One of those interesting differences between python and ruby…

In fiddling with ruby, I noticed that the method names can be really interesting – rails (maybe others too, dunno) has some methods that look like:


which is typically used to return a boolean indicating wether or not “stop” is true. Ok, cool. Another interesting method call is


which appears to be identical to


. That part really confused me, and I’m still not sure I have it completely clear.

In python




are two very different things. The first is a reference to the instance method close – which you can pass around. The second is a specific invocation to the instance method. In ruby the parentheses appear to be optional if there are no arguments getting passed in to the function.

Dave Slorah pointed out that the parantheses option thing extends beyond just the no-argument methods – it applies all over the place!

irb(main):010:0> def foo(bar,baz)
irb(main):011:1>   puts bar
irb(main):012:1>   puts baz
irb(main):013:1> end
=> nil
irb(main):014:0> foo "hello", "world"

My first thought it “Wow – that’s almost Objective-C like…”

Published by heckj

Developer, author, and life-long student. Writes online at

2 thoughts on “One of those interesting differences between python and ruby…

  1. You are correct — Ruby offers the lack of parentheses as shorthand for invocation of a parameter-less method.

    While convenient, it makes for treating methods as first class objects in Ruby considerably less convenient and, thus, you don’t see methods-as-objects used often in Ruby.

    Sad, because it enables some pretty simple, straightforward, and very powerful design patterns.

    Instead, Ruby encourages the use of blocks to encapsulate a callable. Powerful in and of itself and enables a different set of patterns not possible with Python’s lambda.


  2. I haven’t yet grokked the blocks thing in ruby either – but it sort of appeals to me with what it enables. I haven’t yet gotten used to being able to read that code right through and have a gut sense of what it’s supposed to be doing/mean as yet.


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