require 'forwardable'

Forwardable

The Forwardable module provides delegation of specified methods to a designated object, using the methods #def_delegator and #def_delegators.

For example, say you have a class RecordCollection which contains an array @records. You could provide the lookup method #record_number(), which simply calls #[] on the @records array, like this:

require 'forwardable'

class RecordCollection
  attr_accessor :records
  extend Forwardable
  def_delegator :@records, :[], :record_number
end

We can use the lookup method like so:

r = RecordCollection.new
r.records = [4,5,6]
r.record_number(0)  # => 4

Further, if you wish to provide the methods #size, #«, and #map, all of which delegate to @records, this is how you can do it:

class RecordCollection # re-open RecordCollection class
  def_delegators :@records, :size, :<<, :map
end

r = RecordCollection.new
r.records = [1,2,3]
r.record_number(0)   # => 1
r.size               # => 3
r << 4               # => [1, 2, 3, 4]
r.map { |x| x * 2 }  # => [2, 4, 6, 8]

You can even extend regular objects with Forwardable.

my_hash = Hash.new
my_hash.extend Forwardable              # prepare object for delegation
my_hash.def_delegator "STDOUT", "puts"  # add delegation for STDOUT.puts()
my_hash.puts "Howdy!"

Another example

We want to rely on what has come before obviously, but with delegation we can take just the methods we need and even rename them as appropriate. In many cases this is preferable to inheritance, which gives us the entire old interface, even if much of it isn’t needed.

class Queue
  extend Forwardable

  def initialize
    @q = [ ]    # prepare delegate object
  end

  # setup preferred interface, enq() and deq()...
  def_delegator :@q, :push, :enq
  def_delegator :@q, :shift, :deq

  # support some general Array methods that fit Queues well
  def_delegators :@q, :clear, :first, :push, :shift, :size
end

q = Queue.new
q.enq 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
q.push 6

q.shift    # => 1
while q.size > 0
  puts q.deq
end

q.enq "Ruby", "Perl", "Python"
puts q.first
q.clear
puts q.first

This should output:

2
3
4
5
6
Ruby
nil

Notes

Be advised, RDoc will not detect delegated methods.

forwardable.rb provides single-method delegation via the def_delegator and def_delegators methods. For full-class delegation via DelegateClass, see delegate.rb.

Forwardable Reference

SingleForwardable

SingleForwardable can be used to setup delegation at the object level as well.

printer = String.new
printer.extend SingleForwardable        # prepare object for delegation
printer.def_delegator "STDOUT", "puts"  # add delegation for STDOUT.puts()
printer.puts "Howdy!"

Also, SingleForwardable can be used to set up delegation for a Class or Module.

class Implementation
  def self.service
    puts "serviced!"
  end
end

module Facade
  extend SingleForwardable
  def_delegator :Implementation, :service
end

Facade.service #=> serviced!

If you want to use both Forwardable and SingleForwardable, you can use methods def_instance_delegator and def_single_delegator, etc.

SingleForwardable Reference