # Make component.part a shortcut for component.lot.part
  def part(*args)
    lot.send :part, args
  end
end

...and do things like:

<%= mycomponent.part.number %>

...instead of ...

<%= mycomponent.lot.part.number %>

nice!

--wpd

delegate does precisely this..checkout http://api.rubyonrails.org/classes/Module.html#M000110

Patrick Doyle wrote:

Wow, so now I can do:

class Component < ActiveRecord::Base
  # Make component.part a shortcut for component.lot.part
  def part(*args)
    lot.send :part, args

No need for send here:

def part(*args, &block)
  lot.part(*args, block) # may need an if block_given?
end

  end
end

...and do things like:

<%= mycomponent.part.number %>

...instead of ...

<%= mycomponent.lot.part.number %>

nice!

Yup. Of course, you could have done that even without the :through.

--wpd

Best,

No need for send here:

def part(*args, &block)
lot.part(*args, block) # may need an if block_given?
end

I was thinking that I would have to use #send since there is so much
Ruby magic wrapped inside ActiveRecord in order to map column names to
object attributes, but a very simple test (following your email)
showed me I was wrong. (And it seems to work fine w/o block_given? --
I can't find any ActiveRecord instance methods that take a block, so
this might be overkill anyway.)

Basically, I wanted to add something like

  belongs_to :part, :through => :lot

to my Component model, which I was happy to see I could do with 3
lines of code. I just picked 3 lines of code that were more
complicated than they needed to be.

Yup. Of course, you could have done that even without the :through.

I want to relationship to go both ways, and as far as I can tell,
there is no belongs_to :through => construct similar to the has_many
:through => construct. But it is easy enough to implement with the
single method definition.

Thanks again for the help and the tips. I appreciate them both.

--wpd