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First question here on CodeReview. I was directed here from a question I asked on SO: Swift protocol with lazy property - Cannot use mutating getter on immutable value: '$0' is immutable.

Goal: Create a protocol that allows lazy computation of a property for structs that conform to the protocol. The computation is intensive and should only be executed once, hence the lazy requirement.

So, after lots of reading (eg Swift Struct with Lazy, private property conforming to Protocol, where I based this code on) and trial and error, I came up with something that works:

import Foundation

protocol Foo {
    var footype: Double { mutating get }

    func calculateFoo() -> Double
}

struct Bar: Foo {
    private lazy var _footype: Double = {
        let value = calculateFoo()

        return value
    }()

    var footype: Double {
        mutating get {
            return _footype
        }
    }

    func calculateFoo() -> Double {
        print("calc")
        return 3.453
    }
}

Testing this in a Playground:

var bar = Bar()
print(bar.footype)
print(bar.footype)

And the output is:

calc
3.453
3.453

So it is working. But it feels like a hack using _footype

Also in the comments, it was suggested that

However, I would not put calculateFoo in the protocol because it sounds like an implementation detail.

Appreciate any comments and/or improvements.

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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to Code Review! \$\endgroup\$
    – Martin R
    Commented Oct 13, 2019 at 17:19

1 Answer 1

2
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You don't need the additional _footype variable and a computer “wrapper” property. The protocol requirement can be satisfied with a lazy stored property:

struct Bar: Foo {
    lazy var footype = calculateFoo()

    func calculateFoo() -> Double {
        print("calc")
        return 3.453
    }
}

Now footype is read-only for instances of type Foo

var foo: Foo = Bar()
print(foo.footype)
foo.footype = 12.3 // Error: Cannot assign to property: 'footype' is a get-only property

but as a property of Bar it is read-write:

var bar = Bar()
print(bar.footype)
bar.footype = 12.3 // OK

If assigning to the footype property should be inhibited then you can mark it with a private(set) access modifier:

struct Bar: Foo {
    private(set) lazy var footype = calculateFoo()

    func calculateFoo() -> Double {
        print("calc")
        return 3.453
    }
}

var bar = Bar()
print(bar.footype)
bar.footype = 12.3 // Cannot assign to property: 'footype' setter is inaccessible

With respect to

However, I would not put calculateFoo in the protocol because it sounds like an implementation detail.

Yes, in your current code it is an implementation detail of the Bar class. The only use would be that a caller can “enforce” the evaluation:

var foo: Foo = Bar()
foo.calculateFoo()

The situation would be different if there were a way to provide a default implementation in an extension method:

protocol Foo {
    var footype: Double { mutating get }

    func calculateFoo() -> Double
}

extension Foo {
    var footype: Double {
        // Call calculateFoo() on first call only ...
    }
}

so that conforming to the protocol is sufficient, i.e. Bar only has to implement the calculateFoo() method, but not the footype property.

But I am not aware of a way to do this lazily so that the function is called only once. The reason is that extensions cannot add stored properties to a type.

For subclasses of NSObject you can come around this problem with “associated objects,” but not for structs.

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6
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, footype is calculated only, never set. So, just to be sure, to be able to use the lazy property, I need to use mutating in var footype: Double { mutating get } in the protocol? \$\endgroup\$
    – koen
    Commented Oct 13, 2019 at 17:09
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Koen: Yes (unless you make Foo a “class-only” protocol: protocol Foo: class {...} and Bar a class instead of a struct). \$\endgroup\$
    – Martin R
    Commented Oct 13, 2019 at 17:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ yes, it has to be a struct, due to other parts of my code. \$\endgroup\$
    – koen
    Commented Oct 13, 2019 at 17:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ And the implementation of calculateFoo() is different for the various structs that conform to Foo, so they must all implement it for their specific case. \$\endgroup\$
    – koen
    Commented Oct 13, 2019 at 17:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is no need to wrap calculateFoo() call into closure. You can write lazy var footype: Double = calculateFoo(), and it will work as expected, calculateFoo will be called just once, and only when the variable is accessed for the first time. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 0:48

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