May 19th, 2008

One of my very favorite rails methods is find_or_create. You can turn this tedious code:

review = Review.find_by_url(sitename)
if review.nil?
review =
review.url = sitename
review.staff_id =

Into this clean one liner:

Review.find_or_create_by_url(sitename, {:staff_id =>})

The has_many :through blog has a great rundown on dynamic finders that I found really useful.

One point that got missed is that like the create method, find_or_create will autosave the new object to the database. This is unlike the new method which doesn’t create a new object in the database but rather creates a new object. Which of course means that you’ll need the save method to ensure your data gets back to the db. In this case, you may want to use find_or_initialize.

If you want to create a new object in the DB in one step (if doesn’t exist already), find_or_create is a great tool.

Entry Filed under: Ruby on Rails

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Radarek  |  October 23rd, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I tried find_or_create with :create_args params but it doesn’t work. Maybe it works with some plugin?

  • 2. Adam Salter  |  January 16th, 2009 at 2:28 am

    I’m also trying to do this… Rails 2.2.2
    I get a ActiveRecord::UnknownAttributeError for create_args…
    ie. create_args is not a valid attribute for find_or_create_by…

  • 3. Adam Salter  |  January 16th, 2009 at 2:35 am

    OK, I’ve got it.
    It seems you don’t need :create_args at all… You do your find_by and any extra args are used in the create.
    ie the above example should read:

    Review.find_or_create_by_url(:url => sitename, :staff_id =>

  • 4. Alex Grande  |  May 31st, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    How do I do an else with find or create by?

    Say I want to check if the item exists and if it doesn’t then I want to increase its popularity. So would I:

    if review.nil?
    #save it


  • 5. Tyler Brown  |  June 15th, 2010 at 11:12 am

    What if I want to find_or_create by more than one attribute? Say I have a model to handle a m:m relationship between Group & Member called GroupMember. I could have many entries where member_id = 4, but I don’t ever want there to be more than one entry where member_id = 4 and group_id = 7. Is it possible to do something like:

    GroupMember.find_or_create(:member_id => 4, group_id => 7)


  • 6. rifki fauzi  |  August 24th, 2010 at 12:39 am


    something like this :

    GroupMember.find_or_create_by_member_id_and_group_id(4, 7)

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