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Spec creates strict requirements on subclass constructors #87

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sicking opened this issue Dec 22, 2013 · 55 comments

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commented Dec 22, 2013

As the spec is currently defined, it creates some rather strict requirements on any subclass of Promise.

Specifically it requires that any subclass of Promise has a constructor that can be called using

var resolve;
var reject;
var subclassInstance = new Constructor((a1, a2) => { resolve = a1; reject = a2; });

where resolve and reject must resolve and reject the returned instance respectively.

This means that I can't create a subclass of Promise which implements a network request and which uses a signature like new NetworkRequest(url).

Is it expected that built-in classes will create such restrictions on subclassing?

@sicking

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commented Dec 22, 2013

This appears to be done in order to make

(new MyPromise(...)).then(...) instanceof MyPromise;

return true. I.e. .then() is currently attempting to always create an object of the same class as the class it was called on. Wouldn't it be ok for .then() to always return a plain Promise?

@domenic

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commented Dec 22, 2013

Jonas, I'd encourage you to look at how array subclassing works in ES6. That is the model promise subclassing is based on, and we will not be breaking parity with that model. It would be horrible if .then() returned something of the wrong type; it defeats the point of subclassing if a simple functional transform like .then(JSON.parse) strips away all the subclass capabilities. Similar to .map on an array subclass instance.

The constructor contract is used for much more than .prototype.then, of course. It is used by literally every method, e.g. .resolve, .reject, .all, .race, …

For your network request idea, it is not encouraged to subclass Promise to implement higher-level objects of that sort, such that they cannot be created by user code that is given the power to resolve or reject. If something is a Promise subclass, its constructor must follow the expected Promise constructor contract.

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commented Dec 22, 2013

As an analogy, you would not create an Array subclass ArrayOfNetworkData such that you do new ArrayOfNetworkData(url).

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commented Dec 22, 2013

The constructor contract is used for much more than .prototype.then, of course. It is used by literally every method, e.g. .resolve, .reject, .all, .race, …

Note that none of ".resolve, .reject, .all, .race," will by default live on subclasses. Neither on the instances of the subclass, nor on the subclass' constructor object.

Of course, the subclass could manually copy any of those functions over to the constructor object. I assume that was your intended use?

As an analogy, you would not create an Array subclass ArrayOfNetworkData such that you do new ArrayOfNetworkData(url).

In other languages you most definitely would. I'm not as familiar with how subclassing is intended to work in JS so I can't speak for that. Which was why I opened this issue.

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commented Dec 22, 2013

Subclasses inherit methods of the constructor. I am not sure why you would think otherwise?

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commented Dec 29, 2013

Let me know if you think there's anything else that needs to be clarified; closing for now. We can also tag in @allenwb to get his thoughts, since ES6's subclassable built-ins are largely his creation and I'm just happily copying what is IMO an elegant pattern.

@domenic domenic closed this Dec 29, 2013

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commented Dec 29, 2013

There are several interesting design issues in this thread. I'm going to do several comments addressing various issues.

First, I've never been all that happy with the way the es6 collection methods use the constructor protocol to create new objects derived from the class of the original collection. Most of the steps that do this sort of constructor call have a margin comment that says "It would be nice to have a more explicit way to create a collection with a pre-specified number of elements". We talked about adding a new static method on Array constructors (maybe Array.sized(n) to do that.

Whenever you are do this sort of "cloning" you have to have some protocol that you follow to accomplish it. In the case of Arrays, the array constructor with one argument just happened to already provide the protocol that we needed and so that's what we used. However, as Jonas points out, that precludes subclasses from providing argument protocol that differ from their superclasses and sometimes that is actually what you want to do.

We could avoid this issue for promises defining a static method on Promise that creates a derived promise. Essentially we could expose the GetDeferred abstract operation as that static method.

@domenic

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commented Dec 29, 2013

Hmm, thanks for your thoughts, Allen.

I'm reluctant to expose GetDeferred (Promise.defer) for the reasons discussed in #80: it's a bit of a footgun, and it it's an extra concept to learn ("what's a deferred? how does it relate to a promise?" etc.) which has historically caused confusion and small amounts of misery.

