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Ruby Programming
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Marshaling and Distributed Ruby

Java features the ability to serialize objects, letting you store them somewhere and reconstitute them when needed. You might use this facility, for instance, to save a tree of objects that represent some portion of application state---a document, a CAD drawing, a piece of music, and so on.

Ruby calls this kind of serialization marshaling.[Think of railroad marshaling yards where individual cars are assembled in sequence into a complete train, which is then dispatched somewhere.] Saving an object and some or all of its components is done using the method Marshal::dump . Typically, you will dump an entire object tree starting with some given object. Later on, you can reconstitute the object using Marshal::load .

Here's a short example. We have a class Chord that holds a collection of musical notes. We'd like to save away a particularly wonderful chord so our grandchildren can load it into Ruby Version 23.5 and savor it, too. Let's start off with the classes for Note and Chord.

class Note
  attr :value
  def initialize(val)
    @value = val
  end
  def to_s
    @value.to_s
  end
end

class Chord   def initialize(arr)     @arr = arr   end   def play     @arr.join('-')   end end

Now we'll create our masterpiece, and use Marshal::dump to save a serialized version of it to disk.

c = Chord.new( [ Note.new("G"),  Note.new("Bb"),
                 Note.new("Db"), Note.new("E") ] )

File.open("posterity", "w+") do |f|   Marshal.dump(c, f) end

Finally, our grandchildren read it in, and are transported by our creation's beauty.

File.open("posterity") do |f|
  chord = Marshal.load(f)
end
chord.play "G-Bb-Db-E"

Ruby Programming
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