ActiveNode

ActiveNode is the ActiveRecord replacement module for Rails. Its syntax should be familiar for ActiveRecord users but has some unique qualities.

To use ActiveNode, include Neo4j::ActiveNode in a class.

class Post
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode
end

Properties

All properties for Neo4j::ActiveNode objects must be declared (unlike neo4j-core nodes). Properties are declared using the property method which is the same as attribute from the active_attr gem.

Example:

class Post
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode
  property :title, index: :exact
  property :text, default: 'bla bla bla'
  property :score, type: Integer, default: 0

  validates :title, :presence => true
  validates :score, numericality: { only_integer: true }

  before_save do
    self.score = score * 100
  end

  has_n :friends
end

Properties can be indexed using the index argument on the property method, see example above.

See the Properties section for additional information.

See also

There is also a screencast available reviewing properties:

Labels

By default ActiveNode takes your model class’ name and uses it directly as the Neo4j label for the nodes it represents. This even includes using the module namespace of the class. That is, the class MyClass in the MyModule module will have the label MyModule::MyClass. To change this behavior, see the module_handling configuration variable.

Additionally you can change the name of a particular ActiveNode by using mapped_label_name like so:

class Post
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode

  self.mapped_label_name = 'BlogPost'
end

Indexes and Constraints

To declare a index on a constraint on a property, you should create a migration. See Migrations

Note

In previous versions of ActiveNode indexes and constraints were defined on properties directly on the models and were automatically created. This turned out to be not safe, and migrations are now required to create indexes and migrations.

Labels

The class name maps directly to the label. In the following case both the class name and label are Post

class Post
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode
end

If you want to specify a different label for your class you can use mapped_label_name:

class Post
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode

  self.mapped_label_name = 'BlogPost'
end

If you would like to use multiple labels you can use class inheritance. In the following case object created with the Article model would have both Post and Article labels. When querying Article both labels are required on the nodes as well.

class Post
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode
end

class Article < Post
end

Serialization

Pass a property name as a symbol to the serialize method if you want to save JSON serializable data (strings, numbers, hash, array, array with mixed object types*, etc.) to the database.

class Student
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode

  property :links

  serialize :links
end

s = Student.create(links: { neo4j: 'http://www.neo4j.org', neotech: 'http://www.neotechnology.com' })
s.links
# => {"neo4j"=>"http://www.neo4j.org", "neotech"=>"http://www.neotechnology.com"}
s.links.class
# => Hash

Neo4j.rb serializes as JSON by default but pass it the constant Hash as a second parameter to serialize as YAML. Those coming from ActiveRecord will recognize this behavior, though Rails serializes as YAML by default.

Neo4j allows you to save Ruby arrays to undefined or String types but their contents need to all be of the same type. You can do user.stuff = [1, 2, 3] or user.stuff = [“beer, “pizza”, “doritos”] but not user.stuff = [1, “beer”, “pizza”]. If you wanted to do that, you could call serialize on your property in the model.

Enums

You can declare special properties that maps an integer value in the database with a set of keywords, like ActiveRecord::Enum

class Media
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode

  enum type: [:image, :video, :unknown]
end

media = Media.create(type: :video)
media.type
# => :video
media.image!
media.image?
# => true

For every keyword specified, a couple of methods are defined to set or check the current enum state (In the example: image?, image!, video?, ... ).

With options _prefix and _suffix, you can define how this methods are generating, by adding a prefix or a suffix.

With _prefix: :something, something will be added before every method name.

Media.enum type: [:image, :video, :unknown], _prefix: :something
media.something_image?
media.something_image!

With _suffix: true, instead, the name of the enum is added in the bottom of all methods:

Media.enum type: [:image, :video, :unknown], _suffix: true
media.image_type?
media.image_type!

