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Simple tool for matching Rubinius AST nodes against patterns
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README.md

Machete

Machete is a simple tool for matching Rubinius AST nodes against patterns. You can use it if you are writing any kind of tool that processes Ruby code and needs to do some work on specific types of nodes, needs to find patterns in the code, etc.

Installation

You need to install Rubinius first. You can then install Machete:

$ gem install machete

Usage

First, require the library:

require "machete"

You can now use one of two methods Machete offers: Machete.matches? and Machete.find.

The Machete.matches? method matches a Rubinus AST node against a pattern:

Machete.matches?('foo.bar'.to_ast, 'Send<receiver = Send<receiver = Self, name = :foo>, name = :bar>')
# => true

Machete.matches?('42'.to_ast, 'Send<receiver = Send<receiver = Self, name = :foo>, name = :bar>')
# => false

(See below for pattern syntax description.)

The Machete.find method finds all nodes in a Rubinius AST tree matching a pattern:

Machete.find('42 + 43 + 44'.to_ast, 'FixnumLiteral')
# => [
#      #<Rubinius::AST::FixnumLiteral:0x10b0 @value=44 @line=1>,
#      #<Rubinius::AST::FixnumLiteral:0x10b8 @value=43 @line=1>,
#      #<Rubinius::AST::FixnumLiteral:0x10c0 @value=42 @line=1>
#    ]

Pattern Syntax

Rubinius AST consists of instances of classes that represent various types of nodes:

'42'.to_ast     # => #<Rubinius::AST::FixnumLiteral:0xf28 @value=42 @line=1>
'"abcd"'.to_ast # => #<Rubinius::AST::StringLiteral:0xf60 @line=1 @string="abcd">

To match a specific node type, just use its class name in the pattern:

Machete.matches?('42'.to_ast,     'FixnumLiteral') # => true
Machete.matches?('"abcd"'.to_ast, 'FixnumLiteral') # => false

If you want to match specific attribute of the node, specify its value inside <...> right after the node name:

Machete.matches?('42'.to_ast, 'FixnumLiteral<value = 42>') # => true
Machete.matches?('45'.to_ast, 'FixnumLiteral<value = 42>') # => false

The attribute value can be an integer, string, symbol or other pattern. This means you can easily match nested nodes recursively. You can also specify multiple attributes:

Machete.matches?('foo.bar'.to_ast, 'Send<receiver = Send<receiver = Self, name = :foo>, name = :bar>')
# => true

Machete.matches?('42'.to_ast, 'Send<receiver = Send<receiver = Self, name = :foo>, name = :bar>')
# => false

To specify multiple alternatives, use the choice operator:

Machete.matches?('42'.to_ast,     'FixnumLiteral | StringLiteral') # => true
Machete.matches?('"abcd"'.to_ast, 'FixnumLiteral | StringLiteral') # => true

FAQ

Why did you chose Rubinius AST as a base? Aren't there other tools for Ruby parsing which are not VM-specific?

There are three other tools which were considered but each has its issues:

  • parse_tree — unmaintained and unsupported for 1.9
  • ruby_parser — sometimes reports wrong line numbers for the nodes (this is a killer for some use cases)
  • Ripper — usable but the generated AST is too low level (the patterns would be too complex and low-level)

Rubinius AST is also by far the easiest to work with.

Acknowledgement

The general idea and inspiration for the pattern syntax was taken form Python's 2to3 tool.

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