[swift-evolution] [swift-evolution-announce] [Review] SE-0089: Replace protocol<P1, P2> syntax with Any<P1, P2>

Austin Zheng austinzheng at gmail.com
Tue May 24 14:20:32 CDT 2016

I actually consider the angle brackets to be easier to read, because it's
visually easy to pair the starting "<" with the ending ">" and mentally
delineate the entire extent of the declaration. (I suspect I may be alone
in this, though :).

If we can come up with reasonable strawman syntax for adding constraints,
we should probably throw this idea into the mix. I meant to ask you
earlier, but forgot. I would be happy to submit a PR to add it to the
alternatives section, though, so it can be formally reviewed, discussed,
and considered.


On Tue, May 24, 2016 at 12:07 PM, Joe Groff via swift-evolution <
swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:

> 'Any' is definitely a better name, but I think this is still syntax only a
> compiler can love. If we're going to repaint this bikeshed, I think we
> should also consider as an alternative some form of infix syntax for
> composing constraints. Rust uses `P1 + P2`, and various C++ proposals have
> suggested `P1 && P2`. Some pros(+) and cons(-) I can see with this approach:
> + Infix notation works not only in type position, but constraint position
> as well, providing a nicer way to express multiple type variable
> constraints:
>         var x: P && Q
>         func foo<T: P && Q, U>(x: T)
> + Infix notation feels subjectively lighter, being less nesty and
> angle-bracket-blinding. Compare the above with:
>         var x: Any<P, Q>
>         func foo<T: Any<P,Q>, U>(x: T)
> Particularly in the second declaration, I find the nested angle brackets
> and comma delimiters to be hard to visually parse.
> ± Like 'Any', an infix operator doesn't pass judgment on what kinds of
> constraint is being applied, so it naturally extends to expressing
> class-with-protocol constraints.
> - Infix notation doesn't provide an obvious place for generalized
> existentials to hang secondary constraints. The angle brackets for Any
> provide an enclosed syntactic space we can easily stuff a 'where' clause:
>         func sum(_ collection: Any<Sequence where Element == Int>) -> Int
> { ... }
> (though this notation still feels heavy and awkward to me).
> - The bracketing of `Any` might let us address the curious case of
> protocol vs existential metatypes in a better way. Right now, the static
> metatype for a protocol type (the type of `P.self`) is spelled
> `P.Protocol`, and the dynamic metatype for any type conforming to the
> protocol (the erased type of `T.self` where T: P) is spelled `P.Type`.
> Unintuitively, when a protocol type is substituted into `T.Type` in a
> generic context, you get the static type `P.Protocol` rather than `P.Type`,
> for soundness reasons:
>         func staticType<T>(of _: T) -> T.Type { return T.self }
> This substitution behavior could be made clearer if we moved a dynamic
> metatype's `.Type` into the Any brackets, so that `Any<P.Type>` would be
> the dynamic metatype of any type conforming to P, and `Any<P>.Type` would
> be the static metatype of the type `Any<P>`. Infix notation doesn't provide
> an opportunity to make this clarification.
> - A few people have also noted the similarity between Any<...> and normal
> generic types. This is potentially confusing today, but with enough magic
> language features from the future, Any *could* conceivably be made a
> library feature in the fullness of time:
>         // Let's say 'protocol' constraints indicate second-order
> constraint variables:
>         enum Any<Constraints: protocol> {
>                 // And we have GADTs:
>                 case value<T: Constraints>(T)
>         }
>         // And we have user-defined value subtyping:
>         extension <Constraints: protocol, T: Constraints> T:
> Any<Constraints> { ... }
> -Joe
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> swift-evolution mailing list
> swift-evolution at swift.org
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