Indeed, the reason GetDeferred is used so much throughout the spec is not because it's idiomatic or how you would implement these things in ES. It's because creating closures in the meta-language is a heavyweight and (apparently) undesirable operation, so consolidating that into a single "Deferred Construction Function" closure is the workaround we use.

For example, compare the ES implementations of Promise.race and Promise.all in this gist to those in the spec. The ES implementations just use new Promise and put everything inside the resolver ("initiator"?) function, which traps all exceptions and transforms them into rejections appropriately. Whereas the spec implementations create a deferred, then at every step that could throw an error, they trap it and do a RejectIfAbrupt. (See e.g. all the try/catches in the reference implementation.) We want to encourage the former style, with the Promise constructor, rather than using deferreds, and most likely forgetting to trap the errors.


I thought once you were mentioning using a symbol, e.g. var emptyArray = Array[Symbol.empty](), or similar. That would feel more comfortable as a way of hiding the operation in the meta level.

However, I'd worry about how that impacts subclasses that want to override resolve and reject, which is pretty common. For example promises-aplus/cancellation-spec#6 uses that to implement cancellation by intercepting both forms of resolution. I suppose that code might be relocatable to Promise[Symbol.empty]() or similar?


I am still not convinced this is a problem, either for the collection classes or for Promise. I think it's OK for constructors to be assumed to have a certain signature. But I'll reopen and we can track this possibility if you want to work together on something that applies to both promises and collection classes.

@domenic domenic reopened this Dec 29, 2013

@erights

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commented Dec 29, 2013

That would feel more comfortable as a way of hiding the operation in the meta level.

Symbols don't hide things. They avoid only accidental collisions.

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commented Dec 29, 2013

It also isn't clear to me why the promised returned by 'then' and other methods that use GetDeferred should necessarily be of the same class as the original promised that was then'ed. Using Jonas' NetworkRequester as an example, I wouldn't necessarily expect the value of (new NetworkRequest(url)).then() to be a NetworkRequest. If it was, that would mean that the url or perhaps some other state might have to be propagated. Instead what 'then' returns is essentially just a promise on the seattlement of the then. This seems to me like it should be just a regular Promise or perhaps its own Promise subclass (ChainedPromise??)

One way to generalize the behavior would to use a promise method to determine the class of a derived promise instead of always using the promise's constructor to create the derived promise. Let's give that method the working name 'deferalClass'. the default 'then' method would use an expression like:

let deferred = this.deferalClass().getDeferred();

to generate its return value.

The default definition of deferalClass might be

return this.constructor;

or it might be

return Promise

In either case a subclass could over-ride it how seemed appropiate.
return Promise

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commented Dec 29, 2013

I think the essential problem is that the NetworkRequest example is pretty unnatural, and should be implemented with composition, not inheritance. Things that "is a" promise would be e.g. cancellable promises, or progress promises (a bad idea but an illustrative example), or other generic containers that are still representations of future values, but with extra features.

As such, it's pretty important for the return value of then to be the same type. then is similar to map in that way; it's use cases are similar. You can see in the cancellation example linked above how we indeed override then to propagate appropriate information when necessary.

I don't think you would want a solution like deferalClass, unless you think you also want a solution like Array.prototype.mapClass? Which to me seems crazy.

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commented Dec 30, 2013

@domenic

I don't think you would want a solution like deferalClass, unless you think you also want a solution like Array.prototype.mapClass? Which to me seems crazy.

This is not so crazy at all. In fact it is exactly how the very successful Smalltalk collection hierarchy was designed. It has a method named species for what you are calling mapClass. We talked about doing this for ES6 Array but Array really isn't a generalized collection hierarchy like Smalltalk's and it isn't clear that the added flexibility is actually needed. But a mapClass method is what we would probably do if somebody made an good argument that some subclasses need to "map" to the same subclass and other subclasses need to "map"" to Array or a different subclasses.

@erights

Symbols don't hide things. They avoid only accidental collisions.

They are also good for explicitly distinguishing the implementation laying of an abstraction from the usage API of the abstraction.

