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In Ruby is there a way to overload the initialize constructor?

Posted by: admin November 30, 2017 Leave a comment

Questions:

In Java you can overload constructors:

public Person(String name) {
  this.name = name;
}
public Person(String firstName, String lastName) {
   this(firstName + " " + lastName);
}

Is there a way in Ruby to achieve this same result: two constructors that take different arguments?

Answers:

The answer is both Yes and No.

You can achieve the same result as you can in other languages using a variety of mechanisms including :-

  • Default values for arguments
  • Variable Argument lists (The splat operator)
  • Defining your argument as a hash

The actual syntax of the language does not allow you to define a method twice, even if the arguments are different.

Considering the three options above these could be implemented with your example as follows

# As written by @Justice
class Person
  def initialize(name, lastName = nil)
    name = name + " " + lastName unless lastName.nil?
    @name = name
  end
end


class Person
  def initialize(args)
    name = args["name"] + " " + args["lastName"] unless args["lastName"].nil?
    @name = name
  end
end

class Person
  def initialize(*args)
    #Process args (An array)
  end
end

You will encounter the second mechanism frequently within Ruby code, particularly within Rails as it offers the best of both worlds and allows for some syntactic sugar to produce pretty code, particularly not having to enclose the passed hash within braces.

This wikibooks link provides some more reading

Questions:
Answers:

I tend to do

class Person
  def self.new_using_both_names(first_name, last_name)
    self.new([first_name, last_name].join(" "))
  end

  def self.new_using_single_name(single_name)
    self.new(single_name)
  end

  def initialize(name)
    @name = name
  end
end

But I don’t know if this is the best approach.

Questions:
Answers:
class Person
  def initialize(name, lastName = nil)
    name = name + " " + lastName unless lastName.nil?
    @name = name
  end
end

Questions:
Answers:
class StatementItem
  attr_reader :category, :id, :time, :amount

  def initialize(item)
    case item
    when Order
      initialize_with_order(item)
    when Transaction
      initialize_with_transaction(item)
    end
  end

  def valid?
    !(@category && @id && @time && @amount).nil?
  end

  private
    def initialize_with_order(order)
      return nil if order.status != 'completed'
      @category = 'order'
      @id = order.id
      @time = order.updated_at
      @amount = order.price
    end

    def initialize_with_transaction(transaction)
      @category = transaction.category
      @id = transaction.id
      @time = transaction.updated_at
      @amount = transaction.amount
    end

end

Questions:
Answers:

You can use konstructor gem to declare multiple constructors in Ruby and imitate overloading:

class Person
  def initialize(name)
    @name = name
  end

  konstructor
  def from_two_names(first_name, last_name)
    @name = first_name + ' ' + last_name
  end
end

Person.new('John Doe')
Person.from_two_names('John', 'Doe')

Questions:
Answers:

I usually do:

class Person
  attr_reader :name
  def initialize(first: nil, last: nil)
    @name = [first, last].compact.join(' ')
  end
end

Person.new(first: 'ya').name
# => "ya"

Person.new(first: 'ya', last: 'ku').name
# => "ya ku"