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Ruby on Rails Refactoring Code

Rails Service Objects: How to Refactor Your Rails App

Estimated read time: 8 minutes

Wondering how to refactor your Rails app using Rails service objects? Do the following:

1. Analyze the issues in your Rails code, e.g., execution of business logic in ActiveRecord models

The code in your Roby on Rails (RoR) app might be working. However, you don’t feel the code quality is good. You feel that issues exist in your code. You foresee larger problems in the future, therefore, you want to refactor your code.

The app might have an ActiveRecord model that’s becoming very long. Either your controller has non-REST routes, or the model code tracks session variables. 

The app might execute business logic in ActiveRecord models. Your code might not follow the single responsibility principle, therefore, you have objects that do too much.

You might have reviewed the controller entry points. You found extra methods in controllers, which isn’t good. 

Document your findings. Build a case of refactoring. Get the required buy-in from the organizational leadership team.

2. Assess how you can use Rails service objects to refactor your code

Now that you have identified and documented issues with the code, ascertain how Rails service objects can resolve them. Do the following:

2A. Gain an adequate understanding of Rails service objects 

You can consider service objects as “Plain Old Ruby Objects” (PORO). A service object should execute only one business action in the domain logic of your app. It should carry out this task effectively. 

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We should encapsulate all our logic pertaining to this task within one Ruby class. Developers can instantiate this class. They can call a method to it as well. 

There are 3 kinds of service objects. These are as follows:

  • Creators: These create and save objects to databases. These are useful when the code needs to perform complex operations.
  • Updaters: They update records and carry out other tasks. These tasks might include communicating with third-party APIs.
  • Workers: These refer to tasks that are triggered due to other background tasks.

2B. Get an understanding of the advantages of using service objects

You get the following advantages if you use service objects: 

  • Controllers in your app will be lean if you service objects. You can test these controllers easily.
  • If you use service objects, then controllers will interact with domain objects. There will be a separation between the domain and framework. The scalability of your Rails app improves.
  • Reusability of your code increases if you use service objects.
  • You can test business processes separately if you use Rails service objects.  

3. Review best practices for using service objects

Check out a few best practices before creating your own service projects. These are as follows:

  • Maintain an effective folder structure. You should create a Rails service object in a new folder named “app/service”.
  • We should create a new Ruby class and code all our logic in this class.   
  • After creating a service object, use an easy-to-understand name for this new “Plain Old Ruby Object”! Take advantage of the “Proc#call” feature of Ruby for this.  
  • Document the new Ruby object sufficiently. E.g., you should clearly indicate the usage of class methods. You want other service objects to follow a uniform standard, therefore, documentation is important. Also, consider creating a class called “ApplicationService”.
  • You might create multiple service objects based on your requirements. Group service objects that are similar. Developers can then better understand the service objects in your Rails app. 
  • Decide whether you will use API calls for database operations or create one service object for some of them.
  • To create good service objects, decide carefully what they should return. 
  • Follow the “single responsibility principle” to create Rails service objects. 
  • Don’t overuse service objects.

4. Understand where you shouldn’t use service objects

Instances of rails services exist where service objects aren’t a good fit. You should not use these Ruby objects in such cases. These scenarios are as follows:

  • Don’t use Rails service objects where your code handles routing. 
  • You should not use service objects if your code carries out the tasks of a controller.
  • Is your code organization such that you will share code in different controllers? Don’t use a service object.
  • The service object pattern doesn’t fit where your code is like a model without a need for persistence. Don’t use them 

On the other hand, you should use a service object if your code performs a specific business action.     

5. Familiarize yourself with the rules for writing good service objects

Keep the following rules in mind when creating service objects:

  • Define a single responsibility for a service object. 
  • Group Rails service objects in namespaces.
  • Use only one public method in a service object. Create similar service objects if you need to use more than one public method.
  • Use specific actions to perform when you name service objects. Don’t use very generic service object names. 
  • Create different objects for multiple different actions. 
  • Create custom exceptions within a service object. Analyze the possible error conditions and raise custom exceptions for them. 
  • Avoid instantiating service objects directly. 

