Acts as Taggable On Tutorial with Rails 5

Maria Schuessler
Le Wagon
Published in
3 min readJul 9, 2018

For more posts in this series, check out my tutorial on Devise Authentication with Rails 5.

Acts as Taggable On is one of my favorite underrated (and awkwardly named) Rails gems. There’s almost always the need to search or organize objects in a Rails application and using tags simplifies the process so much. It also saves developers new to Rails from writing out monstrous Active Record queries. Acts-as-taggable-on is a true work horse, it’s been around since 2010 and has over 8 million downloads to date. Here is a quick getting started guide on using it.

What are tags and why do we use them?

  • Tags help users find related information — they allow you to group one or several instances of a model together without having to create a separate category table.
  • Tags help when users are not sure what they are looking for — for example, think of Amazon and its related products. Sometimes people who buy toothpaste will also buy tooth brushes. But your site will be more powerful if it can tag the items and suggest things like face wash or body cream.
  • Tags allow for a broader ‘category’ label without having to make a standalone table or parent-child-relationship — This means that you can connect several tables without a million foreign keys.
  • Therefore, tags help visitors remain on the site for longer — You want this, because $$$.
Write less code, but write more meaningful code

Tags essentials

How to use the Acts As Taggable Gem

Install the gem

#add the gem to your gemfile
gem 'acts-as-taggable-on', '~> 6.0' #must be this version for Rails5
#install with bundler
bundle install
#generate the migrations to create taggings in the db

Maria Schuessler
Le Wagon

Music Product @ TikTok | Former Full-Stack Dev | Editor of StirCrazy! Mag | London-based |