You can find elements by enum value by using a set of scope that enum defines:

Media.image
# => CYPHER: "MATCH (result_media:`Media`) WHERE (result_media.type = 0)"
Media.video
# => CYPHER: "MATCH (result_media:`Media`) WHERE (result_media.type = 1)"

Or by using where:

Media.where(type: :image)
# => CYPHER: "MATCH (result_media:`Media`) WHERE (result_media.type = 0)"
Media.where(type: [Media.types[:image], Media.types[:video]])
# => CYPHER: "MATCH (result_media:`StoredFile`) WHERE (result_media.type IN [0, 1])"
Media.as(:m).where('m.type <> ?', Media.types[:image])
# => CYPHER: "MATCH (result_media:`StoredFile`) WHERE (result_media.type <> 0)"

By default, every enum property will require you to add an associated index to improve query performance. If you want to disable this, simply pass _index: false to enum:

class Media
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode

  enum type: [:image, :video, :unknown], _index: false
end

Sometimes it is desirable to have a default value for an enum property. To acheive this, you can simply pass the _default option when defining the enum:

class Media
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode

  enum type: [:image, :video, :unknown], _default: :video
end

By default, enum setters are case insensitive (in the example below, Media.create(type: 'VIDEO').type == :video). If you wish to disable this for a specific enum, pass the _case_sensitive: true option. if you wish to change the global default for _case_sensitive to true, use Neo4jrb’s enums_case_sensitive config option (detailed in the configuration-variables section).

class Media
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode

  enum type: [:image, :video, :unknown], _case_sensitive: false
end

Scopes

Scopes in ActiveNode are a way of defining a subset of nodes for a particular ActiveNode model. This could be as simple as:

class Person
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode

  scope :minors, -> { where(age: 0..17) }
end

This allows you chain a description of the defined set of nodes which can make your code easier to read such as Person.minors or Car.all.owners.minors. While scopes are very useful in encapsulating logic, this scope doesn’t neccessarily save us much beyond simply using Person.where(age: 0..17) directly. Scopes become much more useful when they encapsulate more complicated logic:

class Person
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode

  scope :eligible, -> { where_not(age: 0..17).where(completed_form: true) }
end

And because you can chain scopes together, this can make your query chains very composable and expressive like:

# Getting all hybrid convertables owned by recently active eligible people
Person.eligible.where(recently_active: true).cars.hybrids.convertables

While that’s useful in of itself, sometimes you want to be able to create more dynamic scopes by passing arguments. This is supported like so:

class Person
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode

  scope :around_age_of, -> (age) { where(age: (age - 5..age + 5)) }
end

# Which can be used as:
Person.around_age_of(20)
# or
Car.all.owners.around_age_of(20)

All of the examples so far have used the Ruby API for automatically generating Cypher. While it is often possible to get by with this, it is sometimes not possible to create a scope without defining it with a Cypher string. For example, if you need to use OR:

class Person
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode

  scope :non_teenagers, -> { where("#{identity}.age < 13 OR #{identity}.age >= 18") }
end

Since a Cypher query can have a number of different nodes and relationships that it is referencing, we need to be able to refer to the current node’s variable. This is why we call the identity method, which will give the variable which is being used in the query chain on which the scope is being called.

Warning

Since the identity comes from whatever was specified as the cypher variable for the node on the other side of the association. If the cypher variables were generated from an untrusted source (like from a user of your app) you may leave yourself open to a Cypher injection vulnerability. It is not recommended to generate your Cypher variables based on user input!

Finally, the scope method just gives us a convenient way of having a method on our model class which returns another query chain object. Sometimes to make even more complex logic or even to just return a simple result which can be called on a query chain but which doesn’t continue the chain, we can create a class method ourselves:

class Person
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode

  def self.average_age
    all(:person).pluck('avg(person.age)').first
  end
end

So if you wanted to find the average age of all eligible people, you could call Person.eligible.average_age and you would be given a single number.

To implement a more complicated scope with a class method you simply need to return a query chain at the end.

Wrapping

When loading a node from the database there is a process to determine which ActiveNode model to choose for wrapping the node. If nothing is configured on your part then when a node is created labels will be saved representing all of the classes in the hierarchy.

That is, if you have a Teacher class inheriting from a Person model, then creating a Person object will create a node in the database with a Person label, but creating a Teacher object will create a node with both the Teacher and Person labels.

