ActiveSalesforce gem travails

I’ve been working with the ActiveSalesforce gem, which is very cool but also frustrating, because there are numerous versions of it and none of them is authoritative. I started with the “basic” one you’ll get if you begin at the RubyForge page. It works, but I encountered problems trying to get relationships to work using belongs_to and so forth.

I looked around a bit, and ended up trying the fork by John Reilly, which fixed that problem, and things seemed to be working well. Then I discovered an odd error, which was causing any fields containing an ampersand (‘&’) to be truncated such that everything up to and including the ampersand was being lost. This meant names like ‘Acme & Associates’ came out as simply ‘ Associates’. Not so cool.

>> my_obj = Salesforce::Account.find('0014000000MNdgAAAA') 
activesalesforce: sql=SELECT * FROM Account WHERE ( = '0014000000MNdgAAAA') 
#<Salesforce::Account:0x1051f7e48> { 
                                      :id => "0014000000MNdgAAAA", 
                                      :name => " Associates" 

Note that the name isn’t ‘Acme & Associates’ — everything up to the ampersand is being lost during the fetch. I added some debugging output in the gem to verify that the result being passed back was indeed truncated. Thanks to the ActiveSalesforce mailing list I was pointed to some other forks, and I grabbed one of them seemed a likely candidate, being forked from the althor880-activerecord-activesalesforce-adapter one, which included a switch to using Hpricot for XML parsing. So I did a git clone of, did gem build activerecord-activesalesforce-adapter.gemspec and sudo gem install activerecord-activesalesforce-adapter-2.3.7.gem and tried it out. Note that in my case, the commit at HEAD that I grabbed had some unfixed merge conflicts that I had to take care of before I could build the gem, which was inconvenient but not a big problem. Most importantly, indeed, it did the trick: the fields are now coming through with the ampersands intact!

Sadly, however, I started getting a new error on testing in my app:

/!\ FAILSAFE /!\  Wed Aug 25 14:21:25 -0700 2010
  Status: 500 Internal Server Error
  User can't be referred

I scratched my head for a bit, and then looking at the log I saw:

(eval):1: warning: already initialized constant User
(eval):1: warning: already initialized constant User
(eval):1: warning: already initialized constant Assets
(eval):1: warning: already initialized constant User
(eval):1: warning: already initialized constant User
(eval):1: warning: already initialized constant User
(eval):1: warning: already initialized constant Note

I hadn’t seen this before with the other version of the gem. It implied, though, that on startup it was initializing a bunch of Salesforce-related classes. Weird, but I went ahead and created a new Salesforce::User class in my app:

class Salesforce::User < Salesforce::SalesforceBase
  set_table_name "User"

SalesforceBase is simply my small base class that handles setting the connection information so I can set it in one place for all of my Salesforce-related models. And what do you know, once I had this class, it apparently disambiguated things, and the error went away. I’m guessing that there was a namespace collision with the User class needed by Devise, and creating this one to point to Salesforce cleared up the confusion. Not ideal, but I can live with it.

So I now have something that works. Clearly, though, there are overall issues with this gem — although the Rubygems page looks nice, it doesn’t seem to point to a canonical “latest and greatest” version, and there are a half-dozen forks in various different states. This makes it pretty difficult to know exactly what you’re getting when you try to work with ActiveSalesforce, unfortunately.

  1. Al Chou said:

    Thanks for posting that! I’m just at the beginning of using an ActiveSalesforce 2.3.8 fork ( ) and am glad to see a survey of some of the other forks and their pitfalls!

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