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Typealiases in protocols and protocol extensions


This proposal is from the Generics Manifesto and brings the typealias keyword back into protocols for type aliasing.


In Swift versions prior to 2.2, the typealias keyword was used outside of protocols to declare type aliases and in protocols to declare associated types. Since SE-0011 and Swift 2.2, associated type now use the associatedtype keyword and typealias is available for implementing true associated type aliases.

Proposed solution

The solution allows the creation of associated type aliases. Here is an example from the standard library:

protocol Sequence {
  associatedtype Iterator : IteratorProtocol
  typealias Element = Iterator.Element

The example above shows how this simplifies referencing indirect associated types:

func sum<T: Sequence where T.Element == Int>(sequence: T) -> Int {
    return sequence.reduce(0, combine: +)

Allowing typealias in protocol extensions also allows extensions to use aliases to simplify code that the protocol did not originally propose:

extension Sequence {
    typealias Element = Iterator.Element
    func concat(other: Self) -> [Element] {
        return Array<Element>(self) + Array<Element>(other)

Detailed design

The following grammar rules needs to be added:



Impact on existing code

This will initially have no impact on existing code, but will probably require improving the Fix-It that was created for migrating typealias to associatedtype in Swift 2.2.

But once typealias starts being used inside protocols, especially in the Standard Library, name clashes might start cropping up between the type aliases and associated types. For example:

protocol Sequence {
    typealias Element = Iterator.Element // once this is added

protocol MySequence: Sequence {
    associatedtype Element // MySequence.Element is ambiguous

But there is no reason that those name clashes behave differently than current clashes between associated types:

protocol Foo {
    associatedtype Inner: IntegerType
    func foo(inner: Inner)

protocol Bar {
    associatedtype Inner: FloatingPointType
    var inner: Inner { get }

struct FooBarImpl: Foo, Bar { // error: Type ‘FooBarImpl’ does not conform to protocol ‘Bar'
    func foo(inner: Int) {}
    var inner: Float