How to Export a CSV in Ruby on Rails

Find out how to export a CSV in Ruby on Rails for models.

This is an old post that I have updated, I no longer use Ruby on Rails.

Exporting a CSV in Ruby on Rails is a simple task, but what if you want to filter the data? OK, it's probably still easy for a lot of you, but for me this was a speed bump in a project I worked on.

But before we begin, what is this project?

It's a subscription website powered by Pay Rails which comes with a Subscription model that belongs to a User model.

In the CMS you can view users and filter them by their subscription status.

  • Subscribed
  • Canceled
  • Inactive

However, you cannot export the results. Let's add that now.

First we need to make some changes.

User Model

I added require 'csv' to the top of the file.

And I added this method to generate the CSV based on parameters 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 is no such thing as status on the User model, therefore I made a method which looks like this:

def status

Here are the the scopes used for the filtering.

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) }


I added a link_to that includes the current page params:

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

Here is the form used for the filtering.

<%= form_with(url: users_path, local: true, method: :get)) do |f| %>
  <%=, [['Subscribed', 'subscribed'], ['Canceled', 'canceled'], ['Inactive', 'inactive']], { selected: params[:status] }) %>

  <%= f.submit %>
<% end %>


I updated the controllers index action to include a response for a CSV format.

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" }

This uses the scopes created in the User model to filter the @users instance variable, if there are no params passed it defaults to the first @users declaration which returns all the users.

There's a csv_name variable that's created to allow for better naming:

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

And that's all I had to do, it was quite easy in the end and it apparently added a lot of value for the client, I'm not too sure how but it isn't my place to argue.