Multiple Many-to-Many Associations in MongoMapper

There was a question in the Google Group for MongoMapper, so I decided to post an answer in the form of a simple demo. You can find the source code on here.

The basic shape of the problem was this:

Users Sponsor and Attend Events

Users Sponsor and Attend Events

And the solution issues were around the multiple many-to-many associations, more or less.

For a simple one-to-many, MongoMapper has the normal:

  • User has many :events
  • Event belongs_to :user (its Owner)

But how to do the other associations? A given User can be involved with many events in different capacities:

  • Attending
  • Interested in attending
  • Likes

There are different ways to tackle these many-to-many associations.

  1. You can use a Set (to obtain the uniqueness factor) of Users that are attending or are interested.
  2. You can use an Array of instance IDs (I think this is probably the more standard technique)
class Event
  include MongoMapper::Document

  key :title, :required => true

  key :user_id
  belongs_to :user

  # One way to do it...
  key :attendees, Set
  key :interested, Set

  # Another way to do it...
  key :like_ids, Array
  many :likes, :class_name => 'User', :in => :like_ids

  def attending(a_user)
    # self.push_uniq(:attendees =>
    attendees <<

  def interested_in(a_user)
    interested <<

In which direction you allow making the association, that is up to your application’s needs. For example, above you can see that an Event instance could be messaged with the user to indicate attending or interested_in. The “likes” is immediately accessible from an Event, or I could have added a wrapper method (def likes(a_user)).

And the User class has some simple retrieval methods to see what a User likes, what they are attending, and what they are interested_in:

class User
  include MongoMapper::Document

  key :name, :required => true

  many :events

  def likes
    Event.where(:like_ids => id).all

  def attending
    Event.where(:attendees => id).all

  def interested_in
    Event.where(:interested => id).all

  def likes_event(event)
    event.likes << self!

To see how the different styles are used, you can check out the specs. For example:

Adding users who like an Event:

  it "should track interested" do
    expect {
    }.to change {@event.interested.size}.by(2)

it "should allow 'likes'" do
    expect {
      @event_2.likes << @martha
    }.to change {@event_2.likes.size}.by(1)

Or from the User perspective:

  it "should allow me to add an event I like" do
    @event_2.likes.size.should > 0
    @fred.likes.count.should > 0

Or attendees, from the Event:

  it "should list the events I am attending" do
    [@fred, @harry].each {|u| @event.attending(u)}
    @fred.attending.count.should > 0

4 thoughts on “Multiple Many-to-Many Associations in MongoMapper

  1. Nick R

    I have a very similar use case, but am struggling with sorting related documents.

    From the user view, if I wanted a sorted list of events by event date, how would I query that in plucky?

  2. jon Post author

    Hi Nick,

    I will add some examples… but the short version is

    1. To your model, add key :date, Time, :index => true
    2. query like: Event.where(:user => fred, :order => “date desc”).all
    or events = Event.where( => [fred, harry]).sort(:date.desc).all

  3. Pingback: Cucumber, RSpec, and MongoMapper » Technical Debt

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