It's common knowledge in most programming languages that the flow for working with files is open-use-close. Yet I saw many times in ruby codes unmatched File.open calls, and moreover I found this gem of knowledge in the ruby docs:
I/O streams are automatically closed when they are claimed by the garbage collector.
I saw many times in ruby codes unmatched
Can you give an example? I only ever see that in code written by newbies who lack the "common knowledge in most programming languages that the flow for working with files is open-use-close".
Experienced Rubyists either explicitly close their files, or, more idiomatically, use the block form of
File.open, which automatically closes the file for you. Its implementation basically looks something like like this:
def File.open(*args, &block) return open_with_block(*args, &block) if block_given? open_without_block(*args) end def File.open_without_block(*args) # do whatever ... end def File.open_with_block(*args) yield f = open_without_block(*args) rescue ensure f.close raise end
Scripts are a special case. Scripts generally run so short, and use so few file descriptors that it simply doesn't make sense to close them, since the operating system will close them anyway when the script exits.
Do we need to explicitly close?
If yes then why does the GC autoclose?
Because after it has collected the object, there is no way for you to close the file anymore, and thus you would leak file descriptors.
Note that it's not the garbage collector that closes the files. The garbage collector simply executes any finalizers for an object before it collects it. It just so happens that the
File class defines a finalizer which closes the file.
If not then why the option?
Because wasted memory is cheap, but wasted file descriptors aren't. Therefore, it doesn't make sense to tie the lifetime of a file descriptor to the lifetime of some chunk of memory.
You simply cannot predict when the garbage collector will run. You cannot even predict if it will run at all: if you never run out of memory, the garbage collector will never run, therefore the finalizer will never run, therefore the file will never be closed.