How to fix BigDecimal returning as Strings in Rails

Something that I’ve just found out recently.

Basically, Rails serializes BigDecimal objects as JSON
strings
because they didn’t want
its values to be misintepreted when deserialized.

But in Rails 4.0.x, an option to reverse that behavior was introduced in the
form of:

  # config/application.rb
  ActiveSupport.encode_big_decimal_as_string = false # default = true

If you’re on Rails 4.0.x, adding the above will ensure that the values returned
will be numbers.

If your Rails API is providing response data that contains numbers, you want to
make sure that you are not accidentally encoding big decimals as string, which
would cause a problem when trying to do arithmetic calculations with it.

ie, by default, BigDecimals are encoded as Strings, so when your output value is
being used to add numbers like in javascript, you might experience something
like this:

var responseDataNumber = "0.15";
var addition = 1 + responseDataNumber;
console.log(addition); // returns 10.15 instead of 1.15

So if you’re dealing with quite a lot of numbers output, you really should remember to set the flag to false

Note:

In Rails 4.1.x, the JSON encoder has been rewritten and the old ActiveSupport JSON
Encoder has been released as a seperate gem.

To get this to work again, just add the following in your Gemfile.

# Gemfile
gem 'activesupport-json_encoder', github: 'rails/activesupport-json_encoder'

If you find this helpful, do share it around, or leave comments in the disqus
below!