How to Export a Filtered CSV in Ruby on Rails

Exporting a CSV in Ruby on Rails is a simple task, but what if you want it to be filtered? For me, this was a speedbump in a recent project. Therefore, to avoid that and maintain full steam ahead I have written up this blog.

This is specific to an application I was working on, but you can easily extract the concepts and code to be used on any other Ruby on Rails application that needs filtered CSV exporting.

The application I was working on had a users table and a subscriptions table, the subscriptions table manage the users subscription and allowed queries for to check if the users subscription status was subscribed, canceled and inactive. This was all powered by the pay gem by Chris Oliver.

The application currently offered filtering of users by the three subscription statuses, but could not export the users with these filters.

So I needed to make a few changes:


I added the following 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) }

The following scopes were already in use but are vital:

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) }

You will need to include require 'csv' at the top of the file.

If you are using the pay gem then note that the status method used in the attributes array does not exist, I had to create that:

def status


I added a link_to that includes the current params:

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

There was already a form in place 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 request:

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's no params passed it will default to the first @users declaration.

There's also 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

The csv_name variable might be better off in the user model, it's personal preference.