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e7e83c8 Feb 1, 2017
@cornelius @saschpe @mssola @jreidinger @jdsn @aduffeck
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Ruby style guide


These are coding conventions used by all SUSE projects written in Ruby (such as SUSE Cloud, SUSE Studio, YaST, or Machinery. We are making them public for the benefit of our external contributors and the Ruby community in general. The original author is David Majda. The current maintainer is Miquel Sabaté Solà.

General rules

We aim to write code that is readable, understandable and easily modifiable. All other considerations (such as performance) are secondary and should apply only in warranted cases. We especially try to avoid unnecessary cleverness.

When adding new code, use conventions of the code around the change, even if it does not conform to the conventions described here. Local consistency is more important than global one. Never change the code to conform the conventions and change the functionality in one commit — split such work into two or more separate changes. Also consider that by formatting changes you are disrupting useful commands like git blame.

For every rule there is a situation when it makes sense to break it. Consider rules in this document as strong recommendations, follow them as much as possible, but if you need to break them, do it. Just make sure you have a good reason and you don’t do that too often.

Avoid changing big masses of code just for the sake of adapting the style. The risk of introducing bugs can be high and reliable code is more valuable than having the perfect style. A good approach is to adapt code which is under active development and testing, for example accepting pull requests only when they don't contain style issues.

Style guide

We follow the semi-official [Ruby style guide written by Bozhidar Batsov] ( This generally is the reference. So if you follow these rules you will be fine. We will refer to it as the upstream style guide.

In this document we collect the few cases where we deviate from the upstream style guide, some additional guidelines not covered by the semi-official guide, and more information about the rationale behind the guidelines.

Deviations from the upstream style guide

  1. Avoid the %w alternative syntax for arrays.

    Different from standard

    Rationale: Little less quotes do not outweigh the loss of syntax regularity (which is useful when munging source code with regular expressions/scripts) and confusion of non-Ruby programmers reading Ruby code.

  2. Avoid the %r alternative syntax for regular expressions.

    Different from standard

    Rationale: Little less escape characters do not outweigh the loss of syntax regularity (which is useful when munging source code with regular expressions/scripts) and confusion of non-Ruby programmers reading Ruby code.

Additional guidelines


  1. Comments should not duplicate the code, but explain things that are not possible to express in it. These are mainly:

    • High-level overviews of functionality (not expressible in code because it is too detailed)
    • Reasoning behind the code
    • Warning for hacks/ugliness where it is necessary for some reason (though you should try to avoid hacks/ugliness in the first place)

    You should especially avoid “header comments” dividing sections of code — these are usually better handled by separating the code into well-named methods. For example, instead of writing sequential code like this:

    # Step 1: Import repositories
    # …20 lines of repository importing code…
    # Step 2: Import packages
    # …20 lines of package importing code…

    Refactor the separate parts into methods:

    def import_repositories
       # …20 lines of repository importing code…
    def import_packages
       # …20 lines of package importing code…
  2. Prefer stable references instead of verbose inline descriptions. Sometimes instead of describing something directly it is better to reference an external source (Bugzilla, blog post, etc). This usually saves space and some duplication but requires reader to look up the information. The external source can also disappear or be inaccessible for the reader. Use your common sense to decide whether reference or direct description is better on case by case basis.

  3. All classes should have a comment describing what it represents. Methods can have a describing comment too, but it is not strictly necessary unless documentation is automatically generated from the comments.

  4. Almost all comments should be sentences starting with a capital letter, and ending with a period.

  5. Avoid commented-out code in the source. Disabled code should be just deleted (it will still be stored by the VCS) or put behind a configuration flag (the exact mechanism is project-dependent).

    Rationale: Commented-out code has a tendency to stay in the code forever. After a while nobody can remember why it was commented out and decide if it is actually safe to delete it now. So it will stay there, slowly bitrotting, and just creating a noise and distraction.


  1. For multi-line strings, you can use either the heredoc syntax or create the string using concatenation. Prefer heredoc syntax for longer strings and for cases where you don't care about whitespace inside the string. You can then use the version of syntax that does not disrupt indentation:

    html = <<-EOT
  2. Prefer concatentation for cases where whitespace would be a problem or for shorter strings:

    script = "#!/bin/sh\n" +
      "rm -rf /\n" +
      "echo 'Surprised?'"

    Avoid the %, %q and %Q alternative syntaxes for strings.

    Rationale: Little less escape characters do not outweigh the loss of syntax regularity (which is useful when munging source code with regular expressions/scripts) and confusion of non-Ruby programmers reading Ruby code.


  1. Write short arrays on one line like this:

    [1, 2, 3]
  2. Write longer arrays on multiple lines like this:


    Rationale: Placing the square brackets on separate lines and indenting the elements makes beginning and end of the array literal more visible. This is especially useful when arrays are nested. Ruby interpreter permits trailing comma after the least item, but this should not be used as it is not logical (comma is a separator), it makes the last item less recognizable and it is inconsistent with other languages.


