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Proposal for generators design #2873

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JsonFreeman opened this issue Apr 22, 2015 · 107 comments

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@JsonFreeman
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commented Apr 22, 2015

A generator is a syntactic way to declare a function that can yield. Yielding will give a value to the caller of the next() method of the generator, and will suspend execution at the yield point. A generator also supports yield * which means that it will delegate to another generator and yield the results that the inner generator yields. yield and yield * are also bi-directional. A value can flow in as well as out.

Like an iterator, the thing returned by the next method has a done property and a value property. Yielding sets done to false, and returning sets done to true.

A generator is also iterable. You can iterate over the yielded values of the generator, using for-of, spread or array destructuring. However, only yielded values come out when you use a generator in this way. Returned values are never exposed. As a result, this proposal only considers the value type of next() when the done property is false, since those are the ones that will normally be observed.

Basic support for generators

Type annotation on a generator

A generator function can have a return type annotation, just like a function. The annotation represents the type of the generator returned by the function. Here is an example:

function *g(): Iterable<string> {
    for (var i = 0; i < 100; i++) {
        yield ""; // string is assignable to string
    }
    yield * otherStringGenerator(); // otherStringGenerator must be iterable and element type assignable to string
}

Here are the rules:

  • The type annotation must be assignable to Iterable<any>.
    • This has been revised: IterableIterator<any> must be assignable to the type annotation instead.
  • The operand of every yield expression (if present) must be assignable to the element type of the generator (string in this case)
  • The operand of every yield * expression must be assignable to Iterable<any>
  • The element type of the operand of every yield * expression must be assignable to the element type of the generator. (string is assignable to string)
  • The operand of a yield (if present) expression is contextually typed by the element type of the generator (string)
  • The operand of a yield * expression is contextually typed by the type of the generator (Iterable<string>)
  • A yield expression has type any.
  • A yield * expression has type any.
  • The generator is allowed to have return expressions as well, but they are ignored for the purposes of type checking the generator type. The generator cannot have return expressions
  • Open question: Do we want to give an error for a return expression that is not assignable to the element type? If so, we would also contextually type it by the element type.
    • Answer: we will give an error on all return expressions in a generator. Consider relaxing this later.
  • Open question: Should we allow void generators?
    • Answer: no

Inferring the type of a generator

A generator function with no type annotation can have the type annotation inferred. So in the following case, the type will be inferred from the yield statements:

function *g() {
    for (var i = 0; i < 100; i++) {
        yield ""; // infer string
    }
    yield * otherStringGenerator(); // infer element type of otherStringGenerator
}
  • Rather than inferring Iterable, we will infer IterableIterator, with some element type. The reason is that someone can call next directly on the generator without first getting its iterator. A generator is in fact an iterator as well as an iterable.
  • The element type is the common supertype of all the yield operands and the element types of all the yield * operands.
  • It is an error if there is no common supertype.
  • As before, the operand of every yield * expression must be assignable to Iterable<any>
  • yield and yield * expressions again have type any
  • If the generator is contextually typed, the operands of yield expressions are contextually typed by the element type of the contextual type
  • If the generator is contextually typed, the operands of yield * expressions are contextually typed by the contextual type.
  • Again, return expressions are allowed, but not used for inferring the element type. Return expressions are not allowed. Consider relaxing this later, particularly if there is no type annotation.
  • Open question: Should we give an error for return expressions not assignable to element type (same as the question above)
    • Answer: no return expressions.
  • If there are no yield operands and no yield * expressions, what should the element type be?
    • Answer: implicit any

The * type constructor

Since the Iterable type will be used a lot, it is a good opportunity to add a syntactic form for iterable types. We will use T* to mean Iterable<T>, much the same as T[] is Array<T>. It does not do anything special, it's just a shorthand. It will have the same grammatical precedence as [].

Question: Should it be an error to use * type if you are compiling below ES6.

The good things about this design is that it is super easy to create an iterable by declaring a generator function. And it is super easy to consume it like you would any other type of iterable.

function *g(limit) {
    for (var i = 0; i < limit; i++) {
        yield i;
    }
}

for (let i of g(100)) {
    console.log(i);
}
var array = [...g(50)];
var [first, second, ...rest] = g(100);

Drawbacks of this basic design

  1. The type returned by a call to next is not always correct if the generator has a return expression.
function *g() {
    yield 0;
    return "";
}
var instance = g();
var x = instance.next().value; // x is number, correct
var x2 = instance.next().value; // x2 is given type number, but it's actually a string!

