[swift-evolution] Modify optional method semantics for swift

Vladimir.S svabox at gmail.com
Mon May 9 11:54:23 CDT 2016

IMO if a class conforms to some protocol, this *should* means that methods 
of the protocol is implemented exactly inside that class(or in 
superclasses). In your suggestion, *optional* methods will be implemented 
"somewhere" outside of conformed class. IMO protocol should not depend on 
any default implementation.

I have another suggestion: introduce 'optional' keyword to mark methods of 
protocol extension which(methods) were not declared in protocol. I.e. :

protocol A {
   func a()
   func b()

extension A {
   *optional* func c() {..} // explicitely tells us that this method is 
optional and was not introduces in the A protocol itself

   func a() {..} // default implementation for "existed" method in A protocol

On 09.05.2016 19:15, Carlos Rodríguez Domínguez via swift-evolution wrote:
> Rationale:
> As a everybody knows, “optional” keyword is present in swift solely to
> maintain compatibility with objective-c protocols. Optional methods in
> protocols are neither a swift capability, nor a wanted one. In fact,
> proposal [0070] intends to begin the transition to an optionals-free
> language. In fact, optionals, as presented by objective-c, are a manner to
> avoid interface segregation.
> Nonetheless, in many occasions, optionals are used to model customized
> behavior vs default one. For instance, if you take a look at the
> documentation of UITableViewDataSource or delegate, you’ll see that
> optional methods are not required, since the framework provides a default
> behavior that can be customized by implementing the corresponding optional
> methods.
> Consequently, is most cases, optional methods in objective-c are a means to
> replace the semantics of default protocol method implementations, as
> supported through extensions in swift.
> Therefore, my proposal is to modify the semantics of “optional” keyword in
> swift to mean: “you must provide a default implementation of this method
> through an extension”. This is different from objective-c semantics, which
> mean “the implementation of this method may not be provided”.
> Detailed design:
> In this proposal, protocols could be defined like this:
> protocol Datasource {
> associatedtype Element
> var count:Int {get}
> func elementAt(index:Int) -> Element
> optional func color(elementIndex:Int) -> UIColor
> }
> However, this definition enforces the developer to create an extension a
> provide a default implementation of the optional method:
> extension Datasource {
> func color(elementIndex:Int) -> UIColor {
> return UIColor.blackColor()
> }
> }
> In this way, what we are achieving is that we are avoiding objective-c
> optional semantics (which is a way to avoid interface segregation), but we
> are making explicit that a method in a protocol requires a default
> implementation, thus not requiring the developer to re-implement the method
> in any entity adopting the protocol (as it currently happens when we
> provide a default method implementation). Moreover, we are making explicit
> that a certain protocol method has a default implementation, which can be
> confusing right now.
> Note that in this proposal, the intention is to keep both "@objc optional”
> and simply “optional” keywords, to highlight both semantics. However, in
> order to avoid @objc optional semantics as much as possible (to be able to
> remove it in a future swift release), new annotations could be incorporated
> to optional methods in objective-c code, to specify the default returned
> value. For instance, the annotations could be like this:
> @protocol Datasource
> -(NSInteger) numberOfElements;
> -(NSObject*) elementAtIndex:(NSInteger)index;
> @optional
> -(UIColor*) colorOfElementAtIndex:(NSInteger)index
> __attribute__((swift_default_value(“UIColor.blackColor()")));
> @end
> Note that this annotation also allows to better understand the default
> behavior in case the method is not implemented without reading the
> documentation. This annotation should produce a swift code similar to the
> above one.
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