Feature #18603


Allow syntax like obj.method(arg)=value

Added by hmdne (hmdne -) 11 months ago. Updated 11 months ago.

Target version:


I propose here to allow a syntax like:

obj.method(arg) = value

It would be translated to the following:

obj.__send__(:method=, arg, value)

The lack of this syntax kind of limits the ability to design DSLs in Ruby in my opinion. I don't think this would bring any conflicts with existing parser rules.

My proposal would be to put the value at the last argument, akin to how []= works. So, for example this code would work:

module Indexable
  def dig=(*path, last, value)
    if path.empty?
      self[last] = value
      first = path.shift
      self[first]&.dig(*path, last) = value

Hash.include Indexable
Array.include Indexable

The kwargs may be supported similarly to how they work on []=, ie. becoming a penultimate Hash argument. While maybe not perfect, it is consistent with how []= works and I imagine most usecases won't require kwargs.

Updated by sawa (Tsuyoshi Sawada) 11 months ago

Notice that, while [] in []= cannot be omitted, () in method invocation can be omitted. Are you expecting () in the proposed feature to be omittable or not? Either way, I think it would introduce complexity. I think that is a crucial difference between []= and the proposed feature; the latter is not as simple as the former.

Updated by baweaver (Brandon Weaver) 11 months ago

I believe in this particular case it would make more sense to have a dual method to dig, rather than adding additional complexity to the syntactic sugar around =. There were proposals in the past for Enumerable#bury that targeted this behavior:

module Enumerable
  def bury(*paths, &value_fn)
    return unless block_given?
    *lead, target = paths

    if lead.empty? # Single item in path
      self[target] = yield(self[target])
      above_value = self.dig(*lead)
      above_value[target] = yield(above_value[target])

collection = [{ a: 1, b: 2, c: [{ d: 3 }] }]
# => [{:a=>1, :b=>2, :c=>[{:d=>3}]}]
collection.bury(0, :c, 0, :d) { |v| v + 5 }
# => 8
# => [{:a=>1, :b=>2, :c=>[{:d=>8}]}]

The difficulty for such functions is how to differentiate between the varadic path and the value setter. For me I believe block functions strike a good medium here, and may be a viable solution, though Matz has previously rejected the idea of adding a bury function. Perhaps it may make sense to bring it up again if this is compelling, as it does bear some similarity to merge behavior.

Updated by hmdne (hmdne -) 11 months ago

@sawa (Tsuyoshi Sawada) - My proposal would be to allow omitting parentheses only if there are no arguments provided, ie. how it is currently. = 6 # correct currently = 6 # correct under the proposal = 6 # correct under the proposal a = 6 # parser conflict, it is already a correct code meaning something else

I am not very familiar with MRI code unfortunately, so I can't estimate if this will introduce a lot of complexity or not. Certainly lvalue will need to accept a lot more types of expression. I develop an alternative Ruby implementation (Opal), though not its parser, and there I have a clear path for implementation of this feature.

A similar, though a little different, feature exists in C, where *get_mem(123) = 123 is a correct code.

Another argument for this feature is that it's easy to pass an arbitrary number of arguments to any operator, like +, *, []=, [], something?, something!. From what I know, something= is the only kind of operator that needs __send__ to pass other number of arguments than 1 (self.x=(1,2,3) is not a correct code, perhaps it could be an alternative to accept it, instead of this proposal, but I assume it will be a lot harder).

I happen to sometimes want to add an optional argument to setter and it ends up with a code refactor that makes code a lot more complicated, needing methods like set_x, while I can easily add arguments to a getter.

@baweaver (Brandon Weaver)

The difficulty for such functions is how to differentiate between the varadic path and the value setter

While block adds a lot of flexibility for certain cases, like bury, this proposal more clearly separates what's a variadic path and what's a value (following the semantics of [] and []= operators). Perhaps my pseudo-code with dig= isn't the greatest idea, but it demonstrates the concept.

A more real life example happened in my code. I wanted to create an API like the following:

entity.attribute(3) # => value of attribute 3
entity.attribute("attrtype 3 by name") # => value of attribute 3
entity.attribute( # => value of attribute 3
entity.attribute(3) = 10
entity.attribute("attrtype 3 by name") = 10
entity.attribute( = 10

Of course I ended up with extending Hash to accurately resolve the hash keys. Instead of the API described above, I created this:

entity.attributes[3] # => value of attribute 3
entity.attributes["attrtype 3 by name"] # => value of attribute 3
entity.attributes[] # => value of attribute 3
entity.attributes[3] = 10
entity.attributes["attrtype 3 by name"] = 10
entity.attributes[] = 10

While I achieved the same goal by it, the resulting API implementation added a lot of complexity.

Updated by Eregon (Benoit Daloze) 11 months ago

IMHO way too complicated and []= seems good enough for this use case.

Also it would be very confusing as the similar and existing syntax def obj.method(arg) = value means something completely different.


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