LuxuryMode LuxuryMode - 9 months ago 46
Ruby Question

What is the colon operator in Ruby?

When I say

{ :bla => 1, :bloop => 2 }
, what exactly does the
do? I read somewhere about how it's similar to a string, but somehow a symbol.

I'm not super-clear on the concept, could someone enlighten me?


:foo is a symbol named "foo". Symbols have the distinct feature that any two symbols named the same will be identical:

"foo".equal? "foo"  # false
:foo.equal? :foo    # true

This makes comparing two symbols really fast (since only a pointer comparison is involved, as opposed to comparing all the characters like you would in a string), plus you won't have a zillion copies of the same symbol floating about.

Also, unlike strings, symbols are immutable.