Advanced Auto Complete Feature – Part 2

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In my previous blog on ‘Advanced Auto Complete’, I mentioned about how to pre-fill the fields upon selecting a company name for a person along with auto_complete feature (please have a quick look before looking in to this blog). In the previous solution we are getting results of companies (as a LI list of company names) based on the character you typed but, what if the company name is not unique ?. Let’s look at a simple example, Thought Works company is located in Chennai as well as in Bangalore, so I want differentiate both of them and I want to pre-fill the company details accordingly.
Here is the sample UI that I want to implement. As you can see Thought Works is repeated.
If you are interested in knowing how it is implemented you can continue reading or if you just want the solution then please visit
Now we have to get company name + city name in the list instead of just company name
So lets write a method (combined_name) in company model which will give you company name + address2
[source language=”Ruby”]
def combined_name
“#{name} – #{address2}”
Now we will modify our companies view file
[source language=”Ruby”]
<%= auto_complete_result @companies, :combined_name %>
I hope the above solution works without further adjustment, but you need to do a minor tweaking here to make your solution work. Either you can use the modified auto_complete plugin from 😉 or you can modify auto_complete_macros_helper file in auto_complete plugin.
[source language=”Ruby”]
def auto_complete_result(entries, field, phrase = nil)
#return unless entries
#items = { |entry| content_tag(“li”, phrase ? highlight(entry[field], phrase) : h(entry[field]))}
#content_tag(“ul”, items.uniq)
#Modified code
items = []
entries.each do |entry|
items << content_tag("li", phrase ? highlight(entry.send field, phrase) : h(entry.send field)) end content_tag("ul", items.uniq) end [/source] You just override the existing method auto_complete_result in auto_complete_macros_helper file with the above code. Let me first explain why auto_complete didn't work and then I will tell you how it can be fixed. The first three lines of code is original auto_complete_result method, entries is an array of hashes. [source language="Ruby"] [#, #, #]
and this is how it looks when you give
[source language=”Ruby”]
<%= auto_complete_result @companies, :name %>
it will work for name, but when you give combined_name it wont work because combined_name is not generated in the above array, combined_name is an instance method of Company mode(class). So you have to access it through Company object only, so this is how you can call it.
company = Company.first
1) company.combined_name
2) company.send combined_name
Here we can use second type to call a method since field is a string.So, this is how we are calling in the above code
entry.send field
Now the final part,
[source language=”Ruby”]
#user_controller file
def data_loader
str_tokens = params[:id].split(“-“)
@company = Company.find_by_name_and_address2(str_tokens[0].rstrip,str_tokens[1].lstrip)
render :update do |page|
page.replace_html ‘preFillDiv’, :partial => ‘autocomplete_form’
params[:id] will have combined name (company name + adderss2) so, you have to split it and based on the company name and address2 you can get the correct row.
Here I made an assumption that company name + address2 is unique, you can combine any number of fields you want and you have to get the proper company row with that information.
I hope this blog is useful.Please post any questions,feedback or any improvements in the comments section.

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2 Replies to “Advanced Auto Complete Feature – Part 2”

  1. tnx, cool ! I have a further question though. what if I want to show users or companies avatar instead of their name i.e., . It seems that the method only returns string.

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