Exercise 10: What Was That?

In Exercise 9 I threw you some new stuff, just to keep you on your toes. I showed you two ways to make a string that goes across multiple lines. In the first way, I put the characters \n (back-slash n) between the names of the months. What these two characters do is put a new line character into the string at that point.

This use of the \ (back-slash) character is a way we can put difficult-to-type characters into a string. There are plenty of these "escape sequences" available for different characters you might want to put in, but there's a special one, the double back-slash which is just two of them \\. These two characters will print just one back-slash. We'll try a few of these sequences so you can see what I mean.

Another important escape sequence is to escape a single-quote ' or double-quote ". Imagine you have a string that uses double-quotes and you want to put a double-quote in for the output. If you do this "I "understand" joe." then Ruby will get confused since it will think the " around "understand" actually ends the string. You need a way to tell Ruby that the " inside the string isn't a real double-quote.

To solve this problem you escape double-quotes and single-quotes so Ruby knows to include in the string. Here's an example:

"I am 6'2\" tall."  # escape double-quote inside string
'I am 6\'2" tall.'  # escape single-quote inside string

The second way is by using here document syntax, which uses <<NAME and works like a string, but you also can put as many lines of text you as want until you type NAME again. We'll also play with these.

tabby_cat = "\tI'm tabbed in."
persian_cat = "I'm split\non a line."
backslash_cat = "I'm \\ a \\ cat."

fat_cat = <<MY_HEREDOC
I'll do a list:
\t* Cat food
\t* Fishies
\t* Catnip\n\t* Grass

puts tabby_cat
puts persian_cat
puts backslash_cat
puts fat_cat

What You Should See

Look for the tab characters that you made. In this exercise the spacing is important to get right.

$ ruby ex10.rb
    I'm tabbed in.
I'm split
on a line.
I'm \ a \ cat.
I'll do a list:
    * Cat food
    * Fishies
    * Catnip
    * Grass


Extra Credit

  1. Search online to see what other escape sequences are available.
  2. Combine escape sequences and format strings to create a more complex format.