A class that is well designed for subclassing exposes a distinct subclassing contract. The subclassing contract is typically represent by methods that implement abstract algorithms that are designed with parameters/extension points that can be utilized by subclass implementations to customize the algorithms. The parameters/extension points are typically resented by self-callls that may be over-ridden by subclasses. Typically a lot of design thought needs to go into deciding what are the fixed part of the abstract algorithm that all subclasses must share and what are the appropriate dimensions of customization exposed by the extension points. It's hard to get this just right, but too many extension points give you a mess that nobody can understand and too few gives you a rigid class that can't really be usefully extended.

Using Symbols to name the subclassing contract methods (and especially the extension points) are a fine way to layer the class implementation such the the subclass contract doesn't complicate the public usage API.

So, what is the subclassing contract for Promises?

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commented Dec 30, 2013

@domenic

I think the essential problem is that the NetworkRequest example is pretty unnatural, and should be implemented with composition, not inheritance.

I'm not overly concerned about whether composition or inheritance is the better design approach for any particular situation. I'm happy to leave that up to the framework or application developer. Once you start down the path of providing a subclassing contract you have given up control of how a developer may use it.

But there is one important thing to point out. The constructor parameter list and body of a class is the only class element that isn't directly inherited by a subclass. It is not at all uncommon for subclass to have a completely different constructor signature from that of their superclass. Arguably, the ability to change the new signature is one of the primary reasons one might choose to create a subclass.

If you assume that subclassing Promises is going to be useful, then you also should assume that some subclasses will want to have different constructor signatures.

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commented Dec 30, 2013

Symbol-named properties are publicly accessible. We don't currently have even a convention for distinguishing symbol-named properties that are meant to be publicly accessed from those that are meant only to be accessed only within an inheritance hierarchy, i.e., the main "public" vs "protected" distinction in C++ and Java. (Though "protected" in both is more complex in different ways.)

WeakMaps / Relationships can provide both truly "private" as well as truly "protected" access, according to who has access to the WeakMap. And it correctly virtualizes across membranes -- both transparently and securely. It is the right tool for the job.

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commented Dec 30, 2013

A first cut at a subclassing constract for promises:

class Promise {
   //sublcass contract
   static [Symbol.newDeferred] () {
      var resolve, reject, promise;
      /* engine magic that is approximately equivalent to 
                promise =  new this((r,x)=> ({resolve,reject}={r,x}));
           but which doesn't depend upon the constructor signature
       */
       return {promise, resolve, reject}
   }
   [Symbol.getDeferred]() {
      return this.constructor[Symbol.newDeferred]()
   }

   //public class contract 
   static resolve(x) {
        let deferred = this[Symbol.newDeferred]();
        deferred.resolve(x);
        return deferred.resolve;
     }
     // etc. for other class methods

    //public instance contract
    then(onFulfilled, onRejected) {
        let deferred = this[Symbol.getDeferred]]();
        ...
     }
     // etc. for other instance methods

   constructor(executor) {/* engine magic, as currently specified */}
}

A couple things to note. If you have a reference to a Promise subclass you can use @@newDeferred to create an instance of it. This doesn't leak a new capability because you could have directly new'ed it.

On the instance side @@getDeferred encapsulates access to the appropriate Promise subclass and doesn't directly leak it. The constructor property remains the only directly exposure of the associated subclass constructor.

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commented Dec 30, 2013

@erights
Mark, I'm only talking about stratification of design, not at all about visibility or access control such as is provided by Java private/protected.

Essentially all uses of Symbols within the ES6 spec. are to stratify extension points in this manner. They are very useful for establishing a clear distinction between the extensibility contract and the usage contract of an abstraction.

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commented Dec 30, 2013

How would @@getDeferred create an instance without new? And how would that work with @@create?

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commented Dec 31, 2013

Simpler is better. then (really flatMap/chain) should probably just return a plain Promise. As Allen points out, it's not clear at all that the promise that results from a mapping function should have the same capabilities as the original promise.

This is future-friendly as well, since a "mapClass" property can be added at a later date to override this behavior.

