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Ruby gem which facilitates method_missing, respond_to_missing?, and method-generation activities.
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README.md

EagerBeaver

Overview

EagerBeaver provides an interface for adding #method_missing-related abilities to a class or module.

Typical Implementation

The following is a bare-bones implementation of class which defines #method_missing:

class NeedsMethods
  def method_missing(method_name, *args, &block)
    if data = NeedsMethods.match_pattern1(method_name)
      puts "pattern1: #{data[:val]}"
    elsif data = NeedsMethods.match_pattern2(method_name)
      puts "pattern2: #{data[:val1]} #{data[:val2]}"
    else
      super
    end
  end

  def respond_to_missing?(method_name, include_private=false)
    NeedsMethods.match_pattern1(method_name) || NeedsMethods.match_pattern2(method_name)
  end

  def self.match_pattern1(method_name)
    return {val: $1} if /\Apattern1_(\w+)/ =~ method_name
  end

  def self.match_pattern2(method_name)
    return {val1: $1, val2: $2} if /\Apattern2_(\w+)_(\w+)/ =~ method_name
  end
end

nm1 = NeedsMethods.new
puts "#{nm1.methods.grep /pattern/}"
# => []                                     ## overriding #method_missing doesn't actually add methods
puts "#{nm1.respond_to? :pattern1_match}"
# => true                                   ## #respond_to_missing? in action!
puts "#{nm1.method :pattern1_match}"
# => #<Method: NeedsMethods#pattern1_match> ## #respond_to_missing? in action!
nm1.pattern1_match
# => pattern1: match

nm2 = NeedsMethods.new
puts "#{nm2.methods.grep /pattern/}"
# => []                                     ## missing method was NOT added!
nm2.pattern1_match
# => pattern1: match
nm2.pattern2_another_match
# => pattern2: another match
puts "#{nm1.methods.grep /pattern/}"
# => []                                     ## missing methods were NOT added!
puts "#{nm2.methods.grep /pattern/}"
# => []                                     ## missing methods were NOT added!

nm.blah
# => undefined method `blah' for #<NeedsMethods:0x007fb37b086548> (NoMethodError)

Downsides to the Typical Implementation

It's easy to forget something

Changes to #method_missing should be accompanied by corresponding changes to #respond_to_missing?, which allows instances of a class to correcly respond to #respond_to? and #method calls. It's easy to overlook this detail since it's likely not the primary focus of adding handlers to #method_missing.

It's also easy to forget the call to super when no pattern match is found - in which case all unmatched method patterns are silently handled!

Extension requires changes in multiple places

To add handling of another method pattern, the following changes need to be made:

  • addition of another elsif block in #method_missing
  • addition of another ||-ed value in #respond_to_missing?
  • addition of another pattern-matching class method

Large method size and method proliferation

As more and more method patterns are added, #method_missing and #respond_to_missing? will grow endlessly, as will the number of pattern-matching class methods.

Tight coupling

Pattern-matching class methods and their corresponding elsif blocks in #method_missing are tightly coupled, despite their spatial separation in the code.

The shared code in #method_missing and #respond_to_missing? means that changes to one pattern handler can break another if not done properly.

Handled methods are not added to the class

Each time a matched method is called, the entire #method_missing infrastructure is executed.

Dynamic updates

The typical implementation assumes that all method patterns should be handled at all times, which is not always the case. Sometimes the matched patterns are derived from data not available to the class until the code is executing. Correctly redefining (or perpetually re-aliasing) #method_missing and #respond_to_missing? can get tricky fast.

Correcting the Downsides

Most of the downsides to the typical implementation can be solved by adding an array of MethodHandlers to the class. Each MethodHandler has two parts: one which checks if the missing method should be handled, and one which does the work. #method_missing and #respond_to_missing? could then be rewritten to iterate over the MethodHandler array and act accordingly.

EagerBeaver does this (essentially) but goes one step further: it actually adds the missing method to the including class and invokes it so that future calls to that method won't need to invoke the #method_missing infrastructure.

