About FriendlyId

FriendlyId is an add-on to Ruby's Active Record that allows you to replace ids in your URLs with strings:

# without FriendlyId
http://example.com/states/4323454

# with FriendlyId
http://example.com/states/washington

It requires few changes to your application code and offers flexibility, performance and a well-documented codebase.

Core Concepts

Slugs

The concept of slugs is at the heart of FriendlyId.

A slug is the part of a URL which identifies a page using human-readable keywords, rather than an opaque identifier such as a numeric id. This can make your application more friendly both for users and search engine.

Finders: Slugs Act Like Numeric IDs

To the extent possible, FriendlyId lets you treat text-based identifiers like normal IDs. This means that you can perform finds with slugs just like you do with numeric ids:

Person.find(82542335)
Person.friendly.find("joe")

Setting Up FriendlyId in Your Model

To use FriendlyId in your ActiveRecord models, you must first either extend or include the FriendlyId module (it makes no difference), then invoke the friendly_id method to configure your desired options:

class Foo < ActiveRecord::Base
  include FriendlyId
  friendly_id :bar, :use => [:slugged, :simple_i18n]
end

The most important option is :use, which you use to tell FriendlyId which addons it should use. See the documentation for this method for a list of all available addons, or skim through the rest of the docs to get a high-level overview.

A note about single table inheritance (STI): you must extend FriendlyId in all classes that participate in STI, both your parent classes and their children.

The Default Setup: Simple Models

The simplest way to use FriendlyId is with a model that has a uniquely indexed column with no spaces or special characters, and that is seldom or never updated. The most common example of this is a user name:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  extend FriendlyId
  friendly_id :login
  validates_format_of :login, :with => /\A[a-z0-9]+\z/i
end

@user = User.friendly.find "joe"   # the old User.find(1) still works, too
@user.to_param                     # returns "joe"
redirect_to @user                  # the URL will be /users/joe

In this case, FriendlyId assumes you want to use the column as-is; it will never modify the value of the column, and your application should ensure that the value is unique and admissible in a URL:

class City < ActiveRecord::Base
  extend FriendlyId
  friendly_id :name
end

@city.friendly.find "Viña del Mar"
redirect_to @city # the URL will be /cities/Viña%20del%20Mar

Writing the code to process an arbitrary string into a good identifier for use in a URL can be repetitive and surprisingly tricky, so for this reason it's often better and easier to use slugs.

Performing Finds with FriendlyId

FriendlyId offers enhanced finders which will search for your record by friendly id, and fall back to the numeric id if necessary. This makes it easy to add FriendlyId to an existing application with minimal code modification.

By default, these methods are available only on the friendly scope:

Restaurant.friendly.find('plaza-diner') #=> works
Restaurant.friendly.find(23)            #=> also works
Restaurant.find(23)                     #=> still works
Restaurant.find('plaza-diner')          #=> will not work

Restoring FriendlyId 4.0-style finders

Prior to version 5.0, FriendlyId overrode the default finder methods to perform friendly finds all the time. This required modifying parts of Rails that did not have a public API, which was harder to maintain and at times caused compatiblity problems. In 5.0 we decided to change the library's defaults and add the friendly finder methods only to the friendly scope in order to boost compatiblity. However, you can still opt-in to original functionality very easily by using the :finders addon:

class Restaurant < ActiveRecord::Base
  extend FriendlyId

  scope :active, -> {where(:active => true)}

  friendly_id :name, :use => [:slugged, :finders]
end

Restaurant.friendly.find('plaza-diner') #=> works
Restaurant.find('plaza-diner')          #=> now also works
Restaurant.active.find('plaza-diner')   #=> now also works

Updating your application to use FriendlyId's finders

Unless you've chosen to use the :finders addon, be sure to modify the finders in your controllers to use the friendly scope. For example:

# before
def set_restaurant
  @restaurant = Restaurant.find(params[:id])
end

# after
def set_restaurant
  @restaurant = Restaurant.friendly.find(params[:id])
end

Active Admin

Unless you use the :finders addon, you should modify your admin controllers for models that use FriendlyId with something similar to the following:

controller do
  def find_resource
    scoped_collection.friendly.find(params[:id])
  end
end

Slugged Models

FriendlyId can use a separate column to store slugs for models which require some text processing.

