[swift-evolution] Lexical matters: identifiers and operators

Jacob Bandes-Storch jtbandes at gmail.com
Sat Oct 1 16:14:40 CDT 2016

Hi Jonathan,

I started another discussion on this a couple weeks ago. I haven't had time
to make any progress on the topic lately, but I'm hoping to do so this
weekend. Glad to hear you're interested!



On Sat, Oct 1, 2016 at 9:02 AM, Jonathan S. Shapiro via swift-evolution <
swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:

> New to the list, but old hand at PL design. Was looking over the lexical
> structure of Swift 2.2 and 3.0, and I have some questions. A number of
> considerations identified in UAX31 (Unicode Identifier and Pattern Syntax)
> and UAX36 (Unicode Security Considerations) aren't obviously addressed.
> Here are some items that jumped out from a casual glance at the spec:
> 1. The specification does not appear to state any particular rules for
> compatibility or normalization in identifiers. Other Unicode-aware
> programming languages have adopted NFKC almost universally, and for good
> reason. The current identifier-head and identifier-character grammar admit
> sequences that Unicode considers malformed.
> 2. The specification does not appear to address any notion of Unicode
> equivalent sequences.
> 3. The relationship between the identifiers admitted by Swift 3 and
> identifiers admitted by UAX31 isn't clear. As a matter of cross-platform
> compatibility it would be really good if identifiers permitted by the
> default rules of UAX31 were all legal in Swift. This seems important for
> cross-language interop.
> Has this relationship been discussed somewhere I can catch up on?
> 4. Valid operators include code points that are undefined in any current
> or historical Unicode standard. That seems problematic. Future revisions to
> Unicode will eventually place *some* of those code points in the XIDS/XIDC
> categories, at which point we will have to choose between backwards
> compatibility and interop. Others will be assigned to new combining marks,
> which will want to be used in identifiers. As new languages are added to
> Unicode, compatibility concerns will exclude some groups from using
> identifiers that are natural to them.
> In order of least-to-most difficulty, I'd like to suggest some changes to
> the specification. I'm willing to implement them if agreement can be
> reached:
> 1. Pick a Unicode version and exclude any code point that is undefined as
> of that standard from both operators and identifiers. It's relatively easy
> and backwards compatible to move the Unicode version number forward as the
> language specification evolves.
> 2. Ensure that no code point in the Unicode Pattern_Syntax and
> Pattern_WhiteSpace categories are not included in identifier-head or
> identifier-character.
> 3. Explicitly state that no code point in (XIDS u XIDC) or
> Pattern_WhiteSpace is legal in an operator. Consider ensuring that
> everything in Pattern_Syntax *is* permitted in an operator.
> 4. I'd personally like to see an explicit statement of the extensions to
> XIDS/XIDC that are admitted by identifier-head and identifier-character.
> UAX31 refers to such extensions as a "profile", and explicitly allows them.
> I'm not interested in changing the identifier space unless there is
> something grossly and obviously problematic. What I'm after is enabling
> developers to be cognizant of potential interop challenges.
> 5. Adopt NFKC for identifiers. Specify and implement a combining algorithm
> version so that forward/backward compatibility is ensured.
> The first three are pretty trivial. The fourth would take some sleuthing,
> but it is straightforward. The fifth is real work. I'd be willing to sign
> up to any or all of these, but for a starting point I want to learn where
> things stand, what decisions have already been made, and where any current
> discussion may be happening.
> I very much doubt that NFKC would break existing code, if only because the
> use of malformed Unicode sequences is likely to be rare. To the extent that
> they exist in the field, they are almost certainly (a) unintentional, or
> (b) security concerns. It seems like a good thing to catch both of those
> early to the extent that we can, and to do so while the language definition
> remains somewhat fluid.
> Thanks!
> Jonathan Shapiro
> _______________________________________________
> swift-evolution mailing list
> swift-evolution at swift.org
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