This implies that maybe we should give an error when return expressions are not assignable to the element type. Though if we do, there is no way out.
2. The types of yield and yield * expressions are just any. Many users will not care about these, but the type of the yield expression is useful if for example, you are implementing await on top of yield.
3. If you type your generator with the * type, it does not allow someone to call next directly on the generator. Instead they must cast the generator or get the iterator from the generator.

function *g(): number* {
    yield 0;
}
var gen = g();
gen.next(); // Error, but allowed in ES6 (preferred in fact)
(<IterableIterator<number>>gen).next(); // works, but really ugly
gen[Symbol.iterator]().next(); // works, but pretty ugly as well

To clarify, issue 3 is not an issue for for-of, spread, and destructuring. It is only an issue for direct calls to next. The good thing is that you can get around this by either leaving off the type annotation from the generator, or by typing it as an IterableIterator.

Advanced additions to proposal

To help alleviate issue 2, we can introduce a nominal Generator type (already in es6.d.ts today). It is an interface, but the compiler would have a special understanding of its type arguments. It would look something like this:

interface Generator<TYield, TReturn, TNext> extends IterableIterator<TYield /*| TReturn*/> {
    next(n: TNext): IteratorResult<TYield /*|TReturn*/>;
    // throw and return methods elided
}

Notice that TReturn is not used in the type, but it will have special meaning if you are using something that is nominally a Generator. Use of the Generator type annotation is purely optional. The reason that we need to omit TReturn in the next method is so that Generator can be assignable to IterableIterator<TYield>. Note that this means issue 1 still remains.

  • The type of a yield expression will be the type of TNext
function *g(): Generator<number, any, string> {
   var x = yield 0; // x has type string
}
  • If the user does not specify the Generator type annotation, then consuming a yield expression as an expression will be an implicit any. Yield expression statements will be unaffected.
  • For a return expression not assignable to the yield type of the generator, we can give an error (require a type annotation) or we can infer Generator<TYield, TReturn, any>?
function *g() {
    yield 0;
    return ""; // Error or infer TReturn as string
}

Once we have TReturn in place, the following rules are added:

  • If the operand of yield * is a Generator, then the yield * expression has the type TReturn (the second type argument of that generator)
  • If the operand of a yield * is a Generator, and the yield * expression is inside a Generator, TNext of the outer generator must be assignable to TNext of the inner one.
function *g1(): Generator<any, any, string> {
    var t = yield * g2(); // Error that string is not assignable to number
}
function *g2(): Generator<any, any, number> {
    var s = yield 0;
}
  • If the operand of yield * is not a Generator, and the yield * is used as an expression, it will be an implicit any.

Ok, now for issue 1, the incorrectness of next. There is no great way to do this. But one idea, courtesy of @CyrusNajmabadi, is to use TReturn in the body of the Generator interface, so that it looks like this:

interface Generator<TYield, TReturn, TNext> extends IterableIterator<TYield> {
    next(n: TNext): IteratorResult<TYield | TReturn>;
    // throw and return methods elided
}

As it is, Generator will not be assignable to IterableIterator<TYield>. To make it assignable, we would change assignability so that every time we assign Generator<TYield, TReturn, TNext> to something, assignability changes this to Generator<TYield, any, TNext> for the purposes of the assignment. This is very easy to do in the compiler.

When we do this, we get the following result:

function *g() {
    yield 0;
    return "";
}
var g1 = g();
var x1 = g1.next().value; // number | string (was number with old typing)
var x2 = g1.next().value; // number | string (was number with old typing, and should be string)

var g2: Iterator<number> = g(); // Assignment is allowed by special rule!
var x3 = g2.next(); // number, correct
var x4 = g2.next(); // number, should be string

So you lose the correctness of next when you subsume the generator into an iterable/iterator. But you at least get general correctness when you are using it raw, as a generator.

