The Ampersand Dot Operator in Ruby

Ruby allows you to write code like this:

name = nil
=> nil
=> nil

This is called the Safe Navigation Operator and was introduced in Ruby 2.3 - it’s similar to the try method in Rails, but it’s faster.

Today I learnt that this can be combined with other operators, for example:

price = nil
=> nil
taxes = 0.99
=> 0.99
price&. + taxes
=> nil

It definitely looks strange to me, but it’s useful in certain contexts.

An interesting bit of history is that many other programming languages (Objective C, Python, Swift, Scala, CoffeeScript) have a similar feature but use a question mark instead of an ampersand - ?.. However, methods in Ruby can contain a question mark so ?. is already valid syntax, so the Ruby community had to use a different syntax.