Abusing ActiveModel::Serializers for HAL

Posted on 11 Oct 2012 by Eric Oestrich

For my recent APIs I've used JSON HAL as the media type and ActiveModel::Serializers as an alternative to #as_json. It's worked out fairly well except I've had to bend backwards in order to get ActiveModel::Serializers to spit out HAL.

Below are some common things I've had to use. You can check out an example here.

Disable Root

This one is pretty easy, we just need to not have the element type be the root key.

class OrderSerializer < ActiveModel::Serializer
  root false
end

Embedded Resources

Since HAL resources have other resources in the "_embedded" key, we need to make sure collections show up there.

class OrderSerializer < ActiveModel::Serializer
  has_many :items

  def as_json(*args)
    hash = super

    hash[:_embedded] = { :items => hash.delete(:items) }

    hash
  end
end

Links

Adding links is pretty easy with ActiveModel::Serializers, just add a new attribute. One thing to watch out for, the collection serializers don't have access to url helpers.

class OrderSerializer < ActiveModel::Serializer
  attributes :_links

  def _links
    {
      :self => {
        :href => orders_url(order)
      }
    }
  end
end

Slimming Down Serializers

I wanted to use the same serializer for both an index and a show resource, but they didn't show exactly the same amount of information. I fixed this by sending in an extra option on the show page: respond_with order, :expand => true.

class OrderSerializer < ActiveModel::Serializer
  attributes :email, :extra_info

  has_many :items

  def include_extra_info?
    @options[:expand]
  end

  def include_associations!
    if @options[:expand]
      include! :items
    end
  end
end
comments powered by Disqus
Eric Oestrich
I am:
All posts
Creative Commons License
This site's content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License unless otherwise specified. Code on this site is licensed under the MIT License unless otherwise specified.