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commented Dec 31, 2013

That same argument applies to Array.prototype.map. Whichever we do for one should go for the other.

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commented Dec 31, 2013

I can agree with that. Probably then, the most straightforward way to remove the restrictions on the constructor signature is just to expose deferred and use that as the subclass contract, despite the arguments against.

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commented Dec 31, 2013

Also, although I admit that the closure pattern is a nice way of implementing async functions in the absence of async functions, I don't necessarily agree that Promise.deferred is an anti-pattern. There are some situations where Promise.deferred really is what you want, and where the closure pattern is annoying.

And, after all, we have to give bloggers something to write about ; )

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commented Dec 31, 2013

@zenparsing I am interested in an example of a real situation where you believe using deferreds is really what you want...

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commented Dec 31, 2013

Take a look at

http://static.googleusercontent.com/media/research.google.com/en/us/pubs/archive/40673.pdf

Page 15, Fig. 2, Line 14

Notice that it's not possible to refactor that particular example using the closure pattern alone, without extracting the resolver function.

Also, if you ever need to pass the resolve/reject capability out of the originating function, you'll need to perform that annoying extraction thing.

Also, if you want to avoid indentation (and that's a valid choice, too)...

I don't see a problem with the statement "In most cases, you ought to use the closure pattern."

Promise.deferred solves this subclassing issue, and it's useful to boot. We should not be overly "nannyish" here.

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commented Dec 31, 2013

Notice that it's not possible to refactor that particular example using the closure pattern alone, without extracting the resolver function.

The extraction is pointless anyway. This code does exactly the same thing:

var escrowExchange = (a, b) => { // a from Alice , b from Bob
    return Q.promise(resolve => {
        resolve(Q.race([
            Q.all([
                transfer(decisionP, a.moneySrcP, b.moneyDstP, b.moneyNeeded),
                transfer(decisionP, b.stockSrcP, a.stockDstP, a.stockNeeded)
            ]),
            failOnly(a.cancellationP),
            failOnly(b.cancellationP)
        ]));
    });
};

Also, if you ever need to pass the resolve/reject capability out of the originating function, you'll need to perform that annoying extraction thing.

Yet you never need to do that in a real situation.

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commented Dec 31, 2013

What about decisionP?

Yet you never need to do that in a real situation.

Never ever ever? Says you ; )

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commented Dec 31, 2013

Yet you never need to do that in a real situation.

Also, the promise, the resolver, and the rejecter have always, by design, been separate capabilities which in principle can be passed around independently to different actors. It is central to the design.

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commented Dec 31, 2013

Ok I didn't notice that but I think it's still possible to do without extraction:

var escrowExchange = (a, b) => { // a from Alice , b from Bob
    var decisionP = Q.resolve().then(() =>
        Q.race([
            Q.all([aPromise, bPromise]),
            failOnly(a.cancellationP),
            failOnly(b.cancellationP)
        ]);
    );
    var aPromise = transfer(decisionP, a.moneySrcP, b.moneyDstP, b.moneyNeeded);
    var bPromise = transfer(decisionP, b.stockSrcP, a.stockDstP, a.stockNeeded);
    return decisionP;
};
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commented Dec 31, 2013

Yet you never need to do that in a real situation.

s/you never/you would hope to never/

I agree that constructor method is the ideal way to go, unfortunately sometimes it is not practical/possible to refactor some entangled code. I suppose my point is, constructor pattern should always be possible, sometimes not practical but we should strongly encourage it.

If user must for some reason needs the deferred pattern, they can quickly implement the pattern themselves or grab some code that does. This mitigates my foot-gun concerns.

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commented Dec 31, 2013

Also, adding Promise.deferred is future-friendly with Allen's suggestion of having a System.getDeferred method on the promise prototype, while still not requiring a dependency on symbols for this iteration.

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commented Dec 31, 2013

@domenic
ES6 Array is an extensible data abstraction while Promise is an extensible control abstraction. The policies applied to the use of a potential "mapClass" in Array is not going to necessarily be the same as for Promise. However, both Array and Promise can have mechanism can use the same basic pattern.

