We all know that especially in legacy applications sometimes our database columns are not that well maintained. So we need to query for, or exclude rows containing nil/NULL and empty strings ("") as well. How can we do it in ActiveRecord?

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Let’s say your Active Record model is called User and the DB column we are going to be searching by is category.

find records where column is null or empty

That’s simple.

User.where(category: [nil, ""])

find records where column is not null or empty

Still easy.

User.where.not(category: [nil, ""])

This not() clause is going to only apply to one where. You are not going to negate all previous conditions. In other words you can safely use it like this:

User.
  where(state: "active").
  where.not(category: [nil, ""]).
  where("created_at > ?", 5.days.ago)

to get SQL statement like this:

SELECT "users".* FROM "users"
WHERE
  "users"."state" = "active" AND
  (NOT (("users"."category" = '' OR "users"."category" IS NULL))) AND
  (created_at > '2017-09-01 14:27:11')

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