[swift-evolution] [Review] SE-0159: Fix Private Access Levels

Zach Waldowski zach at waldowski.me
Sun Mar 26 21:55:41 CDT 2017

I admit feeling great dismay at finally posting "MY REVIEW", given the
generally sour nature of the discourse of the thread. However, I feel
like it was a mistake to not have voiced my concern in the SE-0025
fight, so here we are.

On Mon, Mar 20, 2017, at 07:54 PM, Douglas Gregor via swift-evolution wrote:
>  * What is your evaluation of the proposal?

Overwhelmingly vehement +1 for any implementation this idea can take. I
personally prefer reverting to Swift 2 behavior, full-stop.

As others have noted, the text of the proposal leaves a little to be
desired on some of the context. However, I do not believe this prevents
making a decision on the matter. ("To post a proposal to Swift
Evolution, one must first invent the universe…)

>  * Is the problem being addressed significant enough to warrant a
>    change to Swift?

The lack of proper consideration, caution, or even solid
implementation of the scoped access modifier is the biggest mistake
the Evolution community has made yet. It is a non-trivially broken
feature with no plans to fix it. If I had to choose between the 15-ish
implemented proposals created wholly by the community and not having
ever had SE-0025 be a twinkle in anyone's eye, I'm honestly not sure
which I'd choose.

>  * Does this proposal fit well with the feel and direction of Swift?

In the most literal sense, it does not, but that's the point: Swift's
thought on access control is in need of a course correction, for reasons
I lay out in the next question.

>  * If you have used other languages or libraries with a similar
>    feature, how do you feel that this proposal compares to those?

I've had plenty of experience in other languages both with and without
access control.

This specific smell in Swift's access control is a sign of a simply
untenable direction. I find C++ access control similarly untenable due
to its confusing variations and edge cases. Swift is heading down a
similar path.

Swift has the laudable goal of being a multi-modal and multi-paradigm
language. That does not mean it cannot be opinionated. Inspecting access
control in a single file is trivial, and if it's not, that's your
problem. I don't care at this point to hear the gospel of all the magic
I can accomplish in unmaintainable large files.

I keep thinking of SE-0009, which was rejected quite plainly for
"introduc[ing] a significant amount of verbosity that does not justify
itself with added clarity". After being immersed in this topic for what
feels like eons, and having my own opinions explained to me several
times, I truly cannot see how scope-private/the fileprivate change was
any different.

Nowadays, my codebases are littered with chains of attributes like
`@IBOutlet fileprivate private(set) weak var`. It look less like working
in a language of sane defaults and look more like I had a stroke while
typing it out. This change has been the antithesis of clarity, and the
inability of +1-ers to see it any other way than theirs is an upsetting
application of, "F*** you, got mine." I'm glad you all understand the
change and have incorporated it into your work, I really am. I haven't;
I still don't.

>  * How much effort did you put into your review? A glance, a quick
>    reading, or an in-depth study?

I have followed the thread(s) closely, and done much follow-up and
discussion about this issue off the mailing lists.

I beseech the Core Team to act decisively to restore sanity to this part
of the language. I don't care if that means being for or against this
particular proposal. I don't care if it's a spelling change, hinting at
a future plan for submodules, or explaining what the happy path will be
for creating modules  in Xcode 9. I just ask that they think of the
developers who are being underrepresented in this discussion out of
inexperience, lack of understanding, or, worse, having stopped using
Swift in frustration.

I am now absolutely thrilled to create a filter to Mark As Read anything
else arising from this thread. Good luck.


  Zachary Waldowski

  zach at waldowski.me

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