How can I match a partial string to a database's object's attribute? Regexp?

I have a database containing a list of movies. A typical entry look like this:

id: 1, 
title: "Manhatten and the Murderer", 
year: 1928, 
synopsis: 'some text...' 
rating: 67, 
genre_id, etc. etc.

Now I'm trying to make a series of search tests pass and so far I have made a single test case pass where if you type the title "Manhatten and the Murderer" in a text field it will find the movie that you want. The problem is with partial matching.

Now I'd like a way to search "Manhat" and match the record "Manhatten and the Murderer". I also want it to match with any movie that has "Manhat" in it. For example, it would return maybe 2 or 3 others like title: "My life in Manhattan", title: "The Big Apple in Manhattan" etc. etc.

Below is the code that I have so far in my Movie model:

# Replace this with the appropriate ActiveRecord calls...

if query =~ where(title:)
  #where(title: query)


My question is, how can I set this up? My problem is the "where(title:) line. One thought was to use Regexp to match the title attribute. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks.


Use a query that searches a substring in between:

name = "Manhattan"
Movie.where("title like ?", "%#{name}%")

For example:

  • %Manhattan will get you: Love in Manhattan
  • Manhattan% will get: Manhattan and Company
  • %Manhattan% will get you both: [Love in Manhattan, Manhattan and Company]

But, if you're searching through movies synopsis, you should use Thinking Sphinx or Elastic Search

For example, with Elastic Search, you could set the synopsis like this:

Add app/indices/movie_index.rb:

ThinkingSphinx::Index.define :movie, :with => :active_record do
  # fields
  indexes title, :sortable => true
  indexes synopsis

Index your data with rake ts:index

And then run Sphynx with: rake ts:start

You can search just like this: :conditions => {:synopsis => "Manhattan"}

Elastic Search is a great alternative to ThinkingSphinx, there's even a RailsCast about it, so you should definitely take a look to see what really suites you best... Hope this helps!

You do not need regex to find movies that have the search string. You can use SQL query like this:

Movie.where('title LIKE ?','Batman%')

That would return all movies start with "Batman"

Movie.where('title LIKE ?','%Batman%')

That would return all movies that have Batman anywhere in it's title. I think you figured out the '%' is a joker character in the query.

One option is to run a search server alongside your Rails application. It is certainly my go to solution. This route offers a ton of features not found within Rails itself and might be overkill, but worth consideration.

I use Sphinx and implement it using the thinking-sphinx gem.


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