If there is a value for the property defined by class_name_property then the value of that property will be used directly to determine the class to wrap the node in.

Callbacks

Implements like Active Records the following callback hooks:

  • initialize
  • validation
  • find
  • save
  • create
  • update
  • destroy

created_at, updated_at

class Blog
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode

  include Neo4j::Timestamps # will give model created_at and updated_at timestamps
  include Neo4j::Timestamps::Created # will give model created_at timestamp
  include Neo4j::Timestamps::Updated # will give model updated_at timestamp
end

Validation

Support the Active Model validation, such as:

validates :age, presence: true validates_uniqueness_of :name, :scope => :adult

id property (primary key)

Unique IDs are automatically created for all nodes using SecureRandom::uuid. See UniqueIDs for details.

Associations

has_many and has_one associations can also be defined on ActiveNode models to make querying and creating relationships easier.

class Post
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode
  has_many :in, :comments, origin: :post
  has_one :out, :author, type: :author, model_class: :Person
end

class Comment
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode
  has_one :out, :post, type: :post
  has_one :out, :author, type: :author, model_class: :Person
end

class Person
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode
  has_many :in, :posts, origin: :author
  has_many :in, :comments, origin: :author

  # Match all incoming relationship types
  has_many :in, :written_things, type: false, model_class: [:Post, :Comment]

  # or if you want to match all model classes:
  # has_many :in, :written_things, type: false, model_class: false

  # or if you watch to match Posts and Comments on all relationships (in and out)
  # has_many :both, :written_things, type: false, model_class: [:Post, :Comment]
end

You can query associations:

post.comments.to_a          # Array of comments
comment.post                # Post object
comment.post.comments       # Original comment and all of it's siblings.  Makes just one query
post.comments.author.posts # All posts of people who have commented on the post.  Still makes just one query

When querying has_one associations, by default .first will be called on the result. This makes the result non-chainable if the result is nil. If you want to ensure a chainable result, you can call has_one with a chainable: true argument.

comment.post                    # Post object
comment.post(chainable: true)   # Association proxy object wrapping post

You can create associations

post.comments = [comment1, comment2]  # Removes all existing relationships
post.comments << comment3             # Creates new relationship

comment.post = post1                  # Removes all existing relationships

Updating Associations

You can update attributes for objects of an association like this:

post.comments.update_all(flagged: true)
post.comments.where(text: /.*cats.*/).update_all(flagged: true)

You can even update properties of the relationships for the associations like so:

post.comments.update_all_rels(flagged: true)
post.comments.where(text: /.*cats.*/).update_all_rels(flagged: true)
# Or to filter on the relationships
post.comments.where(flagged: nil).update_all_rels(flagged: true)

Polymorphic Associations

has_one or has_many associations which target multiple model_class are called polymorphic associations. This is done by setting model_class: false or model_class: [:ModelOne, :ModelTwo, :Etc]. In our example, the Person class has a polymorphic association written_things

class Person
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode

  # Match all incoming relationship types
  has_many :in, :written_things, type: :WROTE, model_class: [:Post, :Comment]
end

You can’t perform standard association chains on a polymorphic association. For example, while you can call post.comments.author.written_things, you cannot call post.comments.author.written_things.post.comments (an exception will be raised). In this example, the return of .written_things can be either a Post object or a Comment object, any method you called on an association made up of them both could have a different meaning for the Post object vs the Comment object. So how can you execute post.comments.author.written_things.post.comments? This is where .query_as and .proxy_as come to the rescue! While ActiveNode doesn’t know how to handle the .post call on .written_things, you know that the path from the return of .written_things to Post nodes is (written_thing)-[:post]->(post:Post). To help ActiveNode out, convert the AssociationProxy` object returned by post.comments.author.written_things into a Query object with .query_as(), then manually specify the path of .post. Like so:

post.comments.author.written_things.query_as(:written_thing).match("(written_thing)-[:post]->(post:Post)")

