[swift-evolution] [Draft] open and public protocols

Adrian Zubarev adrian.zubarev at devandartist.com
Sun Feb 19 02:14:18 CST 2017

If you haven’t followed the other thread Matthew previously opened than you have missed the example I showed there.

Here it is again:

public protocol SubscriptParameterType {
    // This property was needed to prevent the client from breaking
    // the library by conforming to the protocol, but I'd like to   
    // keep it invisible for the client, or even better prevent the
    // client from conforming to the protocol.
    var parameter: Document.SubscriptParameter { get }

extension Document {
    public enum SubscriptParameter {
        case string(String)
        case integer(Int)

extension String : SubscriptParameterType {
    public var parameter: Document.SubscriptParameter {
        return .string(self)

extension Int : SubscriptParameterType {
    public var parameter: Document.SubscriptParameter {
        return .integer(self)

// Somewhere inside the `Document` type
public subscript(firstKey: String, parameters: SubscriptParameterType...) -> Value? { … }
The absence of closed protocols forced me to create a special requirement on that protocol to prevent the client from conforming to that protocol and passing instances of other types my API wouldn’t want to deal with. That creates unnecessary copies and I need to unpack the enum payload to find out which type the user passed. Instead I could simply close the protocol, wouldn’t need the requirement to exist and I could simply cast the type to String or Int when needed.

That implementation enables more safe queries of my Document type like

document["key1", intIndexInstance, stringKeyInstance, 10, "key"]

rather than


Here is a list of hidden and semi-hidden protocols from the standard library that could be closed. Formatted version: https://gist.github.com/DevAndArtist/168c800d784829be536c407311953ab7

Path	Protocol
/swift/stdlib/public/core/AnyHashable.swift:16	_HasCustomAnyHashableRepresentation
/swift/stdlib/public/core/BidirectionalCollection.swift:21	_BidirectionalIndexable
/swift/stdlib/public/core/BridgeObjectiveC.swift:19	_ObjectiveCBridgeable
/swift/stdlib/public/core/Collection.swift:20	_IndexableBase
/swift/stdlib/public/core/Collection.swift:176	_Indexable
/swift/stdlib/public/core/CompilerProtocols.swift:193	_ExpressibleByBuiltinIntegerLiteral
/swift/stdlib/public/core/CompilerProtocols.swift:240	_ExpressibleByBuiltinFloatLiteral
/swift/stdlib/public/core/CompilerProtocols.swift:283	_ExpressibleByBuiltinBooleanLiteral
/swift/stdlib/public/core/CompilerProtocols.swift:316	_ExpressibleByBuiltinUnicodeScalarLiteral
/swift/stdlib/public/core/CompilerProtocols.swift:350	_ExpressibleByBuiltinExtendedGraphemeClusterLiteral
/swift/stdlib/public/core/CompilerProtocols.swift:398	_ExpressibleByBuiltinStringLiteral
/swift/stdlib/public/core/CompilerProtocols.swift:407	_ExpressibleByBuiltinUTF16StringLiteral
/swift/stdlib/public/core/CompilerProtocols.swift:670	_ExpressibleByStringInterpolation
/swift/stdlib/public/core/CompilerProtocols.swift:709	_ExpressibleByColorLiteral
/swift/stdlib/public/core/CompilerProtocols.swift:720	_ExpressibleByImageLiteral
/swift/stdlib/public/core/CompilerProtocols.swift:730	_ExpressibleByFileReferenceLiteral
/swift/stdlib/public/core/CompilerProtocols.swift:750	_DestructorSafeContainer
/swift/stdlib/public/core/FixedPoint.swift.gyb:53	_Integer
/swift/stdlib/public/core/FixedPoint.swift.gyb:70	_SignedInteger
/swift/stdlib/public/core/FixedPoint.swift.gyb:108	_DisallowMixedSignArithmetic
/swift/stdlib/public/core/Hashable.swift:16	_Hashable
/swift/stdlib/public/core/Index.swift:16	_Incrementable
/swift/stdlib/public/core/IntegerArithmetic.swift.gyb:33	_IntegerArithmetic
/swift/stdlib/public/core/Mirror.swift:721	_DefaultCustomPlaygroundQuickLookable
/swift/stdlib/public/core/MutableCollection.swift:20	_MutableIndexable
/swift/stdlib/public/core/NewtypeWrapper.swift.gyb:16	_SwiftNewtypeWrapper
/swift/stdlib/public/core/Pointer.swift:16	_Pointer
/swift/stdlib/public/core/RandomAccessCollection.swift:20	_RandomAccessIndexable
/swift/stdlib/public/core/RangeReplaceableCollection.swift.gyb:27	_RangeReplaceableIndexable
/swift/stdlib/public/core/ReflectionLegacy.swift:41	_Mirror
/swift/stdlib/public/core/ShadowProtocols.swift:27	_ShadowProtocol
/swift/stdlib/public/core/ShadowProtocols.swift:31	_NSFastEnumeration
/swift/stdlib/public/core/ShadowProtocols.swift:41	_NSEnumerator
/swift/stdlib/public/core/ShadowProtocols.swift:51	_NSCopying
/swift/stdlib/public/core/ShadowProtocols.swift:61	_NSArrayCore
/swift/stdlib/public/core/ShadowProtocols.swift:83	_NSDictionaryCore
/swift/stdlib/public/core/ShadowProtocols.swift:125	_NSDictionary
/swift/stdlib/public/core/ShadowProtocols.swift:137	_NSSetCore
/swift/stdlib/public/core/ShadowProtocols.swift:171	_NSSet
/swift/stdlib/public/core/ShadowProtocols.swift:177	_NSNumber
/swift/stdlib/public/core/ShadowProtocols.swift:187	_NSArrayCore
/swift/stdlib/public/core/ShadowProtocols.swift:188	_NSDictionaryCore
/swift/stdlib/public/core/ShadowProtocols.swift:189	_NSSetCore
/swift/stdlib/public/core/StringBridge.swift:194	_NSStringCore
/swift/stdlib/public/SDK/Foundation/NSError.swift:353	_ObjectiveCBridgeableError
/swift/stdlib/public/SDK/Foundation/NSError.swift:379	__BridgedNSError
/swift/stdlib/public/SDK/Foundation/NSError.swift:446	_BridgedNSError
/swift/stdlib/public/SDK/Foundation/NSError.swift:456	_BridgedStoredNSError
/swift/stdlib/public/SDK/Foundation/NSError.swift:564	_ErrorCodeProtocol

