One of Ruby’s strengths is its delightful, built-in syntactic sugar. One example of this is the keyword
unless, which you can use in place of using
if combined with a negative statement.
However, given the flexibility of Ruby’s syntax, it is easy to make code harder to understand than it needs to be.
unless in ways that makes your brain hurt.
# Example 1 unless something? # do something else # do other thing end # Example 2 unless something? || another_thing? # do something end
if where it makes the code clearer.
# Example 1 if !something? # do other thing else # do something end # Example 2 if !something? && !another_thing? # do something end
Avoid using an
else block with an
unless. This structure is hard to reason about because the
else block is a double negative: it is “not not” the specified condition. Instead, replace the
unless with an
if, taking care to refactor the condition statement as needed, then swap around the blocks of code in the main and
It is much harder to understand the code when using an
unless conditional with boolean algebra (
||). It is an easy way to confuse yourself! The conditional
unless one && two is equivalent to
if !one || !two. Although the logic looks messier the positive version is easier to reason about.
if condition might well be an opportunity to extract the conditional into a well-named method so it can be more easily understood.
I’m definitely not saying don’t use
unless, but it’s important to remember it is sugar and thus important only to use it where it makes the resulting code clearer.
photo by Pablo Garcia Saldaña
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