Ruby on Rails Class Organization


This seems like a simple thing to do but when you're classes start ballooning in size you'll be thankful you took the time to organize them.

Model Class

class Post < ActiveRecord::Base
  belongs_to :user
  has_many :comments

  validates :user, presence: true
  validates :title, presence: true, length: { in: 6..40 }

  scope :topic, -> (topic) { joins(:topics).where(topic: topic) }

  before_save :update_slug
  after_create :send_welcome_email

  def publish!
    update(published_at:, published: true)

  def self.find_by_slug(slug)
    find_by(slug: slug)


  def update_slug
    self.slug = title.join('-')

  def send_welcome_email

Models are typically responsible for:

  • setting up relationships
  • validating data
  • providing access to data via scopes and methods
  • Performing actions around persistence of data.

At the highest level, models describe domain concepts and manages their persistence.

Service Class

Controller is an entry point to our application. However, it’s not the only possible entry point. I would like to have my logic accessible from:

  • Rake tasks
  • background jobs
  • console
  • tests

If I throw my logic into a controller it won’t be accessible from all these places. So let’s try “skinny controller, fat model” approach and move the logic to a model. But which one? If a given piece of logic involves User, Cart and Product models – where should it live?

A class which inherits from ActiveRecord::Base already has a lot of responsibilities. It handles query interface, associations and validations. If you add even more code to your model it will quickly become an unmaintainable mess with hundreds of public methods.

A service is just a regular Ruby object. Its class does not have to inherit from any specific class. Its name is a verb phrase, for example CreateUserAccount rather than UserCreation or UserCreationService. It lives in app/services directory. You have to create this directory by yourself, but Rails will autoload classes inside for you.

A service object does one thing

A service object (aka method object) performs one action. It holds the business logic to perform that action. Here is an example:

# app/services/accept_invite.rb
class AcceptInvite
  def, user)

The three conventions I follow are:

Services go under the app/services directory. I encourage you to use subdirectories for business logic-heavy domains. For instance:

  • The file app/services/invite/accept.rb will define Invite::Accept while app/services/invite/create.rb will define Invite::Create
  • Services start with a verb (and do not end with Service): ApproveTransaction, SendTestNewsletter, ImportUsersFromCsv
  • Services respond to the call method. I found using another verb makes it a bit redundant: ApproveTransaction.approve() does not read well. Also, the call method is the de facto method for lambda, procs, and method objects.


Service objects show what my application does

I can just glance over the services directory to see what my application does: ApproveTransaction, CancelTransaction, BlockAccount, SendTransactionApprovalReminder

A quick look into a service object and I know what business logic is involved. I don’t have to go through the controllers, ActiveRecord model callbacks and observers to understand what “approving a transaction” involves.

Clean-up models and controllers

Controllers turn the request (params, session, cookies) into arguments, pass them down to the service and redirect or render according to the service response.

class InviteController < ApplicationController
 def accept
    invite = Invite.find_by_token!(params[:token])
    if, current_user)
      redirect_to invite.item, notice: "Welcome!"
      redirect_to '/', alert: "Oopsy!"

Models only deal with associations, scopes, validations and persistence.

class Invite < ActiveRecord::Base
  def accept!(user,
      accepted_at: time

This makes models and controllers much easier to test and maintain!

When to use Service Class

Reach for Service Objects when an action meets one or more of these criteria:

  • The action is complex (e.g. closing the books at the end of an accounting period)
  • The action reaches across multiple models (e.g. an e-commerce purchase using Order, CreditCard and Customer objects)
  • The action interacts with an external service (e.g. posting to social networks)
  • The action is not a core concern of the underlying model (e.g. sweeping up outdated data after a certain time period).
  • There are multiple ways of performing the action (e.g. authenticating with an access token or password).


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