You are previewing The Ruby Programming Language.

The Ruby Programming Language

Cover of The Ruby Programming Language by Yukihiro Matsumoto... Published by O'Reilly Media, Inc.
  1. The Ruby Programming Language
    1. SPECIAL OFFER: Upgrade this ebook with O’Reilly
    2. A Note Regarding Supplemental Files
    3. Preface
      1. Acknowledgments
      2. Conventions Used in This Book
      3. Using Code Examples
      4. How to Contact Us
      5. Safari® Enabled
    4. 1. Introduction
      1. A Tour of Ruby
      2. Try Ruby
      3. About This Book
      4. A Sudoku Solver in Ruby
    5. 2. The Structure and Execution of Ruby Programs
      1. Lexical Structure
      2. Syntactic Structure
      3. File Structure
      4. Program Encoding
      5. Program Execution
    6. 3. Datatypes and Objects
      1. Numbers
      2. Text
      3. Arrays
      4. Hashes
      5. Ranges
      6. Symbols
      7. True, False, and Nil
      8. Objects
    7. 4. Expressions and Operators
      1. Literals and Keyword Literals
      2. Variable References
      3. Constant References
      4. Method Invocations
      5. Assignments
      6. Operators
    8. 5. Statements and Control Structures
      1. Conditionals
      2. Loops
      3. Iterators and Enumerable Objects
      4. Blocks
      5. Altering Control Flow
      6. Exceptions and Exception Handling
      7. BEGIN and END
      8. Threads, Fibers, and Continuations
    9. 6. Methods, Procs, Lambdas, and Closures
      1. Defining Simple Methods
      2. Method Names
      3. Methods and Parentheses
      4. Method Arguments
      5. Procs and Lambdas
      6. Closures
      7. Method Objects
      8. Functional Programming
    10. 7. Classes and Modules
      1. Defining a Simple Class
      2. Method Visibility: Public, Protected, Private
      3. Subclassing and Inheritance
      4. Object Creation and Initialization
      5. Modules
      6. Loading and Requiring Modules
      7. Singleton Methods and the Eigenclass
      8. Method Lookup
      9. Constant Lookup
    11. 8. Reflection and Metaprogramming
      1. Types, Classes, and Modules
      2. Evaluating Strings and Blocks
      3. Variables and Constants
      4. Methods
      5. Hooks
      6. Tracing
      7. ObjectSpace and GC
      8. Custom Control Structures
      9. Missing Methods and Missing Constants
      10. Dynamically Creating Methods
      11. Alias Chaining
      12. Domain-Specific Languages
    12. 9. The Ruby Platform
      1. Strings
      2. Regular Expressions
      3. Numbers and Math
      4. Dates and Times
      5. Collections
      6. Files and Directories
      7. Input/Output
      8. Networking
      9. Threads and Concurrency
    13. 10. The Ruby Environment
      1. Invoking the Ruby Interpreter
      2. The Top-Level Environment
      3. Practical Extraction and Reporting Shortcuts
      4. Calling the OS
      5. Security
    14. Index
    15. About the Authors
    16. Colophon
    17. SPECIAL OFFER: Upgrade this ebook with O’Reilly

Domain-Specific Languages

The goal of metaprogramming in Ruby is often the creation of domain-specific languages, or DSLs. A DSL is just an extension of Ruby’s syntax (with methods that look like keywords) or API that allows you to solve a problem or represent data more naturally than you could otherwise. For our examples, we’ll take the problem domain to be the output of XML formatted data, and we’ll define two DSLs—one very simple and one more clever—to tackle this problem.[*]

Simple XML Output with method_missing

We begin with a simple class named XML for generating XML output. Here’s an example of how the XML can be used:

pagetitle = "Test Page for XML.generate"
XML.generate(STDOUT) do 
  html do
    head do
      title { pagetitle }
      comment "This is a test"
    body do
      h1(:style => "font-family:sans-serif") { pagetitle }
      ul :type=>"square" do
        li { }
        li { RUBY_VERSION }

This code doesn’t look like XML, and it only sort of looks like Ruby. Here’s the output it generates (with some line breaks added for legibility):

<title>Test Page for XML.generate</title>
<!-- This is a test -->
<h1 style='font-family:sans-serif'>Test Page for XML.generate</h1>
<ul type='square'>
<li>2007-08-19 16:19:58 -0700</li>

To implement this class and the XML generation syntax it supports, we rely on:

  • Ruby’s block structure

  • Ruby’s parentheses-optional method invocations

  • Ruby’s syntax for passing hash literals to methods without curly braces ...

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