The Forwardable module provides delegation of specified methods to a designated object, using the methods def_delegator and def_delegators.

For example, say you have a class RecordCollection which contains an array @records. You could provide the lookup method record_number(), which simply calls [] on the @records array, like this:

require 'forwardable'

class RecordCollection
  attr_accessor :records
  extend Forwardable
  def_delegator :@records, :[], :record_number

We can use the lookup method like so:

r =
r.records = [4,5,6]
r.record_number(0)  # => 4

Further, if you wish to provide the methods size, <<, and map, all of which delegate to @records, this is how you can do it:

class RecordCollection # re-open RecordCollection class
  def_delegators :@records, :size, :<<, :map

r =
r.records = [1,2,3]
r.record_number(0)   # => 1
r.size               # => 3
r << 4               # => [1, 2, 3, 4] { |x| x * 2 }  # => [2, 4, 6, 8]

You can even extend regular objects with Forwardable.

my_hash =
my_hash.extend Forwardable              # prepare object for delegation
my_hash.def_delegator "STDOUT", "puts"  # add delegation for STDOUT.puts()
my_hash.puts "Howdy!"

Another example

You could use Forwardable as an alternative to inheritance, when you don’t want to inherit all methods from the superclass. For instance, here is how you might add a range of Array instance methods to a new class Queue:

class Queue
  extend Forwardable

  def initialize
    @q = [ ]    # prepare delegate object

  # setup preferred interface, enq() and deq()...
  def_delegator :@q, :push, :enq
  def_delegator :@q, :shift, :deq

  # support some general Array methods that fit Queues well
  def_delegators :@q, :clear, :first, :push, :shift, :size

q =
q.enq 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
q.push 6

q.shift    # => 1
while q.size > 0
  puts q.deq

q.enq "Ruby", "Perl", "Python"
puts q.first
puts q.first

This should output:



Be advised, RDoc will not detect delegated methods.

forwardable.rb provides single-method delegation via the def_delegator and def_delegators methods. For full-class delegation via DelegateClass, see delegate.rb.


Version of forwardable.rb

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Instance Methods

Define method as delegator instance method with an optional alias name ali. Method calls to ali will be delegated to accessor.method. accessor should be a method name, instance variable name, or constant name. Use the full path to the constant if providing the constant name. Returns the name of the method defined.

class MyQueue
  CONST = 1
  extend Forwardable
  attr_reader :queue
  def initialize
    @queue = []

  def_delegator :@queue, :push, :mypush
  def_delegator 'MyQueue::CONST', :to_i

q =
q.mypush 42
q.queue    #=> [42]
q.push 23  #=> NoMethodError
q.to_i     #=> 1

Shortcut for defining multiple delegator methods, but with no provision for using a different name. The following two code samples have the same effect:

def_delegators :@records, :size, :<<, :map

def_delegator :@records, :size
def_delegator :@records, :<<
def_delegator :@records, :map

Takes a hash as its argument. The key is a symbol or an array of symbols. These symbols correspond to method names, instance variable names, or constant names (see def_delegator). The value is the accessor to which the methods will be delegated.