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Ovid (2709)

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Stuff with the Perl Foundation. A couple of patches in the Perl core. A few CPAN modules. That about sums it up.

Journal of Ovid (2709)

Tuesday January 24, 2006
04:54 PM

UNIVERSAL::can($don't, $do_this);

[ #28454 ]

I get awfully tired of writing this:

use Scalar::Util 'blessed';

if ( blessed($thing) && $thing->can('do_something') ) { ... }

Which is why I'm awfully tempted to just write this almost throwaway code and put it on the CPAN. I probably won't, but I toy with the idea.

package Can;

use strict;
use warnings;
use Scalar::Util 'blessed';
use base 'Exporter';
@EXPORT = 'Can';

sub Can {
  my ($object, $method) = @_;
  return unless blessed $object;
  return $object->can($method);


And in my code:

use Can; # use Can () if you don't want importing

if ( Can( $thing, 'do_something' ) ) { ... }

Depending upon the type of code you write, it's quite easy to get an unblessed reference instead of an object. I get tired of always having to use blessed from Scalar::Util, but this is a common enough practice (I hit a lot in exception handling, for example) that it seems like a "write it and forget it" module might be useful.

And for those who do UNIVERSAL::can($object, $method), don't. If the object overrides &can, you're in trouble. If you already know your objects don't override &can, then you're relying on implementation details that you shouldn't be relying on.

The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
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  • I admit it. I'm guilty of UNIVERSAL::can($object, $method). Been there. Done than. Changed them when I run across them in old code. My real beef with UNIVERSAL::can($object, $method) is one of usibility. What couldn't that have just made that method DTRT and simply return false/0 if $object wasn't an object at all. After all, in a sub as simple as this, I just want a true/false. No need to throw errors. It either can, or can't, regardless os whether $objectis or isn't an object.
  • I'm universally replacing
    UNIVERSAL::can($object, 'method')
    eval { $object->can('method') }
    . It Just Works.
    • Randal L. Schwartz
    • Stonehenge