[swift-evolution] Enums and Source Compatibility

James Froggatt james.froggatt at me.com
Thu Aug 10 07:46:20 CDT 2017

Since it seems to have been lost in the noise, I want to second with support for Xiaodi's syntax of having `default` appearing in the enum declaration itself.

It's much clearer in its intention, feels very ‘Swifty’, and more importantly it doesn't prompt whole threads debating the semantics of `open` vs `public`.

------------ Begin Message ------------ 
Group: gmane.comp.lang.swift.evolution 
MsgID: <CAGY80u=kVQA1q=5TMxXxFgM4tLGFUQh61EN1daepEMAA_FoE9Q at mail.gmail.com> 

On Tue, Aug 8, 2017 at 5:27 PM, Jordan Rose via swift-evolution <
swift-evolution-m3FHrko0VLzYtjvyW6yDsg at public.gmane.org> wrote:

>Hi, everyone. Now that Swift 5 is starting up, I'd like to circle back to
>an issue that's been around for a while: the source compatibility of enums.
>Today, it's an error to switch over an enum without handling all the cases,
>but this breaks down in a number of ways:
>- A C enum may have "private cases" that aren't defined inside the
>original enum declaration, and there's no way to detect these in a switch
>without dropping down to the rawValue.
>- For the same reason, the compiler-synthesized 'init(rawValue:)' on an
>imported enum never produces 'nil', because who knows how anyone's using C
>enums anyway?
>- Adding a new case to a *Swift* enum in a library breaks any client code
>that was trying to switch over it.
>(This list might sound familiar, and that's because it's from a message of
>mine on a thread started by Matthew Johnson back in February called
>"[Pitch] consistent public access modifiers". Most of the rest of this
>email is going to go the same way, because we still need to make progress
>At the same time, we really like our exhaustive switches, especially over
>enums we define ourselves. And there's a performance side to this whole
>thing too; if all cases of an enum are known, it can be passed around much
>more efficiently than if it might suddenly grow a new case containing a
>struct with 5000 Strings in it.
>I think there's certain behavior that is probably not *terribly*
>- When enums are imported from Apple frameworks, they should always
>require a default case, except for a few exceptions like NSRectEdge. (It's
>Apple's job to handle this and get it right, but if we get it wrong with an
>imported enum there's still the workaround of dropping down to the raw
>- When I define Swift enums in the current framework, there's obviously no
>compatibility issues; we should allow exhaustive switches.
>Everything else falls somewhere in the middle, both for enums defined in
>- If I define an Objective-C enum in the current framework, should it
>allow exhaustive switching, because there are no compatibility issues, or
>not, because there could still be private cases defined in a .m file?
>- If there's an Objective-C enum in *another* framework (that I built
>locally with Xcode, Carthage, CocoaPods, SwiftPM, etc.), should it allow
>exhaustive switching, because there are no *binary* compatibility issues,
>or not, because there may be *source* compatibility issues? We'd really
>like adding a new enum case to *not* be a breaking change even at the
>source level.
>- If there's an Objective-C enum coming in through a bridging header,
>should it allow exhaustive switching, because I might have defined it
>myself, or not, because it might be non-modular content I've used the
>bridging header to import?
>And in Swift:
>- If there's a Swift enum in another framework I built locally, should it
>allow exhaustive switching, because there are no binary compatibility
>issues, or not, because there may be source compatibility issues? Again,
>we'd really like adding a new enum case to *not* be a breaking change
>even at the source level.
>Let's now flip this to the other side of the equation. I've been talking
>about us disallowing exhaustive switching, i.e. "if the enum might grow new
>cases you must have a 'default' in a switch". In previous (in-person)
>discussions about this feature, it's been pointed out that the code in an
>otherwise-fully-covered switch is, by definition, unreachable, and
>therefore untestable. This also isn't a desirable situation to be in, but
>it's mitigated somewhat by the fact that there probably aren't many
>framework enums you should exhaustively switch over anyway. (Think about
>Apple's frameworks again.) I don't have a great answer, though.
>For people who like exhaustive switches, we thought about adding a new
>kind of 'default'—let's call it 'unknownCase' just to be able to talk about
>it. This lets you get warnings when you update to a new SDK, but is even
>more likely to be untested code. We didn't think this was worth the
>The "Library Evolution
><http://jrose-apple.github.io/swift-library-evolution/>" doc (mostly
>written by me) originally called these "open" and "closed" enums ("requires
>a default" and "allows exhaustive switching", respectively), but this
>predated the use of 'open' to describe classes and class members. Matthew's
>original thread did suggest using 'open' for enums as well, but I argued
>against that, for a few reasons:
>- For classes, "open" and "non-open" restrict what the *client* can do.
>For enums, it's more about providing the client with additional
>guarantees—and "non-open" is the one with more guarantees.
>- The "safe" default is backwards: a merely-public class can be made
>'open', while an 'open' class cannot be made non-open. Conversely, an
>"open" enum can be made "closed" (making default cases unnecessary), but a
>"closed" enum cannot be made "open".
>That said, Clang now has an 'enum_extensibility' attribute that does take
>'open' or 'closed' as an argument.
>On Matthew's thread, a few other possible names came up, though mostly
>only for the "closed" case:
>- 'final': has the right meaning abstractly, but again it behaves
>differently than 'final' on a class, which is a restriction on code
>elsewhere in the same module.
>- 'locked': reasonable, but not a standard term, and could get confused
>with the concurrency concept
>- 'exhaustive': matches how we've been explaining it (with an "exhaustive
>switch"), but it's not exactly the *enum* that's exhaustive, and it's a
>long keyword to actually write in source.
>- 'extensible': matches the Clang attribute, but also long
>I don't have better names than "open" and "closed", so I'll continue using
>them below even though I avoided them above. But I would *really like to
>find some*.
>Just to have something to work off of, I propose the following:
>1. All enums (NS_ENUMs) imported from Objective-C are "open" unless they
>are declared "non-open" in some way (likely using the enum_extensibility
>attribute mentioned above).
>2. All public Swift enums in modules compiled "with resilience" (still to
>be designed) have the option to be either "open" or "closed". This only
>applies to libraries not distributed with an app, where binary
>compatibility is a concern.
>3. All public Swift enums in modules compiled from source have the option
>to be either "open" or "closed".
>4. In Swift 5 mode, a public enum should be *required* to declare if it
>is "open" or "closed", so that it's a conscious decision on the part of the
>library author. (I'm assuming we'll have a "Swift 4 compatibility mode"
>next year that would leave unannotated enums as "closed".)
>5. None of this affects non-public enums.
>(4) is the controversial one, I expect. "Open" enums are by far the common
>case in Apple's frameworks, but that may be less true in Swift.
>*Why now?*
>Source compatibility was a big issue in Swift 4, and will continue to be
>an important requirement going into Swift 5. But this also has an impact on
>the ABI: if an enum is "closed", it can be accessed more efficiently by a
>client. We don't *have* to do this before ABI stability—we could access
>all enums the slow way if the library cares about binary compatibility, and
>add another attribute for this distinction later—but it would be nice™ (an
>easy model for developers to understand) if "open" vs. "closed" was also
>the primary distinction between "indirect access" vs. "direct access".
>I've written quite enough at this point. Looking forward to feedback!

