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Allow for pattern matching on anonymous records in a limited context #713

cartermp opened this Issue Jan 16, 2019 · 3 comments


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cartermp commented Jan 16, 2019

I propose we allow for pattern matching on anonymous record types for cases where we already know the definition up front. Here is an example:

type FullName = { FirstName: string; LastName: string }

type Employee =
    | Engineer of FullName
    | Manager of {| Name: FullName; Reports: Employee list |}
    | Executive of {| Name: FullName; Reports: Employee list; Assistant: Employee |}

The compiler knows enough information about the anonymous record types that Manager and Executive are made up of to support pattern matching:

match e with
| Engineer { FirstName= "Phillip" } -> ...
| Manager {| FirstName= "Phillip" |} -> ...
| Executive {| FirstName= "Phillip" |} -> ...
| _ -> ...

Note that the first case is possible today since you can do this with F# records. But the last two cases are not possible today.

However, full-fidelity pattern matching for anonymous records cannot be possible. This is because:

  • No structural subtyping is allowed, since anonymous records are nominal types, limiting their use
  • Compared with "dot"-notation, it's almost always going to be more verbose to use patterns

Pros and Cons


  • Enables some more scenarios for anonymous records
  • Brings them to be a bit more at parity with records


  • Anonymous records aren't "full" records and so you can't do everything you'd like with them
  • No structural subtyping limits the utility of pattern matching, and anonymous records are not structurally-typed

Extra information

Estimated cost (XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL): M

Related suggestions: (put links to related suggestions here)

Affidavit (please submit!)

Please tick this by placing a cross in the box:

  • This is not a question (e.g. like one you might ask on stackoverflow) and I have searched stackoverflow for discussions of this issue
  • I have searched both open and closed suggestions on this site and believe this is not a duplicate
  • This is not something which has obviously "already been decided" in previous versions of F#. If you're questioning a fundamental design decision that has obviously already been taken (e.g. "Make F# untyped") then please don't submit it.

Please tick all that apply:

  • This is not a breaking change to the F# language design
  • I or my company would be willing to help implement and/or test this

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cartermp commented Jan 16, 2019

Filing this based on discussion here:

I am personally fine with no pattern matching, but it's worth discussing the issue IMO.


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charlesroddie commented Jan 17, 2019

So much sugar.


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dsyme commented Jan 26, 2019

So much sugar.

I'm trying to decode that :)

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