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Customizing Pry

Pry supports customization of the input, the output, the commands, the hooks, the prompt, and the 'print' object (the "P" in REPL).

Global customization, which applies to all Pry sessions, is done through invoking class accessors on the Pry class, the accessors are:

  • Pry.input=
  • Pry.output=
  • Pry.commands=
  • Pry.hooks=
  • Pry.prompt=
  • Pry.print=

Local customization (applied to a single Pry session) is done by passing config hash options to Pry.start() or to; also the same accessors as described above for the Pry class exist for a Pry instance so that customization can occur at runtime.


For input Pry accepts any object that implements the readline method. This includes IO objects, StringIO, Readline, File and custom objects. Pry initially defaults to using Readline for input.

Example: Setting global input

Setting Pry's global input causes all subsequent Pry instances to use this input by default:

Pry.input ="@x = 10\nexit")

Object.instance_variable_get(:@x) #=> 10

The above will execute the code in the StringIO non-interactively. It gets all the input it needs from the StringIO and then exits the Pry session. Note it is important to end the session with 'exit' if you are running non-interactively or the Pry session will hang as it loops indefinitely awaiting new input.

Example: Setting input for a specific session

The settings for a specific session override the global settings (discussed above). There are two ways to set input for a specific pry session: At the point the session is started, or within the session itself (at runtime):

At session start
Pry.start(Object, :input =>"@x = 10\nexit"))
Object.instance_variable_get(:@x) #=> 10
At runtime

If you want to set the input object within the session itself you use the special _pry_ local variable which represents the Pry instance managing the current session; inside the session we type:

_pry_.input ="@x = 10\nexit")

Note we can also set the input object for the parent Pry session (if the current session is nested) like so:

_pry_.parent.input ="@x = 10\nexit")


For output Pry accepts any object that implements the puts method. This includes IO objects, StringIO, File and custom objects. Pry initially defaults to using $stdout for output.

Example: Setting global output

Setting Pry's global output causes all subsequent Pry instances to use this output by default:

Pry.output =

Example: Setting output for a specific session

As per Input, given above, we set the local output as follows:

At session start
Pry.start(Object, :output =>"@x = 10\nexit"))
At runtime
_pry_.output =


Pry commands are not methods; they are commands that are intercepted and executed before a Ruby eval takes place. Pry comes with a default command set (Pry::Commands), but these commands can be augmented or overriden by user-specified ones.

The Pry command API is quite sophisticated supporting features such as: command set inheritance, importing of specific commands from another command set, deletion of commands, calling of commands within other commands, and so on.

A valid Pry command object must inherit from Pry::CommandBase (or one of its subclasses) and use the special command API:

Example: Defining a command object and setting it globally

class MyCommands < Pry::CommandBase
  command "greet", "Greet the user." do |name, age|
    output.puts "Hello #{name.capitalize}, how does it feel being #{age}?"

Pry.commands = MyCommands

Then inside a pry session:

pry(main)> greet john 9
Hello John, how does it feel being 9?
=> nil

Example: Using a command object in a specific session

As in the case of input and output:

At session start:
Pry.start(self, :commands => MyCommands)
At runtime:
_pry_.commands = MyCommands

The command API

The command API is defined by the Pry::CommandBase class (hence why all commands must inherit from it or a subclass). The API works as follows:

command method

The command method defines a new command, its parameter is the name of the command and an optional second parameter is a description of the command.

The associated block defines the action to be performed. The number of parameters in the block determine the number of parameters that will be sent to the command (from the Pry prompt) when it is invoked. Note that all parameters that are received will be strings; if a parameter is not received it will be set to nil.

command "hello" do |x, y, z|
  puts "hello there #{x}, #{y}, and #{z}!"

Command aliases can also be defined - simply use an array of strings for the command name - all these strings will be valid names for the command.

command ["ls", "dir"], "show a list of local vars" do
  output.puts target.eval("local_variables")
delete method

The delete method deletes a command or a group of commands. It can be useful when inheriting from another command set and you wish to keep only a portion of the inherited commands.

class MyCommands < Pry::Commands
  delete "show_method", "show_imethod"
import_from method

The import_from method enables you to specifically select which commands will be copied across from another command set, useful when you only want a small number of commands and so inheriting and then deleting would be inefficient. The first parameter to import_from is the class to import from and the other paramters are the names of the commands to import:

class MyCommands < Pry::CommandBase
  import_from Pry::Commands, "ls", "status", "!"
run method

The run command invokes one command from within another. The first parameter is the name of the command to invoke and the remainder of the parameters will be passed on to the command being invoked:

class MyCommands < Pry::Commands
  command "ls_with_hello" do
    output.puts "hello!"
    run "ls"
alias_command method

The alias_command method creates an alias of a command. The first parameter is the name of the new command, the second parameter is the name of the command to be aliased; an optional third parameter is the description to use for the alias. If no description is provided then the description of the original command is used.

class MyCommands < Pry::Commands
  alias_command "help2", "help", "An alias of help"
desc method

The desc method is used to give a command a new description. The first parameter is the name of the command, the second parameter is the description.

class MyCommands < Pry::Commands
  desc "ls", "a new description"

Utility methods for commands

All commands can access the special output and target methods. The output method returns the output object for the active pry session. Ensuring that your commands invoke puts on this rather than using the top-level puts will ensure that all your session output goes to the same place.

