Flaviu Simihaian's Blog - Entrepreneur and Developer

Nil and Zero in Ruby and Objective-C

In Ruby, only nil and false are treated as false. Everything else is true.

Yes, that includes 0. The following statement will evaluate as true:

puts "Waat?" if 0

So to check if something is nil you can use one of these methods:

puts "Waaat?" if defined?(wat_object)
puts "Waaat?" unless wat_object.nil?

Or, if you need to initialize an instance variable that you never want to be nil, here’s the sexiness to use:

 @wat_variable ||= "Waaat?"

This will check if the variable is nil, and if so, assign it to “Waaat?”. Otherwise, it will leave it untouched.

Objective-C uses YES and NO or non-zero and 0 instead of true and false. An object pointer that does not point to anything is nil.

NSString *hello = nil;

nil is the exact same as 0. nil is used for objects, while 0 for primitive types (int, double, etc).

Both nil and 0 evaluate to false in Objective C, so both of these print statements would not execute.

id obj = nil;
int some_int = 0;
if (obj) { print "waaat?"; }
if(some_int) { print "waaat?"; }

I often get confused about whether nil is true or false, so I hope this helps somebody.


Fork Flaviu on GitHub