Adds group and membership functionality to Rails models. Defines a polymorphic relationship between a Group model and any member model. Don't need a Group model? Use named groups instead to add members to named groups such as :admin or "Team Rocketpants".

Code Quality Rank: L4
Monthly Downloads: 3,881
Programming language: Ruby
License: MIT License
Tags: Authorization     Groups     Rails     Projects    
Latest version: v0.9.0

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Adds group and membership functionality to Rails models. Defines a polymorphic relationship between a Group model and any member model. Don't need a Group model? Use named groups instead to add members to named groups such as :admin or "Team Rocketpants".


The following ORMs are supported:

  • ActiveRecord 4.x, 5.x
  • Mongoid 4.x, 5.x, 6.x

The following Rubies are supported:

  • MRI Ruby 2.2, 2.3, 2.4
  • JRuby 9000

The following databases are supported:

  • MySQL
  • PostgreSQL
  • SQLite
  • MongoDB


Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'groupify'

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself as:

$ gem install groupify


Active Record


$ rails generate groupify:active_record:install

This will generate an initializer, Group model, GroupMembership model, and migrations.

Modify the models and migrations as needed, then run the migration:

$ rake db:migrate

Set up your member models:

class User < ActiveRecord::Base
  groupify :group_member
  groupify :named_group_member

class Assignment < ActiveRecord::Base
  groupify :group_member



$ rails generate groupify:mongoid:install

Set up your member models:

class User
  include Mongoid::Document

  groupify :group_member
  groupify :named_group_member

Advanced Configuration

Groupify Model Names

The default model names for groups and group memberships are configurable. Add the following configuration in config/initializers/groupify.rb to change the model names for all classes:

Groupify.configure do |config|
  config.group_class_name = 'MyCustomGroup'
  # ActiveRecord only
  config.group_membership_class_name = 'MyCustomGroupMembership'

The group name can also be set on a model-by-model basis for each group member by passing the group_class_name option:

class Member < ActiveRecord::Base
  groupify :group_member, group_class_name: 'MyOtherCustomGroup'

Note that each member model can only belong to a single type of group (or child classes of that group).

Member Associations on Group

Your group class can be configured to create associations for each expected member type. For example, let's say that your group class will have users and assignments as members. The following configuration adds users and assignments associations on the group model:

class Group < ActiveRecord::Base
  groupify :group, members: [:users, :assignments], default_members: :users

The default_members option sets the model type when accessing the members association. In the example above, group.members would return the users who are members of this group.

If you are using single table inheritance, child classes inherit the member associations of the parent. If your child class needs to add more members, use the has_members method.


class Organization < Group
  has_members :offices, :equipment

Mongoid works the same way by creating Mongoid relations.


Create groups and add members

group = Group.new
user = User.new

user.groups << group
# or
group.add user

# => true

# Add multiple members at once
group.add(user, widget, task)

Remove from groups

users.groups.destroy(group)          # Destroys this user's group membership for this group
group.users.delete(user)             # Deletes this group's group membership for this user

Named groups

user.named_groups << :admin
user.in_named_group?(:admin)        # => true

Check if two members share any of the same groups:

user1.shares_any_group?(user2)          # Returns true if user1 and user2 are in any of the same groups
user2.shares_any_named_group?(user1)    # Also works for named groups

Query for groups & members:

User.in_group(group)                # Find all users in this group
User.in_named_group(:admin)         # Find all users in this named group
Group.with_member(user)             # Find all groups with this user

User.shares_any_group(user)         # Find all users that share any groups with this user
User.shares_any_named_group(user)   # Find all users that share any named groups with this user

Check if member belongs to any/all groups

User.in_any_group(group1, group2)               # Find users that belong to any of these groups
User.in_all_groups(group1, group2)              # Find users that belong to all of these groups
Widget.in_only_groups(group2, group3)           # Find widgets that belong to only these groups

widget.in_any_named_group?(:foo, :bar)          # Check if widget belongs to any of these named groups
user.in_all_named_groups?(:manager, :poster)    # Check if user belongs to all of these named groups
user.in_only_named_groups?(:employee, :worker)  # Check if user belongs to only these named groups

Merge one group into another:

# Moves the members of source into destination, and destroys source

Membership Types

Membership types allow a member to belong to a group in a more specific way. For example, you can add a user to a group with membership type of "manager" to specify that this user has the "manager role" on that group.

This can be used to implement role-based authorization combined with group authorization, which could be used to mass-assign roles to groups of resources.

It could also be used to add users and resources to the same "sub-group" or "project" within a larger group (say, an organization).

