The "ruby way" to break apart a name?


#1

Switching from C# to Ruby, and learning to write “the Ruby way”… is
there a better way to get the first and last names from a string?

Assume for simplicity that the the first name is the text up to the
first space, and the last name is the text after the last space.

def split_name(fullname)
parts = fullname.split(’ ')
[parts.first, parts.last]
end

This returns me an array so I can do this:

first, last = split_name(“Donald P. Q. Duck”)

first => “Donald”
last => “Duck”

(man, I love Ruby).

But something about split_name still feels a bit “wrong”, like there’s a
more succint Ruby way to return the first and last elements of the
split() results.

Thanks
Jeff


#2

On 12/20/05, Jeff C. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

But something about split_name still feels a bit “wrong”, like there’s a
more succint Ruby way to return the first and last elements of the
split() results.

Perhaps:
“Donald P. Q. Duck”.split.values_at(0,-1)
==>[“Donald”, “Duck”]

… where 0 and -1 are array indices.

cheers,
Mark


#3

Hi,

At Wed, 21 Dec 2005 10:57:01 +0900,
Jeff C. wrote in [ruby-talk:171830]:

Assume for simplicity that the the first name is the text up to the
first space, and the last name is the text after the last space.

What should be returned if fullname has no space?

def split_name(fullname)
fullname.scan(/(\S+).*\s(\S+)/).first
end


#4

Jeff C. wrote…

But something about split_name still feels a bit “wrong”, like there’s a
more succint Ruby way to return the first and last elements of the
split() results.

class String
def split_name
split.values_at(0, -1)
end
end

Cheers,
Dave


#5

On Wed, Dec 21, 2005 at 10:57:01AM +0900, Jeff C. wrote:

more succint Ruby way to return the first and last elements of the
split() results.

In Ruby you can open up any class and modify/extend it at any time. Even
the
built in ones. So you could do:

class String
def name_parts(pattern = ’ ', limit = 2)
split(pattern, limit)
end
end

‘Marcel Molina Jr.’.name_parts
=> [“Marcel”, “Molina Jr.”]

marcel


#6

In Ruby you can open up any class and modify/extend it at any time. Even the
built in ones. So you could do:

Well, you cant after String.freeze :slight_smile:


#7

Thanks for the help, everyone. All of the suggestions have been
helpful.

Jeff


#8

Lyndon S. wrote:

In Ruby you can open up any class and modify/extend it at any time. Even the
built in ones. So you could do:

Well, you cant after String.freeze :slight_smile:

Ha! Maybe you can String = String.dup ! :slight_smile:

E


#9

On Dec 21, 2005, at 4:17 PM, mathew wrote:

Also, the number of words in the full name can vary between 1 and a
fairly large integer.

Amen. Names are much trickier than you think…

James Edward G. II (married to Dana Ann Leslie Gray)


#10

James Edward G. II wrote:

Amen. Names are much trickier than you think…

James Edward G. II (married to Dana Ann Leslie Gray)

I second that sentiment. I recall a college buddy of mine. His full
name was Bradley Lee Bradley. Trying hard to think of a good regex
representation of that :slight_smile:


#11

James Edward G. II removed_email_address@domain.invalid writes:

On Dec 21, 2005, at 4:17 PM, mathew wrote:

Also, the number of words in the full name can vary between 1 and a
fairly large integer.

Amen. Names are much trickier than you think…

James Edward G. II (married to Dana Ann Leslie Gray)

Full Ack, James II.


#12

On 12/22/05, Christian N. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

Full Ack, James II.

I thought that was a spoonerism at first and wondered what you had
against James’ comments. Then I looked again and read “Full ACK”, and
it made more sense. :slight_smile:

Jacob F.


#13

On Thu, 22 Dec 2005, James Edward G. II wrote:

On Dec 21, 2005, at 4:17 PM, mathew wrote:

Also, the number of words in the full name can vary between 1 and a fairly
large integer.

Amen. Names are much trickier than you think…

James Edward G. II (married to Dana Ann Leslie Gray)

And then there’s…

Louis George Maurice Adolphe Roch Albert Abel Antonio Alexandre Noé
Jean Lucien Daniel Eugène Joseph-le-brun Joseph-Barême Thomas Thomas
Thomas-Thomas Pierre Arbon Pierre-Maurel Barthélemi Artus Alphonse
Bertrand Dieudonné Emanuel Josué Vincent Luc Michel
Jules-de-la-plane Jules-Bazin Julio César Jullie

… a 19th-century musician who had a lot of godfathers, all of whom
he was named after. You gotta love the “Thomas”'s :slight_smile:

(And I’ll rattle off that name from memory for a drink.)

Also, don’t forget cases like Ralph Vaughan Williams, where the last
name is Vaughan Williams.

David


David A. Black
removed_email_address@domain.invalid

“Ruby for Rails”, from Manning Publications, coming April 2006!


#14

Jeff C. wrote:

Assume for simplicity that the the first name is the text up to the
first space, and the last name is the text after the last space.
[…]
But something about split_name still feels a bit “wrong”,

Well, I think the bigger issue is that your assumptions are wrong. :slight_smile:

In some countries, the surname is written first, then the ‘first’ name.
Japan is an example. Some Japanese write their names in reverse when
writing them transliterated to English, and some don’t. (…which makes
me wonder which is the case for Matz…)

Also, the number of words in the full name can vary between 1 and a
fairly large integer. (I knew a guy with 6.) The number of name words
required to actually route mail to a unique person can vary between 1
and (at least) 3, and compound names are not always hyphenated. Then
there are things like “Jr”, and salutations that go after the name
rather than in front.

