Faceted Search and Filtering Using StimulusReflex in Rails

The process of efficiently searching and filtering through substantial datasets is a recurring challenge in web application development. Whether sifting through vast collections of books, assortments of restaurants, or any other data, a streamlined mechanism is essential. This is where StimulusReflex and Reactive Rails techniques play a pivotal role.

Addressing the Core Problem

In many applications, users require a robust and intuitive system to search and filter through different datasets. Let's look at an example.

An Examination of Models, Controllers, and Views

To provide context for our solution, consider the architectural components:

  • The Models: Our example employs Book and Restaurant classes, which replicate the behavior of an ActiveRecord model. Note that the array refinements here are stand-ins for more sophisticated queries or scopes.

  • The Controllers: This layer handles the application logic. For illustration, the BooksController is responsible for listing all books and integrating the necessary filters.

  • The Views: This interface is where user interactions occur. It facilitates data input, such as entering search terms or selecting checkboxes.

Implementing Filtering with StimulusReflex

Utilizing Concerns to Decouple Filtering

To achieve effective decoupling:

  • Incorporate a Filterable concern to mediate between the controllers and the underlying filtering logic.
  • Define specific Filter classes to delineate rules and manage filter parameters.

The FilterReflex class contains a filter method:

class FilterReflex < ApplicationReflex
  include Filterable
  def filter

This method retrieves resource and parameters, evaluates their respective values, and appropriately assigns filters.

The Filterable module contains logic to ascertain if a filter is active for a given attribute and to acquire or establish the requisite filters:

module Filterable

  def filter_active_for?(resource, attribute, value=true)


  def filter_for(resource)

Analyzing the Book Filtering Logic

The BooksController outlines the mechanism:

class BooksController < ApplicationController
  include Filterable

  def index
    @books = Book.all
    @books = filter_for("Book").apply!(@books)

This controller retrieves books and applies necessary filters.

The BookFilter class, derived from BaseFilter, manages the specific logic associated with book filtering:

class BookFilter < BaseFilter

  def apply!(chain)
    chain = chain.search(query) if query.present?

Invoking StimulusReflex in the View

In our show view, data inputs like entering search terms or ticking checkboxes are facilitated. More critically, this is where the magic of StimulusReflex comes into play.

Consider the following snippet from our view:

<h2 class="mt-4">Books</h2>

<input type="text" class="form-control" id="book_query" placeholder="Search for author or title" data-reflex="input->Filter#filter" data-resource="Book" data-param="query" data-reflex-root="#books-table"/>

In the input field, notice the attribute data-reflex="input->Filter#filter". This is where StimulusReflex gets activated. When the user interacts with this input (by typing, for instance), the filter method from the Filter Reflex is triggered.

The data-resource and data-param attributes help pass additional parameters to our Reflex. Lastly, the data-reflex-root attribute specifies the element (in this case, the table with id books-table) that should be updated when a reflex action is completed.

Moving forward to the table layout:

<table class="table" id="books-table">

As users search or filter their data, the table (#books-table) will dynamically update with the relevant results, all thanks to the real-time capabilities of StimulusReflex.

Finally, here's a minimal sandbox example for your perusal:

Important Considerations

It's vital to acknowledge that the Book and Restaurant classes in our example emulate an ActiveRecord model. The aforementioned array refinements act as placeholders, and in a real-world scenario, they should be replaced with genuine model scopes or database queries.


Faceted Search and Filtering Using StimulusReflex is an advanced approach that enables developers to furnish users with an enhanced search experience. By segregating the filtering logic via concerns, one paves the way for a streamlined and effective filtering process. Such a methodology not only elevates the user experience but also augments the overall application efficiency.

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