Rails : of select_tags and options_from_collection_for_select

A bit difficult to get this information… Rails’ helper when building select elements for a form is the well-known select_tag. If you are populating the options within a select form with data from your database through a model, you would use the options_from_collection_for_select helper. An example  is in fact quite straightforward:

options_from_collection_for_select(@extensions, 'ext', 'name')

Meaning if your controller has populated the collection “@extensions” using methods such as find, where, etc… the helper will then create a select element using the ‘ext’ field as a value, and the ‘name’ field as text to display in the web form, like so:


But, what if you would like to display a different format to the user in the web form? Something like “name (ext)”, where name and ext are to be populated from the database. Simply using

options_from_collection_for_select(@extensions, ‘ext’, ‘user(ext)’)

will result in an error of course:



But the error “undefined method ‘user(ext)’ for #Users gives an important clue. Users happens to be my model class. So it seems rails is looking for a method called user(ext) within the model class. Let’s add a method to the models/users.rb file:

class Users < ActiveRecord::Base

def userExt
self.user + ” (” + self.ext.to_s + “)”


The above method is simply concatenating strings. Each column from the database is referenced by a method, so self.user refers to the user field of a record, and similarly self.ext refers to the ext field of a record. We then change our original call to

options_from_collection_for_select(@extensions, ‘ext’, ‘userExt’)

to match our newly defined method and there we go…




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