AnyObject

Hi,

I have a doubt regarding AnyObject

Code:

struct S {}

let s1 = S()

//I thought this would throw a compilation error 
//because struct doesn't conform to AnyObject
let a : AnyObject = s1 as AnyObject 

Question

  • Why does the above code compile without errors?
  • Am I missing something?

Based on the documentation:

AnyObject can be used as the concrete type for an instance of any class, class type, or class-only protocol.

Thanks.

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Ugh, this is one of my gripes with Swift. It's an Objective C interop feature, which although useful, is too implicit/mysterious. This implicit boxing behaviour only happens when Foundation is imported, and only on systems with ObjC support (Apple's platforms).

Some Swift types bridge to specific ObjC counterparts, like NSString, NSNumber, NSArray, NSDictionary, etc. All other swift value types (like structs and tuples) are capable of being wrapped in a private ObjC class called _NSSwiftValue, which makes it possible to hand them off to ObjC APIs.

The most confusing thing is that the object has an ill-defined identity (object address) as far as Objective C is concerned, and if your type doesn't conform to Hashable, then the Hash value of the object is also ill-defined, which can lead to all kinds of hard-to-nail-down bugs.

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@AlexanderM Thanks for the explanation.

I was surprised to see that my own type behaving this way (I didn't expect it to be bridged, thanks to your explanation regarding _NSSwiftValue)

Observation:

  • It happens even when Foundation is not imported. Any reason for that?

It happens even when Foundation is not imported. Any reason for that?

struct S {}

let s = S()
let anyObject: AnyObject = s as AnyObject
print(anyObject) // => __SwiftValue

Oh no, it's metastasizing.

No idea why.

2 Likes

On macos gui apps Foundation is imported even if you don't import Foundation

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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That test above is from a raw .swift file, without even importing AppKit or any other such frameworks which indirectly import Foundation

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I just checked, and it even works on linux, which has no objc...

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This is a primary use case for Why isn't static checking for "can be cast" between two generic placeholders possible?

CastError(s1, desired: AnyObject.self)  // .impossible
CastError(s1, undesired: AnyObject.self) // nil

Fortunately, comparisons for is AnyClass work differently than is AnyObject. Doesn't help at compile-time though.

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Thanks a lot @AlexanderM, @cukr and @Jessy

Just my observation, it doesn't tell why it is happening but looks like all free bridging will satisfy is clause

struct S {}
let s1 = S()
print(s1 is AnyObject) //compiler: 'is' test is always true

import Foundation
let str : String = ""
print(str is NSString) //compiler: 'is' test is always true

Question:

So is there a way to be sure only class instances can be passed to a function (Example below)?

func f1(anyObject: AnyObject) {} //Is there any way to restrict the parameter to only class instances?

let a : AnyObject = S() as AnyObject //S is a struct

f1(anyObject: a) //valid

S() as AnyObject is not an S. It's one of these, which is a class: https://github.com/apple/swift/blob/master/stdlib/public/runtime/SwiftValue.h

You can restrict that arguments are objects, but you can't restrict that they are values. The best you have for that is something like my CastError. Which is not good enough! :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

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Thanks a lot @Jessy,

From the header of SwiftValue

This implements the Objective-C class that is used to carry Swift values
that have been bridged to Objective-C objects without special handling.
The class is opaque to user code, but is NSObject- and NSCopying-
conforming and is understood by the Swift runtime for dynamic casting
back to the contained type.

So I suppose the reason to do it is only to pass it to Objective-C. It is like an NSObject with a type erasure (to erase NSObject type)

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