I've been contemplating adding this mechanism to the Array/etc, specs. for a while and this discussion has convinced me that I should just go ahead and do it.

For Promises I still suggest we go with the @@getDeferred/@@newDeferred design I gave in a previous comment. However, there is one aspect of that design I'd like some feedback on. The @@getDeferred method is design to not directly expose the class object chosen to create the deferred promise. So handing out a promise instance is not a general capability on the deferred constructor object. Does anybody care? Replacing the @@getDeferred method with a simple @@deferredConstructor data property wold be a simpler design.

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commented Dec 31, 2013

I am not sure I understand the need for two methods; can you clarify?

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commented Dec 31, 2013

@zenparsing
Since there seems to continue to be controversy about whether Promise.deferred should be part of the normal usage API, a more future friendly solution may be to simply specify Promise[Symbol.newDeferred] as a meta-level method. Symbol.deferred would always be added in the future or anyone who wants it can monkey patch it or define a subclass:

class PromiseWithDeferred extends Promise {
   static deferred() {return this[Symbol.newDeferred]()}
}
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commented Dec 31, 2013

@allenwb Since engines want to implement now, does that dictate any requirement to keep symbols out of the core API?

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commented Dec 31, 2013

Engines are generally not bothering to implement the subclassability of any of the built-ins, including promises, for now. So I don't think any of the concerns discussed here are that pressing.

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commented Dec 31, 2013

@domenic
Separation of concerns or you can look at the two methods as two distinct extension points in the various Promise abstract algorithms.

Promise[Symbol.newDeferred] is a (potentially) subclass specific factory method whose sole responsibility is to create a deferred instance of that subclass. It does so without using the subclasses constructor body so its default implementation doesn't have to worry about the constructor argument pattern (Jonas' concern).

Promise.prototype[Symbol.getDeferred] is a (potentially) subclass specific instance method whose primary responsibility is to determine which Promise subclass should be used to create deferred promises corresponding to settlement of operations upon the Promise object getDeferred is invoked upon.

In other words the distinct concerns (and extension points) are:

  1. Determining which Promise class should be used for deferred
  2. Instantiating a deferred for a specific Promise class

Here is the spec. that I would use for PromiseSymbol.newDeferred:

  1. If IsConstructor(this) is false, throw a TypeError exception.
  2. Let promise be the result of CreateFromConstructor(this).
  3. ReturnIfAbrupt(promise).
  4. Let status be the result of InitializePromise(promise).
  5. ReturnIfAbrupt(status).
  6. Let resolve be CreateResolveFunction(promise).
  7. Let reject be CreateRejectFunction(promise).
  8. Let result be the result of ObjectCreate().
  9. CreateDataProperty(result, "promise", promise).
  10. CreateDataProperty(result,, "resolve", resolve).
  11. CreateDataProperty(result,, "reject", reject).
  12. Return result.

(the above is essentially the same as what I currently have as the definition of the GetDeferred abstraction operation except that the result is an object instead of an internal data record.

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commented Dec 31, 2013

OK. So newDeferred is the "how do my static methods behave," and getDeferred is "how do my instance methods behave." I am not sure distinguishing between these is valuable. Again I would draw a parallel with Array: is it vauable to have Array.from/Array.of create their result via Array[Symbol.newArray](), whereas Array.prototype.map/Array.prototype.filter create their result via Array.prototype[Symbol.getArray]()?

Also. I am not sure why you have the constructor doing engine magic in your design above: why doesn't it just reuse newDeferred? It seems now that if people overrode newDeferred to tack on new creation behavior, they would have to also override the constructor in order to make sure that new creation behavior happened for directly-created instances and not just those created by static methods.

(Also, these names are pretty bad, but we can leave the bikeshedding for later.)

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commented Dec 31, 2013

(Also, these names are pretty bad, but we can leave the bikeshedding for later.)

Can't resist:

Since this method creates a new fresh thing, neither "Promise.deferred()" nor "Promise.getDeferred()" are good names. "Promise.makeDeferred()" is better. "Promise.defer()" is both best and traditional. What is makes and returns is a "deferred".