Additionally, operators like for-of, spread, and destructuring would just get TYield, and would be unaffected by this addition, including if they are done on a Generator.

Thank you to everyone who helped come up with these ideas.

@JsonFreeman

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commented Apr 24, 2015

I've updated the proposal with the results of further discussion. There have only been a few minor changes:

  • Answers to open questions in the basic proposal.
  • Change the rule about what return type annotations are allowed on a generator function. IterableIterator<any> must be assignable to the return type annotation.
  • Return expressions are not allowed in generators. We can consider relaxing this later if the need arises.
@DanielRosenwasser

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commented Apr 24, 2015

For the sake of completeness, I think it would extremely helpful to actually state the current declarations of the types named here:

interface IteratorResult<T> {
    done: boolean;
    value?: T;
}

interface Iterator<T> {
    next(value?: any): IteratorResult<T>;
    return?(value?: any): IteratorResult<T>;
    throw?(e?: any): IteratorResult<T>;
}

interface Iterable<T> {
    [Symbol.iterator](): Iterator<T>;
}

interface IterableIterator<T> extends Iterator<T> {
    [Symbol.iterator](): IterableIterator<T>;
}

interface GeneratorFunction extends Function {
}

interface GeneratorFunctionConstructor {
    /**
      * Creates a new Generator function.
      * @param args A list of arguments the function accepts.
      */
    new (...args: string[]): GeneratorFunction;
    (...args: string[]): GeneratorFunction;
    prototype: GeneratorFunction;
}
declare var GeneratorFunction: GeneratorFunctionConstructor;

interface Generator<T> extends IterableIterator<T> {
    next(value?: any): IteratorResult<T>;
    throw(exception: any): IteratorResult<T>;
    return(value: T): IteratorResult<T>;
    [Symbol.iterator](): Generator<T>;
    [Symbol.toStringTag]: string;
}
@CyrusNajmabadi

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commented Apr 24, 2015

Looks good!

@Griffork

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commented Apr 28, 2015

Got a little lost in the first post, but I'm going to write what I understood, and you guys can correct me if I'm wrong:

function *g () {
    var result: TNext = yield <TYield>mything()
}
  • g cannot contain the statement return.
  • All yield keywords must be treated as the same type (called TNext) that can be a union.
  • All calls to an ginst (an instance of g) of the form ginst.next(...) must pass a parameter of type TNext (assuming that's only if TNext is not null, I don't know if TNext can be null).
  • Any value on the right of the yield keyword must be of type TYield, and if ommitted is treated as the value undefined.
  • An instance of g can be typed as follows: var ginst: TYield* but then you must cast to an IterableIterator (or something similar) before calling ginst.next (just a note here - yuck?)

Is there anything important that I missed here?


Request:
A nicer way of defining generator types e.g. for a generator,

function* g(value: number) {
    while (true) {
        value+= yield value;
    }
}

something like:

var ginst: GeneratorInstance<number, number>

and

var gtype: *g(start: number)=>GeneratorInstance<number, number>;

For the following code:

ginst = g(0);
ginst.next(2);
gtype = g;

👍 for generators

edit: fixed putting *'s in all the wrong places.

@Griffork

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commented Apr 28, 2015

... Also the lack of a return statement annoys me, I think it should be forced to have the same type as yield, and if it's a different type (and yield is being implicitly typed) the return type should force a change to the implicitly derived type for yield.
To summarise; In a generator function return is treated identically to yield.

This way I can have my generators actually end on a value that's not forced to be undefined (by Typescript).

@DanielRosenwasser

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commented Apr 28, 2015

@Griffork from what I understand, you can have return statements, just not return expressions - specifically, you can't return a value, but you can bail out from within the generator at any point.

This probably doesn't help your frustration in the return type being ignore; however, it would certainly help to get some use realistic cases for what exactly you'd like to return when a generator has terminated.

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commented Apr 28, 2015

@DanielRosenwasser not sure I understand.
I guess what you're calling a return expression is: return true;?
If that is the case, then how is a return statement different to a return expression?


