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Feature #8520

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Distinct to_s methods for Array, Hash...

Added by LFDM (Gernot Höflechner) about 8 years ago. Updated about 8 years ago.

Status:
Feedback
Priority:
Normal
Target version:
-
[ruby-core:55458]

Description

I apologize if something like this has already been proposed in the past, if it was, I can't find it at the moment.

Ruby 2.0 rightfully changed to behaviour of inspect (not delegating to to_s anymore), as inspect was effectively disabled when you had custom to_s methods implemented.

However I think that a mix of the old and the new would combine the best of both worlds.
Array or Hash to_s methods should not delegate to inspect, but instead reflect the old behavior and call to_s to all members of a given collection.

Use Case:
I am currently designing a fairly large application that constructs very complex objects. For debugging reasons those objects have to_s methods implemented to read terminal output in a digestible format.
In constructing these to_s methods it was very convenient to string-interpolate collections of such objects.
A quick example:

class A
def initialize
@a = "Large example text"
end

def to_s
# abbreviated form
@a[0]
end
end

arr = []
5.times { arr << A.new }
arr << arr.clone

puts "#{arr}"

Ruby 1.9.3 output: [L, L, L, L, L, [L, L, L, L, L]]
Ruby 2.0.0.output: [#, #, #<A:0x00000001f52bb0 ... and much more

I deliberately nested the example - as it obstructs the use of a simple join (arr * " " => L L L L L L L L L L), which cannot reflect the array's nesting.
Printing a hash would be even more difficult - and with more nesting this becomes an immense task.

Of course someone could just adjust the to_s method, but the elegance gets lost, logging something like this would quickly lead to not so pretty code:
"The array looked like: #{arr}"

So I'd say distinct to_s methods, that call to_s recursively instead of delegating to inspect. Basically leaving inspect at its correct 2.0 behavior and reverting to_s (and thus #{}) back to its 1.9 behaviour.
Let's hope I am not overlooking something here.

What do you think?
Thanks for your feedback in advance,
GH

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