There are quite a few postings in comp.risks about this kind of thing.
In general it’s very hard to do it right, and if (for example) you want
to produce a "Dear " header for a letter, it’s
best to store the salutation as a separate field, rather than try to
guess what it might be from the name.

Of course, if you’re working with a badly structured database someone
else has given you, you may not have the choice…

mathew


#15

unknown wrote:

On Thu, 22 Dec 2005, James Edward G. II wrote:

On Dec 21, 2005, at 4:17 PM, mathew wrote:

Also, the number of words in the full name can vary between 1 and a fairly
large integer.

Amen. Names are much trickier than you think…

HEY YOU GUYS! :slight_smile: I was originally asking for the best way to return
the first and last parts of an array.

Breaking apart a name was just an example because I had to make up and
example in order to ask the question. Hence I said “Assume for
simplicity…” OF COURSE dealing with names is not as trivial as my
example.

The initial replies helped me understand arrays in Ruby better.

Thanks
Jeff


#16

This reminds me of U.S. street addresses. I (on and off) do work that
interfaces with a huge IBM mainframe application. That system has
many, many separate fields for street addresses:
Number, Direction, Street/Route, Quad, Suffix, Apartment, Line2, etc.
I laughed at the way the original engineers had overbuilt. Ha ha ha.


Then I had to write code that took a single address string and split
it into its component parts, and I stopped laughing.
e.g. 123 N. NESTOR LANE RD. SE #10B

Life is complicated, it turns out.


#17

We had a similar problem at work.

In the Spanish speaking world we use two last names: one from the
father’s family (apellido paterno) and another from the mother’s
family (apellido materno). For the “first name” there’s no limit in
the number of names.

Fortunately for us, the names were stored in the database as:

But there was a difficulty. In Spanish we have last names composed of
more than one word like “de la Vega”, “y Cruz”, “de las Casas”

Examples:

Cruz y Cruz María del Rosario
de la Vega Domínguez Jorge
Ponce de León Ernesto Zedillo

We couldn’t avoid regular expressions:
http://santanatechnotes.blogspot.com/2005/12/matching-iso-8859-1-strings-with-ruby.html

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: mathew removed_email_address@domain.invalid
Date: 21-dic-2005 16:17
Subject: Re: The “ruby way” to break apart a name?
To: ruby-talk ML removed_email_address@domain.invalid

Jeff C. wrote:

Assume for simplicity that the the first name is the text up to the
first space, and the last name is the text after the last space.
[…]
But something about split_name still feels a bit “wrong”,

Well, I think the bigger issue is that your assumptions are wrong. :slight_smile:

In some countries, the surname is written first, then the ‘first’ name.
Japan is an example. Some Japanese write their names in reverse when
writing them transliterated to English, and some don’t. (…which makes
me wonder which is the case for Matz…)

Also, the number of words in the full name can vary between 1 and a
fairly large integer. (I knew a guy with 6.) The number of name words
required to actually route mail to a unique person can vary between 1
and (at least) 3, and compound names are not always hyphenated. Then
there are things like “Jr”, and salutations that go after the name
rather than in front.

There are quite a few postings in comp.risks about this kind of thing.
In general it’s very hard to do it right, and if (for example) you want
to produce a "Dear " header for a letter, it’s
best to store the salutation as a separate field, rather than try to
guess what it might be from the name.

Of course, if you’re working with a badly structured database someone
else has given you, you may not have the choice…

mathew

  <URL:http://www.pobox.com/~meta/>

My parents went to the lost kingdom of Hyrule
and all I got was this lousy triforce.


Gerardo S.
“Between individuals, as between nations, respect for the rights of
others is peace” - Don Benito Juárez


#18

Wilson B. removed_email_address@domain.invalid writes:

Life is complicated, it turns out.

And what’s the point of storing that in different fields?


#19

On 1/2/06, Christian N. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

it into its component parts, and I stopped laughing.
e.g. 123 N. NESTOR LANE RD. SE #10B

Life is complicated, it turns out.

And what’s the point of storing that in different fields?

One reason is to be able to say things like “Who else lives on the
same street as this person” with a database query.
Another is that the Postal Service has a bunch of funky requirements
that must be met in order to qualify for discount mailing rates.
That being said, these days most big companies subscribe to an address
correction service, and just fix these things on the fly. Saves a lot
of hassle.


#20

On Sunday 01 January 2006 10:25 pm, Gerardo S. Gómez Garrido wrote:

We had a similar problem at work.

In the Spanish speaking world we use two last names: one from the
father’s family (apellido paterno) and another from the mother’s
family (apellido materno). For the “first name” there’s no limit in
the number of names.

Fortunately for us, the names were stored in the database as:

I’ve always wondered about this, both in Spanish names and American
hyphenated
names. When the mother and father have a baby, does it go like this:

baby.apellido_materno = mother.apellido_paterno
baby.apellido_paterno = father.apellido_paterno

Or is it done like this:

baby.apellido_materno = mother.apellido_materno
baby.apellido_paterno = father.apellido_paterno

I KNOW it can’t be this:

baby.apellido_materno = mother.apellido_paterno + ‘-’
+mother.apellido_materno
baby.apellido_paterno = father.apellido_paterno + ‘-’
+father.apellido_materno

If the preceding were done, names would become huge and still growing.

SteveT

Steve L.
http://www.troubleshooters.com
removed_email_address@domain.invalid