in Railscasts, Uncategorized

Railscast 023 Counter Cache Column

The GitHub Repo
The Heroku App

Rails 4.1.0rc1

This episode I wanted to try out the new 4.1.0rc1 version of rails. I had a weird issue when I tried to enter the rails console when I had pg install and marked into the production group like so

gem 'sqlite3', group: :development
gem 'pg', group: :production

I entered rails c and got

Could not find pg-0.17.1 in any of the sources
Run `bundle install` to install missing gems.

Even after I ran bundle install and the output says I have it installed, I was unable to enter the console. I temporarily commented it out in order to work on the actual project. After I was finished with the project, I went to prepare the project to be hosted on Heroku. I uncommented the pg line, then tried bundle install again. This time I was able to enter rails console without any projects. I was in another tab this time. I’m not completely sure why this happened, but my best guess is that bash or rvm didn’t load completely in the tab I was attempting to run rails c on. Embarrassingly enough, I actually opened an issue on GitHub on the Rails repo.

Create records with seed.rb

I populated the database using the seed.rb. Instead of declaring each record one by one, I did it dynamically with ruby. More in the blog post.

Counter Cache

The concept this episode was adding a counter cache column to the the projects table. This allows us to call project.tasks_count instead of project.tasks.count. The latter is inefficient because the database not only returns the projects, but also all the tasks associated with that task. The former improves performance by allowing us to only send the projects’ object which contains the tasks_count attribute.

The Migration

The migration wasn’t too different from what I’ve seen before, but there were a few things to take note of.

class AddTasksCount < ActiveRecord::Migration
  def self.up
    add_column :projects, :tasks_count, :integer, default: 0

    Project.all.each do |p|
      Project.update, tasks_count: p.tasks.length

  def self.down
    remove_column :projects, :tasks_count

There is a default value on the tasks_count column. This default value allows us to increment and decrement when new tasks are added or deleted for each given project.


According to the Ruby on Rails API the reset_column_information method resets the cached information about a column. This is useful because if you didn’t run reset_column_information, then the update of the tasks_count could be incorrect.


The update() accepts two arguments an id and an attribute. The attribute could be a hash. So designates the correct project while tasks_count: p.tasks.length updates the tasks_count column with the correct value.

Counter Cache: true

Finally you add counter_cache: true in the task.rb

class Task < ActiveRecord::Base 
  belongs_to :project, counter_cache: true 

Now counter caching is enabled.

Further reading on the Rails Guides

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