Here's an example of the type of generator I was thinking of when I voiced my discomfort:

function* g (case) {
    while(true){
        switch(case) {
            case "dowork1":
                //do stuff
                case = yield "OPERATIONAL - OK";
                break;
            case "dowork2":
                //do stuff
                case = yield "OPERATIONAL - OK";
                break;
           case "shutdown":
               //do stuff
               return "COMPLETE";
        }
    }
}

Where it may execute an arbitrary amount of times, but at some point it's "completed" and it notify's it's caller that it's done.

My concern (which I have not yet researched) is that without the return statement, there might be garbage-collection problems on some systems (particularly since the whole function-state has to be suspended and resumed on a yield), which is bad if you're spawning a lot of similarly-structured generators/iterators.

It also makes the function read a lot more clearly in my opinion.

@DanielRosenwasser

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commented Apr 28, 2015

I guess what you're calling a return expression is: return true;?

That is a return statement, for which the return expression is true.

In other words, a return expression is the expression being returned in a return statement.

Where it may execute an arbitrary amount of times, but at some point it's "completed" and it notify's it's caller that it's done.

From what I understand of your example, you return "COMPLETE" to indicate that the generator is done, which I don't see as any more useful as the done property on the iterator result. We need some more compelling examples.

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commented Apr 28, 2015

Though, now that I think about it, if there are multiple ways to terminate (i.e. shutdown or failure), that's when the returned value in a state-machine-style generator would be useful.

@Griffork

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commented Apr 28, 2015

@DanielRosenwasser got it, thanks for the clarification :).

@yortus

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commented Apr 28, 2015

I'd argue that a correct implementation would allow return expressions, and type them distictly from yield expressions.

Generators are commonly used in asynchronous task runners, such as co. Here is an example:

var co = require('co');
var Promise = require('bluebird');

// Return a promise that resolves to `result` after `delay` milliseconds
function asyncOp(delay, result) {
    return new Promise(function (resolve) {
        setTimeout(function () { resolve(result); }, delay);
    });
}

// Run a task asynchronously
co(function* () {
    var a = yield asyncOp(500, 'A');
    var ab = yield asyncOp(500, a + 'B');
    var abc = yield asyncOp(500, ab + 'C');
    return abc;
})
.then (console.log)
.catch (console.log);

The above program prints 'ABC' after a 1.5 second pause.

The yield expressions are all promises. The task runner awaits the result of each yielded promise and resumes the generator with the resolved value.

The return expression is used by the task runner to resolve the promise associated with the task itself.

In this use case, yield and return expressions are (a) equally essential, and (b) have unrelated types that ideally would be kept separate. In the example, TYield is Promise<string> and TReturn is string. There is no reason why they would be conflated into one type in a task runner.

@Griffork

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commented Apr 28, 2015

@yortus I'm not sure what you're asking for is at all possible, or if it makes any sense, I'll try to explain where I'm confused.

The only way to start or resume a generator is the generator's .next function. This function takes a single argument (which is supplied in place of the yield expression) and returns a single value (which is the value to the right of the yield expression).

The following Javascript:

function*g() {
    var a = yield "a";
    var b = yield a + "b";
    var c = yield b + "bc";
    return 0;
}
var ginst = g();

console.log(g.next() + g.next("a") + g.next("a"));
return g.next("");

Is the equivalent to

console.log(("a") + ("a" + "b") + ("a" + "bc"));
return 0;

But what happens if I try:

var done = false;
var value;
while (!done) {
    value = ginst.next(value);
    console.log(value);
}

I get:

"a"
"ab"
"abbc"
0

The last one is a number, meaning if ginst.next is to be called in a loop, the return type must be string|number or it may be incorrect.


It's important to note here that the proposal that yield and return are treated identically will work for co's consumption, and for Promises. If it will help I can write some example implementations.

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commented Apr 28, 2015

Like that last suggestion:

interface Generator<TYield, TReturn, TNext> extends IterableIterator<TYield> {
    next(n: TNext): IteratorResult<TYield | TReturn>;
    // throw and return methods elided
}

Seems ok to lose the correctness of next when you subsume the generator into an iterable/iterator.

Does that solve drawback #3?
Not sure if I like T*, this looks clearer:

function *g(): Generator<number, string, any>  {
    yield 0;
    return "";
}
var a: Iterable<number|string> = g();

// lose correctness
var b: Iterable<number> = g();

// consider using *T for better symmetry instead of T*
var c: *number = g();
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commented Apr 28, 2015

@jbondc *T has better symmetry, but can be confusing because *T doesn't denote a generator here, it denotes an iterable, which while that can be the same thing can also not be the same thing.

