Conor's Blog -

Different Ways to Set Attributes in ActiveRecord (Rails 6)

January 11, 2020

In 2014, David Verhasselt wrote an excellent blogpost on the various methods ActiveRecord provides us to update records, how they differ, and their unique side-effects.

I’ve referenced it many times over the years when reading codebases, and determining the best way to update a particular attribute.

In this post, I’d like to bring his blogpost up-to-date for Rails 6.

Cheat Sheet

Method Default Accessor Saved to DB Validations Callbacks Touches updated_at Readonly check
attribue(s)= Yes No - - - -
write_attribute No No - - - -
assign_attributes Yes No - - - -
update_attribute Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
update_attributes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
update Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
update_column(s) Yes Yes No No No Yes
User::update Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
User::update_all No Yes No No No No
User::insert(_all) No Yes No No No No
User::upsert(_all) No Yes No No No No

As of Rails 6, update_attributes has been depreciated in favour of update.

Written by Conor Broderick who works and takes photos in Dublin.