Ruby 2.6


Christmas is around the corner, but I couldn’t wait and I have already been trying the new Ruby release! :christmas_tree: :tada: Ruby 2.6, apart from efficiency improvements, which include the initial implementation of a just-in-time compiler, brings us many new cool features. Taking advance of the cold outside, let’s discover some of them! :snowflake:

Array#union & Array#difference

This Ruby version is particularly special to me because it includes my two new methods for the Array class, which I presented in my talks at EuRuKo and Brighton Ruby. Array#union and Array#difference are just readable alias for Array#| and Array#- respectively when only having two arrays:

[1, 3, 5, 7, 9].union([2, 3, 4, 5, 6]) #=> [1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 2, 4, 6]
[1, 1, 3, 3, 5, 7, 9].difference([3, 4, 7]) #=> [1, 1, 5, 9]

Array#union is also equivalent to combine Array#concat and Array#uniq (with the difference that concat modifies the array), but more readable. But what is really important about those new methods, are the gains in efficiency when having more than two arrays. We need some Benchmark now. :wink:

Using Array.new(num_elements) { Random.rand(20_100_000) } to create four arrays with 20,000,000, 30,000,000, 8,000,000 and 25,000,000 elements, those are the times for the different options:

  • (array1 | array2 | array3 | array4) ~ 20.043 seconds
  • array1.union(array2, array3, array4) ~ 13.390 seconds
  • array1.concat(array2, array3, array4).uniq ~ 20.633 seconds

So please, stop using concat + uniq :pray: and let’s finally refactor some Ruby code! :tada:

Hash#merge with multiple parameters

Hash#merge and Hash#merge! were only able to merge two hashes at the same time. With Ruby 2.6, we can merge as many hashes as we want at once, which provides an performance improvement similar to Array#union and Array#difference when merging several big hashes.

{ a: 1, b: 2 }.merge({ b: 3, c: 4 }, { d: 5 }) #=> {:a=>1, :b=>3, :c=>4, :d=>5}

Enumerable#to_h

Enumerable#to_h accepts a block which allows to do things that used to require iterating manually or prepending map, being consequently more efficient. The following examples illustrate how it works:

(1..5).to_h { |x| [x, x % 3] } #=> {1=>1, 2=>2, 3=>0, 4=>1, 5=>2}
[1, 1, 2, 4].to_h { |x| [x, true] } #=> {1=>true, 2=>true, 4=>true}

Endless range

Ruby 2.6 introduces endless ranges like (1..), (74..) and (1..nil), whose size is infinite:

(1..).size => Infinity

It provides a nice alternative to [1..-1] to retrieve a slice up to the end of an Array or String:

[1, 2, 3, 4, 5][3..] => [4, 5]
'hello world'[6..] => "world"

It can also be combined with other methods to produce such elegant code:

# Selects from an array a range and from an element to the end
[0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].values_at(1..3, 5..) #=> [1, 2, 3, 5, 6]

# Iterates over more than one array at the same time with index
[:a, :b, :c].zip([10, 37, 30], 1..) { |x1, x2, index| puts "#{index}: #{x1} #{x2}" }

# Multiples of π less than 100
(1..).lazy.map { |x| x * Math::PI }.take_while{ |x| x < 100 }.force

Last, it can be used to write infinit loops with index: (1..).each { |n| ... }, however we had already several alternatives to do this. I personally find the following ones more readable:

1.step { |n| ... }
n = 1; loop { ...; n += 1 }

Note: Be careful when trying infinite ranges, as if you iterate over a range (for example with map) and forget lazy (or to stop it for instance with break), it may consume all the memory of your computer, as it happened to me. :sweat: You can use ulimit to limit the memory available for the console where you execute irb when playing with it to avoid this (on Linux and macOS). :nerd_face:

Range#=== uses cover? instead of include?

Although Matz always aims to prioritize backwards compatibility, in this case performance has won. Range#=== uses now cover? instead of include? to check if an object is an element of the range. This is a reasonable but also breaking change, which modifies the behaviour of statements like:

(Date.today..(Date.today + 1)) === DateTime.now #=> true (false in Ruby 2.5)

Take into account that Range#=== is used in case, so the following example also change its behaviour:

case DateTime.now
when (Date.today..(Date.today + 1))
  'you are in Ruby 2.6!'
else
  'update to Ruby 2.6'
end

Proc#« & Proc#»

We can now compose procs both from left to right (>>) and from right to left (<<):

double = proc { |x| x * 2 }
increment = proc { |x| x + 1 }
(double >> increment).call(2) #=> 5
(double << increment).call(2) #=> 6

Procs with multiple arguments are also supported:

f = proc { |x, y| x + y }
g = proc { |x, y| [x * 2, -(y * 3)] }
(f << g).call(2, 1) #=> 1

Enumerator#+ and Enumerable#chain

Ruby 2.6 introduces Enumerator::Chain, a new class to represent a chain of enumerables that works as a single enumerator as well as methods to create chain of enumerables: Enumerable#chain and Enumerator#+:

chain = (1..3).chain([7, 8]) #=> #<Enumerator::Chain: [1..3, [7, 8]]>
chain.to_a #=> [1, 2, 3, 7, 8]

chain = (1..3).each + [7, 8] #=> #<Enumerator::Chain: [#<Enumerator: 1..3:each>, [7, 8]]>
chain.map { |x| x * 2 } #=> [2, 4, 6, 14, 16]

Dir#each_child & Dir#children

The Dir class had already the class methods children and each_child. Ruby 2.6 add the equivalent instance methods:

d = Dir.new("/home/ana") #=> #<Dir:/home/ana/>
d.children #=> [".config", "bin", ".gitignore", ".vimrc", "github", "cat_pictures", ".bashrc", "VirtualBox VMs"]

non-ASCII constant names

Constant names can now start with non-ASCII capital letters. I am not sure how useful this is, but you can do funny things like:

class Σ♥²; end

In few days, you can update to Ruby 2.6 and have fun too! :wink:

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