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#1815 ✓wontfix
Ryan Angilly

Add or_if_blank to Object

Reported by Ryan Angilly | January 29th, 2009 @ 05:29 AM | in 2.x

A utility method so that instead of having to write: ? :

all over the place, you can just write:

Works wherever blank? is defined.

Discussed on this thread:

Comments and changes to this ticket

  • Aliaksey Kandratsenka

    Aliaksey Kandratsenka January 29th, 2009 @ 06:43 AM

    I'm not sure if its good idea, because there's a significant difference with '||'. Usual 'or' is short-circuiting, while this method cannot work that way.

    I think that this should at least be noted in the documentation of this method, so that people don't try things like '.or_if_blank? raise', or '.or_if_blank? <do_something_else_expensive>'

    And BTW some time ago my co-worked showed me some blog post where some dude proposed '|' for same operation. You might want to consider this syntax, although I think that will be worse, because of the above mentioned non-short-circuiting behavior.

  • Matt Jones

    Matt Jones January 29th, 2009 @ 07:01 AM

    The only way I could see to get short-circuit behavior would be to pass a block; it would look kind of weird:

    object.param.or_if_blank { object.other_param }

    Just a thought.

  • Matt Jones

    Matt Jones January 29th, 2009 @ 07:07 AM

    Had a thought just after posting - it wouldn't be as generic as the above, but what about an operator like or ?

    So the above would be:


    There'd be some interesting trickery needed (see the implementation of SafeNil for ideas), but it would be pretty clear. Of course, I'm a little biased as I've gotten spoiled by hobosupport's _? operator (equivalent to try).

  • Josh Susser

    Josh Susser January 29th, 2009 @ 07:40 AM

    I was going to suggest the block as an option. It's easy to do:

    def or_if_blank(other=nil) self.blank? ? (other || yield) : self end

    Then you can call it with either an immediate value or a block to get the value with a deferred computation.


    person.nickname.or_if_blank { person.full_name }

  • tf

    tf January 29th, 2009 @ 12:16 PM

    I really like the idea of adding lazy evaluation by passing a block. A little note in the docs can point out the difference between "? :" and or_if_blank.

  • MatthewRudy

    MatthewRudy January 29th, 2009 @ 12:16 PM


    But I like my BumbleBee approach, which is inline with how :try is implemented

    person.try(:nickname) || person.full_name # if you care about a :nil? nickname
    person.bumblebee(:nickname, :full_name) # if you care about a :blank? nickname

    or with fuller defaulting

    person.bumblebee(:nickname, :full_name) || "unknown"

    My full gist on the matter is here;

  • MatthewRudy

    MatthewRudy January 29th, 2009 @ 12:17 PM

    (notably the bumblebee doesn't know anything about args or blocks, which :try does)

  • tf

    tf January 29th, 2009 @ 12:33 PM

    The bumblebee is kind of cool. Still it does not cover slightly more complex cases:

    person.hometown.or_if_blank { }

    Silly example. You get the idea.

  • Ryan Angilly

    Ryan Angilly January 29th, 2009 @ 01:06 PM

    Yeah I really like the block idea. Patch updated.

  • Pratik

    Pratik January 29th, 2009 @ 06:16 PM

    • State changed from “new” to “wontfix”
    • Title changed from “[PATCH] Add or_if_blank to Object” to “Add or_if_blank to Object”

    I don't really think we need to add any of these methods. try() is for a common pattern inside the views. or_if_blank seems like code smell.

  • Ryan Angilly

    Ryan Angilly January 30th, 2009 @ 02:31 AM

    try() doesn't help with blank strings, which was the whole point of what I was suggesting.

    And out of curiosity, what's the relevance of try()'s usage in views? I use my own version of or_if_blank in models, controllers, and helpers just as much as in views.

  • tf

    tf January 30th, 2009 @ 11:41 AM

    If this functionality is not wanted - for whatever reason - I'd consider packaging it up as a gem. Still I have to agree that I do not see how try could be of any help in this use case.

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