Ruby latest stable (v1_9_3_392) - 1 note - Superclass: DelegateClass(File)

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A utility class for managing temporary files. When you create a Tempfile object, it will create a temporary file with a unique filename. A Tempfile objects behaves just like a File object, and you can perform all the usual file operations on it: reading data, writing data, changing its permissions, etc. So although this class does not explicitly document all instance methods supported by File, you can in fact call any File instance method on a Tempfile object.


require 'tempfile'

file = Tempfile.new('foo')
file.path      # => A unique filename in the OS's temp directory,
               #    e.g.: "/tmp/foo.24722.0"
               #    This filename contains 'foo' in its basename.
file.write("hello world")
file.read      # => "hello world"
file.unlink    # deletes the temp file

Good practices

Explicit close

When a Tempfile object is garbage collected, or when the Ruby interpreter exits, its associated temporary file is automatically deleted. This means that’s it’s unnecessary to explicitly delete a Tempfile after use, though it’s good practice to do so: not explicitly deleting unused Tempfiles can potentially leave behind large amounts of tempfiles on the filesystem until they’re garbage collected. The existence of these temp files can make it harder to determine a new Tempfile filename.

Therefore, one should always call #unlink or close in an ensure block, like this:

file = Tempfile.new('foo')
   ...do something with file...
   file.unlink   # deletes the temp file

Unlink after creation

On POSIX systems, it’s possible to unlink a file right after creating it, and before closing it. This removes the filesystem entry without closing the file handle, so it ensures that only the processes that already had the file handle open can access the file’s contents. It’s strongly recommended that you do this if you do not want any other processes to be able to read from or write to the Tempfile, and you do not need to know the Tempfile’s filename either.

For example, a practical use case for unlink-after-creation would be this: you need a large byte buffer that’s too large to comfortably fit in RAM, e.g. when you’re writing a web server and you want to buffer the client’s file upload data.

Please refer to #unlink for more information and a code example.

Minor notes

Tempfile’s filename picking method is both thread-safe and inter-process-safe: it guarantees that no other threads or processes will pick the same filename.

Tempfile itself however may not be entirely thread-safe. If you access the same Tempfile object from multiple threads then you should protect it with a mutex.


MAX_TRY = 10


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August 4, 2011
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Tempfile extension


f = Tempfile.new(['graph','.json'])