Changes in the Swift Standard Library in Beta 6

I managed to catch a copy of beta 6 before it was pulled. Though not a copy of the release notes, so apologies if I duplicate some items (and hopefully don’t misspeak about stuff better explained in them!). On the assumption the binaries will be the same except re-signed, here’s a rundown of the changes to the standard library. (edit: they were)

Feels like Swift might be approaching the 1.0 home-stretch, with the focus moving to stability and Objective-C API interfacing. Nevertheless, plenty of changes to the Swift standard library in beta 6.

By far the largest swathe of changes are additional comments on existing types and functions, which are definitely worth a read and clarify several things. For example, a comment above Comparable makes it clear you only need to define < to be comparable, despite Comparable defining the comparators that aren't <.

Some small bits and pieces:

  • The ?? operator has been updated to include a version to explicitly handle both the LHS and RHS being of the same optional type. I've updated my post with a comment, but it's still worth reading as a case study if you're writing a similar function.
  • Array now has an init that takes a _CocoaArrayType, as well as a noCopy flag, only to be set if the source array cannot be further mutated.
  • AutoreleasingUnsafeMutablePointer is no longer a BooleanType, so no longer has a boolValue property
  • Bit.Zero and Bit.One are now capitalized (don't say we don't pay attention to detail here!)
  • The Bool constructor, which previously took a parameter of BooleanType (which worked because BooleanType has no associated type requirements unlike, say, IntegerType), now takes a generic parameter T that must be of BooleanType. Interesting question to ponder is how this changes the function.
  • COpaquePointer has new constructors from raw memory addresses (these are described as “fundamentally unsafe”, you have been warned)
  • Character is now Comparable
  • The value properties of Float, Float80 and Double (which were of Builtin.FPIEEExx) are gone.
  • The FloatingPointType protocol now includes constructors from all the built-in integer types.
  • ImplicitlyUnwrappedOptional no longer conforms to BooleanType, though it still has its boolValue property (I should avoid using that if I were you).
  • Optional no longer has a hasValue property. You should just use != nil
  • RawOptionSetType no longer implements BooleanType and Equatable but instead implements BitwiseOperationsType
  • The FIXMEs about how StrideThrough and StrideTo should be collections not sequences are gone. They're still sequences.
  • UnicodeScalarView is now reflectable.
  • String has a new extend method that takes another string. This is in addition to the existing extend that takes a sequence of characters.
  • It also has an append function that takes a UnicodeScalar.
  • String is also now Comparable.
  • Strings unicodeScalars property is now writeable.
  • UnicodeScalar now has an init for UInt16 and UInt8 in addition to UInt32
  • UnsafeMutableBufferPointer has several changes. First, it is heavily commented. It's now a RandomAccessIndexType (so you can calculate distances between them, and advance them). And its constructors have been changed to be consistent with COpaquePointer.
  • _ExtensibleCollectionType has added an append function that appends a single element (all the implementors already support this)
  • _RawOptionSetType (and thus RawOptionSetType) is now Equatable.
  • contains now has a version that takes an equatable element rather than a predicate.
  • sorted now takes any sequence, which is way less restrictive as before it required a mutable random-access collection.
  • startsWith now has a version that takes a comparison predicate (but like equal requires both sequences to contain the same type, even if the predicate could handle two different types).

transcode, which I think officially has the longest function signature in the whole Swift library, got a teeny bit shorter as it now returns a (still a bit odd-looking) 1-tuple containing a Bool, rather than a 1-tuple containing a Bool labelled hadError. Oh, by the way, you're not allowed to return 1-tuples with labels as of beta 6.

There is a new AssertString type, which has a lower precedence for overloading purposes than StaticString. How this is achieved is interesting, and a demonstration of how there are still inheritance hierarchies with structs: AssertString implements a new AssertStringType protocol. StaticString also now implements a new protocol, StaticStringType. StaticStringType inherits from AssertStringType. This means StaticString is more specific than AssertString and will therefore “win” in choices for which overload to pick (in the same way a function taking a CollectionType wins over SequenceType if an object supports it, or RandomAccessIndexType wins over ForwardIndexType). The protocols StaticString previously implemented have moved to AssertStringType

There is a family of a new kind of assertion function, precondition. The signatures are very similar to that of assert. The comments suggest precondition is a little stronger – they will still stop program execution even if assertions are turned off. Only with -Ounchecked will they not check the condition. There's also a @noreturn preconditionFailure function that doesn't check anything, just stops execution immediately.

Various new comments in the Swift library suggest use of these new preconditions. For example, a comment above suggests calling preconditionFailure if called a second time after nil has already been returned.

There's a new protocol, RangeReplaceableCollectionType, that defines several new operations on collections such as removing or replacing ranges, as well as insert (insert an element into the middle of a collection), and splice (insert a collection into the middle of the collection).

String implements this new protocol. Interestingly, Array (alongside ContiguousArray and Slice) does not appear to, though it does support all the methods (including new splice and removeRange functions) and if you write a generic function that takes a RangeReplaceableCollectionType, you can pass an Array into it. Declared somewhere more private I guess? Unless I'm missing a bit of indirection somewhere. If you spot it, let me know on twitter.

Following a familiar pattern, several of these new functions, such as slice and the remove operations, are also availabe as non-member functions as well.

Finally, _BridgedToObjectiveCType and _ConditionallyBridgedToObjectiveCType appear to have coalesced into _ObjectiveCBridgeable, but as ever I'll steer clear of discussing bridging topics.

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