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Ruby Programming
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Classes and Objects



Classes and objects are obviously central to Ruby, but at first sight they can seem a little confusing. There seem to be a lot of concepts: classes, objects, class objects, instance methods, class methods, and singleton classes. In reality, however, Ruby has just a single underlying class and object structure, which we'll discuss in this chapter. In fact, the basic model is so simple, we can describe it in a single paragraph.

A Ruby object has three components: a set of flags, some instance variables, and an associated class. A Ruby class is an object of class Class, which contains all the object things plus a list of methods and a reference to a superclass (which is itself another class). All method calls in Ruby nominate a receiver (which is by default self, the current object). Ruby finds the method to invoke by looking at the list of methods in the receiver's class. If it doesn't find the method there, it looks in the superclass, and then in the superclass's superclass, and so on. If the method cannot be found in the receiver's class or any of its ancestors, Ruby invokes the method method_missing on the original receiver.

And that's it---the entire explanation. On to the next chapter.

``But wait,'' you cry, ``I spent good money on this chapter. What about all this other stuff---singleton classes, class methods, and so on. How do they work?''

Good question.
Ruby Programming
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