Update multiple database objects

You can update multiple database objects with new values for one or more columns. One method is to use Relation#update_all:

user.issues.open.update_all(due_date: 7.days.from_now) # (1)
user.issues.update_all('relative_position = relative_position + 1') # (2)

If you cannot express the update as either a static value (1) or as a calculation (2), use UPDATE FROM to express the need to update multiple rows with distinct values in a single query. Create a temporary table, or a Common Table Expression (CTE), and use it as the source of the updates:

with updates(obj_id, new_title, new_weight) as (
  values (1 :: integer, 'Very difficult issue' :: text, 8 :: integer),
         (2, 'Very easy issue', 1)
update issues
  set title = new_title, weight = new_weight
  from updates
  where id = obj_id

You can’t express this in ActiveRecord, or by dropping down to Arel, because the UpdateManager does not support update from. However, we supply an abstraction to help you generate these kinds of updates: Gitlab::Database::BulkUpdate. This abstraction constructs queries like the previous example, and uses binding parameters to avoid SQL injection.


To use Gitlab::Database::BulkUpdate, we need:

  • The list of columns to update.
  • A mapping from the object (or ID) to the new values to set for that object.
  • A way to determine the table for each object.

For example, we can express the example query in a way that determines the table by calling object.class.table_name:

issue_a = Issue.find(..)
issue_b = Issue.find(..)

# Issues a single query:
::Gitlab::Database::BulkUpdate.execute(%i[title weight], {
  issue_a => { title: 'Very difficult issue', weight: 8 },
  issue_b => { title: 'Very easy issue', weight: 1 }

You can even pass heterogeneous sets of objects, if the updates all make sense for them:

issue_a = Issue.find(..)
issue_b = Issue.find(..)
merge_request = MergeRequest.find(..)

# Issues two queries
::Gitlab::Database::BulkUpdate.execute(%i[title], {
  issue_a => { title: 'A' },
  issue_b => { title: 'B' },
  merge_request => { title: 'B' }

If your objects do not return the correct model class, such as if they are part of a union, then specify the model class explicitly in a block:

bazzes = params
objects = Foo.from_union([
    Foo.select("id, 'foo' as object_type").where(quux: true),
    Bar.select("id, 'bar' as object_type").where(wibble: true)
# At this point, all the objects are instances of Foo, even the ones from the
# Bar table
mapping = objects.to_h { |obj| [obj, bazzes[obj.id]] }

# Issues at most 2 queries
::Gitlab::Database::BulkUpdate.execute(%i[baz], mapping) do |obj|


This tool is very low level, and operates directly on the raw column values. You should consider these issues if you implement it:

  • Enumerations and state fields must be translated into their underlying representations.
  • Nested associations are not supported.
  • No validations or hooks are called.