Decanter is a Rails gem that makes it easy to transform incoming data before it hits the model. The basic idea is that form data entered by a user often needs to be processed before it is stored into the database. A typical example of this is a datepicker. A user selects January 15th, 2015 as the date, but this is going to come into our controller as a string like "01/15/2015", so we need to convert this string to a Ruby Date object before it is stored in our database. Many developers perform this conversion right in the controller, which results in errors and unnecessary complexity, especially as the application grows.
You can think of Decanter as the opposite of Active Model Serializer. Whereas AMS transforms your outbound data into a format that your frontend consumes, Decanter transforms your incoming data into a format that your backend consumes.
Check out Ryan's talk on Decanter: https://gigity.tv/event/111398
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