Compact display of type information by leveraging constructor syntax
Author JuliaArrays
10 Stars
Updated Last
2 Years Ago
Started In
October 2016


This package is deprecated. Use Base.showarg, which was inspired by this package.

Build Status

ShowItLikeYouBuildIt is designed to simplify the printing of type information (in certain contexts) in Julia. Specifically, this package currently provides tools for simplifying the summary of arrays.

Example of usage

Currently, the printing of a simple array looks like this:

julia> a = reshape(1:12, 3, 4)
3×4 Base.ReshapedArray{Int64,2,UnitRange{Int64},Tuple{}}:
 1  4  7  10
 2  5  8  11
 3  6  9  12

It's worth noting that printing of the type information in the first line---produced by the Base function summary---is both longer and more complex than the sequence of commands needed to construct the object.

The idea of this package is to simplify the type information by instead showing a sequence of function calls that would create an identical type. To implement this for your own AbstractArray type, the first step is to specialize the showarg function (which shows an object x as if it were an argument to a function) for your array type:

function ShowItLikeYouBuildIt.showarg(io::IO, A::Base.ReshapedArray)
    print(io, "reshape(")
    showarg(io, parent(A))
    print(io, ", ", A.dims, ')')

Next, we hook this up so that it gets called by Base's summary function:

Base.summary(A::Base.ReshapedArray) = summary_build(A)

summary_build is a simple function that prints the dimension string, calls showarg on A, and then prints the element type. If you wanted, you could customize summary differently from this; as long as your method calls showarg on A, the machinery we've defined will be actived.

Now the printing of this array looks like this:

julia> a = reshape(1:12, 3, 4)
3×4 reshape(::UnitRange{Int64}, (3,4)) with element type Int64:
 1  4  7  10
 2  5  8  11
 3  6  9  12

The noteworthy thing here is that we're displaying the type via a set of function calls that would produce an object with this type. The printing of the "inner" array as ::UnitRange{Int64} is the default behavior of showarg, printing information about the object in terms of its type (as an argument to a function, not as a type-parameter, hence the ::).

In general, showarg methods for AbstractArray types that wrap other arrays should call showarg on at least the "main" array in the container. This allows the summary of a type to be printed as a nested call sequence; for example, if one added a suitable definition of showarg for SubArray (see ?showarg), one might obtain the following:

a = rand(3,5,7)
v = view(a, :, 3, 2:5)
c = reshape(v, 4, 3)

julia> summary(c)
"4×3 reshape(view(::Array{Float64,3}, Colon(), 3, 2:5), (4,3)) with element type Float64"

which may be someone easier to understand than the default

"4×3 Base.ReshapedArray{Float64,2,SubArray{Float64,2,Array{Float64,3},Tuple{Colon,Int64,UnitRange{Int64}},false},Tuple{Base.MultiplicativeInverses.SignedMultiplicativeInverse{Int64}}}"

You can optionally supply a "complexity threshold" to summary_build; objects whose types have complexity less than or equal to the threshold will be printed using the traditional type-based summary. See the documentation for summary_build and type_complexity for more information.

It's worth emphasizing that this package does not itself change the display of any objects; it simply provides the necessary tools. If you're a package author and interested in using ShowItLikeYouBuildIt, please keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • it is reasonable to customize the printing of objects whose types are defined in your package.

  • be wary about changing the display of types defined in Base (as we did above, for the purposes of illustration, with ReshapedArray and SubArray) or of types defined in other packages. Such changes will affect the printing of all such objects, and thus might have unintended consequences.