Activecube: Multi-Dimensional Queries with Rails

Activecube is the library to make multi-dimensional queries to data warehouse, such as:

    date: cube.dimensions[:date][:date].format('%Y-%m'),
    currency: cube.dimensions[:currency][:symbol]

Cube, dimensions, metrics and selectors are defined in the Model, similary to ActiveRecord.

Activecube uses Rails ActiveRecord in implementation.

In particular, you have to define all tables, used in Activecube, as ActiveRecord tables.


Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'activecube'

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself as:

$ gem install activecube


Basic steps to use ActiveCube are:

  1. Define your database schema in models, as you do with Rails
  2. Setup connection properties to data warehouse in config/database.yml. You can use multiple connections if you use Rails 6 or higher
  3. Define cubes in models, sub-classed from Activecube::Base. Look spec/models/test/transfers_cube.rb as example
  4. Make queries to the cubes

Check spec/cases/activecube_spec.rb for more examples.

Cube definition

Cube defined using the following attributes:

  • table specifies, which physical database tables can be considered to query

    table TransfersCurrency
    table TransfersFrom
    table TransfersTo
  • dimension specifies classes used for slicing the cube

    dimension date: Dimension::Date,
              currency: Dimension::Currency


    dimension date: Dimension::Date
    dimension currency: Dimension::Currency
  • metric specifies which results expected from the cube queries
    metric amount: Metric::Amount,
           count: Metric::Count


    metric amount: Metric::Amount
    metric count: Metric::Count
  • selector is a set of expressions, which can filter results
    selector currency: CurrencySelector,
             transfer_from: TransferFromSelector,
             transfer_to: TransferToSelector

Table definition

Tables are defined as regular active records, with additional optional attribute 'index':

index 'currency_id', cardinality: 4

which means that the table has an index onm currency_id field, with average number of different entries of 10,000 ( 10^4). This creates a hint for optimizer to build queries.

Indexes can span multiple fields, as

index ['currency_id','date'], cardinality: 6

Note, that if you created combined index in database, you most probable will need to define all indexed combinations, for example:

index ['currency_id'], cardinality: 4
index ['currency_id','date'], cardinality: 6

You can require using index in some cases. If required: true added, the table will be used only in case when this field is used in query metric, dimension or selector.

index ['currency_id'], cardinality: 4, required: true

Query language

You use the cube class to create and execute queries.

Queries can be expressed as Arel query, SQL or executed against the database, returning results.

The methods used to contruct the query:

  • slice defines which dimensions slices the results
  • measure defines what to measure
  • when defines which selectors to apply
  • desc, asc, offset, limit are for ordering and limiting result set

After the query contructed, the following methods can be applied:

  • to_sql to generate String SQL query from cube query
  • to_query to generate Arel query
  • query to execute query and return ResultSet

Managing Connections

You can control the connection used to construct and execute query by ActiveRecord standard API:

ApplicationRecord.connected_to(database: :data_warehouse) do
      cube = My::TransfersCube
              date: cube.dimensions[:date][:date].format('%Y-%m'),
              currency: cube.dimensions[:currency][:symbol]

will query using data_warehouse configuraton.

Alternatively you can use the method provided by activecube. It will make the connection for the model or abstract class, which is super class for your models:

My::TransfersCube.connected_to(database: :data_warehouse) do |cube|
              date: cube.dimensions[:date][:date].format('%Y-%m'),
              currency: cube.dimensions[:currency][:symbol]

How it works

When you construct and execute cube query with any outcome ( sql, Arel query or ResultSet), the same sequence of operations happen:

1) Cube is collecting the query into a set of objects from the chain method call; 2) Query is matched against the physical tables, the tables are selected that can serve the query or its part. For example, one table can provide one set of metrics, and the other can provide remaining; 3) If possible, the variant is selected from all possible options, which uses indexes with the most cardinality 4) Query is constructed using Arel SQL engine ( included in ActiveRecord ) using selected tables, and possibly joins 5) If requested, the query is converted to sql ( using Arel visitor ) or executed with database connection


The optimization on step #3 try to minimize the total cost of execution:

Formula min max)


Formula cost

Optimization is done using the algorithm, which checks possible combinations of metrics and tables.


After checking out the repo, run bin/setup to install dependencies. Then, run rake spec to run the tests. You can also run bin/console for an interactive prompt that will allow you to experiment.

To install this gem onto your local machine, run bundle exec rake install. To release a new version, update the version number in version.rb, and then run bundle exec rake release, which will create a git tag for the version, push git commits and tags, and push the .gem file to

RSPec tests

To run tests, you need clickhouse server installation. Tests use database 'test' that have to be created in clickhouse as:


Check credentials for connection in spec/spec_helper.rb file. By default clickhouse must reside on "clickhouse" server name, port 8123 with the default user access open.


Bug reports and pull requests are welcome on GitHub at This project is intended to be a safe, welcoming space for collaboration, and contributors are expected to adhere to the Contributor Covenant code of conduct.


The gem is available as open source under the terms of the MIT License.

Code of Conduct

Everyone interacting in the Activecube project’s codebases, issue trackers, chat rooms and mailing lists is expected to follow the code of conduct.