Adrian Zubarev
Sent with Airmail

Am 19. Februar 2017 um 07:59:45, David Waite via swift-evolution (swift-evolution at swift.org) schrieb:

I am unsure if this feature is a good idea. Does someone have a real-world use for this which isn’t just hiding strong implementation coupling behind a protocol?

When I consume a protocol, it is under the assumption that the protocol is documented such that I would be able to work against *any* implementation of the protocol. With a closed protocol, I would have to assume that there are significant side effects, either undocumented or difficult for a third party to duplicate. To my experience, that sounds brittle.

Assuming you aren’t switching on the implementing type of a protocol (which itself can be a sign that your design isn’t properly using polymorphism), one could get this design by creating a struct with the interface desired, and passing invocations through to an internal protocol reference.


> On Feb 18, 2017, at 1:41 PM, Matthew Johnson via swift-evolution <swift-evolution at swift.org> wrote:
> Now that we’re in phase 2 I’d like to officially propose we introduce `open` protocols and require conformances to `public` protocols be inside the declaring module. Let’s use this thread for feedback on the official proposal. After a healthy round of discussion I’ll open a PR to submit it for review.
> # Feature name
> * Proposal: [SE-NNNN](NNNN-open-public-protocols.md)
> * Authors: [Matthew Johnson](https://github.com/anandabits)
> * Review Manager: TBD
> * Status: **Awaiting review**
> ## Introduction
> This proposal introduces `open protocol` and changes the meaning of `public protocol` to match the meaning of `public class` (in this case, conformances are only allowed inside the declaring module).
> The pitch thread leading up to this proposal was: [consistent public access modifiers](https://lists.swift.org/pipermail/swift-evolution/Week-of-Mon-20170206/031653.html)
> ## Motivation
> A general principle the Swift community has adopted for access control is that defaults should reserve maximum flexibility for a library. The ensures that any capabilities beyond mere visibility are not available unless the author of the library has explicitly declared their intent that the capabilities be made available. Finally, when it is possible to switch from one semantic to another without breaking clients (but not vice-versa) we should prefer the more forgiving (i.e. fixable) semantic as the (soft) default.
> `public` is considered a "soft default" in the sense that it is the first access modifier a user will reach for when exposing a declaration outside of the module. In the case of protocols the current meaning of `public` does not meet the principle of preserving maximum flexibility for the author of the library. It allows users of the library to conform to the protocol.
> There are good reasons a library may not wish to allow users to add conformances to a protocol. For example, it may not wish to expose the conforming concrete types. While similar behavior could be accomplished with an enum if cases could be private, that requires an implementation to use switch statements rather than polymorphism.
> Even if all the conforming types are also public there are cases where polymorphism is the preferred implementation. For example, if the set of conforming types is not expected to be fixed (despite all being inside the library) the authors may not want to have to maintain switch statements every time they need to add or remove a confroming type which would be necessary if an enum were used instead. Polymorphism allows us to avoid this, giving us the ability to add and remove conforming types within the implementation of the library without the burden of maintaining switch statements.
> Aligning the access modifiers for protocols and classes allows us to specify both conformable and non-conformable protocols, provides a soft default that is consistent with the principle of (soft) defaults reserving maximum flexibility for the library, and increases the overall consistency of the language by aligning the semantics of access control for protocols and classes.
> The standard library currently has at least one protocol (`MirrorPath`) that is documented as disallowing client conformances. If this proposal is adopted it is likely that `MirrorPath` would be declared `public protocol` and not `open protocol`.
