[swift-evolution] "with" operator a la O'Caml?

Andy Chou acchou2 at gmail.com
Thu Dec 22 11:19:30 CST 2016

Point taken. I think Swift supports both styles reasonably well. Initially it looked like writing the 'with' function would be troublesome but it turned out to be quite simple.

I appreciate the point you're making, which is that you get much of the value of purely immutable values with Swift's mutable structures + value semantics + let constant structs. And, you also get a simpler implementation in some cases (e.g. not needing functions like 'with').

Swift has a pretty interesting model here that seems to capture some of the best parts of the imperative and immutable/functional styles. For example, I had to check whether this worked as expected:

struct Person {
    var name: String
    var address: String

class C {
    private(set) var currentPerson = Person(name: "Andy", address: "1 Battery St")

func f() {
    let instance = C()
    instance.currentPerson.name = "Dave"   // Cannot assign to property: 'currentPerson' setter is inaccessible

This means the implementation of class C can set the currentPerson and its properties, but the currentPerson is immutable to the outside. A similar thing could be accomplished with an immutable Person, but you still need to use private(set), so it's no more complicated or risky to use the mutable Person.

The difference is mostly one of style, way of thinking, and psychology. For some people seeing the declaration of Person having vars is uncomfortable if they are used to a functional style. "If I have a Person, will it be changed unexpectedly out from under me?" For people who know Swift well, the fact that it's a struct means any potential change to Person can only happen under controlled circumstances like an inout parameter, and only if I declare it a var. This discussion was very helpful for me to understand the nuances of struct better.



> On Dec 22, 2016, at 7:01 AM, Matthew Johnson <matthew at anandabits.com> wrote:
> Yes, this is true.  However, this thread is about improving the convenience of immutable structs / functional code.  It is quite common in such code that the previous value is no longer needed.  I am encouraging people to focus on what the real benefits of this style is (value semantics) and how the same benefit might be achieved in a different way in a hybrid language like Swift.

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