The Ruby interview

I am always being asked at least two questions. Just to verify that I know Ruby basics.

  • What is the main difference between Module and Class?

That is so simple and obvious! Yet it’s too easy to forget… The answer is: you can not instantiate a Module. See, Modules in Ruby do not have constructors. Yeah, they may contain variables, but they do not have an initialize method.

You could define one this way:

module Moo
  def initialize(x)
    @x = x

But when you try to call you will get a method missing error. When you try to run Moo.initialize you will get a private method called error.

So yes, there is no way to instantiate Modules.

  • What’s the difference between Proc, lambda and block?

This is simple enough to remember as the answer contains only a few points:

  1. Proc is an object; block is not
  2. Proc does not check the number of arguments; lambda does
  3. lambda returns from itself; Proc returns from the outer (containing the Proc call) method
  • What is REST (application)?

The answer on that question hardly depends on what the asking person means.

So, I got two possible correct answers:

a. That is the principle of web application development, when the application responds to a request, depending on which HTTP method was provided (PUT, GET, POST, DELETE, OPTIONS).

b. This is a way of encapsulation Resource and its Handlers. That is a bit hard to explain. Something like “you have to split your application to Resources”.

  • Does Module is the ancestor of Class or does the Class is the child of Module?

This question, actually, may be asked on Class, Module or Object classes. This question is interesting when you do not know the answer.

The reality is plain however:

irb(main):005:0> Object.superclass
=> BasicObject
irb(main):006:0> Class.superclass
=> Module
irb(main):007:0> Module.superclass
=> Object
irb(main):008:0> BasicObject.superclass
=> nil

So, you can even draw a chain:

BasicObject => Object => Module => Class

Some hints

  • Think oral. Show an interviewing person how your thought flow. That is the good practice. It shows that you can think not just remember. And you could get to some friendly talk when you say some magic keyword or tell something the interviewer is interested in.

  • When I am asked of Rails best practices, or just creating my web application, I should never forget one core principle: web application controllers (looking at Rails’ MVC) should be thin. So, the most logic at Controller’s action should get or set some data on Model and provide a response. Nothing more.