How to Download a CSV with Current Params in Ruby on Rails [2021]

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Working with a CSV in Ruby on Rails is a problem free experience 99% of the time, but I hit that 1% when a client requested the functionality of exporting a CSV with options.

The application had a concept of users and subscriptions where a user can be subscribed, canceled, or inactive. This was all powered by the Pay gem by Chris Oliver.

class User < ApplicationRecord
  include ::Pay::Billable

In the application, they wanted to be able to filter and export a CSV based on the three statuses; subscribed, canceled, or inactive.

Here's what I changed to get the functionality to work;


Add scopes to provide an easy way to look up users in the controller;

scope :subscribed, -> { left_outer_joins(:subscriptions).where("subscriptions.status = ?", "active") }
scope :canceled, -> { left_outer_joins(:subscriptions).where("subscriptions.status = ?", "canceled") }
scope :inactive, -> { where(processor: nil) }

Create a CSV based on records passed from the controller;

def self.to_csv(records = [])
  attributes = %w[email full_name status]

  CSV.generate(headers: true) do |csv|
    csv << attributes

    records.each do |user|
       csv << { |attr| user.send(attr) }

There's a few notes for the model;

  • You need to include require 'csv' at the top, above the class
  • I created a status method to display subscription status

    def status subscription&.status end

This is very specific to the clients use case


I added a simple Rails form_with that has a select and a submit input;

= form_with(url: users_path, local: true, method: :get) do |f|
  = :status, [['Subscribed', 'subscribed'], ['Canceled', 'canceled'], ['Inactive', 'inactive']], { include_blank: 'Filter users by', selected: params[:status] }
  = f.submit

In the application, the form is submitted when the select is changed

Update the link_to that goes to the index action with the csv format to include the params;

= link_to "Download CSV", users_path(request.params.merge(format: :csv))


We were using the index action and using respond_to to check for html and csv formats;

def index
  @users = User.order(created_at: :desc)

  @users = @users.subscribed if params[:status] == 'subscribed'
  @users = @users.canceled if params[:status] == 'canceled'
  @users = @users.inactive if params[:status] == 'inactive'

  csv_name = [(params[:status].present? ? params[:status] : 'all'), 'users',].compact.join('-')

  respond_to do |format|
    format.csv { send_data User.to_csv(@users), filename: "#{csv_name}.csv" }

Here we are using the scopes created in the model to filter @users based on the params[:status] value.

I also included a csv_name variable which creates names such as;

  • subscribed-users-2021-01-01.csv
  • canceled-users-2021-01-01.csv
  • inactive-users-2021-01-01.csv

This variable would be better as a method in the model to avoid cluttering the controller

And that's it...

This example is very specific to the application I was working on, but the logic can be used on any Ruby on Rails application.