Jordan, I'm glad you're bringing this back up. I think it's clear that
there's appetite for some forward movement in this area.

With respect to syntax--which the conversation in this thread has tackled
first--I agree with the discussion that "open" and "closed" are attractive
but also potentially confusing. As discussed in earlier threads, both
"open" and "closed" will constrain the enum author and/or user in ways
above and beyond "public" currently does, but the terminology does not
necessarily reflect that (as open is the antonym of closed); moreover, the
implications of using these keywords with enums don't necessarily parallel
the implications of using them with classes (for example, an open class can
be subclassed; an open enum that gains additional cases is, if anything,
something of a supertype of the original).

I'd like to suggest a different direction for syntax; I'm putting it
forward because I think the spelling itself naturally suggests a design as
to which enums are (as you call it) "open" or "closed," and how to migrate
existing enums:

enum MyClosedEnum {
  case a
  case b
  case c

enum MyOpenEnum {
  case a
  case b
  case c

In words, an enum that may have future cases will "leave room" for them by
using the keyword `default`, sort of paralleling its use in a switch
statement. All existing Swift enums can therefore continue to be switched
over exhaustively; that is, this would be an additive, source-compatible
change. For simplicity, we can leave the rules consistent for non-public
and public enums; or, we could prohibit non-public enums from using the
keyword `default` in the manner shown above. Obj-C enums would be imported
as though they declare `default` unless some attribute like
`enum_extensibility` is used to annotate them.


------------- End Message ------------- 

More information about the swift-evolution mailing list