For example, blog applications typically use a post title to provide the basis of a search engine friendly URL. Such identifiers typically lack uppercase characters, use ASCII to approximate UTF-8 character, and strip out other characters which may make them aesthetically unappealing or error-prone when used in a URL.

class Post < ActiveRecord::Base
  extend FriendlyId
  friendly_id :title, :use => :slugged
end

@post = Post.create(:title => "This is the first post!")
@post.friendly_id   # returns "this-is-the-first-post"
redirect_to @post   # the URL will be /posts/this-is-the-first-post

In general, use slugs by default unless you know for sure you don't need them. To activate the slugging functionality, use the FriendlyId::Slugged module.

FriendlyId will generate slugs from a method or column that you specify, and store them in a field in your model. By default, this field must be named :slug, though you may change this using the slug_column configuration option. You should add an index to this column, and in most cases, make it unique. You may also wish to constrain it to NOT NULL, but this depends on your app's behavior and requirements.

Example Setup

# your model
class Post < ActiveRecord::Base
  extend FriendlyId
  friendly_id :title, :use => :slugged
  validates_presence_of :title, :slug, :body
end

# a migration
class CreatePosts < ActiveRecord::Migration
  def self.up
    create_table :posts do |t|
      t.string :title, :null => false
      t.string :slug, :null => false
      t.text :body
    end

    add_index :posts, :slug, :unique => true
  end

  def self.down
    drop_table :posts
  end
end

Working With Slugs

Formatting

By default, FriendlyId uses Active Support's paramaterize method to create slugs. This method will intelligently replace spaces with dashes, and Unicode Latin characters with ASCII approximations:

movie = Movie.create! :title => "Der Preis fürs Überleben"
movie.slug #=> "der-preis-furs-uberleben"

Column or Method?

FriendlyId always uses a method as the basis of the slug text - not a column. At first glance, this may sound confusing, but remember that Active Record provides methods for each column in a model's associated table, and that's what FriendlyId uses.

Here's an example of a class that uses a custom method to generate the slug:

class Person < ActiveRecord::Base
  friendly_id :name_and_location
  def name_and_location
    "#{name} from #{location}"
  end
end

bob = Person.create! :name => "Bob Smith", :location => "New York City"
bob.friendly_id #=> "bob-smith-from-new-york-city"

FriendlyId refers to this internally as the "base" method.

Uniqueness

When you try to insert a record that would generate a duplicate friendly id, FriendlyId will append a UUID to the generated slug to ensure uniqueness:

car = Car.create :title => "Peugot 206"
car2 = Car.create :title => "Peugot 206"

car.friendly_id #=> "peugot-206"
car2.friendly_id #=> "peugot-206-f9f3789a-daec-4156-af1d-fab81aa16ee5"

Previous versions of FriendlyId appended a numeric sequence to make slugs unique, but this was removed to simplify using FriendlyId in concurrent code.

Candidates

Since UUIDs are ugly, FriendlyId provides a "slug candidates" functionality to let you specify alternate slugs to use in the event the one you want to use is already taken. For example:

class Restaurant < ActiveRecord::Base
  extend FriendlyId
  friendly_id :slug_candidates, use: :slugged

  # Try building a slug based on the following fields in
  # increasing order of specificity.
  def slug_candidates
    [
      :name,
      [:name, :city],
      [:name, :street, :city],
      [:name, :street_number, :street, :city]
    ]
  end
end

r1 = Restaurant.create! name: 'Plaza Diner', city: 'New Paltz'
r2 = Restaurant.create! name: 'Plaza Diner', city: 'Kingston'

r1.friendly_id  #=> 'plaza-diner'
r2.friendly_id  #=> 'plaza-diner-kingston'

To use candidates, make your FriendlyId base method return an array. The method need not be named slug_candidates; it can be anything you want. The array may contain any combination of symbols, strings, procs or lambdas and will be evaluated lazily and in order. If you include symbols, FriendlyId will invoke a method on your model class with the same name. Strings will be interpreted literally. Procs and lambdas will be called and their return values used as the basis of the friendly id. If none of the candidates can generate a unique slug, then FriendlyId will append a UUID to the first candidate as a last resort.

