Step 6: Customizing Writes

View the Diff

When we ran the generators (and created a blank Resource class), we got the ability to create, update, and destroy resources for free. You can turn off this behavior with self.read_only = true. Or for relationships: has_many :positions, writable: false.

But in RESTful APIs, it’s super common for persistence operations to have side effects - that’s how we avoid extraneous verbs and inconsistent patterns.

In a prior step, we updated position Factory to automatically reorder the historical_index: when a new record comes in, all the prior values need to change. This step will show how to add that behavior to our API, using hooks that work for a variety of scenarios: sending emails, checking authorization roles, queuing delayed jobs, and more.

The Rails Stuff 🚂

Previously, we put the logic that re-ordered the historical_index column in the position factory. Let’s move that to the model so our tests and API can share the same logic:

# app/models/position.rb
def self.reorder!(employee_id)
  scope = Position.where(employee_id: employee_id).order(created_at: :desc)
  scope.each_with_index do |p, index|
    p.update_attribute(:historical_index, index + 1)
# spec/factories/positions.rb
# ... code ...
after(:create) do |position|
  unless position.historical_index

The Graphiti Stuff 🎨

All Graphiti updates happen within a transaction. We want to insert our code right before that transaction closes - after the graph of objects has been persisted and validations have passed. To do that, we’ll use the before_commit hook:

before_commit only: [:create, :destroy] do |position|

Again, note that the Position.reorder! code existed independent of our API, and was re-used in our factory.

Digging Deeper 🧐

Resources come with Lifecycle Hooks, similar to ActiveRecord Callbacks.

Those callbacks have gotten a bad reputation. This is because your Model can be - is supposed to be - used in a variety of contexts across your application. Some of those contexts will want a given callback to fire, others will not, and accomodating the conditionals gets hairy. This is why many developers move that functionality into Service Objects.

But Resource callbacks don’t have the same problem - they only fire in the context of your API, and can be associated to a single endpoint. You can still use Service Objects if you’d like; Graphiti callbacks simply wire them up.