Code & Clay Notes to self. Mainly Ruby/Rails.

Polymorphic many to many

I found this to be a bit of a brain twister at first but it’s really quite simple.

I have three models, Comment, Project and Badge. Users can react to a comment or project by attaching a badge. The interaction is similar to ‘liking’ a tweet or post except that it’s a bit more open ended. I have in mind that users will be able to choose from a list of emojis: thumbs up, smiley face, rocket, confetti, etc… Badges are unique and can be attached to multiple comments/projects and individual comments/projects multiple times.

I’m not sure I have the semantics right but I’ve chosen to name my join table ‘reactions’. A comment or project would be a reaction target.

It took me some time to realise where the polymorphism would happen. I initially thought that I should declare a badge’s relation to the join table as polymorphic. Of course, a badge will always point to the join table so its type is never in question. However, objects that reaction_target points to can differ in type. The polymorphic relationship is between the join table and the reaction_target.

class CreateReactions < ActiveRecord::Migration[5.2]
  def change
    create_table :reactions do |t|
      t.references :reaction_target, polymorphic: true
      t.references :badge
class Reaction < ApplicationRecord
  belongs_to :badge
  belongs_to :reaction_target, polymorphic: true
class Comment < ApplicationRecord
  has_many :reactions, as: :reaction_target
  has_many :badges, through: :reactions


This works fine from the pov of the reaction_target but I cannot reference the polymorphic associations from the pov of a badge:

> Badge.first_or_create(name: "test").reaction_targets
NameError: uninitialized constant Badge::ReactionTarget