Partitioned adds assistance to ActiveRecord for manipulating (reading, creating, updating) an activerecord model that represents data that may be in one of many database tables (determined by the Models data).

It also has features that support the creation and deleting of child tables and partitioning support infrastructure.

It supports Postgres partitioning and has specific features to overcome basic failings of Postgres's implementation of partitioning.

Basics: A parent table can be inherited by many child tables that inherit most of the attributes of the parent table including its columns. child tables typically (and for the uses of this plugin must) have a unique check constraint the defines which data should be located in that specific child table.

Such a constraint allows for the SQL planner to ignore most child tables and target the (hopefully) one child table that contains the records interested. This splits data, and meta-data (indexes) which provides streamlined targeted access to the desired data.

Support for bulk inserts and bulk updates is also provided via Partitioned::Base.create_many and Partitioned::Base.update_many.


Given the following models:

class Company < ActiveRecord::Base

class ByCompanyId < Partitioned::ByForeignKey
  self.abstract_class = true

  belongs_to :company

  def self.partition_foreign_key
    return :company_id

  partitioned do |partition|
    partition.index :id, :unique => true

class Employee < ByCompanyId

and the following tables:

-- this is the referenced table
create table companies
    id               serial not null primary key,
    created_at       timestamp not null default now(),
    updated_at       timestamp,
    name             text null

-- add some companies
insert into companies (name) values
  ('company 1'),('company 2'),('company 2');

-- this is the parent table
create table employees
    id               serial not null primary key,
    created_at       timestamp not null default now(),
    updated_at       timestamp,
    name             text null,
    company_id       integer not null references companies

We now need to create some infrastructure for partitioned tables, in particular, we create a schema to hold the child partition tables of employees.


Which creates the employees_partitions schema using the following SQL:

create schema employees_partitions;

NOTE: We also install protections on the employees table so it isn't used as a data table (this SQL is not presented for simplicity but is apart of the create_infrastructure call).

You can create migration for this Employee in this case:

class CreatePartitionEmployee < ActiveRecord::Migration
  def up

  def down

To add child tables we use the create_new_partitions_tables method:

company_ids =

which results in the following SQL:

create table employees_partitions.p1
  ( CHECK ( company_id = 1 ) ) INHERITS (employees);
create table employees_partitions.p2
  ( CHECK ( company_id = 2 ) ) INHERITS (employees);
create table employees_partitions.p3
  ( CHECK ( company_id = 3 ) ) INHERITS (employees);

NOTE: Some other SQL is generated in the above example, specifically the reference to the companies table needs to be explicitly created for postgres child tables AND the unique index on 'id' is created. These are not shown for simplicity.

Now we can do operations involving the child partitions.

Since database records exist in a specific child table dependant on the field "company_id" we need to have creates that turn into database inserts of the EMPLOYEES table redirect the record insert into the specific child table determined by the value of COMPANY_ID


employee = Employee.create(:name => 'Keith', :company_id => 1)

this would normally produce the following:

INSERT INTO employees ('name', company_id) values ('Keith', 1);

but with Partitioned we see:

INSERT INTO employees_partitions.p1 ('name', company_id) values ('Keith', 1);

reads of such a table need some assistance to find the specific child table the record exists in.

Since we are partitioned by company_id the programmer needs to provide that information when fetching data, or the database will need to search all child table for the specific record we are looking for.

This is no longer valid (well, doesn't perform well):

employee = Employee.find(1)

instead, do one of the following:

employee = Employee.from_partition(1).find(1)
employee = Employee.find(:first,
                         :conditions => {:name => 'Keith', :company_id => 1})
employee = Employee.find(:first,
                         :conditions => {:id => 1, :company_id => 1})

an update ( where the record already exists in the database) will take advantage of knowing which child table the record exists in so it can do some optimization.

so, the following works as expected: = "Not Keith"

turns into the following SQL:

update employees_partitions.p1 set name = 'Not Keith' where id = 1;


  1. Fork it
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Commit your changes (git commit -am 'Add some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create new Pull Request

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