Shpigford Shpigford - 7 months ago 79
Ruby Question

Ruby: How to get the first character of a string

How can I get the first character in a string using Ruby?

Ultimately what I'm doing is taking someone's last name and just creating an initial out of it.

So if the string was "Smith" I just want "S".

Answer

You can use Ruby's open classes to make your code much more readable. For instance, this:

class String
  def initial
    self[0,1]
  end
end

will allow you to use the initial method on any string. So if you have the following variables:

last_name = "Smith"
first_name = "John"

Then you can get the initials very cleanly and readably:

puts first_name.initial   # prints J
puts last_name.initial    # prints S

The other method mentioned here doesn't work on Ruby 1.8 (not that you should be using 1.8 anymore anyway!--but when this answer was posted it was still quite common):

puts 'Smith'[0]           # prints 83

Of course, if you're not doing it on a regular basis, then defining the method might be overkill, and you could just do it directly:

puts last_name[0,1] 
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