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Pathname represents a pathname which locates a file in a filesystem. The pathname depends on OS: Unix, Windows, etc. Pathname library works with pathnames of local OS. However non-Unix pathnames are supported experimentally.

It does not represent the file itself. A Pathname can be relative or absolute. It’s not until you try to reference the file that it even matters whether the file exists or not.

Pathname is immutable. It has no method for destructive update.

The value of this class is to manipulate file path information in a neater way than standard Ruby provides. The examples below demonstrate the difference. All functionality from File, FileTest, and some from Dir and FileUtils is included, in an unsurprising way. It is essentially a facade for all of these, and more.


Example 1: Using Pathname

require 'pathname'
pn = Pathname.new("/usr/bin/ruby")
size = pn.size              # 27662
isdir = pn.directory?       # false
dir  = pn.dirname           # Pathname:/usr/bin
base = pn.basename          # Pathname:ruby
dir, base = pn.split        # [Pathname:/usr/bin, Pathname:ruby]
data = pn.read
pn.open { |f| _ }
pn.each_line { |line| _ }

Example 2: Using standard Ruby

pn = "/usr/bin/ruby"
size = File.size(pn)        # 27662
isdir = File.directory?(pn) # false
dir  = File.dirname(pn)     # "/usr/bin"
base = File.basename(pn)    # "ruby"
dir, base = File.split(pn)  # ["/usr/bin", "ruby"]
data = File.read(pn)
File.open(pn) { |f| _ }
File.foreach(pn) { |line| _ }

Example 3: Special features

p1 = Pathname.new("/usr/lib")   # Pathname:/usr/lib
p2 = p1 + "ruby/1.8"            # Pathname:/usr/lib/ruby/1.8
p3 = p1.parent                  # Pathname:/usr
p4 = p2.relative_path_from(p3)  # Pathname:lib/ruby/1.8
pwd = Pathname.pwd              # Pathname:/home/gavin
pwd.absolute?                   # true
p5 = Pathname.new "."           # Pathname:.
p5 = p5 + "music/../articles"   # Pathname:music/../articles
p5.cleanpath                    # Pathname:articles
p5.realpath                     # Pathname:/home/gavin/articles
p5.children                     # [Pathname:/home/gavin/articles/linux, ...]

Breakdown of functionality

Core methods

These methods are effectively manipulating a String, because that’s all a path is. Except for #mountpoint?, #children, #each_child, #realdirpath and #realpath, they don’t access the filesystem.

File status predicate methods

These methods are a facade for FileTest:

File property and manipulation methods

These methods are a facade for File:

Directory methods

These methods are a facade for Dir:


These methods are a facade for IO:

  • #each_line(*args, &block)

  • #read(*args)

  • #binread(*args)

  • #readlines(*args)

  • #sysopen(*args)


These methods are a mixture of Find, FileUtils, and others:

Method documentation

As the above section shows, most of the methods in Pathname are facades. The documentation for these methods generally just says, for instance, “See FileTest.writable?”, as you should be familiar with the original method anyway, and its documentation (e.g. through ri) will contain more information. In some cases, a brief description will follow.


SEPARATOR_LIST = "#{Regexp.quote File::ALT_SEPARATOR}#{Regexp.quote File::SEPARATOR}"



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