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commented Apr 28, 2015

If you read * as 'many values' from thing, it works well for generators and iterators. Likely T* bothers me because it looks like a pointer if you write string*

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commented Apr 28, 2015

Another example of using generators to support asynchronous control flow. This is working code, runnable in current io.js. There are some comments showing the runtime types of TYield and TReturn. When generators are used in this way, these types tend to be unrelated to each other. The most useful type to have inferred in this example is probably the TReturn type.

var co = require('co');
var Promise = require('bluebird');
var fs = Promise.promisifyAll(require('fs'));
var path = require('path');

// bulkStat: (dirpath: string) => Promise<{ [filepath: string]: fs.Stats; }>
var bulkStat = co.wrap(function* (dirpath) {

    // filenames: string[], TYield = Promise<string[]>
    var filenames = yield fs.readdirAsync(dirpath);
    var filepaths = filenames.map(function (filename) {
        return path.join(dirpath, filename);
    });

    // stats: Array<fs.Stats>, TYield = Array<Promise<fs.Stats>>
    var stats = yield filepaths.map(function (filepath) {
        return fs.statAsync(filepath);
    });

    // result: { [filepath: string]: fs.Stats; }
    var result = filepaths.reduce(function (result, filepath, i) {
        result[filepath] = stats[i];
        return result;
    }, {});

    // TReturn = { [filepath: string]: fs.Stats; }
    return result;
});

bulkStat(__dirname)
    .then(function (stats) {
        console.log(`This file is ${stats[__filename].size} bytes long.`);
    })
    .catch(console.log);

// console output:
// This file is 1097 bytes long.

The function bulkStat stats all the files in the specified directory and returns a promise of an object that maps file paths to their stats.

Note that the TReturn type is unrelated to either of the TYield types, and the two TYield types are unrelated to each other.

@JsonFreeman

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commented Apr 28, 2015

@Griffork

  • g can contain return statements, but they cannot return a value, as explained by @DanielRosenwasser.
  • Yes, if you type the generator with a *, you'll have to cast to IterableIterator to call next directly. If you leave off the type, it will be inferred as IterableIterator. And you can certainly type it as IterableIterator to begin with.
  • Sounds like what you are asking for is a type that is Nextable. Namely, a type that specifies the in-type as well as the out-type. That seems reasonable. The one caveat is that most consumers (for-of, spread, destructuring assignments) will never be passing a value to next. Would you recommend that if a generator's next requires a value to be sent in, then it is an error to use for-of on the generator? In other words, we would only allow these two-way generators to be consumed by calling next directly, or by yield*.
  • Regarding return values: The problem with basing the element type on return expressions is that most iterations (for-of, spread, etc) will never observe the value returned by the return statement. So if the generator yields one type, but returns another type, we don't want to pollute the element type with the return, when 90% of users will never even see the return. What use cases do you have in mind for the return value? Keep in mind that the return value can only be observed by calling next directly, or by using yield*.

@yortus
I agree that the primary case for passing in a value to next is async frameworks, since you want to pass the value the awaited Promise was resolved with. And I see your point about the return value being used to signify the fulfilled value of the Promise being created. I suppose the limitation of the basic proposal is that while it is great at typing generators as an implementation of an iterable, it does not give strong treatment to using generators as async state machines. Suppose we relaxed the restriction on return values, and the type system just ignored them. Would that be acceptable? We would allow everything that is required to write your async state machines, but there would be a lot of any types floating around. Presumably this is a pretty advanced use case.

Without dependent types, it becomes very hard to hold onto TReturn without having it pollute TYield. Ideally, we would have one type associated with done: false and another with done: true. But without that facility, there is really no good place to represent TYield and TReturn separately in the type structure.

@jbondc, I understand your syntactic concern with * looking like a pointer. But I have to agree with @Griffork that *T will be more confusing, because it seems to be intimately tied to generators. And in fact, this type needn't be used with generators. It is just sugar for an Iterable.

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commented Apr 28, 2015

Replying in phone, bear with me...

