Feature #16276


For consideration: "private do...end" / "protected do...end"

Added by adh1003 (Andrew Hodgkinson) almost 2 years ago. Updated over 1 year ago.

Target version:


Private or protected declarations in Ruby classes are problematic. The single, standalone public, private or protected statements cause all following methods - except "private" class methods, notably - to have that protection level. It is not idiomatic in Ruby to indent method definitions after such declarations, so it becomes at a glance very hard to see what a method's protection level is when just diving into a piece of source code. One must carefully scroll up the code searching for a relevant declaration (easily missed, when everything's at the same indentation level) or have an IDE sufficiently advanced to give you that information automatically (and none of the lightweight editors I prefer personally have yet to support this). Forcibly indenting code after declarations helps, but most Ruby developers find this unfamiliar and most auto-formatters/linters will reset it or, at best, complain. Further, the difficulty in defining private class methods or constants tells us that perhaps there's more we should do here - but of course, we want to maintain backwards compatibility.

On the face of it, I can't see much in the way of allowing the public, private or protected declarations to - optionally - support a block-like syntax.

class Foo

  # ...there may be prior old-school public/private/protected declarations...

  def method_at_whatever_traditional_ruby_protection_level_applies
    puts "I'm traditional"

  private do
    def some_private_instance_method
      puts "I'm private"

    def self.some_private_class_method
      puts "I'm also private - principle of least surprise"


  def another_method_at_whatever_traditional_ruby_protection_level_applies
    puts "I'm also traditional"


My suggestion here confines all public do...end, protected do...end or private do...end protections strictly to the confines of the block alone. Outside the block - both before and after - traditional Ruby protection semantics apply, allowing one to add new block-based protection-enclosed method declarations inside any existing code base without fear of accidentally changing the protection level of any methods defined below the new block. As noted in the pseudocode above, we can clean up some of the issues around the special syntax needed for "private constants", too.

I see a lot of wins in here but I'm aware I may be naïve - for example, arising unanswered questions include:

  • Is the use of a block-like syntax making unwarranted assumptions about what the Ruby compiler can do during its various parsing phases?
  • Does the use of a block-like syntax imply we should support things like Procs too? (I think probably not - I see this as just syntax sugar to provide a new feature reusing a familiar idiom but without diving down any other rabbit holes, at least not in the first implementation)

I've no idea how one would go about implementing this inside Ruby Core, as I've never tackled that before. If someone is keen to pick up the feature, great! Alternatively, if a rough idea of how it might be implemented could be sketched out, then I might be able to have a go at implementation myself and submit a PR - assuming anyone is keen on the idea in the first place :-)

Related issues

Is duplicate of Ruby master - Feature #7019: allow `private` and `protected` keywords to take blocksRejectedmatz (Yukihiro Matsumoto)Actions

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