[swift-evolution] [Proposal] Make non-escaping closures the default

Trent Nadeau tanadeau at gmail.com
Sun Jun 5 22:49:34 CDT 2016


# Make non-escaping closures the default

* Proposal: [SE-NNNN](NNNN-name.md)
* Author: [Trent Nadeau](https://github.com/tanadeau)
* Status: **Awaiting review**
* Review manager: TBD

## Introduction

The current default of closure arguments to functions (i.e., arguments to
functions that themselves have function type such as `(T) -> U`) is to be
"escaping", meaning they can escape the function body such as saving it to
a field in a struct or a global variable. In order to say that a closure
argument cannot possibly escape the function body ("non-escaping"), the
developer must explicitly add an `@noescape` annotation to the argument

This proposal switches the default to be non-escaping and requires an
`@escaping` annotation if a closure argument can escape the function body.
Since the escaping case can be statically detected, this annotation can be
added via an error with a fixit. Other annotations that have consequences
for escape semantics (e.g., `@autoclosure(escaping)`) will be altered to
make use of the new `@escaping` annotation.

Swift-evolution threads: [Discussion thread topic for that proposal (TBD)](

## Motivation

Per Chris Lattner [on swift-evolution](

> To provide some more details, this approach has the following advantages:
> - Most functional algorithms written in pure Swift will benefit because
they are naturally noescape.  The core team feels that this will reduce the
boilerplate involved with writing these algorithms.
> - The compiler has enough logic in it to provide a great QoI experience
when a developer doesn’t think about escaping, and tries to escape a
closure - it can provide a fixit that suggests adding @escaping.
> - Recent changes (to disallow escaping closures to close over an inout
parameter) are pushing the language to prefer noescape closures.  noescape
closures have also always been the preferred default, since they eliminate
a class of retain cycle issues.
> - "@autoclosure(escaping)" can be simplified and standardized to
"@autoclosure @escaping”

## Detailed design

The `@noescape` annotation is removed from the language. The compiler will
emit an error with a fixit to remove the annotation.

The compiler will emit an error if a closure argument is found to possibly
escape the function body. In order to silence the warning, the developer
must add, manually or via fixit, the `@escaping` annotation to the argument

The compiler's semantic analysis implementation can be simplified as the
more constrained escaping case that conflicts with other attributes is now
no longer the default.

The standard library should be changed to use the new default whenever
possible by removing all uses of `@noescape` and only adding `@escaping`
where the compiler detects the need.

### Imported C/Objective-C APIs

Per the Core Team, most Cocoa closure/block parameters are escaping (e.g.,
delegates). As such the Clang importer will automatically add the
`@escaping` annotation to closure/block parameters encountered in imported
Objective-C APIs unless they are explicitly marked with the Clang
`((noescape))` attribute. This will also be done with imported C APIs with
function pointer or block parameters.

## Impact on existing code

Existing code using the `@noescape` attribute will need to be migrated to
remove the attribute since it will be the default. In addition, the
compiler will need to detect escaping closures that are not marked with
`@escaping` and create an error with a fixit to add the required attribute.

Uses of `@autoclosure(escaping)` must be changed to `@autoclosure

There should be few, if any, changes required for uses of Cocoa APIs as
these will be mostly marked as `@escaping`, and escaping closure arguments
are *more* constrained than non-escaping ones.

## Future directions

The `@noescape(once)` annotation proposed in [SE-0073](
would, if some future version is accepted, just become `@once`.

## Alternatives considered

Leave the `@noescape` attribute and existing semantics as they are now.

## Acknowledgements

Thanks to Chris Lattner, **TBD**, and anyone else who reviewed and
contributed to this proposal.

Trent Nadeau
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