[swift-evolution] [Pitch] Non-class type requirements on protocols (eg : struct, : enum)

T.J. Usiyan griotspeak at gmail.com
Fri Oct 21 11:38:57 CDT 2016

I would like the ability to specify that something is an enum so that I
could model a generic `Result` type.

protocol Result : enum {
    associatedtype Payload
    case success(Payload)
    case failure(Error)

the basic idea being that I could then, while conforming, state which cases
in the concrete type serve as the protocol's case.  I don't have a great
vision for the syntax of spelling this conformance so I will make this
painfully verbose to be clear

enum UserParseResult {
    case success(User)
    case failure(Error)

extension UserParseResult : Result {
    protocol(Result) case success = UserParseResult.success
    protocol(Result) case failure = UserParseResult.failure

The benefit of this, in my opinion, is that we could have code commonly
used on results everywhere written once on the protocol without sacrificing
the ability to switch with guarantees. I can see that this suggestion has
some rough points so all I will finish by restating the problem that I want
to solve.

There is code that is fairly common to enum types that have shared
characteristics and/or purpose. I would find it useful to have a way to
implement shared algorithms in a generic way while retaining core features
of enums.

On Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 11:11 AM, Mike Kasianowicz via swift-evolution <
swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:

> Just from an outside perspective, the class restriction seems to be there
> as a kludge for technical reasons... but that's neither here nor there.
> It is not so much to enforce a lack of identity - in the struct case, it
> would be to enforce copy-by-value semantics.  I think the strongest
> argument I've got is, say, a serialization or caching framework where you
> want to enforce that something is entirely writeable via memory pointer or
> copyable.  A value-type restriction would get us mostly there, albeit there
> would still be ways to break the contract.  However, as noted in my
> previous email, I see a lot of possibilities for enums too - in that case
> the protocol somewhat acts as 'base type' without adding the complexity of
> a base type.
> I listed some of my examples in my previous email - I could elaborate if
> it helps.
> On Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 9:51 AM, Karl Wagner <razielim at gmail.com> wrote:
>> IIRC, the reason we have "class" there is for the optimiser, so it can
>> optimise for the protocol being satisfied by a reference-counted type.
>> Classes are semantically unique from values because they have identity,
>> which is also something a protocol might want to codify.
>> There may be some optimisation gains by requiring all conformers to be
>> values, but I struggle to think of why you might want to codify that a
>> conformer should not have identity.
>> Personally I don't really like this asymmetry in the language either, and
>> would support changes to make these two elements more explicit. For
>> example, a magic "hasIdentity" protocol which is automatically satisfied
>> only by classes, and moving the optimisation guides to usage site (e.g.
>> when declaring a variable of type MyProto, I could declare it of type
>> AnyClass<MyProto> or AnyValue<MyProto> instead, to annotate this specific
>> instance as being refcountable or not, without making such optimisation
>> hints part of the MyProto definition)
>> - Karl
>> On Oct 21, 2016 at 8:39 am, <Mike Kasianowicz via swift-evolution
>> <swift-evolution at swift.org>> wrote:
>> Currently protocols can have the class constraint:
>> protocol MyProtocol : class {}
>> It would be (a) intuitive and (b) useful to allow such things as:
>> protocol Model : struct {} or protocol Event : enum {}
>> These types of restrictions can help prevent accidental anti-patterns or
>> misuse of APIs.
>> Seems simple and non-controversial... right?
>> [Note: I'd like to see even more heavy-handed protocol restrictions in
>> the future.  For example, a protocol describing an enum with a common case,
>> or a struct with no reference members. Great stuff for defensively coding
>> APIs.]
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