Sequence Separator

By default, FriendlyId uses a dash to separate the slug from a sequence.

You can change this with the sequence_separator configuration option.

Providing Your Own Slug Processing Method

You can override FriendlyId::Slugged#normalize_friendly_id in your model for total control over the slug format. It will be invoked for any generated slug, whether for a single slug or for slug candidates.

Deciding When to Generate New Slugs

As of FriendlyId 5.0, slugs are only generated when the slug field is nil. If you want a slug to be regenerated,set the slug field to nil:

restaurant.friendly_id # joes-diner
restaurant.name = "The Plaza Diner"
restaurant.save!
restaurant.friendly_id # joes-diner
restaurant.slug = nil
restaurant.save!
restaurant.friendly_id # the-plaza-diner

You can also override the FriendlyId::Slugged#should_generate_new_friendly_id? method, which lets you control exactly when new friendly ids are set:

class Post < ActiveRecord::Base
  extend FriendlyId
  friendly_id :title, :use => :slugged

  def should_generate_new_friendly_id?
    title_changed?
  end
end

Locale-specific Transliterations

Active Support's parameterize uses transliterate, which in turn can use I18n's transliteration rules to consider the current locale when replacing Latin characters:

# config/locales/de.yml
de:
  i18n:
    transliterate:
      rule:
        ü: "ue"
        ö: "oe"
        etc...

movie = Movie.create! :title => "Der Preis fürs Überleben"
movie.slug #=> "der-preis-fuers-ueberleben"

This functionality was in fact taken from earlier versions of FriendlyId.

Gotchas: Common Problems

FriendlyId uses a before_validation callback to generate and set the slug. This means that if you create two model instances before saving them, it's possible they will generate the same slug, and the second save will fail.

This can happen in two fairly normal cases: the first, when a model using nested attributes creates more than one record for a model that uses friendly_id. The second, in concurrent code, either in threads or multiple processes.

To solve the nested attributes issue, I recommend simply avoiding them when creating more than one nested record for a model that uses FriendlyId. See this Github issue for discussion.

History: Avoiding 404's When Slugs Change

FriendlyId's History module adds the ability to store a log of a model's slugs, so that when its friendly id changes, it's still possible to perform finds by the old id.

The primary use case for this is avoiding broken URLs.

Setup

In order to use this module, you must add a table to your database schema to store the slug records. FriendlyId provides a generator for this purpose:

rails generate friendly_id
rake db:migrate

This will add a table named friendly_id_slugs, used by the FriendlyId::Slug model.

Considerations

Because recording slug history requires creating additional database records, this module has an impact on the performance of the associated model's create method.

Example

class Post < ActiveRecord::Base
  extend FriendlyId
  friendly_id :title, :use => :history
end

class PostsController < ApplicationController

  before_filter :find_post

  ...

  def find_post
    @post = Post.find params[:id]

    # If an old id or a numeric id was used to find the record, then
    # the request path will not match the post_path, and we should do
    # a 301 redirect that uses the current friendly id.
    if request.path != post_path(@post)
      return redirect_to @post, :status => :moved_permanently
    end
  end
end

Unique Slugs by Scope

The FriendlyId::Scoped module allows FriendlyId to generate unique slugs within a scope.

This allows, for example, two restaurants in different cities to have the slug joes-diner:

class Restaurant < ActiveRecord::Base
  extend FriendlyId
  belongs_to :city
  friendly_id :name, :use => :scoped, :scope => :city
end

class City < ActiveRecord::Base
  extend FriendlyId
  has_many :restaurants
  friendly_id :name, :use => :slugged
end

City.friendly.find("seattle").restaurants.friendly.find("joes-diner")
City.friendly.find("chicago").restaurants.friendly.find("joes-diner")

Without :scoped in this case, one of the restaurants would have the slug joes-diner and the other would have joes-diner-f9f3789a-daec-4156-af1d-fab81aa16ee5.

