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Summary

Make all collections impl<'a, T: Copy> Extend<&'a T>.

This enables both vec.extend(&[1, 2, 3]), and vec.extend(&hash_set_of_ints). This partially covers the usecase of the awkward Vec::push_all with literally no ergonomic loss, while leveraging established APIs.

Motivation

Vec::push_all is kinda random and specific. Partially motivated by performance concerns, but largely just "nice" to not have to do something like vec.extend([1, 2, 3].iter().cloned()). The performance argument falls flat (we must make iterators fast, and trusted_len should get us there). The ergonomics argument is salient, though. Working with Plain Old Data types in Rust is super annoying because generic APIs and semantics are tailored for non-Copy types.

Even with Extend upgraded to take IntoIterator, that won't work with &[Copy], because a slice can't be moved out of. Collections would have to take IntoIterator<&T>, and copy out of the reference. So, do exactly that.

As a bonus, this is more expressive than push_all, because you can feed in any collection by-reference to clone the data out of it, not just slices.

Detailed design

  • For sequences and sets: impl<'a, T: Copy> Extend<&'a T>
  • For maps: impl<'a, K: Copy, V: Copy> Extend<(&'a K, &'a V)>

e.g.

use std::iter::IntoIterator;

impl<'a, T: Copy> Extend<&'a T> for Vec<T> {
    fn extend<I: IntoIterator<Item=&'a T>>(&mut self, iter: I) {
        self.extend(iter.into_iter().cloned())
    }
}


fn main() {
    let mut foo = vec![1];
    foo.extend(&[1, 2, 3, 4]);
    let bar = vec![1, 2, 3];
    foo.extend(&bar);
    foo.extend(bar.iter());

    println!("{:?}", foo);
}

Drawbacks

  • Mo' generics, mo' magic. How you gonna discover it?

  • This creates a potentially confusing behaviour in a generic context.

Consider the following code:

fn feed<'a, X: Extend<&'a T>>(&'a self, buf: &mut X) {
    buf.extend(self.data.iter());
}

One would reasonably expect X to contain &T's, but with this proposal it is possible that X now instead contains T's. It's not clear that in "real" code that this would ever be a problem, though. It may lead to novices accidentally by-passing ownership through implicit copies.

It also may make inference fail in some other cases, as Extend would not always be sufficient to determine the type of a vec![].

  • This design does not fully replace the push_all, as it takes T: Clone.

Alternatives

The Cloneian Candidate

This proposal is artifically restricting itself to Copy rather than full Clone as a concession to the general Rustic philosophy of Clones being explicit. Since this proposal is largely motivated by simple shuffling of primitives, this is sufficient. Also, because Copy: Clone, it would be backwards compatible to upgrade to Clone in the future if demand is high enough.

The New Method

It is theoretically plausible to add a new defaulted method to Extend called extend_cloned that provides this functionality. This removes any concern of accidental clones and makes inference totally work. However this design cannot simultaneously support Sequences and Maps, as the signature for sequences would mean Maps can only Copy through &(K, V), rather than (&K, &V). This would make it impossible to copy-chain Maps through Extend.

Why not FromIterator?

FromIterator could also be extended in the same manner, but this is less useful for two reasons:

  • FromIterator is always called by calling collect, and IntoIterator doesn't really "work" right in self position.
  • Introduces ambiguities in some cases. What is let foo: Vec<_> = [1, 2, 3].iter().collect()?

Of course, context might disambiguate in many cases, and let foo: Vec<i32> = [1, 2, 3].iter().collect() might still be nicer than let foo: Vec<_> = [1, 2, 3].iter().cloned().collect().

Unresolved questions

None.

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