[swift-server-dev] Next HTTP API meeting

Logan Wright logan at qutheory.io
Mon Mar 27 07:13:54 CDT 2017

Hey Everyone,

I disagree with the premise that protocols inherently create bugs, but
would be open to constraining to classes if this alleviates concerns. If we
create protocols, this allows frameworks to implement concrete models with
whatever semantics they see fit. Any subsequent interaction from the
framework would have a concrete type to rely on.

In terms of what we're building here, I don't see middleware as much of a
responsibility since this should be the tools that a framework would use. I
think it's very important for all of us to remember that we're not building
a web framework. We're building the tooling to make a good starting point
for others to use in development of a web framework.

If people feel extremely strong that there needs to be a concrete type,
then I'd like to push for reference type as much as possible. As far as
reference vs value type, I haven't really heard an argument for value types
beyond what feels like a reaction to value types being the hip new hotness.
While yes, they're great in Swift, and there's tons of places that should
absolutely be modeled with value semantics, a request/response interaction
represents a single request and should definitely be a reference based

In practice, we went through several model iterations and the value type
created very high levels of bugs and confusion for end users. The three
biggest problems we had were as follows:

- Greatly increased bug levels and confusion related to unexpected mutation
- Unnecessary code requirements added to every single passive access (ie:
middleware) increasing code bloat unnecessarily
- Extreme performance loss due to massive copy overhead

Each of these problems evaporated pretty instantaneously when moving to
reference types; it made it significantly easier to reason about for end


Would like to remind again for those that skipped above reading that our
goal is not to build a web framework here, but rather to build small tools
that make building frameworks slightly easier for library maintainers and

Ideally, we could abstract the memory semantics away and leave them up to
frameworks by utilizing protocols .. this is my preference. If however,
concrete models are required, I feel reference type is the ideal choice for
the reasons outlined above. I believe that a request/response interaction
is representative of singular instances that should be referenced by
various interactors as opposed to introducing more copy/mutation complexity
and a model that doesn't fit with the concept.

Looking forward to more discussion, thanks for participating everyone!


On Mon, Mar 27, 2017 at 12:52 PM Paulo Faria <paulo at zewo.io> wrote:

> I'm with Brent a 100%. As discussed before in Open Swift, the embryo that
> lead to the Swift Server APIs Work Group, using a protocol for the HTTP
> request/response is not the best option because of the value type/reference
> type duality. People implementing an HTTP middleware, for example, would
> have to decide themselves which type semantics they're expecting the
> underlying implementation to provide. This means that code written with one
> semantics in mind would present bugs if used with an implementation that
> uses the other implementation. Of course we could restrict the protocol to
> reference types by making it a class protocol, but if we're doing that we
> might as well just go with classes. So the best solution is to go with
> concrete types. I prefer value type semantics, and to be honest, after
> reading the memory ownership manifesto, maybe move semantics would be the
> best option for HTTP request/response, but since we don't have it yet, I
> think we should go with value types for now.
> On Mon, Mar 27, 2017, 07:40 Brent Royal-Gordon <brent at architechies.com>
> wrote:
> On Mar 23, 2017, at 2:51 AM, Logan Wright via swift-server-dev <
> swift-server-dev at swift.org> wrote:
> Already we have multiple stakeholders in the group with very different
> ideas and use cases for the model, protocolizing this would allow us to
> focus on parsing and let frameworks choose how to model. By opting for
> generics constrained to our protocol internally, the compiler will inline
> the code and give us pretty good performance, in our generic constrained
> code, it was just as fast, or faster than it's model counterparts.
> Here's an example of a protocol required to parse a request
> ```
> protocol HTTPMessage {
>     init(status: String, version: String, method: String, headers:
> [String: String], etc...
> }
> ```
> It doesn't need to be anything particularly complex, and we could include
> easily the inverse as well for the serializer. This could be a distinct
> protocol even for use cases we might not consider.
> Okay, but one of the major complaints I see in the GitHub thread is that
> some people want to use a reference type, and it seems like some people may
> want protocols so they can make that decision for themselves. I don't think
> that's going to work, though. If the protocol has any setters or mutating
> methods, then it will need to document whether it expects value or
> reference semantics; otherwise nobody will be able to know how to use those
> members properly.
> (Also, if that really is the entire `HTTPMessage` protocol—just an
> initializer—why not have users pass in a closure with that signature
> instead? They could easily pass `MyFramework.HTTPMessage.init` if they
> want, but they would have other choices too.)
> As for the performance aspect of value types, I don't quite see the
> concern. If we find that performance is a problem, we can switch to a
> copy-on-write implementation, where a public struct wraps a private class
> which actually contains the data; that should be exactly equivalent for ARC
> purposes. Choose value or reference based on the semantics you want; if the
> performance characteristics are wrong, you can then begin to optimize.
> --
> Brent Royal-Gordon
> Architechies
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.swift.org/pipermail/swift-server-dev/attachments/20170327/f06f8064/attachment.html>

More information about the swift-server-dev mailing list