[% setvar title my() syntax extensions and attribute declarations %]

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my() syntax extensions and attribute declarations


  Maintainer: Nathan Wiger <nate@wiger.org>
  Date: 24 Sep 2000
  Last Modified: 30 Sep 2000
  Mailing List: perl6-language@perl.org
  Number: 279
  Version: 2
  Status: Frozen


This RFC fleshes out variable declarations with my, and also proposes a way to assign attributes without the need for a my anywhere. Much of this stuff has been hinted at, so this is just a formalization.

Please note this entire document is optional, intended for those that need this type of control. Perl is not a B&D language (by default, at least :).


Camel-3 shows some interesting hints of what's been proposed for my declarations:

   my type $var :attr1 :attr2 = $value;

And we all know that you can use my to declare a group of variables:

   my($x, $y, $z);

Here's the issues:

   1. How do the two jive together?
   2. Should it be possible to assign attributes to individual elements
      of hashes/arrays? (yes)

Cohesive my syntax

This RFC proposes that you be able to group multiple variables of the same type within parens:

   my int ($x, $y, $z);
   my int ($x :64bit, $y :32bit, $z);

It seems most logical that:

   1. The type will be the same across variables; this is common
      usage in other languages because it makes sense.

   2. The attributes will be different for different variables.

As such, multiple attributes can be assigned and grouped flexibly:

   my int ($x, $y, $z) :64bit;           # all are 64-bit
   my int ($x, $y, $z :unsigned) :64bit; # plus $z is unsigned

Note that multiple types cannot be specified on the same line. To declare variables of multiple types, you must use separate statements:

   my int ($x, $y, $z) :64bit;
   my string ($firstname, $lastname :long);

This is consistent with other languages and also makes parsing realistic.

Assigning attributes to individual elements of hashes/arrays

This is potentially very useful. ":laccess", ":raccess", ":public", ":private", and others spring to mind as potential candidates for this. This RFC proposes that in addition to attributes being assigned to a whole entity on declaration:

   my int @a :64bit;       # makes each element a 64-bit int
   my string %h :long;     # each key/val is long string

They can also be declared on individual elements, without the need for my or our:

   $a[0] :32bit = get_val;           # 32-bit
   $r->{name} :private = "Nate";     # privatize single value
   $s->{VAL} :laccess('data') = "";  # lvalue autoaccessor

Assigning attributes to individual elements has the advantage over keywords of allowing them to be grouped:

   $self->{name} :public :roaccess('getname') = "Nathan Wiger";

However, a problem arises in how to assign types to singular elements, since this requires a my:

   my int $a[0] :64bit;     # just makes that single element
                            # a lexically-scoped 64-bit int?

   my string $h{name} = ""; # cast $h{name} to string, rescope %h?

Currently, lexical scope has no meaning for individual elements of hashes and arrays. However, assigning attributes and even types to individual elements seems useful. There's two ways around this that I see:

   1. On my'ing of an individual hash/array element, the
      entire hash/array is rescoped to the nearest block.

   2. Only the individual element is rescoped, similar
      to what happens when you do this:

          my $x = 5;
             my $x = 10;

Either of these solutions is acceptable, and they both have their pluses and minuses. The second one seems more consistent, but is potentially extremely difficult to implement.


Hold on.


None. This introduces a more flexible syntax but does not break old ones.


RFC 337: Common attribute system to allow user-defined, extensible attributes

RFC 319: Transparently integrate tie

Camel for the my syntax.

attributes man page for details on attributes.