NoMethodError#message takes very long


I've been noticing a problem for a while in a larger application and today I
produced a minimal example, given below. When a method is not found, Sinatra
calls NoMethodError#message to display a nice error message, but that is taking
VERY long.

require 'sinatra'
require 'nokogiri'
get '/' do
@xml = Nokogiri::XML('baz.xml', 'rb').read())

The file 'baz.xml' can be just a simple file, like a root element containing
some thousands of elements. The number of elements is important because, oddly
enough, the time taken for the message to be displayed is proportional to the
size of the XML file. In my system, with a 3.7 MB file this program takes almost
13 seconds to print the message, but in a larger application the message takes a
few minutes to appear.

You can try to print the line yourself instead, but that also takes very long:

rescue ::Exception => boom
puts boom.message

I don't know where the error might be. The code above looks too innocent to
cause such a weird behavior, and I don't see how either Nokogiri or Sinatra
could be involved, although both of them are required to reproduce the problem.

I'm using Ruby 1.9.2p180, Nokogiri 1.4.4 and Sinatra 1.2.0.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!


Re: NoMethodError#message takes very long

By Adiel Mittmann at 03/16/2011 - 17:28

Hi, I discovered what's causing the problem.

Ruby's function name_err_mesg_to_str (file error.c, line 929, SVN snapshot),
which produces the dreaded message, proceeds as follows:

1. It converts the object that does not possess the method in question to a
string, by calling #inspect;

2. If it doesn't like that string (i.e., if it's nil or is bigger than 65
characters), then it creates a simpler representation and use it instead.

In other words, if you happen to call a method on an object that doesn't define
to_s but that does contain a lot of data, then calling an undefined method and
trying to print the resulting exception's message will take a long time because
all the data in the object will have to be converted to a string -- just to be

Maybe in a case like this the message should always return the simpler
representation of the object instead of calling to_s?

Re: NoMethodError#message takes very long

By Robert Klemme at 03/17/2011 - 04:07

On Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 10:28 PM, Adiel Mittmann < ... at inf dot> wrote:
I'd rather provide a custom #inspect method for objects which may
contain potentially large volumes of data. Nobody can read that
anyway when printed on console or somewhere else.

Kind regards


Re: NoMethodError#message takes very long

By Eric Hodel at 03/16/2011 - 02:24

Let me see if I have this straight:

If baz.xml is empty it is fast
If baz.xml is large it is slow

If this is true it is because it takes time to parse the XML file before it gets to foo and discovers that there is no method foo.

Ruby does not know that foo does not exist until you try to call it.

Re: NoMethodError#message takes very long

By Adiel Mittmann at 03/16/2011 - 08:15


On Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 03:24:29PM +0900, Eric Hodel wrote:
The thing is: if method foo is not called at all, and thus no exception is
raised, the resulting web page is shown quickly enough. Nokogiri is pretty fast
at parsing XML files.

It only takes long when the inexistent method foo() is called and the pogram
tries to print the exception message.

Yes, I know this is *very*, *very* weird. Can anybody try to reproduce this bug?
The code snippet is very simple and it shouldn't take more than a couple

Thanks for the reply.

Re: NoMethodError#message takes very long

By Robert Klemme at 03/16/2011 - 08:26

On Wed, Mar 16, 2011 at 1:15 PM, Adiel Mittmann < ... at inf dot> wrote:
Not if one does not have the environment installed. Did you try the
suggested change?