[swift-evolution] [Draft] Availability by Swift version

Dave Abrahams dabrahams at apple.com
Wed Sep 28 13:37:00 CDT 2016

on Thu Sep 22 2016, Graydon Hoare <swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:

> Hi,
> The following is a proposal for a very minor extension of the @available system. Hopefully uncontroversial!
> Thanks,
> -Graydon
> # Availability by Swift version
> * Proposal: [SE-NNNN](NNNN-available-by-swift-version.md)
> * Authors: [Graydon Hoare](https://github.com/graydon)
> * Review Manager: TBD
> * Status: **Awaiting review**
> ## Introduction
> Swift's existing `@available(...)` attribute indicates the lifecycle of a
> given declaration, either unconditionally or relative to a particular
> platform or OS version range.
> It does not currently support indicating declaration lifecycle relative to
> Swift language versions. This proposal seeks to extend it to do so.
> ## Motivation
> As the Swift language progresses from one version to the next, some
> declarations will be added, renamed, deprecated or removed from the
> standard library. Existing code written for earlier versions of Swift will
> be supported through a `-swift-version N` command-line flag, that runs the
> compiler in a backward-compatibility mode for the specified "effective"
> language version.
> When running in a backward-compatibility mode, the set of available
> standard library declarations should change to match expectations of older
> code. Currently the only mechanism for testing a language version is the
> compiler-control statement `#if swift(>= N)` which is a static construct:
> it can be used to compile-out a declaration from the standard library, but
> evolving the standard library through this mechanism would necessitate
> compiling the standard library once for each supported older language
> version.
> It would be preferable to compile the standard library _once_ for all
> supported language versions, but make declarations _conditionally
> available_ depending on the effective language version of a _user_ of the
> library. The existing `@available(...)` attribute is similar to this
> use-case, and this proposal seeks to extend the attribute to support it.
> ## Proposed solution
> The `@available(...)` attribute will be extended to support specifying
> `swift` version numbers, in addition to its existing platform versions.
> As an example, an API that is removed in Swift 3.1 will be written
> as:
> ~~~~
> @available(swift, obsoleted: 3.1)
> class Foo {
>   //...
> }
> ~~~~
> When compiling _user code_ in `-swift-version 3.0` mode, this declaration
> would be available, but not when compiling in subsequent versions.
> ## Detailed design
> The token `swift` will be added to the set of valid initial arguments
> to the `@available(...)` attribute. It will be treated similarly,
> but slightly differently, than the existing platform arguments. In
> particular:
>   - As with platform-based availability judgments, a declaration's
>     `swift` version availability will default to available-everywhere
>     if unspecified.
>   - A declaration's `swift` version availability will be considered
>     in logical conjunction with its platform-based availability.
>     That is, a given declaration will be available if and only
>     if it is _both_ available to the current effective `swift` version
>     _and_ available to the current deployment-target platform.
>   - Similar to the abbreviated form of platform availability, an
>     abbreviated form `@available(swift N)` will be permitted as a synonym
>     for `@available(swift, introduced: N)`. However, adding `swift` to
>     a platform availability abbreviation list will not be allowed. That is,
>     writing the following examples is not permitted:
>     - `@available(swift 3, *)`
>     - `@available(swift 3, iOS 10, *)`
>     This restriction is due to the fact that platform-availability lists
>     are interpreted disjunctively (as a logical-_OR_ of their arguments),
>     and adding a conjunct (logical-_AND_) to such a list would make
>     the abbreviation potentially ambiguous to readers.
> ## Impact on existing code
> Existing code does not use this form of attribute, so will not be
> affected at declaration-site.
> As declarations are annotated as unavailable or obsoleted via
> this attribute, some user code may stop working, but the same risk exists
> (with a worse user experience) in today's language any time declarations
> are removed or conditionally-compiled out. The purpose of this proposal
> is to provide a better user experience around such changes, and facilitate
> backward-compatibility modes.
> ## Alternatives considered
> The main alternative is compiling libraries separately for each language
> version and using `#if swift(>=N)` to conditionally include varying APIs.
> For a library used locally within a single project, recompiling for a
> specific language version may be appropriate, but for shipping the standard
> library it is more economical to compile once with all declarations, and
> select a subset based on language version.

I am +1 on providing this facility but I am concerned that there are
several kinds of library evolutions, which we know we'll need for the
standard library, that it doesn't support.

One example is our plan to inject a new base protocol of Comparable that
will henceforth be known as Comparable (to support the <=> proposal).
Another thing we think we'll need to do is to turn what was one type in
Swift 3 into two distinct types in Swift 4.  And these are just the
needs we can anticipate at this early stage.  I am concerned that we
will need a system of much greater power and flexibility in the long


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