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Separation of positional and keyword arguments in Ruby 3.0

3 days 11 hours ago

This article explains the planned incompatibility of keyword arguments in Ruby 3.0

tl;dr

In Ruby 3.0, positional arguments and keyword arguments will be separated. Ruby 2.7 will warn for behaviors that will change in Ruby 3.0. If you see the following warnings, you need to update your code:

  • The last argument is used as the keyword parameter, or
  • The keyword argument is passed as the last hash parameter, or
  • The last argument is split into positional and keyword parameters

In most cases, you can avoid the incompatibility by adding the double splat operator. It explicitly specifies passing keyword arguments instead of a Hash object. Likewise, you may add braces {} to explicitly pass a Hash object, instead of keyword arguments. Read the section “Typical cases” below for more details.

In Ruby 3, a method delegating all arguments must explicitly delegate keyword arguments in addition to positional arguments. If you want to keep the delegation behavior found in Ruby 2.7 and earlier, use ruby2_keywords. See the “Handling argument delegation” section below for more details.

Typical cases

Here is the most typical case. You can use double splat operator (**) to pass keywords instead of a Hash.

# This method accepts only a keyword argument def foo(k: 1) p k end h = { k: 42 } # This method call passes a positional Hash argument # In Ruby 2.7: The Hash is automatically converted to a keyword argument # In Ruby 3.0: This call raises an ArgumentError foo(h) # => demo.rb:11: warning: The last argument is used as the keyword parameter # demo.rb:2: warning: for `foo' defined here; maybe ** should be added to the call? # 42 # If you want to keep the behavior in Ruby 3.0, use double splat foo(**h) #=> 42

Here is another case. You can use braces ({}) to pass a Hash instead of keywords explicitly.

# This method accepts one positional argument and a keyword rest argument def bar(h, **kwargs) p h end # This call passes only a keyword argument and no positional arguments # In Ruby 2.7: The keyword is converted to a positional Hash argument # In Ruby 3.0: This call raises an ArgumentError bar(k: 42) # => demo2.rb:9: warning: The keyword argument is passed as the last hash parameter # demo2.rb:2: warning: for `bar' defined here # {:k=>42} # If you want to keep the behavior in Ruby 3.0, write braces to make it an # explicit Hash bar({ k: 42 }) # => {:k=>42} What is deprecated?

In Ruby 2, keyword arguments can be treated as the last positional Hash argument and a last positional Hash argument can be treated as keyword arguments.

Because the automatic conversion is sometimes too complex and troublesome as described in the final section. So it’s now deprecated in Ruby 2.7 and will be removed in Ruby 3. In other words, keyword arguments will be completely separated from positional one in Ruby 3. So when you want to pass keyword arguments, you should always use foo(k: expr) or foo(**expr). If you want to accept keyword arguments, in principle you should always use def foo(k: default) or def foo(k:) or def foo(**kwargs).

Note that Ruby 3.0 doesn’t behave differently when calling a method which doesn’t accept keyword arguments with keyword arguments. For instance, the following case is not going to be deprecated and will keep working in Ruby 3.0. The keyword arguments are still treated as a positional Hash argument.

def foo(kwargs = {}) kwargs end foo(k: 1) #=> {:k=>1}

This is because this style is used very frequently, and there is no ambiguity in how the argument should be treated. Prohibiting this conversion would result in additional incompatibility for little benefit.

However, this style is not recommended in new code, unless you are often passing a Hash as a positional argument, and are also using keyword arguments. Otherwise, use double splat:

def foo(**kwargs) kwargs end foo(k: 1) #=> {:k=>1} Will my code break on Ruby 2.7?

A short answer is “maybe not”.

The changes in Ruby 2.7 are designed as a migration path towards 3.0. While in principle, Ruby 2.7 only warns against behaviors that will change in Ruby 3, it includes some incompatible changes we consider to be minor. See the “Other minor changes” section for details.

Except for the warnings and minor changes, Ruby 2.7 attempts to keep the compatibility with Ruby 2.6. So, your code will probably work on Ruby 2.7, though it may emit warnings. And by running it on Ruby 2.7, you can check if your code is ready for Ruby 3.0.

If you want to disable all warnings, please set $VERBOSE = nil (this is not recommended in general, though). Ruby 2.7 may add a new mechanism to allow for more fine-grined control over warning visibility (see Feature #16345). However, we have yet to decide whether to include this feature in the final release.

