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Feature #9076

open

New one-argument block syntax: &.

Added by asterite (Ary Borenszweig) over 7 years ago. Updated 4 months ago.

Status:
Feedback
Priority:
Normal
Assignee:
-
Target version:
-
[ruby-core:58149]

Description

Hello,

I'd like to introduce a new syntax for blocks that have one argument.

Currently you can do this:

[1, 2, 3].map &:to_s

With the proposed syntax this will be written as:

[1, 2, 3].map &.to_s

Instead of ":" we use a ".".

The idea is that this new syntax is just syntax sugar that is expanded by the parser to this:

[1, 2, 3].map { |arg| arg.to_s }

This new syntax allows passing arguments:

[1, 2, 3, 4].map &.to_s(2) #=> ["1", "10", "11", "100"]

It also allows chaining calls:

[1, 10, 100].map &.to_s.length #=> [1, 2, 3]

You can also use another block:

[[1, -2], [-3, -4]].map &.map &.abs #=> [[1, 2], [3, 4]]

Pros:

  • Doesn't conflict with any existing syntax, because that now gives a syntax error, so it is available.
  • Allows passing arguments and chaining calls
  • It's fast: it's just syntax sugar. The "&:to_s" is slower because the to_proc method is invoked, you have a cache of procs, etc.
  • It looks ok (in my opinion) and allows very nice functional code (like the last example).

Cons:

  • Only supports one (implicit) argument. But this is the same limitation of "&:to_s". If you want more than one argument, use the traditional block syntax.
  • It's a new syntax, so users need to learn it. But to defend this point, users right now need to understand the &:to_s syntax, which is hard to explain (this calls the "to_proc" method of Symbol, which creates a block... vs. "it's just syntax sugar for")

What do you think?

We are using this syntax in a new language we are doing, Crystal, which has a syntax very similar to Ruby, and so far we think it's nice, simple and powerful. You can read more about it here: http://crystal-lang.org/2013/09/15/to-proc.html


Related issues

Related to Ruby master - Feature #4146: Improvement of Symbol and ProcRejectednobu (Nobuyoshi Nakada)Actions
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