· ruby

Ruby: Returning hashes using merge! and merge

We came across an interesting problem today with some code which was unexpectedly returning nil.

The code that we had looked like this…


class SomeClass
	def our_method	
		a_hash = { :a => 2 }
		a_hash.merge!({:b => 3}) unless some_condition.nil?
	end
end

…and we didn’t notice the ‘unless’ statement on the end which meant that if ‘some_condition’ was nil then the return value of the method would be nil.

One way around it is to ensure that we explicitly return a_hash at the end of the method…


class SomeClass
	def our_method	
		a_hash = { :a => 2 }
		a_hash.merge!({:b => 3}) unless some_condition.nil?
		a_hash
	end
end

…but I think that looks a bit ugly.

Luckily Rails provides a method called ‘returning’ which I first learnt about from Reg Braithwaite’s blog post about the kestrel combinator.

That method is defined like so:


  def returning(value)
    yield(value)
    value
  end

And we can use it in our code like this:


class SomeClass
	def our_method	
		a_hash = { :a => 2 }
		returning a_hash do |h|
			h..merge!({:b => 3}) unless some_condition.nil?
		end
	end
end

Another way to return the merged hash without mutating the original would be to use the ‘merge’ method rather than ‘merge!’:


class SomeClass
	def our_method	
		a_hash = { :a => 2 }
		a.hash.merge(!some_condition.nil? ? {:b => 3} : {})
	end
end

We could use that approach with ‘merge!’ as well but I’m not sure that it reads as nicely as the version which uses the ‘unless’ way.

Another approach that I started messing around with could be this…


class SomeClass
  def our_method
    a_hash = { :a => 2 }
    merge_unless(a_hash, {:b => 3}, proc { some_condition.nil? })
  end
end

def merge_unless(hash, other_hash, condition)
  if condition.call()
    hash
  else
    hash.merge(other_hash)
  end 
end

…although that’s probably a bit over the top seeing the collection of other ways we already have.

  • LinkedIn
  • Tumblr
  • Reddit
  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Pocket