[swift-evolution] [Discussion] fileprivate vs. private(file)

Haravikk swift-evolution at haravikk.me
Mon Feb 20 05:42:12 CST 2017

So discussion of the exact naming convention for access modifiers has been discussed multiple times, especially when fileprivate was being introduced. It's now been a while since fileprivate was added, so we've all had more time to actually work with it, so I wanted to raise the discussion again to see what people now think.

Specifically, during the debate over access modifiers I really didn't like the propose fileprivate, as I don't like conjoined lower-case key-"words" (to me a keyword should always be a single word, I still don't like associatetype or typealias either, and neither does macOS' auto-correct 😉). And to be honest my opinion hasn't changed; if anything I hate it even more.

The proposal I preferred was to use only the public and private keywords and use parameters to provide greater specificity, like so:

	public			as it is now
	private(module)	equivalent to internal, which is private to the current module/project
	private(file)		equivalent to fileprivate
	private(scope)		equivalent to current private

The actual parameters are up for debate, but I still feel this a lot clearer. I also generally prefer the parameterised version for several reasons:

Readability: I know not everyone will agree on this one, but I much prefer the separation to having conjoined keywords.
Fewer Keywords: Maybe I'm a keyword purist or something, but I just don't like having too many keywords in the language, especially four for what amounts to a single feature (access).
Extensibility: It is easier and cleaner to add more parameters in future. For example, private(type) could be an equivalent to protected access in other languages. It can also be used to more easily group external extension modifiers under public such as public(final), public(open) etc.

For setter-specific access it might look something like:

	private(file:set) var someValue:Int = 0

I know it might not seem that important to some people, but this is one area of Swift's syntax that still bothers me, perhaps unreasonably so, but I don't get to pick what annoys me! I'd also seek to replace associatedtype and typealias (and any other conjoined keyword I've forgotten) but I haven't thought of any alternatives that I like for those yet.

Anyway, just wanted to discuss how others felt having used fileprivate and such for a while, and whether it's worth revisiting, or if I just have to live with it.
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