The second clause does not need a !variable.nil? check—if evaluation reaches that point, variable.nil is guaranteed to be false (because of short-circuiting).

This should be sufficient:

variable = id if variable.nil? || variable.empty?

If you're working with Ruby on Rails, Object.blank? solves this exact problem:

An object is blank if it’s false, empty, or a whitespace string. For example, "", " ", nil, [], and {} are all blank.