@JsonFreeman oh, good point. I stopped monitoring the straw man before for... of was finalised. The use case that I currently have for return is the state machine example above when you consider that you can also return "ERROR".
On another note, does done = true on error?

Yes, I plan to do some funcy promise-like stuff with a next-able state based generator.
And I like your suggestion that generators that take a value should error in a for-of.


Being able to detect type depending on the value of done sounds good, but I'm not sure how possible that is, as it would be easy to break.
The only way I can see @yortis' example working is if he explicitly passed typing information to co and co used that to type the return function. Either way I don't think it's possible for Typescript to provide what you're asking for, unless someone can give me a working example of how it would be implemented.

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commented Apr 28, 2015

@JsonFreeman would it be possible to opt in/out of returning a value?

I don't know where your facts about the typical usage of generators comes from, an article like that would be useful to read, would I be able to get a link?
From what you're saying it sounds like most users are liable to use both yield and return to return values from their generator but they don't want to know about the value returned by return.
Or are you trying to say that most users don't use return (I imagine if you're not using return in the generator, it's not going to pollute the yielded value).

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commented Apr 28, 2015

@Griffork

  • If I provide a way to declare a generator that requires something to be sent in, I could make it an error to consume it with for-of, spread, etc. The problem that remains is the first call to next, which should not take a value. Most consumers will call next() instead of next(undefined) on the first call, so it seems silly to require them to pass a dummy argument. So I could not do this by giving next a required parameter. Given that constraint, I'm not sure how we could distinguish between a generator that can be consumed with for-of and a generator that cannot.
  • When you ask if done = true on error, not sure what you mean by "on error".
  • Regarding opting in/out of returning a value: I think what you're asking for is to make it legal to return a value, so just remove the error, correct?
  • I would not call our assumptions about typical usage "facts". They are more just conjectures at this point because the feature is so new.
  • I imagine that most users who are returning a value are doing it by mistake, because they do not realize that the last value cannot be observed by most iteration constructs. Either that, or they do not care to discard it. However, I realize there are some users who are implementing advanced mechanics like async, and who control both the generator and its consumption (similar to @yortus's scenario). And those users have a legitimate reason to return a value. I don't think there are many such users though. It highly depends on whether the generator is supposed to be an iterator, or something more advanced than that.
  • The fact remains that if give a way of enforcing the type of the return values, it becomes very difficult to separate it from the yield type.
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commented Apr 28, 2015

It would essentially involve hacking the assignability rules to make sure a generator that returns something is assignable to an iterable when you ignore that return value. Doable, but kind of a hack.

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commented Apr 28, 2015

Oh, ok.
@JsonFreeman when I was first looking up generators, the amount of threads/blogs/posts I found that wanted to use it in a promise fashion vs an iterable was about 10:1. That's why I was asking you for your source. I don't think that the idea that most users will want to use it as an iterable is valid, although it will still be very prevalent, using the generator for promises looks like it will be about equally prevalent if not more.

I see what you mean about the problems with making generators sometimes not iterable. If it's going to be a hack, either don't do it or don't do it yet, leave it to the user and if it's a big problem later you can revaluate the decision.

As for opting in/out of returning a value, yes. When I first wrote that I was thinking of something else, but that idea was bad and this one is better.

Again, I don't think you can separate the return type from the yield type due to the way generators are used (although I agree it would be useful, JavaScript's implementation does not make this doable).

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commented Apr 28, 2015

@Griffork here is an in-depth article describing many uses and details of generators. TL;DR: the two main uses cases so far are (1) implementing iterables and (2) blocking on asynchronous function calls.

@JsonFreeman having TReturn = any always would be a good start. Not allowing return expressions at all would rule out many valid uses of generators. You describe the async framework scenario as 'advanced'. Perhaps so, but in nodeland with its many async APIs, it's already a widespread idiom that works today and is growing in popularity. co has a lot or github stars, a lot of dependents, and a lot of variants.

Interestingly, when crafting generators to pass to co, one cares more about the TResult type and the types returned by yield expressions, whilst the TYield type is not so important.