Key Features

  • Method handlers can be added dynamically and independently, reducing the risk of accidentally altering or removing previously-added functionality.
  • Handled methods are automatically reflected in calls to #respond_to? and #method.
  • Handled methods are automatically added to the including class/module and invoked. Subsequent calls won't trigger #method_missing.
  • When a method cannot be handled, super's #method_missing is automatically invoked.

Installation

Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

gem 'eager_beaver'

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself as:

$ gem install eager_beaver

Usage

Inclusion

Any class or module which includes EagerBeaver will gain the add_method_handler pseudo-keyword, which [indirectly] yields a MethodHandler to the given block:

require 'eager_beaver'

class NeedsMethods
  include EagerBeaver

  add_method_handler do |mh|
    ...
  end
end

In this case, the resulting MethodHandler is added to the end of a MethodHandler list associated with NeedsMethods.

Each MethodHandler needs two things: a lambda for matching missing method names and a lambda for handling any method names it matches:

  add_method_handler do |mh|
    mh.match  = lambda { ... }
    mh.handle = lambda { ... }
  end
end

Matching

The match lambda should return a true value if the missing method name is one can be handled by the MethodHandler. The following example will match missing methods of the form #pattern1_<data>:

    mh.match = lambda {
      context.data = $1 if /\Apattern1_(\w+)/ =~ context.missing_method_name
    }

Context

As the example shows, each MethodHandler contains a context which provides:

  • the name of the missing method (context.missing_method_name)
  • the original method receiver instance (context.original_receiver)
  • a place to stash information (dynamically-generated accessors context.<attr_name> and context.<attr_name>=)

This context is shared between the match and handle lambdas, and is reset between uses of each MethodHandler.

Handling

The handle lambda should return a string which will create the missing method in NeedsMethods:

    mh.handle = lambda {
      %Q{ def #{context.missing_method_name}
            puts "pattern1: #{context.data}"
          end }
    }

As the example shows, it is perfectly reasonable to take advantage of work done by the match lambda (in this case, the parsing of <data>).

After the generated code is inserted into NeedsMethods, the missing method call is resent to the original receiver.

Complete Example

The following is the typical implementation above using EagerBeaver:

require 'eager_beaver'

class NeedsMethods
  include EagerBeaver

  add_method_handler do |mh|
    mh.match = lambda {
      context.data = $1 if /\Apattern1_(\w+)/ =~ context.missing_method_name
    }
    mh.handle = lambda {
      %Q{ def #{context.missing_method_name}
            puts "pattern1: #{context.data}"
          end }
    }
  end

  add_method_handler do |mh|
    mh.match = lambda {
      context.data = {val1: $1, val2: $2} if /\Apattern2_(\w+)_(\w+)/ =~ context.missing_method_name
    }
    mh.handle = lambda {
      %Q{ def #{context.missing_method_name}
            puts "pattern2: #{context.data[:val1]} #{context.data[:val2]}"
          end }
    }
  end
end

nm1 = NeedsMethods.new

puts "#{nm1.methods.grep /pattern/}"
# => []                                     ## overriding #method_missing doesn't actually add methods
puts "#{nm1.respond_to? :pattern1_match}"
# => true                                   ## #respond_to_missing? in action!
puts "#{nm1.method :pattern1_match}"
# => #<Method: NeedsMethods#pattern1_match> ## #respond_to_missing? in action!
nm1.pattern1_match
# => pattern1: match

nm2 = NeedsMethods.new

puts "#{nm2.methods.grep /pattern/}"
# => [:pattern1_match]                      ## missing method added to NeedsMethods!
nm2.pattern1_match
# => pattern1: match                        ## no call to #method_missing
nm2.pattern2_another_match
# => pattern2: another match
puts "#{nm1.methods.grep /pattern/}"
# => [:pattern1_match, :pattern2_another_match]
puts "#{nm2.methods.grep /pattern/}"
# => [:pattern1_match, :pattern2_another_match]

nm2.blah
# => undefined method `blah' for #<NeedsMethods:0x007fefac1a8080> (NoMethodError)

Contributing

  1. Fork it
  2. Create your feature branch (git checkout -b my-new-feature)
  3. Comhit your changes (git commit -am 'Added some feature')
  4. Push to the branch (git push origin my-new-feature)
  5. Create new Pull Request
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