  1. Write short hashes on one line like this:

    { :a => 1, :b => 2, :c => 3 }
  2. Write longer hashes on multiple lines like this:

      :a   => 1,
      :foo => 2,
      :c   => {
        :d   => 4,
        :bar => 5

    Rationale: Alignment of the arrows helps readability. Nested hashes are indented only by additional two spaces because otherwise the nested hash would be too far on the right. Ruby interpreter permits trailing comma after the least item, but this should not be used as it is not logical (comma is a separator), it makes the last item less recognizable and it is inconsistent with other languages.


  1. When multiple symmetrical expressions are on lines one after another, align their operators. On the other hand, do not align operators of unrelated expression which look similar just by coincidence.

    Rationale: Alignment helps reader recognize that the expressions are related or symmetrical.

    When splitting an expression into multiple lines, write the operator around which you split the expression at the end of the line (this is actually enforced by Ruby syntax) and indent the rest of the expression by two spaces:

    very_long_expression_foo +
      very_long_expression_bar +
  2. When multiple symmetrical assignments are on lines one after another, align their assignment operators. On the other hand, do not align assignment operators of unrelated assignments which look similar just by coincidence.

    Rationale: Alignment helps reader recognize that the assignments are related or symmetrical.


  1. If the condition of an if statement is too long to fit on one line, do not wrap it. Instead, extract the value into one or more variables in front of the if statement and use the variable(s) in the condition.

    Rationale: If a condition does not fit into one line, it usually means it is too complex. Extraction into a variable and naming that variable will hopefully encourage you to think about the condition and possible simplifications. Even if you won’t find any simplification, the variable name will help readers to better understand the condition.

  2. Do not use the unless statement in its multi-line form, only in its trailing form.

    Rationale: When reading an unless statement, one must usually mentally negate the condition to understand the statement. For a trailing form, this is fairly natural, as the statement resembles English sentence, but for the multi-line form it is not as easy. When testing objects for nil value, use the implicit rule that nil is equivalent to false in boolean context. For example, write:

    puts if user            # Use this form

    instead of

    puts if !user.nil?      # Not this


    puts unless user.nil?   # And not this

    Rationale: While conditions should generally be boolean values, proper variable naming usually ensures that a variable containing a generic object is easily distinguishable form a one containing boolean and there is usually no confusion about semantics. This is aided by the fact that Ruby has no falsey values except false and nil. The result is shorter code.

  3. Generally, use multi-line while/until statements:

    while foo > 0

    Do not use the trailing form.

    Rationale: Trailing form of while/until statements is poorly designed. If you use just one statement as a body and the condition is falsey, the body is not run at all. However if you use beginend as a body, it is run at least once before the condition is even evaluated. Hmm, or was it the other way? If I don’t remember, neither will any less experienced Ruby programmer.

    Rules for the condition of while/until statements are the same as for if/unless.


When the parameters do not fit on one line, write the method call like this:

foo(bar, baz,
  qux, quux)

That is, break the parameter list on appropriate places, indent the continuation and do not necessarily put each parameter on separate line.

For DSLs calls with omitted parentheses, write the method call like this:

foo bar,

Rules for block parameters are basically the same as for method parameters. However, some special rules for parameter names apply:

  1. When iterating a collection (using each, map, etc.), the block parameter should be singular name of the collection member:

    users.each do |user|
       puts "#{}"
  2. For one-line block bodies, the block parameter name should be just the first letter of the name of the collection member:

    users.each { |u| puts "#{}" }
  3. For some common methods, the name should be the conventional one: { |f| … }


Exceptions are a nice mechanism that allows one to report errors with all associated information and process them on appropriate place without cluttering the code with return value checks. This power is easily misused.

Raising exceptions
  1. Always try to raise exception of appropriate type and on the correct level of abstraction. Do not allow low-level exceptions (e.g. from network, database, or filesystem) leak through your interface.

    Rationale: Leaking low-level exceptions leaks information about the implementation to the outside. Someone may start to depend on this information and problems may arise when the implementation needs to change.

  2. Get familiar with standard Ruby exception classes and try to use them as much as possible. But do not limit yourself to them and introduce new exception classes as needed.

  3. Name the variable which stores the exception in the exception handler e. Do not use the $! variable to access the last thrown exception.

    Rationale: Using $! is fragile. It easily breaks when exception is raised in an exception handler or code is moved around.

  4. Use raise for raising exceptions. While fail works as well it is not very commonly used and should be avoided in order to prevent confusion.

Defining exception classes
  1. Make your exception classes subclasses of StandardError so they are caught by generic rescue statements.

  2. Define your exception classes inside the class or module that raises them (as much “inside” as possible). Do not define top-level exception classes unless they are project-wide classes intended to be used everywhere.


  1. Except for accessors and query methods, method names should generally contain a verb indicating the action of the method. Try to avoid generic names such as process, handle, do, etc.

  2. Method names should almost never use conjugations like “and”, “or”, etc. It usually means that the method is doing two or more things and that it should be split up.

