FAQ: Methods, Blocks, & Sorting - Splat!

This community-built FAQ covers the “Splat!” exercise from the lesson “Methods, Blocks, & Sorting”.

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This exercise can be found in the following Codecademy content:

Learn Ruby

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Splat Arguments.
In the lesson we are taught that the placeholder text between the parenthesis on the method definition is called a parameter.
And the placeholder text between the parenthesis where the method is called is called an argument.

Then why would a parameter with a * next to it be called a ‘Splat Argument?’ Shouldn’t it be called a splat parameter?


A parameter has a name that takes a positional argument. Splat is an argument array, by comparison. There can be any number of arguments.

We could call a method with an array as the argument, but we would either have it in tow already, or would have to construct it to pass it in to the method. Splat lets us write an argument list with variables pulled in from anywhere that don’t exist in a data structure.

The only thing that is not implied is order. This would need to be sorted out by using the splat in the call and set positional parameters in the method.

Bottom line, splat is not just a method tool, it is an array tool. There is a lot we can do with it so definitely do some reading up on this operator.

[*[1, 1, 2, 3, 5], *[8, 13, 21, 34, 55]]

=> [1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55]
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Thanks for the extra explanation on what splat is and how it is seen and accessed within a method.

However, I was hoping to get a clearer understanding of why it is called a Splat argument, as opposed to a splat parameter. Because it is always in the parameter of a method when it is used.

Not so. It can also be in the method call.

def area(x, y)
  x * y

sides = [6, 7]
puts area(*sides)
# <- 42
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Brilliant. Thank you. I had no idea from the codecademy lesson that it was so useful. I’m going to session splat more tonight.

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In this lesson, the splat is on the second argument : def what_up(greeting, *friends)
can it only be on one argument and on the last one for the code to correctly identify which argument is which ? or is there a way to put many splat arguments and to identify them correctly when we call the method ?


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In the tutorial it is written that one or more than one argument is needed for splat argument but it also works for no argument as well.

Which suggests that they are virtual, and outside of compiler error territory.