Ruby Build an Address Book in Ruby Class Design Phone Number Class

Nick Stoneman
Nick Stoneman
10,093 Points

Is anyone able to expand on how the 'to_s' method in the Phone_Number class is accessible to the Contact class?

I'm not clear on how the final method we create at the end of this video is a able to access the to_s method made in the other file. Further, why has the method been called 'to_s'? I'm guessing 'to_s' is actually the ruby 'to string' method. But isn't using an existing ruby method to name OUR method bad form? A bit confused here.

3 Answers

It is my understanding that the require "./filename" line is necessary to reference a class contained in another file. You are correct, the to_s method is short for "to string" and it overrides any existing implementation of to_s.

Daniel Crews
Daniel Crews
14,007 Points

The to_s method of the Phone_Number class is accessible because the phone_number variable is an object of the Phone_Number class. It was instantiated in the line

phone_number =

It is idiomatic in Ruby to define a to_s method in class definitions and not considered bad form. It is used so that calling to to_s on the object is more informative than the standard implementation. Keep in mind, you're not overriding the String class's to_s method here. You're defining a new one for the class that you've created.

I was confused about this too but just found a great explanation and example(s) over on I'll provide the link below, it's really helpful. It talks about puts, p, inspect, and to_s and how they relate. Wish I read it earlier to be honest. Anyway, according to them puts outputs (prints) the result of applying to_s on an object. So in a situation where you decide to override to_s in your class (like in the video), puts will automatically take on that new behavior of to_s. In other words once to_s got overridden, we were essentially creating a new behavior for puts as it relates to the PhoneNumber object.

Another thing I found interesting, apparently the overriding of to_s (within a class) is encouraged to fit the specific needs of your class.