Method Definition and Method Invocation

Method Definition

Method definition is the action of creating a method using the def keyword:

def greeting      # Line 1 - 3: method definition
  puts 'Bonjour'
end

The notion of “outer” or “inner” scope doesn’t translate within a method definition: parameters must be passed to the method definition (see Method Invocation below).

Method Invocation

Method invocation is the act of calling a method we defined previously, or an existing method form the Ruby Core API or Core Library, somewhere in our code.

A method can be invoked as is or by passing one or several argument.

def greeting(name)        # Method defined with one parameter
  puts "Bonjour #{name}"
end

greeting('Petit Prince')  # Method invocation with one argument

Important note while we are here:

Methods are defined with parameters but they are invoked with arguments. (cf., Parameter vs Argument#)

The example above is invoking a method we previously defined. We could also invoke an already existing Ruby method:

[1, 2, 3].each { |n| puts n }
# 1
# 2
# 3

The method above is called with a block. That do..end (or {..}) block following the method invocation is actually an argument being passed into the method, like the 'Petit Prince' string above.

Technically every method can be called with a block but the method needs to be constructed in a certain way to be able to execute the block. See Method with Block at Invocation#

The important point regarding block is: a block is part of the method invocation and method invocation is actually the way to define a block! (cf., Deciding Whether Part of a Code is a Block or Not#)

When a block is passed to a method that use the return value of said block, we can do more than just executing what is inside the block.

a = 'Baguette'

[1, 2, 3].map { |n| a }
# => ["Baguette", "Baguette", "Baguette"

We replaced Array#each with Array#map which uses the return value of the block to perform a transformation. Interestingly, #map does not have access to variable a but the block delimited by {..} can. As the block returns a to #map, the later can now use the value of a!

Method and Scopes

Method definition sets a scope for local variable while method invocation uses the scope set by method definition.

Blocks Inside Method Definition

The rules of Local Variable Scope# for block inside a method definition do translate.