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Bug #12022

Inconsistent behavior with splatted named arguments

Added by justcolin (Colin Fulton) over 3 years ago. Updated over 3 years ago.

Status:
Open
Priority:
Normal
Assignee:
-
Target version:
-
[ruby-core:73472]

Description

The Bug

When an empty hash is splatted (using **) into a call of a method with no parameters, the empty hash is passed in as a positional argument instead of doing nothing. This causes an ArgumentError, which is confusing because when you splat an empty array into a method that doesn't accept any arguments the method is called without raising an error.

Similarly, if you splat a hash into a method that only has positional arguments, the method is called with the hash added as the last argument. This either causes an ArgumentError or unexpected bugs.

Examples

(tested in MRI 2.2.2 and 2.3.0)

def without_parameters
  # some code
end

def with_parameters(*args)
  args
end

def with_one_parameter(arg)
  arg
end

empty_hash  = {}
filled_hash = { example: "value" }
array       = []

without_parameters(*array)
# calls the method without an error because `array' is empty

without_parameters(**empty_hash)
# unexpectedly raises an ArgumentError despite `empty_hash' being empty

with_parameters(**empty_hash)
# unexpectedly returns [{}] instead of []

with_parameters(**filled_hash)
# unexpectedly returns [{ example: "value }] instead of raising an ArgumentError

with_one_parameter(**empty_hash)
with_one_parameter(**filled_hash)
# both unexpectedly do not raise an ArgumentError

Further Information

This behavior makes it more difficult to do things like write specialized decorator classes using #method_missing. The following example does not work if the method being called does not have any named parameters. The variable named_args gets passed in as a positional argument, causing ArgumentErrors or unexpected bugs:

  class TrivialDecoratorExample
    def initialize(value)
      @value = value
    end

    def method_missing(name, *args, **named_args, &block)
      @value.send(name, *args, **named_args, &block)
    end
  end

Instead one has to write something really ugly like:

def method_missing(name, *args, **named_args, &block)
  if @value.method(name)
           .parameters
           .any? { |type, _| [:keyreq, :key].include?(type) }

    @value.send(name, *args, **named_args, &block)
  elsif named_args.empty?
    @value.send(name, *args, &block)
  else
    raise ArgumentError.new
  end
end

Related issues

Related to Ruby master - Feature #14183: "Real" keyword argumentOpenActions

History

Updated by justcolin (Colin Fulton) over 3 years ago

  • ruby -v set to 2.2.2 and 2.3.0

Updated by justcolin (Colin Fulton) over 3 years ago

More details about why errors are not raised in some cases, and wrong errors are raised in other cases:

def example(required_param, **optional_named)
  p required_param
end

# Works as expected.
example(42) # => 42

# Should raise an error because no positional argument is being passed in,
# instead it passes in an option hash to required_param.
example(named_arg: 43)

def example2(required_param, second_required_param, **optional_named)
   # Some code...
end

# Should say it is missing two arguments, instead says it is missing one:
example2(named: 42)

I understand that all of this is probably related to the option hash syntax leftover from when Ruby didn't have named arguments, but this all leads to very confusing code. Named arguments are much more powerful, easier to deal with, and more "Ruby-like" than the option hash syntax. As such I feel that Ruby should assume that if you use the ** operator in your parameters you never want that method to use an options hash.

In the distance future I even think that option hashes should be deprecated then removed, since named arguments do everything option hashes do and more. What opinions do you all have?

Updated by sawa (Tsuyoshi Sawada) over 3 years ago

This is a duplicate, or is at least related to #11860.

Updated by justcolin (Colin Fulton) over 3 years ago

Sorry, I didn't see that issue. The cause is probably the same, but the difference is that #11860 deals with using the double splat in the argument list of a method call, whereas this issue deals using with the double splat in the parameter list of a method definition. That being said, these two issues can probably be merged.

Thanks for catching that!

Updated by justcolin (Colin Fulton) over 3 years ago

NOTE: I did find a "cleaner" way to do the decorator mentioned in the Further Information section, but it uses Kernel#eval which never feels like a good idea:

def method_missing *ordered, **named, &block
  args = ordered.map.with_index { |_,   index| "ordered[#{index}]" } +
           named.map { |key, _| "#{key}: named[:#{key}]" }

  eval "@value.#{name}(#{args.join(', ')})"
end
#6

Updated by jeremyevans0 (Jeremy Evans) about 2 months ago

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