  3. Sometimes you can have a problem with coming up with suitable name for a method. In that case, consider the possibility that it is just a symptom of a bigger problem, like unclear responsibility of the method or trying to do too much.

  4. Method parameters names should be short and descriptive. They should make sense to a person looking at the method signature without any documentation.

    Good example:

    def copy_log(source_file, dest_file)

    Bad example:

    def copy_log(file1, file2)

    It is often a good idea to use such a method and parameter names so that the result looks like natural English sentence — especially at the call site. There are many good examples in the Ruby standard library and Rails.

  5. If a method defines more than one optional parameter, seriously consider simulating keyword parameters using a hash parameter.

    Rationale: This will usually yield better interface for the caller since he will see parameter names at the call site. This is especially true for boolean parameters. See FileUtils#copy_entry for a negative example.

  6. If a method takes a hash parameter as the last one, it should be named options.

  7. If a method takes a splat parameter (beginning with *), it should be named by the collection it represents. If it is too generic (as is often the case in method_missing), it should be named args.

  8. If a method takes a block parameter (beginning with &), it should be named block.

Class definitions

  1. Do not put any empty lines after the beginning and before the end of the class body. Put empty lines between class sections.

Usually, class names should contain a noun describing what the class instance represents, possibly precised with few adjectives. If the primary purpose of the class is executing some process, the class name should usually end with “-er” (as in FooImporter, BarExporter, BazScanner, etc.)

Additional rationale

Code Layout

  1. Wrap lines at 80 columns. This is not a hard rule, but if you break it, it should be only because the code would be less readable otherwise (e.g. you are embedding a long URL). link

    Rationale: While long lines are not a problem on wide-screen displays, many people look at the code on terminals, e-mail clients, etc. where the viewport isn’t that wide. People also use multiple editor windows side-by-side (e.g. when writing code and tests for it simultaneously) or viewing diffs.

  2. Avoid trailing whitespace. link

    Tip: You can highlight trailing whitespace in vim by adding the following lines in your ~/.vimrc:

    " highlight trailing whitespaces (except when typing) and spaces before tabs
    highlight ExtraWhitespace ctermbg=red guibg=red
    autocmd BufWinEnter * match ExtraWhitespace /\s\+$\| \+\ze\t/
    autocmd InsertEnter * match ExtraWhitespace /\s\+\%#\@<!$/
    autocmd InsertLeave * match ExtraWhitespace /\s\+$\| \+\ze\t/
    autocmd BufWinLeave * call clearmatches()


  1. Write all strings surrounded with double quotes. Single quotes should be used only in cases where interpolation is really not desired (e.g. you have a string containing the # character). link

    Rationale: In many languages, single quotes are used for characters, not strings. This rule makes it easier to work in multi-language environment.

  2. Prefer string interpolation to concatenating using the + operator. However, use string interpolation with short expressions only. If the interpolated expression is too long, save its value into a variable in front of the string literal and use that variable inside the string. link

Regular expressions

Writing good regular expressions is tricky. Always consider what inputs the expression may encounter and how flexible the regular expression should be. If you know in advance what values will get fed in, you should write the expression as strictly as possible, so that an unexpected value will trigger an error. On the other hand, if the expression will be used in unknown environment or on wide variety of inputs, it usually makes sense to make it more permissive.

  1. If the regular expression is complex or very long, use the extended form (enabled using the /x flag) with indentation, whitespace and comments to indicate structure and meaning. See e.g. “Define the messy regexen up here” section of for good examples of this in Perl. link


  1. Don't suppress exceptions link

    Rationale: By catching only exceptions you anticipate you make sure unanticipated exceptions will pass through your handler and will be handled by a generic top-level exception handler (either the Ruby one or a custom one). This usually makes them visible. Since unanticipated exceptions often mean bugs in the code, this strategy ensures that bugs won’t go unnoticed. The opposite (using catch-all handlers) would hide them.


  1. Always use parentheses around method parameters, except when the method does not have any. link

    Rationale: Parentheses help to separate the method name form the parameters and thus increase readability, especially when just quickly scanning the code. Parameter separated from a method name only by a whitespace can be easily mistaken for a part of the method name.

Automatic style checking

To make it easy to check conformance to the style guide we use RuboCop. As a base we use the standard configuration of Hound CI. We adapt that to our needs by a SUSE specific configuration.

This section gives the rationales for the settings we use. They are linked from the configuration.


Gives nicer formatting.


The default value is just too small.


Sometimes it's just not practical to cut off at 80, so leave a little bit of leeway.

To make it possible to copy or click on URIs in the code, we allow lines contaning a URI to be longer than Max.


We use the table option because it increases readability. See also the Hashes section.




It's actually better for the eyes to add a new line around the block body if it's a big chunk of code (e.g. in tests).



There is no performance benefit to using single quotes anymore, so use double quotes for better consistency.


In interpolation double quotes are more practible, so prefer using them.


Rubocop's default value is to always check for underscores on large numeric literals. This is mostly fine, but it can be ridiculous, for example, if the application only uses "large" numeric literals for TCP ports.