The value for the :scope option can be the name of a belongs_to relation, or a column.

Additionally, the :scope option can receive an array of scope values:

class Cuisine < ActiveRecord::Base
  extend FriendlyId
  has_many :restaurants
  friendly_id :name, :use => :slugged
end

class City < ActiveRecord::Base
  extend FriendlyId
  has_many :restaurants
  friendly_id :name, :use => :slugged
end

class Restaurant < ActiveRecord::Base
  extend FriendlyId
  belongs_to :city
  friendly_id :name, :use => :scoped, :scope => [:city, :cuisine]
end

All supplied values will be used to determine scope.

Finding Records by Friendly ID

If you are using scopes your friendly ids may not be unique, so a simple find like:

Restaurant.friendly.find("joes-diner")

may return the wrong record. In these cases it's best to query through the relation:

@city.restaurants.friendly.find("joes-diner")

Alternatively, you could pass the scope value as a query parameter:

Restaurant.where(:city_id => @city.id).friendly.find("joes-diner")

Finding All Records That Match a Scoped ID

Query the slug column directly:

Restaurant.where(:slug => "joes-diner")

Routes for Scoped Models

Recall that FriendlyId is a database-centric library, and does not set up any routes for scoped models. You must do this yourself in your application. Here's an example of one way to set this up:

# in routes.rb
resources :cities do
  resources :restaurants
end

# in views
<%= link_to 'Show', [@city, @restaurant] %>

# in controllers
@city = City.friendly.find(params[:city_id])
@restaurant = @city.restaurants.friendly.find(params[:id])

# URLs:
http://example.org/cities/seattle/restaurants/joes-diner
http://example.org/cities/chicago/restaurants/joes-diner

Translating Slugs Using Simple I18n

The SimpleI18n module adds very basic i18n support to FriendlyId.

In order to use this module, your model must have a slug column for each locale. By default FriendlyId looks for columns named, for example, "slug_en", "slug_es", etc. The first part of the name can be configured by passing the :slug_column option if you choose. Note that the column for the default locale must also include the locale in its name.

This module is most suitable to applications that need to support few locales. If you need to support two or more locales, you may wish to use the friendly_id_globalize gem instead.

Example migration

def self.up
  create_table :posts do |t|
    t.string :title
    t.string :slug_en
    t.string :slug_es
    t.text   :body
  end
  add_index :posts, :slug_en
  add_index :posts, :slug_es
end

Finds

Finds will take into consideration the current locale:

I18n.locale = :es
Post.find("la-guerra-de-las-galaxias")
I18n.locale = :en
Post.find("star-wars")

To find a slug by an explicit locale, perform the find inside a block passed to I18n's with_locale method:

I18n.with_locale(:es) do
  Post.find("la-guerra-de-las-galaxias")
end

Creating Records

When new records are created, the slug is generated for the current locale only.

Translating Slugs

To translate an existing record's friendly_id, use FriendlyId::SimpleI18n::Model#set_friendly_id. This will ensure that the slug you add is properly escaped, transliterated and sequenced:

post = Post.create :name => "Star Wars"
post.set_friendly_id("La guerra de las galaxias", :es)

If you don't pass in a locale argument, FriendlyId::SimpleI18n will just use the current locale:

I18n.with_locale(:es) do
  post.set_friendly_id("La guerra de las galaxias")
end

Reserved Words

The Reserved module adds the ability to exclude a list of words from use as FriendlyId slugs.

With Ruby on Rails, FriendlyId's generator generates an initializer that reserves some words such as "new" and "edit" using FriendlyId.defaults.

Note that the error messages for fields will appear on the field :friendly_id. If you are using Rails's scaffolded form errors display, then it will have no field to highlight. If you'd like to change this so that scaffolding works as expected, one way to accomplish this is to move the error message to a different field. For example:

class Person < ActiveRecord::Base
  extend FriendlyId
  friendly_id :name, use: :slugged

  after_validation :move_friendly_id_error_to_name

  def move_friendly_id_error_to_name
    errors.add :name, *errors.delete(:friendly_id) if errors[:friendly_id].present?
  end
end