Handling argument delegation Ruby 2.6 or prior

In Ruby 2, you can write a delegation method by accepting a *rest argument and a &block argument, and passing the two to the target method. In this behavior, the keyword arguments are also implicitly handled by the automatic conversion between positional and keyword arguments.

def foo(*args, &block) target(*args, &block) end Ruby 3

You need to explicitly delegate keyword arguments.

def foo(*args, **kwargs, &block) target(*args, **kwargs, &block) end

Alternatively, if you do not need compatibility with Ruby 2.6 or prior and you don’t alter any arguments, you can use the new delegation syntax (...) that is introduced in Ruby 2.7.

def foo(...) target(...) end Ruby 2.7

In short: use Module#ruby2_keywords and delegate *args, &block.

ruby2_keywords def foo(*args, &block) target(*args, &block) end

ruby2_keywords accepts keyword arguments as the last Hash argument, and passes it as keyword arguments when calling the other method.

In fact, Ruby 2.7 allows the new style of delegation in many cases. However, there is a known corner case. See the next section.

A compatible delegation that works on Ruby 2.6, 2.7 and Ruby 3

In short: use Module#ruby2_keywords again.

ruby2_keywords def foo(*args, &block) target(*args, &block) end

Unfortunately, we need to use the old-style delegation (i.e., no **kwargs) because Ruby 2.6 or prior does not handle the new delegation style correctly. This is one of the reasons of the keyword argument separation; the details are described in the final section. And ruby2_keywords allows you to run the old style even in Ruby 2.7 and 3.0. As there is no ruby2_keywords defined in 2.6 or prior, please use the ruby2_keywords gem or define it yourself:

def ruby2_keywords(*) end if RUBY_VESRION < "2.7"

If your code doesn’t have to run on Ruby 2.6 or older, you may try the new style in Ruby 2.7. In almost all cases, it works. Note that, however, there are unfortunate corner cases as follows:

def target(*args) p args end def foo(*args, **kwargs, &block) target(*args, **kwargs, &block) end foo({}) #=> Ruby 2.7: [] ({} is dropped) foo({}, **{}) #=> Ruby 2.7: [{}] (You can pass {} by explicitly passing "no" keywords)

An empty Hash argument is automatically converted and absorbed into **kwargs, and the delegation call removes the empty keyword hash, so no argument is passed to target. As far as we know, this is the only corner case.

As noted in the last line, you can work around this issue by using **{}.

If you really worry about the portability, use ruby2_keywords. (Acknowledge that Ruby 2.6 or before themselves have tons of corner cases in keyword arguments. :-) ruby2_keywords might be removed in the future after Ruby 2.6 reaches end-of-life. At that point, we recommend to explicitly delegate keyword arguments (see Ruby 3 code above).

Other minor changes

There are three minor changes about keyword arguments in Ruby 2.7.

1. Non-Symbol keys are allowed in keyword arguments

In Ruby 2.6 or before, only Symbol keys were allowed in keyword arguments. In Ruby 2.7, keyword arguments can use non-Symbol keys.

def foo(**kwargs) kwargs end foo("key" => 42) #=> Ruby 2.6 or before: ArgumentError: wrong number of arguments #=> Ruby 2.7 or later: {"key"=>42}

If a method accepts both optional and keyword arguments, the Hash object that has both Symbol keys and non-Symbol keys was split in two in Ruby 2.6. In Ruby 2.7, both are accepted as keywords because non-Symbol keys are allowed.

def bar(x=1, **kwargs) p [x, kwargs] end bar("key" => 42, :sym => 43) #=> Ruby 2.6: [{"key"=>42}, {:sym=>43}] #=> Ruby 2.7: [1, {"key"=>42, :sym=>43}] # Use braces to keep the behavior bar({"key" => 42}, :sym => 43) #=> Ruby 2.6 and 2.7: [{"key"=>42}, {:sym=>43}]

Ruby 2.7 still splits hashes with a warning if passing a Hash or keyword arguments with both Symbol and non-Symbol keys to a method that accepts explicit keywords but no keyword rest argument (**kwargs). This behavior will be removed in Ruby 3, and an ArgumentError will be raised.

def bar(x=1, sym: nil) p [x, sym] end bar("key" => 42, :sym => 43) # Ruby 2.6 and 2.7: => [{"key"=>42}, 43] # Ruby 2.7: warning: The last argument is split into positional and keyword parameters # warning: for `bar' defined here # Ruby 3.0: ArgumentError 2. Double splat with an empty hash (**{}) passes no arguments

