View Source Generic Actions

Generic actions are so named because there are no special rules about how they work. A generic action takes arguments and returns a value. The struct used for building input for a generic action is Ash.ActionInput.

action :say_hello, :string do
  argument :name, :string, allow_nil?: false

  run fn input, _ ->
    {:ok, "Hello: #{}"}

A generic action declares its arguments, return type, and implementation, as illustrated above.

No return? No problem!

Generic actions can omit a return type, in which case running them returns :ok if successful.

action :schedule_job do
  argument :job_name, :string, allow_nil?: false
  run fn input ->
    # Schedule the job

Why use generic actions?

The example above could be written as a normal function in elixir, i.e

def say_hello(name), do: "Hello: #{name}"

The benefit of using generic actions instead of defining normal functions:

  • They can be used with api extensions like ash_json_api and ash_graphql
  • Their inputs are type checked and casted
  • They support Ash authorization patterns (i.e policies)
  • They can be included in the code interface of a resource
  • They can be made transactional with a single option (transaction? true)

If you don't need any of the above, then there is no problem with writing regular Elixir functions!

Return types and constraints

Generic actions do not cast their return types. It is expected that the action return a valid value for the type that they declare. However, declaring additional constraints can inform API usage, and make the action more clear. For example:

action :priority, :integer do
  constraints [min: 1, max: 3]
  argument :status, :atom, constraints: [one_of: [:high, :medium, :low]]

  run fn input, _ ->
    case input.arguments.status do
      :high -> {:ok, 3}
      :medium -> {:ok, 2}
      :low -> {:ok, 1}

Returning resource instances

It sometimes happens that you want to make a generic action which returns an instance or instances of the resource. It's natural to assume that you can set your action's return type to the name of your resource. This won't work as resources do not define a type, unless they are embedded. In embedded resources, this won't work because the module is still being compiled, so referencing yourself as a type causes a compile error. Instead, use the :struct type and the instance_of constraint, like so:

action :get, :struct do
  constraints instance_of: __MODULE__

  run # ...