> Jordan Rose has indicated that the Apple frameworks also include a number of protocols documented with the intent that users do not add conformances. Perhaps an importer annotation would allow the compiler to enforce these semantics in Swift code as well.
> ## Proposed solution
> The proposed solution is to change the meaning of `public protocol` to disallow conformances outside the declaring module and introduce `open protocol` to allow conformances outside the decalring module (equivalent to the current meaning of `public protocol`).
> ## Detailed design
> The detailed design is relatively straightforward but there are three important wrinkles to consider.
> ### User refinement of public protocols
> Consider the following example:
> ```swift
> // Library module:
> public protocol P {}
> public class C: P {}
> // User module:
> protocol User: P {}
> extension C: User {}
> ```
> The user module is allowed to add a refinement to `P` because this does not have any impact on the impelementation of the library or its possible evolution. It simply allows the user to write code that is generic over a subset of the conforming types provided by the library.
> ### Public protocols with open conforming classes
> Consider the following example:
> ```swift
> public protocol P P{}
> open class C: P {}
> ```
> Users of this module will be able to add subclasses of `C` that have a conformance to `P`. This is allowed becuase the client of the module did not need to explicitly declare a conformance and the module has explicitly stated its intent to allow subclasses of `C` with the `open` access modifier.
> ### Open protocols that refine public protocols
> Consider the following example:
> ```swift
> // library module:
> public protocol P {}
> open protocol Q: P {}
> open protocol R: P {}
> // user module:
> struct S: P {} // error `P` is not `open`
> struct T: Q {} // ok
> struct U: R {} // ok
> ```
> The user module is allowed to introudce a conformance to `P`, but only indirectly by also conforming to `Q`. The meaning we have ascribed to the keywords implies that this should be allowed and it offers libraries a very wide design space from which to choose. The library is able to have types that conform directly to `P`, while placing additional requirements on user types if necessary.
> ## Source compatibility
> This proposal breaks source compatibility, but in a way that allows for a simple mechanical migration. A multi-release stratgegy will be used to roll out this proposal to provide maximum possible source compatibility from one release to the next.
> 1. In Swift 4, introduce the `open` keyword and the `@nonopen` attribute (which can be applied to `public protocol` to give it the new semantics of `public`).
> 2. In Swift 4 (or 4.1 if necessary) start warning for `public protocol` with no annotation.
> 3. In the subsequent release `public protocol` without annotation becomes an error.
> 4. In the subsequent relase `public protocol` without annotation takes on the new semantics.
> 5. `@nonopen` becomes a warning, and evenutally an erro as soon as we are comfortable making those changes.
> ## Effect on ABI stability
> I would appreciate it if others can offer input regarding this section. I believe this proposal has ABI consequences, but it's possible that it could be an additivie ABI change where the ABI for conformable protocols remains the same and we add ABI for non-conformable protocols later. If that is possible, the primary impact would be the ABI of any standard library protocols that would prefer to be non-conformable.
> ## Effect on API resilience
> This proposal would may impact one or more protocols in the standard library, such as `MirrorPath`, which would likely choose to remain `public` rather than adopt `open`.
> ## Alternatives considered
> The primary alternatives are to either make no change, or to add something like `closed protocol`. The issues motivating the current proposal as a better alternative than either of these options are covered in the motivation section.
> _______________________________________________
> swift-evolution mailing list
> swift-evolution at swift.org
> https://lists.swift.org/mailman/listinfo/swift-evolution

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