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Ruby 2.5 introduces Dir.children and Dir.each_child

on November 21, 2017
This blog is part of our Ruby 2.5 series.

Dir.entries is a method present in Ruby 2.4. It returns the output of shell command ls -a in an array.

2> Dir.entries("/Users/john/Desktop/test")
3> => [".", "..", ".config", "program.rb", "group.txt"]

We also have method Dir.foreach which iterates and yields each value from the output of ls -a command to the block.

2> Dir.foreach("/Users/john/Desktop/test") { |child| puts child }
3> .
4> ..
5> .config
6> program.rb
7> group.txt
8> test2

We can see that the output includes the directives for current directory and parent directory which are "." and "..".

When we want to have access only to the children files and directories, we do not need the [".", ".."] subarray.

This is a very common use case and we'll probably have to do something like Dir.entries(path) - [".", ".."] to achieve the desired output.

To overcome such issues, Ruby 2.5 introduced Dir.children. It returns the output of ls -a command without the directives for current and parent directories.

2> Dir.children("/Users/mohitnatoo/Desktop/test")
3> => [".config", "program.rb", "group.txt"]

Additionally, we can use Dir.each_child method to avoid yielding current and parent directory directives while iterating,

2> Dir.each_child("/Users/mohitnatoo/Desktop/test") { |child| puts child }
3> .config
4> program.rb
5> group.txt
6> test2

As noted in the discussion the names were chosen to match with existing methods Pathname#children and Pathname#each_child.

These additions seem like simple features. Well the issue was posted more than two years ago.