In Ruby 2.6 or before, passing **empty_hash passes an empty Hash as a positional argument. In Ruby 2.7 or later, it passes no arguments.

def foo(*args) args end empty_hash = {} foo(**empty_hash) #=> Ruby 2.6 or before: [{}] #=> Ruby 2.7 or later: []

Note that foo(**{}) passes nothing in both Ruby 2.6 and 2.7. In Ruby 2.6 and before, **{} is removed by the parser, and in Ruby 2.7 and above, it is treated the same as **empty_hash, allowing for an easy way to pass no keyword arguments to a method.

In Ruby 2.7, when calling a method with an insufficient number of required positional arguments, foo(**empty_hash) passes an empty hash with a warning emitted, for compatibility with Ruby 2.6. This behavior will be removed in 3.0.

def foo(x) x end empty_hash = {} foo(**empty_hash) #=> Ruby 2.6 or before: {} #=> Ruby 2.7: warning: The keyword argument is passed as the last hash parameter # warning: for `foo' defined here #=> Ruby 3.0: ArgumentError: wrong number of arguments 3. The no-keyword-arguments syntax (**nil) is introduced

You can use **nil in a method definition to explicitly mark the method accepts no keyword arguments. Calling such methods with keyword arguments will result in an ArgumentError. (This is actually a new feature, not an incompatibility)

def foo(*args, **nil) end foo(k: 1) #=> Ruby 2.7 or later: no keywords accepted (ArgumentError)

This is useful to make it explicit that the method does not accept keyword arguments. Otherwise, the keywords are absorbed in the rest argument in the above example. If you extend a method to accept keyword arguments, the method may have incompatibility as follows:

# If a method accepts rest argument and no `**nil` def foo(*args) p args end # Passing keywords are converted to a Hash object (even in Ruby 3.0) foo(k: 1) #=> [{:k=>1}] # If the method is extended to accept a keyword def foo(*args, mode: false) p args end # The existing call may break foo(k: 1) #=> ArgumentError: unknown keyword k Why we’re deprecating the automatic conversion

The automatic conversion initially appeared to be a good idea, and worked well in many cases. However, it had too many corner cases, and we have received many bug reports about the behavior.

Automatic conversion does not work well when a method accepts optional positional arguments and keyword arguments. Some people expect the last Hash object to be treated as a positional argument, and others expect it to be converted to keyword arguments.

Here is one of the most confusing cases:

def foo(x, **kwargs) p [x, kwargs] end def bar(x=1, **kwargs) p [x, kwargs] end foo({}) => [{}, {}] bar({}) => [1, {}] bar({}, **{}) => expected: [{}, {}], actual: [1, {}]

In Ruby 2, foo({}) passes an empty hash as a normal argument (i.e., {} is assigned to x), while bar({}) passes a keyword argument (i.e, {} is assigned to kwargs). So any_method({}) is very ambiguous.

You may think of bar({}, **{}) to pass the empty hash to x explicitly. Surprisingly, it does not work as you expected; it still prints [1, {}] in Ruby 2.6. This is because **{} is ignored by the parser in Ruby 2.6, and the first argument {} is automatically converted to keywords (**kwargs). In this case, you need to call bar({}, {}), which is very weird.

The same issues also apply to methods that accept rest and keyword arguments. This makes explicit delegation of keyword arguments not work.

def target(*args) p args end def foo(*args, **kwargs, &block) target(*args, **kwargs, &block) end foo() #=> Ruby 2.6 or before: [{}] #=> Ruby 2.7 or later: []

foo() passes no arguments, but target receives an empty hash argument in Ruby 2.6. This is because the method foo delegates keywords (**kwargs) explicitly. When foo() is called, args is an empty Array, kwargs is an empty Hash, and block is nil. And then target(*args, **kwargs, &block) passes an empty Hash as an argument because **kwargs is automatically converted to a positional Hash argument.

The automatic conversion not only confuses people but also makes the method less extensible. See [Feature #14183] for more details about the reasons for the change in behavior, and why certain implementation choices were made.

Acknowledgment

This article was kindly reviewed (or even co-authored) by Jeremy Evans and Benoit Daloze.

Posted by mame on 12 Dec 2019

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