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commented Dec 31, 2013

Promise.defer sounds good to me. I say just use that and be done with it. We can put skulls and crossbones next to it in the manual if you really want to : )

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commented Dec 31, 2013

I wonder if the Array constructor should be changed to work in terms of Array.of?

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commented Dec 31, 2013

More generally, I wonder if the pattern should be that all classes that want to support subclassing also have a static "create a new instance of me not using my constructor" method, like we have for Array and it sounds like we now want for Promise.

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commented Dec 31, 2013

+1

On Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 11:07 AM, Domenic Denicola <notifications@github.com

wrote:

More generally, I wonder if the pattern should be that all classes that
want to support subclassing also have a static "create a new instance of me
not using my constructor" method, like we have for Array and it sounds like
we now want for Promise.


Reply to this email directly or view it on GitHubhttps://github.com//issues/87#issuecomment-31407068
.

Text by me above is hereby placed in the public domain

Cheers,
--MarkM

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commented Dec 31, 2013

@domenic

Again I would draw a parallel with Array: is it vauable to have Array.from/Array.of create their result via Array[Symbol.newArray](), whereas Array.prototype.map/Array.prototype.filter create their result via Array[Symbol.getArray]()?

Yes! This is the same sort of separation of concern. But, of course these would be written as this[Symbol.newArray]() and this[Symbol.getArray]() where in the first case this is a class object (ie a constructor) and in the second case this is a Array (subclass) instance. Class objects and class instance objects are different kinds of objects with different responsibilities. Creating a new instance is a class object responsibility. Determine the appropriate class to use for the result of an instance method is an instance object responsibility.

Conflating those two responsibility into a single method results in a less flexible subclassing contract. For example, a subclass may need to have multiple variations of getArray that are used in various situations.

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commented Dec 31, 2013

@domenic

More generally, I wonder if the pattern should be that all classes that want to support subclassing also have a static "create a new instance of me not using my constructor" method, like we have for Array and it sounds like we now want for Promise.

That's pretty much were we are heading. I'd be fine with naming such a method Symbol.newInstance although some might object to the the Java taint. If you were a Smalltaker you might prefer Symbol.basicNew.

Regardless of the name, such a method isn't the same think as Promise.defer (or Promise[Symbol.getDeferred]) which is a factory that returns something other than a Promise.

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commented Dec 31, 2013

Yeah, that is what makes it weird.

What if Promise[Symbol.newInstance] === Promise? (And Array[Symbol.newInstance] === Array, etc.) So you don't use the deferred pattern at all, you use the resolver factory function pattern. But you still have a safely-stashed original-constructor version that your algorithms can rely on, allowing PromiseSubclass[Symbol.newInstance] === Promise while of course PromiseSubclass[Symbol.newInstance] !== PromiseSubclass unless explicitly defined as such.

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commented Dec 31, 2013

@domenic

I wonder if the Array constructor should be changed to work in terms of Array.of?

No, but they can both ultimately use @@create.

A constructor must be designed to be called via the new operator protocol (the [[Construct]] internal method)

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commented Dec 31, 2013

@domenic

Yeah, that is what makes it weird.

Ah, I not sure what you're saying. I intended Symbol.newInstance to be the name of a class (ie, static) method that creates a new instance to its associated class. You seem to be describing them as a class data property whose value is a class. That's exactly what you would do one the instance side if instead of a getDeferred method you had a deferredClass property.

Regarding reliably stashing/accessing original values, you can always do things like: Promise[Symbol.newInstance).call(this) in a Promise subclass if you want to reach up the hierarchy.

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commented Dec 31, 2013

I am just trying to find a way to create a unifying abstraction that is not promise-specific ("deferreds"), and instead something like a generic stashed-away pseudo-constructor that will work for Array, Promise, etc. I am not sure my idea was well thought out, but I think this is a good goal, rather than having Array have its own size-accepting method, promise its own deferred-returning method, etc. If we're trying to establish a set of robust subclassing best practices, we should make them less idiosyncratic.