Side note: the proposal for async functions (#1664) mentions using generators in the transform for representing async functions in ES6 targets. Return expressions are needed there, in fact the proposal shows one in its example code. It would be funny if tsc emitted generators with return expressions as its 'idiomatic ES6' for async functions, but rejected them as invalid on the input side.

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commented Apr 28, 2015

@JsonFreeman #2936 mentions singleton types are getting the green light. At least for string literal types. If there was also a boolean literal type, then the next function could return something like { done: false; value?: TYield; } | { done: true; value?: TReturn; }. Then type guards could distinguish the two cases.

I'm just thinking out loud here, so not sure if that would make anything easier, even it if did exist.

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commented Apr 28, 2015

@Griffork and @yortus, thank you for your points. It sounds like we are leaning towards the solution of the "next" parameter and the return values having type any, but allowing generator authors to return a value. The return type of next will take into account TYield but not TReturn. Would you agree that that solution is a good way to start?

@yortus, as for singleton types, let's see how it goes for strings, and then we can evaluate it for booleans. At that point it would be clearer whether it would help split up TYield and TReturn, but I imagine that it could be just what we need here.

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commented Apr 29, 2015

@JsonFreeman sure, I'd be happy with that.
At least then there will be the opportunity to gather feedback from Typescript users instead of relying on speculation (particularly my own).

Thank you for listening, this has been one of the most enjoyable discussions I've had on a Typescript issue :-).

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commented Apr 29, 2015

@JsonFreeman sounds good.

Another minor point:

interface Generator<T> extends IterableIterator<T> {
    next(value?: any): IteratorResult<T>;
    throw(exception: any): IteratorResult<T>;
    return(value: T): IteratorResult<T>;   // <--- value should not be constrained to T
    [Symbol.iterator](): Generator<T>;
    [Symbol.toStringTag]: string;
}

That's copied from above. Shouldn't the return method be return(value?: any): IteratorResult<T>;? Calling this method causes the generator to resume and immediately execute return value;. There is no link between the type of value and the T type which is the type of the yield expressions in the generator.

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commented Apr 30, 2015

@Griffork

As you can see, my library would get no typing, while your library would. Making yours better and mine not competitive.

Can you elaborate? Why would it get no typing exactly? Example maybe?

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commented Apr 30, 2015

my library would get no typing, while your library would. Making yours better and mine not competitive.

Typescript would be not modelling that language, but modelling the "preferred use". And no one would be able to compete against the "preferred use". The draw to Typescript for me (over coffee script and others) is that they made no assumptions about how you're going to use the language, everything is 'fair game' (which is why I can modify Array.prototype).

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commented Apr 30, 2015

Sure:

var (val1,val2) = yield await(asyncgen1), await(asyncgen2);

val1 and val2 would have no typing, so your library is by default better than mine.

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commented Apr 30, 2015

*square brackets, I couldn't remember the destructuring syntax

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commented Apr 30, 2015

@Griffork when you say 'your library', what library are you talking about? And what does 'preferred use' mean?

val1 and val2 would get no typing under the current proposal anyway. And your example could never be statically typed due to its API design. That's not a reason to gimp all libraries equally.

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commented Apr 30, 2015

It could (with some very library/use specific and code, like the code you're suggesting that is library/use specific) 'my library' is a library that I'm working on (library in the same fashion co is a library).
"preferred use" is the use case that the language specifically supports either better than the alternatives or absent of alternatives.

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commented May 1, 2015

@Griffork I haven't proposed any preferred use, so I still don't follow your meaning here. Can you elaborate?

The only code I mentioned that is library/use specific, like CoYieldable, would reside in that library or its .d.ts file. TypeScript would merely provide a mechanism for optionally typing the way yield behaves in particular library-defined scenarios. That would be useful for typing many libraries that work with generators. Even yours if you have an API that can be statically modelled.

TypeScript lets you optionally type all kinds of other things, if you can provide a static description of them. That doesn't make all these typings somehow 'preferred'. They reside in the libraries where they belong.

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commented May 1, 2015

@yortus Typescript lets you type Javascript. It only (so far) supplies semantics for describing how raw javascript works, not for describing how libraries work.
What your asking for is a) not required for the first implementation of generators (thus @JsonFreeman telling you to create a new thread for this) and b) only describes one use of generators, without supporting any other uses of generators (e.g. what I described).

