as

The as pseudo-method restricts the types of an expression. For example:

if some_condition
  a = 1
else
  a = "hello"
end

# a : Int32 | String

In the above code, a is a union of Int32 | String. If for some reason we are sure a is an Int32 after the if, we can force the compiler to treat it like one:

a_as_int = a.as(Int32)
a_as_int.abs          # works, compiler knows that a_as_int is Int32

The as pseudo-method performs a runtime check: if a wasn't an Int32, an exception is raised.

The argument to the expression is a type.

If it is impossible for a type to be restricted by another type, a compile-time error is issued:

1.as(String) # Compile-time error

Note: you can't use as to convert a type to an unrelated type: as is not like a cast in other languages. Methods on integers, floats and chars are provided for these conversions. Alternatively, use pointer casts as explained below.

Converting between pointer types

The as pseudo-method also allows to cast between pointer types:

ptr = Pointer(Int32).malloc(1)
ptr.as(Int8*)                    #:: Pointer(Int8)

In this case, no runtime checks are done: pointers are unsafe and this type of casting is usually only needed in C bindings and low-level code.

Converting between pointer types and other types

Conversion between pointer types and Reference types is also possible:

array = [1, 2, 3]

# object_id returns the address of an object in memory,
# so we create a pointer with that address
ptr = Pointer(Void).new(array.object_id)

# Now we cast that pointer to the same type, and
# we should get the same value
array2 = ptr.as(Array(Int32))
array2.same?(array) #=> true

No runtime checks are performed in these cases because, again, pointers are involved. The need for this cast is even more rare than the previous one, but allows to implement some core types (like String) in Crystal itself, and it also allows passing a Reference type to C functions by casting it to a void pointer.

Usage for casting to a bigger type

The as pseudo-method can be used to cast an expression to a "bigger" type. For example:

a = 1
b = a.as(Int32 | Float64)
b #:: Int32 | Float64

The above might not seem to be useful, but it is when, for example, mapping an array of elements:

ary = [1, 2, 3]

# We want to create an array 1, 2, 3 of Int32 | Float64
ary2 = ary.map { |x| x.as(Int32 | Float64) }

ary2 #:: Array(Int32 | Float64)
ary2 << 1.5 # OK

The Array#map method uses the block's type as the generic type for the Array. Without the as pseudo-method, the inferred type would have been Int32 and we wouldn't have been able to add a Float64 into it.

Usage for when the compiler can't infer the type of a block

Sometimes the compiler can't infer the type of a block. This can happen in recursive calls that depend on each other. In those cases you can use as to let it know the type:

some_call { |v| v.method.as(ExpectedType) }

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