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commented Dec 31, 2013

@domenic

I think newInstance (under what ever name) what you are looking for. It's default is definition is essentially:

javascript
Function.prototype[Symbol.newInstance] = function() {return thisSymbol.create};


In other words, for object that require no instance specific initialization @@newInstance is the same as @@create.

Classes that need to preform some sort of initialization on such instances would over-ride it with something like:

``` javascript
static [Symbol.newInstance]() {
   let obj  = super[Symbol.newInstance]();  //or perhaps this[Symbol.create]()
   // to any class specific essential initialization of obj
   return obj
}
@domenic

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commented Dec 31, 2013

So would a valid version for the base Promise in the spec be

static [Symbol.newInstance](resolver) {
   let obj  = super[Symbol.newInstance]();  //or perhaps this[Symbol.create]()

   let resolve = makeResolveViaMagic(obj);
   let reject = makeRejectViaMagic(obj);
   resolver(resolve, reject);

   return obj;
}

? Then we would change GetDeferred(C) to use C[Symbol.newInstance](resolver) instead of new this(resolver), allowing the subclass customization of the promises vended by static methods while still allowing constructor overrides, and keeping with the unifying newInstance idea.

@allenwb

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commented Dec 31, 2013

@domenic
Not quite. You still need to initialize the private state of the promise instance. That is what the call to PromiseInitialize in the algorithm I showed in a previous comment does. (Note that the constructor algorithm now also uses PromiseInitialize).

Also, I doesn't think you need the resolver argument. It certainly isn't need to implement GetDeferred. In most situations, it is probably best to think about newInstance is the 0-argument constructor.

I still think that the interface I proposed is the right one for creating defers (ignoring naming concerns). Because of their nature, crating a Promise without also gaining access to its resolve/reject functions isn't very useful. the @@newDefered method fills the role of @@newinstance but also makes resolve/reject available. I don't see why anybody would every call Promise.@@newinstance instead of @@newDeferred.

@domenic

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commented Dec 31, 2013

I was trying to eliminate newDeferred, since it seems weird to have an extra pseudo-constructor thing that doesn't return an instance of the desired type. I was hoping to encapsulate that into newInstance.

Because of their nature, crating a Promise without also gaining access to its resolve/reject functions isn't very useful.

I agree, which is why it seems like a reasonable approach that whatever method this is takes a resolver(resolve, reject) function in order to perform initialization. I don't see why a deferred object needs to be introduced.

@allenwb

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commented Dec 31, 2013

@domenic
Don't think of newDeferred as a pseudo constructor. This of it as a static service method that as a side effect creates several new objects. Many methods do things like this. It is also very similar, in concept to the Proxy.revocable method.

There really isn't a "deferred object" the result object is just the ES mechanism used to result multiple values from a function.

@zenparsing

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commented Jan 1, 2014

Because of their nature, creating a Promise without also gaining access to its resolve/reject functions isn't very useful.

Exactly. Promises have this special nature which doesn't really apply to collection types. In order to be useful to the base class, the subclass must provide some way of getting a <promise, resolve, reject> tuple, with zero arguments. The abstract subclass contract is therefore () => <promise, resolve, reject> and that is exactly what Promise.defer (or newDeferred) expresses.

@ithinkihaveacat

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commented Jan 3, 2014

Things that "is a" promise would be e.g. cancellable promises, or progress promises (a bad idea but an illustrative example), or other generic containers that are still representations of future values, but with extra features.

@domenic I'm not sure why you say promises are "generic containers". Would it not be useful to have something like

email.getHeader().getSubject()

where email, email.getHeader() and email.getHeader().getSubject() are all promises of different (and non-generic) types?

Also, arranging for foo.then() to return a promise of the same type as foo (instead of a hard-coded Promise) seems like a step in the right direction, but can this be taken even further? It would be nice if then() was able to return arbitrary subclasses of Promise.

I'm not sure how to arrange for this. It's pretty trivial to do "by hand", but it feels like it should be possible via then() directly.

EmailPromise.prototype.getHeader = function () {
    var self = this;
    return new HeaderPromise(function (resolve, reject) {
        self.then(resolve, reject);
    });
}
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