6. Plan the refactoring project

The project manager (PM) should plan the refactoring project effectively. In this activity, the architect and team leader should help the PM.

The planning process should cover the following:

  • Documenting the refactoring scope and requirements;
  • Reviewing the refactoring requirements;
  • Creating a code refactoring approach and having it reviewed;
  • Hiring Ruby on Rails web development experts if you don’t have the required manpower;
  • Risk management;
  • Communications management.

This isn’t an exhaustive list. The PM might need to cover more aspects in this exercise. 

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7. Hire developers

You need to now hire RoR developers. Take the following steps:

7A. Choose a hiring approach

Sometimes, you might think that hiring freelance Ruby of Rails developers is a good idea. We don’t agree with this approach. A refactoring project can be complex. Hiring freelancers can expose your project to risks.

Freelancers work part-time on your project. Managing part-timers can be hard. Freelance platforms don’t offer any project management support. Freelancers might leave your project mid-way, and you will need to find replacement developers.

We recommend you hire Ruby on Rails developers from a trustworthy software development company like DevTeam.Space. Our developers work full-time on your project.

DevTeam.Space Rails developers are skilled and experienced. We routinely encourage them to upskill. Therefore, our developers are motivated. We also offer project management support. Hiring dedicated Rails developers from DevTeam.Space mitigates your project risks.

7B. Interview developers

Having selected a hiring approach, you should post your job ad. Interview the candidates. You can use our Ruby on Rails interview questions and answers. 

Ask questions that help you evaluate the relevant expertise of developers. Avoid asking only theoretical questions.

Ask candidates how they solved problems in past RoR projects. Explain your code refactoring project and the requirements. Ask them how they would approach your project. Expect to hear specific suggestions and not jargon. 

7C. Onboard RoR developers

You have hired Rails developers, therefore, you now need to onboard them effectively. Share the project documents including requirements. Explain the project requirements to the new developers. 

Developers need access to the project’s technical environment including the code repository. Grant them this access.

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Introduce the new developers to your existing team. Explain their roles and responsibilities. Set up a communication process with the new team members. Explain the project timelines and work approval process. Establish accountability. 

8. Refactor the RoR app using Rails service objects

Your team should now carry out the refactoring work. The PM should oversee and manage this effort. The team needs to do the following:

  • Create methods and introduce services as needed;
  • Write code for complex operations as required;
  • Create service objects from scratch or by using RoR BusinessProcess gems;
  • Review code;
  • Test the code and resolve issues;
  • Deploy the refactored Rails app.

Submit a Project With Zero Risk

Refactoring a Rails app using Rails service objects can be complex. You need highly skilled and experienced Ruby on Rails developers with comprehensive knowledge of the Ruby programming language.  

At DevTeam.Space, we provide top-quality Ruby on Rails developers with relevant expertise. Our full-time Ruby and Ruby on Rails programmers are trained in our AI-powered agile process. You can expect quality since our Rails developers are vetted.

If you want to learn more, please fill out our DevTeam.Space product specification form. An experienced account manager will contact you to answer any questions you might have.


1. Do DevTeam.Space programmers have the required Ruby on Rails programming experience? 

We at DevTeam.Space have highly skilled and experienced Ruby on Rails developers. They have relevant expertise in writing quality Rails code. Our world-class development processes further help you to succeed.  

2. Can DevTeam.Space programmers write quality Rails code that I can maintain easily? 

DevTeam.Space helps you develop Rails apps that meet the relevant functional and non-functional requirements (NFRs). We consider maintainability very important. Our Rails developers write supportable and maintainable code. Therefore, your application maintenance costs are less. 

3. Does DevTeam.Space provide project management support if I hire Rails developers?

DevTeam.Space developers have extensive expertise in creating Rails apps. We go well beyond that though. We offer comprehensive project management support. You get complementary support from a dedicated tech account manager. This account manager provides oversight of the work done by our programmers.


Alexey Semeney

Founder of DevTeam.Space

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