Call Method as Function

Method-Call Style vs. Function-Call Style

Method-call syntax

object . function ( parameter,, parameter)

Method-call style not supported under no_object

// Below is a syntax error under 'no_object'.
engine.run("let x = [42]; x.clear();")?;
                        // ^ cannot call method-style

Function-call syntax

function ( object, parameter,, parameter)

Equivalence

Note

This design is similar to Rust.

Internally, methods on a custom type is the same as a function taking a &mut first argument of the object’s type.

Therefore, methods and functions can be called interchangeably.

impl TestStruct {
    fn foo(&mut self) -> i64 {
        self.field
    }
}

engine.register_fn("foo", TestStruct::foo);

let result = engine.eval::<i64>(
"
    let x = new_ts();
    foo(x);                         // normal call to 'foo'
    x.foo()                         // 'foo' can also be called like a method on 'x'
")?;

println!("result: {}", result);     // prints 1

First &mut Parameter

The opposite direction also works — methods in a Rust custom type registered with the Engine can be called just like a regular function. In fact, like Rust, object methods are registered as regular functions in Rhai that take a first &mut parameter.

Unlike functions defined in script (for which all arguments are passed by value), native Rust functions may mutate the first &mut argument.

Sometimes, however, there are more subtle differences. Methods called in normal function-call style may end up not muting the object afterall — see the example below.

Custom types, properties, indexers and methods are disabled under the no_object feature.

let a = new_ts();   // constructor function
a.field = 500;      // property setter
a.update();         // method call, 'a' can be modified

update(a);          // <- this de-sugars to 'a.update()'
                    //    'a' can be modified and is not a copy

let array = [ a ];

update(array[0]);   // <- 'array[0]' is an expression returning a calculated value,
                    //    a transient (i.e. a copy), so this statement has no effect
                    //    except waste time cloning 'a'

array[0].update();  // <- call in method-call style will update 'a'

No support for references

Rhai does NOT support normal references (i.e. &T) as parameters. All references must be mutable (i.e. &mut T).

Number of Parameters in Methods

Native Rust methods registered with an Engine take one additional parameter more than an equivalent method coded in script, where the object is accessed via the this pointer instead.

The following table illustrates the differences:

Function typeNo. of parametersObject referenceFunction signature
Native RustN + 1first &mut T parameterFn(obj: &mut T, x: U, y: V)
Rhai scriptNthisFn(x: U, y: V)

&mut is Efficient, Except for &mut ImmutableString

Using a &mut first parameter is highly encouraged when using types that are expensive to clone, even when the intention is not to mutate that argument, because it avoids cloning that argument value.

Even when a function is never intended to be a method – for example an operator, it is still sometimes beneficial to make it method-like (i.e. with a first &mut parameter) if the first parameter is not modified.

For types that are expensive to clone (remember, all function calls are passed cloned copies of argument values), this may result in a significant performance boost.

For primary types that are cheap to clone (e.g. those that implement Copy), including ImmutableString, this is not necessary.

// This is a type that is very expensive to clone.
#[derive(Debug, Clone)]
struct VeryComplexType { ... }

// Calculate some value by adding 'VeryComplexType' with an integer number.
fn do_add(obj: &VeryComplexType, offset: i64) -> i64 {
    ...
}

engine.register_type::<VeryComplexType>()
      .register_fn("+", add_pure /* or  add_method*/);

// Very expensive to call, as the 'VeryComplexType' is cloned before each call.
fn add_pure(obj: VeryComplexType, offset: i64) -> i64 {
    do_add(obj, offset)
}

// Efficient to call, as only a reference to the 'VeryComplexType' is passed.
fn add_method(obj: &mut VeryComplexType, offset: i64) -> i64 {
    do_add(obj, offset)
}

Data Race Considerations

Data races

Data races are not possible in Rhai under the no_closure feature because no sharing ever occurs.

Because methods always take a mutable reference as the first argument, even it the value is never changed, care must be taken when using shared values with methods.

Usually data races are not possible in Rhai because, for each function call, there is ever only one value that is mutable – the first argument of a method. All other arguments are cloned.

It is possible, however, to create a data race with a shared value, when the same value is captured in a closure and then used again as the object of calling that closure!

let x = 20;

x.is_shared() == false;             // 'x' is not shared, so no data race is possible

let f = |a| this += x + a;          // 'x' is captured in this closure

x.is_shared() == true;              // now 'x' is shared

x.call(f, 2);                       // <- error: data race detected on 'x'