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Ruby gem to extend Hash, Array, String, and Object with filters for blank, empty, and nil values.
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Ruby gem to extend Hash and Array with filters for blank, empty, and nil values.

Build status: CircleCI

This module creates new methods to be prepended to the Array, Hash, String, and Object classes to implement recursive filters for blank, empty, and nil values.

Note: ActiveSupport provides some of these methods, but in general is a much larger body of code. This module are only those methods related to "blank", "empty" or nil. Also, ActiveSupport uses Regexp match to determine blankness, while this code uses a non-destructive strip, which is both faster and less sensitive to non-UTF8 string error conditions.

In general an empty value has zero length, and a blank value is either empty or has all blank values (e.g.,

In the descriptions below, aoh is an Array or Hash object.


Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'blank_empty_nil_filters'

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself as:

$ gem install blank_empty_nil_filters


require 'blank_empty_nil_filters'

hash.no_empty_values        # exclude key/value pairs where the value is empty
array.no_blank_values       # the array without blank values (or sub-values)

hash.non_blank_value_keys   # keys associated with non-blank values
hash.blank_value_keys       # keys associated with blank values

obj.is_empty?               # true if the object is nil or has length == 0
obj.is_blank?               # true if the object is nil, empty or all whitespace

These are recursive filters: nested arrays or hashes are processed automatically

aoh.no_empty_values         # items without zero-sized values
aoh.no_blank_values         # items without zero-sized or blank values
aoh.no_nil_values           # items without nil values (a recursive .compact)

hash.only_empty_values      # hash items with only empty values
hash.only_blank_values      # hash items with only blank values
hash.only_nil_values        # hash items with only nil values

hash.empty_value_keys       # keys from empty values
hash.blank_value_keys       # keys from blank values
hash.nil_value_keys         # keys from nil values

All of the no_* methods have aliases of reject_*. For example, reject_empty_values. Some folks prefer the shorter names, some prefer the longer ones. Take your pick.

aoh.reject_empty_values     # aoh.no_empty_values
aoh.reject_blank_values     # aoh.no_blank_values
aoh.reject_nil_values       # aoh.no_nil_values

All of the above methods are wrappers around two general purpose methods:

aoh.reject_values(:condition_method)  # reject items matching :condition_method
aoh.select_values(:condition_method)  # select items matching :condition_method

There are two Object instance methods of no_empty_value and no_blank_value that can be used as String or other class instance filters to return the instance or a nil. This enables the use of || conditions to provide alternative values:

obj.no_empty_value || 'default'
obj.no_blank_value || 'default'

These two methods are like ActiveSupport's presence method but with finer-grain control.

Condition Methods

The methods below are used with the general purpose methods to form the special-case filters.

obj.is_empty?      # true if object is nil or has zero size
obj.is_blank?      # true if object is nil, has zero size or is blank (whitespace strings)
obj.is_nil?        # object.nil?

obj.non_empty?     # true if object is not nil and has non-zero size
obj.non_blank?     # true if object is not nil and has non-zero size, and is not blank
obj.non_nil?       # !object.nil?

For hash or array objects, is_empty? and is_blank? work recursively on the object elements, and the result is true only if true at every level.

Hash key and value filters

There are also convenience methods to select the keys from filtered hash items:

hash.nil_value_keys       => hash.only_nil_values.keys
hash.empty_value_keys     => hash.only_empty_values.keys
hash.blank_value_keys     => hash.only_blank_values.keys

hash.non_nil_value_keys   => hash.no_nil_values.keys
hash.non_empty_value_keys => hash.no_empty_values.keys
hash.non_blank_value_keys => hash.no_blank_values.keys


Hash Filters

The most common usage of no_empty_values is with hashes of parameters, which are formed from many variables, and then the empty or blank ones can be easily filtered out of the hash:

{ 'Input' => {
    'Path'      => params[:path],
    'Workspace' => params[:workspace],
    'Source'    => params[:source],
  'Output' => {
    'Type'    => params[:type],
    'Headers' => params[:headers],

With params containing:

params = { source: 'source-content', type: :pdf }

The no_empty_values would yield the following hash:

{ 'Input'  => { 'Source' => "source-content" }, 'Output' => { 'Type'   => :pdf } }

If the params hash were missing both :type and :headers, the result would be:

{ 'Input'  => { 'Source' => "source-content" } }

Another example:

params = { file: '   ', type: :pdf, pattern: nil, dest: ''}
params.no_nil_values   => { file: '   ', type: :pdf, dest: '' }
params.no_empty_values => { file: '   ', type: :pdf }
params.no_blank_values => { type: :pdf }

Finding keys with empty values

Sometimes, it's not the key-value pairs that are non-empty that are desired; instead, the programmer often wants the keys with empty, blank, or nil values, (e.g., so they can be reported on).

params = { file: '   ', type: :pdf, pattern: nil, dest: ''}
params.nil_value_keys   => [:pattern]
params.empty_value_keys => [:pattern, :dest]
params.blank_value_keys => [:file, :pattern, :dest]

Array Filters

To filter out empty (zero-length) values from an array:

[:1 '' nil :2].no_empty_values => [:1 :2]

[:1 ['' :b] nil :2 ['' '']].no_empty_values => [:1 [:b] :2]

Note that the filter is recursive, and if a sub-array is entirely empty, it is filtered out also (because it also has zero length, after its items have been filtered).

The nil is considered an "empty" value.

To filter out blank values from an array:

[:1 " " "    " nil ['' '    '] :2].no_blank_values => [:1 :2]

String Filters

The no_empty_value and no_blank_value methods on the Object class can be applied to any object that supports the is_blank? and is_empty? condition methods, including the String class.

' no fun '.no_empty_value || 'other' ==> ' no fun '
''.        no_empty_value || 'other' ==> 'other'
'  '.      no_empty_value || 'other' ==> '  '
' answer '.no_blank_value || 'no'    ==> ' answer '
'  '.      no_blank_value || 'no'    ==> 'no'
'\n'.      no_blank_value || 'no'    ==> 'no'


There is an rspec-style test in the spec directory, the perusal of which will also provide some examples of usage.

The rspec-style tests are normally run under the fuubar formatter gem which shows an incremental summary on a single line. The tests can be run with rake or with rspec:

bundle exec rake spec


bundle exec rspec

However, if you wish to see all of the usual "documentation" style output, use the -f doc option on the rspec invocation:

bundle exec rspec -f doc


After checking out the repo, run rake spec to run the tests.

To install this gem onto your local machine, run bundle exec rake install. To release a new version, update the version number in version.rb, and then run bundle exec rake release, which will create a git tag for the version, push git commits and tags, and push the .gem file to


Bug reports and pull requests are welcome on GitHub at


Alan K. Stebbens


The gem is available as open source under the terms of the MIT License.

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