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Ruby | Class Method and Variables

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  • Last Updated : 11 Nov, 2019
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Class Methods are the methods that are defined inside the class, public class methods can be accessed with the help of objects. The method is marked as private by default, when a method is defined outside of the class definition. By default, methods are marked as public which is defined in the class definition.
Syntax 1:

def class_method_name
  # some code

Here, we can access the above method only with the help of an object.
Syntax 2:

def class_name.class_method_name or self.class_method_name
  # some code

Here, we can access the above method there is no need to create objects of the Class as we can directly access it.
Here, the self keyword refers to the entire class itself, not to an instance of the class. In this case, we are inside the class only, not inside an instance method of that class. So, we are in the class scope.

Class Variables are the variables that are defined inside the class, where only the class method has access to. Class Variables starts with @@ and must be initialized first then they can be used in method definitions.
Referencing an uninitialized class variable produces an error. Class variables are shared among descendants of the class or module within which the class variables are defined.
When a class variables is override it will produce warnings with the -w option.


@@variable_name = value

What is the use of class variables and methods?

Let’s say for suppose we want to keep a count of how many grocery items you have added to your shopping items, for that, we need a variable apart from instance variable as instance variable appears unique for every object created and by using a global variable it can be easily manipulated from anywhere from the program.

So, for we use a class variable and with the help of a class method we can keep track of the total number of grocery items got listed and in many various other ways.

Below is the example:

# Program in Ruby for a count of total Grocery items
class Grocery
# class variable
@@total_count = 0
# class array
@@items_list = []
def add_item(item)
    # adding item to the array
    @@total_count += 1#counting
def print_items
    puts "Total number of items --> #@@total_count";
    puts "All items --> #@@items_list";
# direct access
def Grocery.printitems_only# or self.printitems_only
    puts "\nGrocery.printitems_only", @@items_list.join("\n");
list =
list.add_item("face wash")
list.add_item("mud pack")
list.add_item("tea tree oil")
# direct access
# throws an error


Total number of items --> 6
All items --> ["shampoo", "face wash", "serum", "mud pack", "tea tree oil", "toner"]

face wash
mud pack
tea tree oil
main.rb:35:in `': undefined method `printitems_only' for # (NoMethodError)
Did you mean?  print_items

Here we are using the @@total_count class variable, inside of our #add_item(item) method, which is an instance method. when a new item is added, the method accesses the @@total_count class variable and increment its value by 1. And, we are using the @@items_list class array, inside of our #add_item(item) method, which is an instance method. when a new item is added, the method accesses the @@items_list class array and adds the item name to the array. We can access the class variables anywhere in the class in both class and instance methods. And if we use either self.printitems_only or Grocery.printitems_only they execute the same but while accessing we can only access by class name as self represents the class only inside the class.

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