[swift-evolution] [Review] SE-0059: Update API Naming Guidelines and Rewrite Set APIs Accordingly

Shawn Erickson shawnce at gmail.com
Sun Apr 3 15:27:30 CDT 2016

On Sun, Apr 3, 2016 at 6:41 AM Michel Fortin via swift-evolution <
swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:

> > What is your evaluation of the proposal?
> I don't like "form" as a prefix. To me there is no difference between
> `union` and `formUnion`: both sounds functional-style, and actually the
> second one perhaps a bit more to my ears. There's basically two dictionary
> definitions of "form":
> 1. "bring together parts or combine to create (something)" which to me
> implies a new value is created, and
> 2. "make or fashion into a certain shape or form" which would imply that
> the material you start with is transformed, which is apparently the
> intended meaning and also the reverse meaning from the above.
> I mean, doesn't this make sense as an API?
>         let donut = baker.formDonut(dough) // non-mutating
> Perhaps instead of "form" we could use "become" as a prefix when the
> operation is naturally described by a noun. That would seem less ambiguous
> to me:
>         a.becomeUnion(b)
>         a.becomeIntersection(b)
>         a.becomeSuccessor(b)
> It's a bit passive, but I find it fits well when the operation is a noun.
> And there's no way the term lends itself to non-mutating cases without
> things becoming nonsensical:
>         let donut = baker.becomeDonut(dough) // non-mutating?

I also am having difficulty coming to terms with the use of "form" (I am a
native English speaker). As you note "form" can imply the creation of
something from parts (more like assembling a new thing) as well as the
creation of something out of a material say a of block clay (more like
molding something out of an existing thing). It doesn't seem clear cut to
me to imply in place mutation.

Additionally my eyes / brain keep seeing "from" instead of "form". This
type of issue is generally true with any short word made up of the same set
of letters (made worse since "from" is more common in programming then
"form"). The mind quickly narrows in on a set of possible words given the
letters we see and then uses context to help get the correct one and/or
additional visual parsing to understand the exact ordering of letters (more
energy expended). Anyway since I keep seeing "from" instead of "form" I
keep going in the direction of thinking it returns something made from the
two (or more) items involved (not really sure why "from" goes that
direction in my head, it could also go the in place direction).

I would prefer something other then "form" (note I just typed "from" by
mistake)... I think your suggestion of "become" has merit.

y.becomeUnion(x) --reads to me as--> "y become union with x"
y.formUnion(x) --read to me as--> "y from oops... y forming a union of x"
y.becomeIntersection(x) --reads to me as--> "y become intersection with x"
y.formIntersection(x) --read to me as--> "y from oops... y forming an
intersection with x"

In the "forming" situations it – to me – is ambiguous on if that is in
place or not. To me it implies more of giving something new back.

I am -1 on "form" aspect of this proposal. ...of course things are
learnable as long as things are fairly consistent and not to far out of the
norm for typical language use. Personally I don't see "form" as that
typical in English.

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