Code Quality Rank: L5
Monthly Downloads: 12,932
Programming language: Ruby
License: MIT License
Tags: Analytics     Projects    
Latest version: v2.0.0

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A lightweight plugin that logs impressions per action or manually per model

What does this thing do?

Logs an impression... and I use that term loosely. It can log page impressions (technically action impressions), but it is not limited to that. You can log impressions multiple times per request. And you can also attach it to a model. The goal of this project is to provide customizable stats that are immediately accessible in your application as opposed to using Google Analytics and pulling data using their API. You can attach custom messages to impressions. No reporting yet.. this thingy just creates the data.

What about bots?

They are ignored. 1200 known bots have been added to the ignore list as of February 1, 2011. Impressionist uses this list: http://www.user-agents.org/allagents.xml


Add it to your Gemfile

#rails 6
gem 'impressionist'

#rails 5 or lower
gem 'impressionist', '~>1.6.1'

Install with Bundler

bundle install

Generate the impressions table migration

rails g impressionist

Run the migration

rake db:migrate

The following fields are provided in the migration:

t.string   "impressionable_type"  # model type: Widget
t.integer  "impressionable_id"    # model instance ID: @widget.id
t.integer  "user_id"              # automatically logs @current_user.id
t.string   "controller_name"      # logs the controller name
t.string   "action_name"          # logs the action_name
t.string   "view_name"            # TODO: log individual views (as well as partials and nested partials)
t.string   "request_hash"         # unique ID per request, in case you want to log multiple impressions and group them
t.string   "session_hash"         # logs the rails session
t.string   "ip_address"           # request.remote_ip
t.text     "params"               # request.params, except action name, controller name and resource id
t.string   "referrer"             # request.referer
t.string   "message"              # custom message you can add
t.datetime "created_at"           # I am not sure what this is.... Any clue?
t.datetime "updated_at"           # never seen this one before either....  Your guess is as good as mine?? ;-)


  1. Log all actions in a controller

    WidgetsController < ApplicationController
  2. Specify actions you want logged in a controller

    WidgetsController < ApplicationController
      impressionist :actions=>[:show,:index]
  3. Make your models impressionable. This allows you to attach impressions to an AR model instance. Impressionist will automatically log the Model name (based on action_name) and the id (based on params[:id]), but in order to get the count of impressions (example: @widget.impression_count), you will need to make your model impressionable

    class Widget < ActiveRecord::Base
  4. Log an impression per model instance in your controller. Note that it is not necessary to specify "impressionist" (usage #1) in the top of you controller if you are using this method. If you add "impressionist" to the top of your controller and also use this method in your action, it will result in 2 impressions being logged (but associated with one request_hash). If you're using friendly_id be sure to log impressionist this way, as params[:id] will return a string(url slug) while impressionable_id is a Integer column in database. Also note that you have to take step #3 for the Widget model for this to work.

    def show
      @widget = Widget.find
      impressionist(@widget, "message...") # 2nd argument is optional
  5. Get unique impression count from a model. This groups impressions by request_hash, so if you logged multiple impressions per request, it will only count them one time. This unique impression count will not filter out unique users, only unique requests

    @widget.impressionist_count(:start_date=>"2011-01-01")  #specify start date only, end date = now
  6. Get the unique impression count from a model filtered by IP address. This in turn will give you impressions with unique request_hash, since rows with the same request_hash will have the same IP address.

  7. Get the unique impression count from a model filtered by params. This in turn will give you impressions with unique params.

    @widget.impressionist_count(:filter => :params)
  8. Get the unique impression count from a model filtered by session hash. Same as #6 regarding request hash. This may be more desirable than filtering by IP address depending on your situation, since filtering by IP may ignore visitors that use the same IP. The downside to this filtering is that a user could clear session data in their browser and skew the results.

  9. Get total impression count. This may return more than 1 impression per http request, depending on how you are logging impressions

  10. Get impression count by message. This only counts impressions of the given message.

    @widget.impressionist_count(:message=>"pageview", :filter=>:all)

Logging impressions for authenticated users happens automatically. If you have a current_user helper or use @current_user in your before_filter (or before_action in Rails >= 5.0) to set your authenticated user, current_user.id will be written to the user_id field in the impressions table.

Adding a counter cache

Impressionist makes it easy to add a counter_cache column to your model. The most basic configuration looks like:

is_impressionable :counter_cache => true

This will automatically increment the impressions_count column in the included model. Note: You'll need to add that column to your model. If you'd like specific a different column name, you can:

is_impressionable :counter_cache => true, :column_name => :my_column_name

If you'd like to include only unique impressions in your count:

# default will be filtered by ip_address
is_impressionable :counter_cache => true, :column_name => :my_column_name, :unique => true

If you'd like to specify what sort of unique impression you'd like to save? Fear not, Any option you pass to unique, impressionist_count will use it as its filter to update_counters based on that unique option.

# options are any column in the impressions' table.
is_impressionable :counter_cache => true, :column_name => :my_column_name, :unique => :request_hash
is_impressionable :counter_cache => true, :column_name => :my_column_name, :unique => :all

Adding column to model

It is as simple as this:

t.integer :my_column_name, :default => 0

If you want to use the typical Rails 4 migration generator, you can:

rails g migration AddImpressionsCountToBook impressions_count:int

What if I only want to record unique impressions?

Maybe you only care about unique impressions and would like to avoid unnecessary database records. You can specify conditions for recording impressions in your controller:

# only record impression if the request has a unique combination of type, id, and session
impressionist :unique => [:impressionable_type, :impressionable_id, :session_hash]

# only record impression if the request has a unique combination of controller, action, and session
impressionist :unique => [:controller_name, :action_name, :session_hash]

# only record impression if session is unique
impressionist :unique => [:session_hash]

# only record impression if param is unique
impressionist :unique => [:params]

Or you can use the impressionist method directly:

impressionist(impressionable, "some message", :unique => [:session_hash])

Are you using Mongoid?

Execute this command on your terminal/console:

rails g impressionist --orm mongoid

This command create a file impression.rb on config/initializer folder. Add config.orm = :mongoid to this file:

# Use this hook to configure impressionist parameters
Impressionist.setup do |config|
  # Define ORM. Could be :active_record (default), :mongo_mapper or :mongoid
  # config.orm = :active_record
  config.orm = :mongoid

Contributing to impressionist

  • Check out the latest master to make sure the feature hasn't been implemented or the bug hasn't been fixed yet
  • Check out the issue tracker to make sure someone already hasn't requested it and/or contributed it
  • Fork the project
  • Start a feature/bugfix branch
  • Commit and push until you are happy with your contribution
  • Make sure to add rpsec tests for it. Patches or features without tests will be ignored. Also, try to write better tests than I do ;-)
  • If adding engine controller or view functionality, use HAML and Inherited Resources.
  • All testing is done inside a small Rails app (test_app). You will find specs within this app.

Want to run the tests? Ok mummy

  • bundle install
  • rails g impressionist
  • rake db:migrate && rake db:test:prepare
  • Run rake or rspec spec inside test_app dir
  • nothing else.
  • :wq



Copyright (c) 2011 John McAliley. See LICENSE.txt for further details.

*Note that all licence references and agreements mentioned in the Impressionist README section above are relevant to that project's source code only.