Tutorial :Ruby: attr_accessor generated methods - how to iterate them (in to_s - custom format)?


I need a Class which has an semi-automatic 'to_s' method (to generate XML in fact). I would like to iterate through all the automatic methods set up in my 'attr_accessor' line:

class MyClass      attr_accessor :id,:a,:b,:c  end    c=MyClass.new  

So far I'm doing a basic:

c.methods - Object.methods    => ["b", "b=", "c", "c=", "id=", "a", "a="]  

I am facing a few challenges:

  1. 'id' may cause a slight headache - as Object already seems to have an 'id'.
  2. The 'c.methods' call above, returns Strings - I'm not getting any other meta-data ? (In Java 'method' is an object, where I could perform further reflection).
  3. I have one-to-many relationships I have to deal with ('c' is an array type of other object types).

This is what I'm trying to do: I want to design a simple Object which has a 'to_s' which will build up an XML fragment: for instance.

<id> 1 </id>  <a> Title </a>  <b> Stuff </b>  <c>      <x-from-other-object>      <x-from-other-object>      ....  </c>  

And then inherit my data-classes from that simple object: so that (hopefully) I get a mechansim to build up an entire XML doc.

I'm sure I'm re-inventing the wheel here as well...so other tried-and-tested approaches welcome.


To get method objects from a string, you can use the methods method or instance_method (where method would be called on an object and instance_method on a class). The only interesting information it gives you is arity, though (as opposed to java where it'd also give you the types of the return value and the arguments, which of course isn't possible in ruby).

Your title suggests that you only want to iterate over methods created by attr_accessor, but your code will iterate over every method defined in your class, which could become a problem if you wanted to add additional non-accessor methods to your class.

To get rid of that problem and the problem with id, you could use your own wrapper around attr_accessor which stores which variables it created accessors for, like so:

module MyAccessor    def my_attr_accessor *attrs      @attrs ||= []      @attrs << attrs      attr_accessor *attrs    end      def attrs      @attrs    end  end    class MyClass    extend MyAccessor    my_attr_accessor :id,:a,:b,:c      def to_s      MyClass.attrs.each do |attr|        do_something_with(attr, send(attr))      end    end  end  

For problem 3 you can just do

if item.is_a? Array    do_something  else    do_something_else  end  


I use this technique to convert custom objects to JSON. May be the snippet below will be helpful since the question was for to_xml implementation.

There is a little magic here using self.included in a module. Here is a very nice article from 2006 about module having both instance and class methods http://blog.jayfields.com/2006/12/ruby-instance-and-class-methods-from.html

The module is designed to be included in any class to provide to_json functionality. It intercepts attr_accessor method rather than uses its own in order to require minimal changes for existing classes.

to_json implementation is based on this answer

module JSONable    module ClassMethods      attr_accessor :attributes        def attr_accessor *attrs        self.attributes = Array attrs        super      end    end      def self.included(base)      base.extend(ClassMethods)    end      def as_json options = {}      self.class.attributes.inject({}) do |hash, attribute|        hash[attribute] = self.send(attribute)        hash      end    end      def to_json *a      as_json.to_json *a    end  end      class CustomClass    include JSONable    attr_accessor :b, :c       def initialize b: nil, c: nil      self.b, self.c = b, c    end  end    a = CustomClass.new(b: "q", c: 23)  puts JSON.pretty_generate a    {    "b": "q",    "c": 23  }  

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