[swift-evolution] [pitch] Eliminate the "T1 -> T2" syntax, require "(T1) -> T2"

John McCall rjmccall at apple.com
Fri Apr 15 00:21:37 CDT 2016

> On Apr 14, 2016, at 9:57 PM, Chris Lattner via swift-evolution <swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:
> We currently accept function type syntax without parentheses, like:
>  Int -> Float
>  String -> ()
> etc.  The original rationale aligned with the fact that we wanted to treat all functions as taking a single parameter (which was often of tuple type) and producing a tuple value (which was sometimes a tuple, in the case of void and multiple return values).  However, we’ve long since moved on from that early design point: there are a number of things that you can only do in a parameter list now (varargs, default args, etc), implicit tuple splat has been removed, and  the compiler has long ago stopped modeling function parameters this way.  Beyond that, it eliminates one potential style war.
> Given all this, I think it makes sense to go for syntactic uniformity between parameter list and function types, and just require parenthesis on the argument list.  The types above can be trivially written as:
>  (Int) -> Float
>  (String) -> ()
> Thoughts?

To me, the unparenthesized style suggests that the input and output are peers, which feels more natural for the sort of value-to-value transform/predicate where this most commonly occurs.  Parenthesizing the input feels fussier, which contributes to a sense that the argument is just one component to producing the result.

The parentheses are grammatically unnecessary in most cases (by frequency of use in higher-use programming, not by feature count).  Our grammar generally allows grammatically-unnecessary parentheses to be omitted (except the C-style for loop, until we killed it) — I guess you could count function call syntax, but we had strong reasons there that don't seem to apply here.  We notably chose to deviate from C statement grammar specifically to allow unnecessary parentheses to be omitted.  This would feel weirdly inconsistent with that.

I guess the flip side is that call and declaration syntax both require parentheses (unless the only argument is a trailing closure), but again, we had strong justifications for that: declarations would always be ambiguous without parens, and calls would have serious problems (and the style-wars factor would be much larger, especially now with mandatory keyword arguments by default).


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