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On Mon, Jul 14, 2008 at 3:31 PM, Marinho Brandao <> wrote:
> David,
> thank you for the quickly response :)
> well... I tried your dir function with a table and it printed the keys
> and values for me (not the table's attributes and methods)
> and tried it with a userdata and an error has been raised:
> (read_query) cached_queries.lua:6: bad argument #1 to 'pairs' (table
> expected, got userdata)
> Javier,
> thank you also... and maybe your message clarify the clouds are in my
> mind :) well... if Lua hasn't objects, means this that most of data
> types won't retrieve to me a map of their own attributes and methods?

As David said, there aren't "attributes" and "methods", just members
of a table. roughly equivalent to dict() objects in Python, but with
nicer syntax.

the syntax part is important: in Lua writing table.field is exactly
the same as table["field"], and can be used interchangeably.  that
lets you use tables as records with constant fields.  (in python the
subscript syntax is somewhat cumbersome to use as records, and the
'attribute' syntax is nice, but has a different semantics)

the other syntax sugar that you have to have in mind is the OO-like form:

obj:methd(...)  === obj.methd(obj,....)

that lets you use a table with functions as an 'object' with
'methods'. again, this is just "syntax sugar", and both forms compile
to exactly the same bytecode.

now the third surprise, that makes so easy to 'write your own' OO-like
framework: if a Lua value (usually a table or userdata) can be
extended by a "metatable", that is a table with several predefined
keys that enhance the behaviour.  specifically, the "__index" field of
a metatable lets you add 'extra' members to a table or userdata.  this
is commonly used to store the 'methods' of a 'class', and then giving
the same metatable to several values makes them 'objects' of the same

you can get the metatable of an 'object' with getmetatable(obj), from
there, you can check the __index field.  if it's a function, Lua calls
it with the obj and index as parameters (a bit like __getitem__ in
Python), if it's a table, Lua simply searches it after failing with
the 'main' 'object'

putting all together:

let's say you have an object in variable 'obj', first check what type it is:

print type(obj)

if it's a table, you can enumerate it.  if it's a userdata, the
'contents' are hidden in C
to enumerate a table:

for k,v in pairs(obj) do print (k,v) end

in most cases, you'll see the 'instance' data, not the 'class' data,
so let's check the metatable:

mt = getmetatable(obj)
print (mt.__index)

if mt.__index is a table, enumerate it.  you should find functions
there.  these are the 'methods' that are called when you do

maybe not all methods are there, in that case, check if there's
another metatable:

mt2 = getmetatable (mt.__index)

or, maybe mt.__index isn't a table, but a function.... in that case,
you can't enumerate.  go for the docs

> I mean: in Python, I use dir() to list all that an object has and this
> makes me knows that an object has the method that I need, and so on...
> this makes me gain hours of research, just using the intuition.
> PS: if you are brazilian, let me know if I can send to you in PVT,
> maybe using portuguese I can explain better my questions :)

sorry, no portugese (but lots other do talk it).  in any case, your
question is clear, just remember that Lua is not Python:

"Python: batteries included" - Guido van Rossum
"Lua gives you the power; you build the mechanisms" - Roberto Ierusalimschy