[swift-evolution] Strings in Swift 4

Ted F.A. van Gaalen tedvgiosdev at gmail.com
Thu Feb 23 18:04:58 CST 2017

> On 23 Feb 2017, at 02:24, Dave Abrahams <dabrahams at apple.com> wrote:
> Equally a non-starter. All known threadsafe schemes that require caches to be updated upon non-mutating operations have horrible performance issues, and further this would penalize all string code by reserving space for the cache and filling it even for the vast majority of operations that don't require random access.
Well, maybe “caching” is not the right description for what I've suggested.
It is more like:
  let all strings be stored as they are now, but as soon as you want to work with 
random accessing parts of a string just “lift the string out of normal optimised string storage” 
 and then add (temporarily)  a Character array so one can work with this array directly ” 
which implies that all other strings remain as they are.  ergo: efficiency 
is only reduced for the “elevated” strings,
Using e.g. str.freeSpace(), if necessary, would then place the String back 
in its normal storage domain, thereby disposing the Character array
associated with it. 

> Trust me, we've gotten lots of such suggestions and thought through the implications of each one very carefully.  
That’s good, because it means, that a lot of people are interested in this subject and wish to help.  
Of course you’ll get many of suggestions that might not be very useful, 
perhaps like this one... but sometimes suddenly someone 
comes along with things that might never have occurred to you. 
That is the beautiful nature of ideas…

> I'm afraid you will have to accept being disappointed about this. 
Well, like most developers, I am a stubborn kind of guy.. 
Luckily Swift is very flexible like Lego, so I rolled my own convenience struct.
If I need direct access on a string I simply copy the string to it.
it permits things like this:  (and growing) 

let strabc = "abcdefghjiklmnopqrstuvwxyz"
var abc = TGString(strabc)
var ABC = TGString(strABC)

func test()
    // as in Basic: left$, mid$, right$

    // ranges and concatenation:
    print(abc.left(5) + ABC.mid(6,6) + abc[10...25])
    // eat anything:
    let d:Double = -3.14159
    let n:Int = 1234
    let str = abc[15..<17].asString      // Copy to to normal Swift String
    let s = "\(abc[12..<20])" // interpolate to normal Swift String.
    abc[3..<5] = TGString("34") // if lengths don't match:
    abc[8...9] = ABC[24...25]   //  length of dest. string is altered.
    abc[12] = TGString("$$$$")  //  if src l > 1 will insert remainder after dest.12 here
    abc[14] = TGString("")      //  empty removes character at pos.
    abc.insert(at: 3, string: ABC[0..<3])

kinda hoped that this could be builtin in Swift strings 
Anyway, I’ve made myself what I wanted, which happily co-exists
alongside normal Swift strings.  Performance and storage
aspects of my struct TGString are not very important, because
I am not using this on thousands of strings.
Simply want to use a string as a plain array, that’s all, 
which is implemented in almost every PL on this planet. 

> More generally, there's a reason that the collection model has bidirectional and random access distinctions: important data structures are inherently not random access.
I don’t understand the above line: definition of “important data structures” <> “inherently” 
> Heroic attempts to present the illusion that they are randomly-accessible are not going to fly.
  ?? Accessing discrete elements directly in an array is not an illusion to me. 
(e.g. I took the 4th and 7th eggs from the container) 
> These abstractions always break down,  leaking the true non-random-access nature in often unpredictable ways, penalizing lots of code for the sake of a very few use-cases, and introducing complexity that is hard for the optimizer to digest and makes it painful (sometimes impossible) to grow and evolve the library.  
Is an Array an abstraction? of what? I don’t get this either. most components in the real world can be accessed randomly. 

> This should be seen as a general design philosophy: Swift presents abstractions that harmonize with, rather than hide, the true nature of things.
The true nature of things is a very vague and subjective criterium, how can you harmonise with that, let alone with abstractions? 
e.g. for me: “the true nature of things” for an array is that it has direct accessible discrete elements…

Sorry, with respect, we have a difference of opinion here.

Thanks btw for the link to this article about tagged pointers, very interesting.
it inspired me  to (have) read other things in this domain as well.  


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