Code or data?

time to read 3 min | 581 words

Here is a question that came up in the book's forums:

I can't figure out how to get the text of the expression from expression.ToCodeString() or better yet, the actual text from the .boo file.

It appears to automagically convert from type Expression to a delegate. What I want is to be able to when a condition is evaluated display the condition that was evaluated, so if when 1 < 5 was evaluated I would be able to get the string "when 1 < 5" - Any way to do this?

Let us see what the issue is. Given this code:

when order.Amount > 10:
	print "yeah!"

We want to see the following printed:

Because 'order.Amount > 10' evaluated to true, executing rule action.

The problem, of course, is how exactly to get the string that represent the rule. It is actually simple to do, we just need to ask the compiler nicely, like this:

public abstract class OrderRule
    public Predicate<Order> Condition { get; set; }
    public string ConditionString { get; set; }
    public Action RuleAction { get; set; }
    protected Order order;
    public abstract void Build();

    public static Expression when(Expression expression, Expression action)
        var condition = new BlockExpression();
        condition.Body.Add(new ReturnStatement(expression));
        return new MethodInvocationExpression(
            new ReferenceExpression("When"),
            new StringLiteralExpression(expression.ToCodeString()),

    public void When(Predicate<Order> condition, string conditionAsString, Action action)
        Condition = condition;
        ConditionString = conditionAsString;
        RuleAction = action;

    public void Evaluate(Order o)
        order = o;
        if (Condition(o) == false)
        Console.WriteLine("Because '{0}' evaluated to true, running rule action",ConditionString);

The key here happens in the when() static method. We translate the call to the when keyword to a call to the When() instance method. Along the way, we aren't passing just the arguments that we got, we are also passing a string literal with the code that was extracted from the relevant expression.