It’s worth noting that the object returned by this chain is now a Query object, meaning that if you wish to get the result ((post:Post)), you’ll need to .pluck(:post) it. However, we don’t want to get the result yet. Instead, we wish to perform further queries. Because the end of the chain is now a Query, we could continue to manually describe the path to the nodes we want using the Query API of .match, .where, .return, etc. For example, to get post.comments.author.written_things.post.comments we could

post.comments.author.written_things.query_as(:written_thing).match("(written_thing)-[:post]->(post:Post)").match("(post)<-[:post]-(comment:Comment)").pluck(:comment)

But this isn’t ideal. It would be nice to make use of ActiveNode‘s association chains to complete our query. We know that the return of post.comments.author.written_things.query_as(:written_thing).match("(written_thing)-[:post]->(post:Post)") is a Post object, after all. To allow for association chains in this circumstance, .proxy_as() comes to the rescue! If we know that a Query will return a specific model class, proxy_as allows us to tell Neo4jrb this, and begin association chaining from that point. For example

post.comments.author.written_things.query_as(:written_thing).match("(written_thing)-[:post]->(post:Post)").proxy_as(Post, :post).comments.author

Dependent Associations

Similar to ActiveRecord, you can specify four dependent options when declaring an association.

class Route
  include Neo4j::ActiveNode
  has_many :out, :stops, type: :STOPPING_AT, dependent: :delete_orphans
end

The available options are:

  • :delete, which will delete all associated records in Cypher. Callbacks will not be called. This is the fastest method.
  • :destroy, which will call each on the association and then destroy on each related object. Callbacks will be called. Since this happens in Ruby, it can be a very expensive procedure, so use it carefully.
  • :delete_orphans, which will delete only the associated records that have no other relationships of the same type.
  • :destroy_orphans, same as above, but it takes place in Ruby.

The two orphan-destruction options are unique to Neo4j.rb. As an example of when you’d use them, imagine you are modeling tours, routes, and stops along those routes. A tour can have multiple routes, a route can have multiple stops, a stop can be in multiple routes but must have at least one. When a route is destroyed, :delete_orphans would delete only those related stops that have no other routes.

See also

There is also a screencast available reviewing associations:

Creating Unique Relationships

By including the unique option in a has_many or has_one association’s method call, you can change the Cypher used to create from “CREATE” to “CREATE UNIQUE.”

has_many :out, :friends, type: 'FRIENDS_WITH', model_class: :User, unique: true

Instead of true, you can give one of three different options:

  • :none, also used true is given, will not include properties to determine whether ot not to create a unique relationship. This means that no more than one relationship of the same pairing of nodes, rel type, and direction will ever be created.
  • :all, which will include all set properties in rel creation. This means that if a new relationship will be created unless all nodes, type, direction, and rel properties are matched.
  • {on: [keys]} will use the keys given to determine whether to create a new rel and the remaining properties will be set afterwards.

Eager Loading

ActiveNode supports eager loading of associations in two ways. The first way is transparent. When you do the following:

person.blog_posts.each do |post|
  puts post.title
  puts "Tags: #{post.tags.map(&:name).join(', ')}"
  post.comments.each do |comment|
    puts '  ' + comment.title
  end
end

Only three Cypher queries will be made:

  • One to get the blog posts for the user
  • One to get the tags for all of the blog posts
  • One to get the comments for all of the blog posts

While three queries isn’t ideal, it is better than the naive approach of one query for every call to an object’s association (Thanks to DataMapper for the inspiration).

For those times when you need to load all of your data with one Cypher query, however, you can do the following to give ActiveNode a hint:

person.blog_posts.with_associations(:tags, :comments).each do |post|
  puts post.title
  puts "Tags: #{post.tags.map(&:name).join(', ')}"
  post.comments.each do |comment|
    puts '  ' + comment.title
  end
end

All that we did here was add .with_associations(:tags, :comments). In addition to getting all of the blog posts, this will generate a Cypher query which uses the Cypher COLLECT() function to efficiently roll-up all of the associated objects. ActiveNode then automatically structures them into a nested set of ActiveNode objects for you.