The target method returns the Binding object the Pry session is currently active on - useful when your commands need to manipulate or examine the state of the object. E.g, the "ls" command is implemented as follows

command "ls" do
  output.puts target.eval("local_variables + instance_variables").inspect

The opts hash

These are miscellaneous variables that may be useful to your commands:

  • opts[:val] - The line of input that invoked the command.
  • opts[:eval_string] - The cumulative lines of input for multi-line input.
  • opts[:nesting] - Lowlevel session nesting information.
  • opts[:commands] - Lowlevel data of all Pry commands.

(see commands.rb for examples of how some of these options are used)

The help command

The Pry::CommandBase class automatically defines a help command for you. Typing help in a Pry session will show a list of commands to the user followed by their descriptions. Passing a parameter to help with the command name will just return the description of that specific command. If a description is left out it will automatically be given the description "No description.".

If the description is explicitly set to "" then this command will not be displayed in help.


Currently Pry supports just two hooks: before_session and after_session. These hooks are invoked before a Pry session starts and after a session ends respectively. The default hooks used are stored in the Pry::DEFAULT_HOOKS and just output the text "Beginning Pry session for <obj>" and "Ending Pry session for <obj>".

Example: Setting global hooks

All subsequent Pry instances will use these hooks as default:

Pry.hooks = {
  :before_session => proc { |out, obj| out.puts "Opened #{obj}" },
  :after_session => proc { |out, obj| out.puts "Closed #{obj}" }


Inside the session:

Opened 5
pry(5)> exit
Closed 5

Note that the before_session and after_session procs receive the current session's output object and session receiver as parameters.

Example: Setting hooks for a specific session

Like all the other customization options, the global default (as explained above) can be overriden for a specific session, either at session start or during runtime.

At session start
Pry.start(self, :hooks => { :before_session => proc { puts "hello world!" },
                            :after_session => proc { puts "goodbye world!" }
At runtime
_pry_.hooks = { :before_session => proc { puts "puts "hello world!" } }


The Pry prompt is used by Readline and other input objects that accept a prompt. Pry can accept two prompt-types for every prompt; the 'main prompt' and the 'wait prompt'. The main prompt is always used for the first line of input; the wait prompt is used in multi-line input to indicate that the current expression is incomplete and more lines of input are required. The default Prompt used by Pry is stored in the Pry::DEFAULT_PROMPT constant.

A valid Pry prompt is either a single Proc object or a two element array of Proc objects. When an array is used the first element is the 'main prompt' and the last element is the 'wait prompt'. When a single Proc object is used it will be used for both the main prompt and the wait prompt.

Example: Setting global prompt

The prompt Proc objects are passed the receiver of the Pry session and the nesting level of that session as parameters (they can simply ignore these if they do not need them).

# Using one proc for both main and wait prompts
Pry.prompt = proc { |obj, nest_level| "#{obj}:#{nest_level}> " }

# Alternatively, provide two procs; one for main and one for wait
Pry.prompt = [ proc { "ENTER INPUT> " }, proc { "MORE INPUT REQUIRED!* " }]

Example: Setting the prompt for a specific session

At session start
Pry.start(self, :prompt => [proc { "ENTER INPUT> " },
                            proc { "MORE INPUT REQUIRED!* " }])
At runtime
_pry_.prompt = [proc { "ENTER INPUT> " },
                proc { "MORE INPUT REQUIRED!* " }]


The Print phase of Pry's READ-EVAL-PRINT-LOOP can be customized. The default action is stored in the Pry::DEFAULT_PRINT constant and it simply outputs the value of the current expression preceded by a => (or the first line of the backtrace if the value is an Exception object.)

The print object should be a Proc and the parameters passed to the Proc are the output object for the current session and the 'value' returned by the current expression.

Example: Setting global print object

Let's define a print object that displays the full backtrace of any exception and precedes the output of a value by the text "Output is: ":

Pry.print = proc do |output, value|
              case value
              when Exception
                output.puts value.backtrace
                output.puts "Output is: #{value}"

Example: Setting the print object for a specific session

At session start
Pry.start(self, :print => proc do |output, value|
                            case value
                            when Exception
                              output.puts value.backtrace
                              output.puts "Output is: #{value.inspect}"
At runtime
_pry_.print =  proc do |output, value|
                 case value
                 when Exception
                   output.puts value.backtrace
                   output.puts "Output is: #{value.inspect}"

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