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Summary

Replace Vec::drain by a method that accepts a range parameter. Add String::drain with similar functionality.

Motivation

Allowing a range parameter is strictly more powerful than the current version. E.g., see the following implementations of some Vec methods via the hypothetical drain_range method:

fn truncate(x: &mut Vec<u8>, len: usize) {
    if len <= x.len() {
        x.drain_range(len..);
    }
}

fn remove(x: &mut Vec<u8>, index: usize) -> u8 {
    x.drain_range(index).next().unwrap()
}

fn pop(x: &mut Vec<u8>) -> Option<u8> {
    match x.len() {
        0 => None,
        n => x.drain_range(n-1).next()
    }
}

fn drain(x: &mut Vec<u8>) -> DrainRange<u8> {
    x.drain_range(0..)
}

fn clear(x: &mut Vec<u8>) {
    x.drain_range(0..);
}

With optimization enabled, those methods will produce code that runs as fast as the current versions. (They should not be implemented this way.)

In particular, this method allows the user to remove a slice from a vector in O(Vec::len) instead of O(Slice::len * Vec::len).

Detailed design

Remove Vec::drain and add the following method:

/// Creates a draining iterator that clears the specified range in the Vec and
/// iterates over the removed items from start to end.
///
/// # Panics
///
/// Panics if the range is decreasing or if the upper bound is larger than the
/// length of the vector.
pub fn drain<T: Trait>(&mut self, range: T) -> /* ... */;

Where Trait is some trait that is implemented for at least Range<usize>, RangeTo<usize>, RangeFrom<usize>, FullRange, and usize.

The precise nature of the return value is to be determined during implementation and may or may not depend on T.

Add String::drain:

/// Creates a draining iterator that clears the specified range in the String
/// and iterates over the characters contained in the range.
///
/// # Panics
///
/// Panics if the range is decreasing, if the upper bound is larger than the
/// length of the String, or if the start and the end of the range don't lie on
/// character boundaries.
pub fn drain<T: Trait>(&mut self, range: T) -> /* ... */;

Where Trait and the return value are as above but need not be the same.

Drawbacks

  • The function signature differs from other collections.
  • It's not clear from the signature that .. can be used to get the old behavior.
  • The trait documentation will link to the std::ops module. It's not immediately apparent how the types in there are related to the N..M syntax.
  • Some of these problems can be mitigated by solid documentation of the function itself.
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