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class CreatePurchages < ActiveRecord::Migration
def change
create_table :purchases do |t|
t.string :name

Why the use of :purchages and not purchages. Why the use of :name and not name?
What does the : symbol mean ? Is it a message ? or an equivalent of a c++ enumeration type ?
I like to think in terms of functions and parameters but with the "vanilla" I can't find it anymore. Which message is send to which object. Or which function is called?