# Add user to group as a specific membership type
group.add(user, as: 'manager')

# Works with named groups too
user.named_groups.add 'Company', as: 'manager'

# Query for the groups that a user belongs to with a certain role

# Remove a member's membership type from a group
group.users.delete(user, as: 'manager')         # Deletes this group's 'manager' group membership for this user
user.groups.destroy(group, as: 'employee')      # Destroys this user's 'employee' group membership for this group
user.groups.destroy(group)                      # Destroys any membership types this user had in this group

# Find all members that have a certain membership type in a group

# Find all members of a certain membership type regardless of group
User.as(:manager)    # Find users that are managers, we don't care what group

# Check if a member belongs to any/all groups with a certain membership type
user.in_all_groups?(group1, group2, as: 'manager')

# Find all members that share the same group with the same membership type
Widget.shares_any_group(user).as("Moon Launch Project")

# Check is one member belongs to the same group as another member with a certain membership type
user.shares_any_group?(widget, as: 'employee')

Note that adding a member to a group with a specific membership type will automatically add them to that group without a specific membership type. This way you can still query groups and find the member in that group. If you then remove that specific membership type, they still remain in the group without a specific membership type.

Removing a member from a group will bulk remove any specific membership types as well.

group.add(manager, as: 'manager')
manager.groups.include?(group)              # => true

manager.groups.delete(group, as: 'manager')
manager.groups.include?(group)              # => true

group.add(employee, as: 'employee')
employee.in_group?(group)                   # => false
employee.in_group?(group, as: 'employee')   # => false

Using for Authorization

Groupify was originally created to help implement user authorization, although it can be used generically for much more than that. Here are some examples of how to do it.

With CanCan

class Ability
  include CanCan::Ability

  def initialize(user)
    # Implements group-based authorization
    # Users can only manage assignment which belong to the same group.
    can [:manage], Assignment, Assignment.shares_any_group(user) do |assignment|

With Authority

# Whatever class represents a logged-in user in your app
class User
  groupify :named_group_member
  include Authority::UserAbilities

class Widget
  groupify :named_group_member
  include Authority::Abilities

class WidgetAuthorizer  < ApplicationAuthorizer
  # Implements group-based authorization using named groups.
  # Users can only see widgets which belong to the same named group.
  def readable_by?(user)

  # Implements combined role-based and group-based authorization.
  # Widgets can only be updated by users that are employees of the same named group.
  def updateable_by?(user)
    user.shares_any_named_group?(resource, as: :employee)

  # Widgets can only be deleted by users that are managers of the same named group.
  def deletable_by?(user)
    user.shares_any_named_group?(resource, as: :manager)

user = User.create!
user.named_groups.add(:team1, as: :employee)

widget = Widget.create!
widget.named_groups << :team1

widget.readable_by?(user) # => true
user.can_update?(widget)  # => true
user.can_delete?(widget)  # => false

With Pundit

class PostPolicy < Struct.new(:user, :post)
  # User can only update a published post if they are admin of the same group.
  def update?
    user.shares_any_group?(post, as: :admin) || !post.published?

  class Scope < Struct.new(:user, :scope)
    def resolve
      if user.admin?
        # An admin can see all the posts in the group(s) they are admin for
        # Normal users can only see published posts in the same group(s).
        scope.shares_any_group(user).where(published: true)

Backwards-Incompatible Releases

0.9+ - Dropped support for Rails 3.2 and Ruby 1.9 - 2.1

Groupify 0.9 added support for Rails 5.1, and dropped support for EOL'ed versions of Ruby, Rails, ActiveRecord, and Mongoid.

ActiveRecord 5.1 no longer supports passing arguments to collection associations. Because of this, the undocumented syntax groups.as(:membership_type) is no longer supported.

0.8+ - Name Change for group_memberships Associations (ActiveRecord only)

Groupify 0.8 changed the ActiveRecord adapter to support configuring the same model as both a group and a group member. To accomplish this, the internal group_memberships association was renamed to be different for groups and members. If you were using it, please be aware that you will need to change your code. This association is considered to be an internal implementation details and not part of the public API, so please don't rely on it if you can avoid it.

0.7+ - Polymorphic Groups (ActiveRecord only)

Groupify < 0.7 required a single Group model used for all group memberships. Groupify 0.7+ supports using multiple models as groups by implementing polymorphic associations. Upgrading requires adding a new group_type column to the group_memberships table and populating that column with the class name of the group. Create the migration by executing:

$ rails generate groupify:active_record:upgrade

And then run the migration:

$ rake db:migrate

Please note that this migration may block writes in MySQL if your group_memberships table is large.


  1. Fork it
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Added some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create new Pull Request


See a list of contributors here.