[swift-evolution] Equatability for enums with associated values

Tony Allevato tony.allevato at gmail.com
Fri Jan 13 15:15:39 CST 2017

This is a request that comes up frequently; I wrote an early draft proposal
for it several months ago, with it covering all value types, not just
enums, and also including Hashable as well as Equatable:


Since it's purely additive, it won't get much attention until phase 2 at
the earliest, but I'd like to revisit it then. Most of the discussion
before revolved around to what degree users should have to opt-in or
opt-out of this functionality.

Re: generics, I don't think there's anything on the roadmap that goes into
such deep detail as "if every associated value of every enum case is
Equatable, then X is also Equatable", and I don't think there would be a
clean way to express that with the generics syntax. This would probably
have to be something that's baked into the compiler to synthesize == and
hashValue for types that satisfy the constraints.

On Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 12:31 PM David Sweeris via swift-evolution <
swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:

> Sent from my iPhone
> On Jan 13, 2017, at 13:51, Adam Shin via swift-evolution <
> swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:
> When using enums with associated values, it's often necessary to check for
> equality between two enum objects in some way. That can lead to boilerplate
> code like this:
> enum Option {
>     case foo(String)
>     case bar(Int)
> case zip
> }
> func ==(lhs: Option, rhs: Option) -> Bool {
>     switch (lhs, rhs) {
>     case (.foo(let a), .foo(let b)) where a == b: return true
>     case (.bar(let a), .bar(let b)) where a == b: return true
>     case (.zip, .zip): return true
>     default: return false
>     }
> }
> ..which results in code duplication and opens the door to potential logic
> errors.
> Instead, what if enums with associated values were automatically Equatable
> when all their associated values were Equatable? That would remove the need
> for such boilerplate code.
> The Swift language guide states that custom classes and structs don't
> receive a default implementation of the == operator because the compiler
> can't guess what "equality" means for them. However, I think this could
> make sense for enums. An enum case, even with associated values, seems
> closer to a value itself than an object with logic and state.
> I'd be interested to hear any thoughts on this. Would this be a beneficial
> addition?
> I think it makes more sense to come up with some syntax for reducing that
> kind of boilerplate code in general. In "pseudo-english", I'd write the ==
> function as "if lhs and rhs are the same case && their associated values
> are the equal, return true, else return false".
> What about doing something with the reflection system? Isn't that supposed
> to get overhauled for Swift 4? I'm not sure what the performance
> implications would be, though.
> - Dave Sweeris
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> swift-evolution at swift.org
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