All of these libraries that do async that are common now (e.g. angular, co, etc.) currently all use promises, but that doesn't mean in the next year promises are going to be the most common way of doing async with generators, we don't know that yet.
What you would do is practically prevent other ways of using generators from being able to emerge, due to Typescript having built in support for promises (only), and no other ways.

Why, if you're going to support using generators with promises, can't I also insist that the Typescript team support how I'm going to use generators (because yes, it is possible, just not very feasible and not useful for more than that one way of using generators).

My initial points for async (which you quoted out of context) were in the context that async would be just as common (not more so) than iterators, and they should be supported equally. If you're going to argue support for a specific way of doing async, then I argue for support for any other way of doing async.
Which will (imo) will end up with an over-the-top bloated unmaintainable typing system.

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commented May 1, 2015

After some discussion, here is the current plan:

  • For now, yield expressions will be required to have a common supertype. For additional discussion, let's use issue #921
  • For now, return expressions will be allowed, but ignored. When we have boolean literal types, we will track the return expression's type correctly, instead of hacking it temporarily. This is outlined in #2983
  • Yield expressions themselves will have type any, but we will also revisit this when we do the return expressions after boolean literal types. My plan is that we will allow the user to provide a parameter type for next, and all the yield expressions have to be that type.
  • I will temporarily remove the Generator type from es6.d.ts, as we will add a better one when we have boolean literal types.

As a result, I will add good support for generators as iterables for now. This is because it is possible to support that use case well now, whereas supporting the async use case should be built on top of boolean literals. Async use cases will still be possible, just not strongly typed. After boolean literals, we can better support async use cases.

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commented May 1, 2015

@JsonFreeman I'm curious, what was the reasoning behind ignoring return types vs using option 5 (special hack)?

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commented May 1, 2015

@JsonFreeman sounds like a good start. 'For now, yield expressions will be required to have a common supertype'. This means that for any of the async examples I've given in this thread to compile, they will have to be explicitly annotated with TYield=any, since their yield operands don't have a common supertype. Is that right? And all the yield expressions will have to be explicitly typed too for now. And TReturn too. Basically everything.

@Griffork TypeScript would know nothing about promises under my proposal. Not sure why you think that. I wholeheartedly agree with your point, but it just doesn't apply to the technique I proposed.

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commented May 1, 2015

The reasoning behind not doing the hack (option 5) is that we have a better long term solution that is not a hack. Doing the hack would give us some value in the short term and none in the long term. And while I think tracking the return type is important, I do not think it is urgent enough to warrant the hack that we will later remove.

For the common type issue, yes you must provide any or the union type that you're interested in. Again, issue #921 is relevant here. Btw, if your generator is contextually typed, then we do infer the union type, so if you pass it directly to co.wrap, you probably should be fine not supplying the type.

Yield expressions themselves will have to be explicitly typed inline for now, yes.

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commented May 1, 2015

OK I can live with that for a version or two. Better yield modeling is a must in the longer term. Looking forward to that.

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commented May 1, 2015

@JsonFreeman yep, fair.
I like the contextual typing, that will make things easier.

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commented Sep 7, 2015

I would love to have async/await compile to ES5 prioritized. Can you elaborate why generators/yield gets preference?

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commented Sep 7, 2015

@cveld because async/await is sugar around generators and promises. And, of course, generators is standard already and async/await not, hence subject to change (rare chances, but anyway).

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commented Sep 7, 2015

And when do you expect that ES5 compilation for generators/yield will
become available?

2015-09-07 18:17 GMT+02:00 Arthur Stolyar notifications@github.com:

@cveld https://github.com/cveld because async/await is sugar around
generators and promises. And, of course, generators is standard already and
async/await not, hence subject to change (rare chances, but anyway).


Reply to this email directly or view it on GitHub
#2873 (comment)
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@mhegazy mhegazy closed this Sep 8, 2015

@mhegazy mhegazy added the Fixed label Sep 8, 2015

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commented Sep 8, 2015

This issue has been handled by #3031. we should file a different issue for the remaining portions of this proposal that were not covered by #3031.

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commented Sep 8, 2015

@cveld there is no time line for this at the point.

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