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[CLJ-1232] Functions with non-qualified return type hints force import of hinted classes when called from other namespace Created: 18/Jul/13  Updated: 02/Oct/14

Status: Open
Project: Clojure
Component/s: None
Affects Version/s: Release 1.5, Release 1.6, Release 1.7
Fix Version/s: None

Type: Defect Priority: Major
Reporter: Tassilo Horn Assignee: Unassigned
Resolution: Unresolved Votes: 6
Labels: compiler, typehints

Attachments: Text File 0001-auto-qualify-arglists-class-names.patch     Text File 0001-throw-on-non-qualified-class-names-that-are-not-auto.patch    
Patch: Code
Approval: Triaged


You can add a type hint to function arglists to indicate the return type of a function like so.

user> (import '(java.util List))
user> (defn linkedlist ^List [] (java.util.LinkedList.))
user> (.size (linkedlist))

The problem is that now when I call `linkedlist` exactly as above from another namespace, I'll get an exception because java.util.List is not imported in there.

user> (in-ns 'user2)
#<Namespace user2>
user2> (refer 'user)
user2> (.size (linkedlist))
CompilerException java.lang.IllegalArgumentException: Unable to resolve classname: List, compiling:(NO_SOURCE_PATH:1:1)
user2> (import '(java.util List)) ;; Too bad, need to import List here, too.
user2> (.size (linkedlist))

There are two workarounds: You can import the hinted type also in the calling namespace, or you always use fully qualified class names for return type hints. Clearly, the latter is preferable.

But clearly, that's a bug that should be fixed. It's not in analogy to type hints on function parameters which may be simple-named without having any consequences for callers from other namespaces.

Comment by Andy Fingerhut [ 16/Apr/14 3:47 PM ]

To make sure I understand, Nicola, in this ticket you are asking that the Clojure compiler change behavior so that the sample code works correctly with no exceptions, the same way as it would work correctly without exceptions if one of the workarounds were used?

Comment by Tassilo Horn [ 17/Apr/14 12:18 AM ]

Hi Andy. Tassilo here, not Nicola. But yes, the example should work as-is. When I'm allowed to use type hints with simple imported class names for arguments, then doing so for return values should work, too.

Comment by Rich Hickey [ 10/Jun/14 10:41 AM ]

Type hints on function params are only consumed by the function definition, i.e. in the same module as the import/alias. Type hints on returns are just metadata, they don't get 'compiled' and if the metadata is not useful to consumers in other namespaces, it's not a useful hint. So, if it's not a type in the auto-imported set (java.lang), it should be fully qualified.

Comment by Alex Miller [ 10/Jun/14 11:55 AM ]

Based on Rich's comment, this ticket should probably morph into an enhancement request on documentation, probably on http://clojure.org/java_interop#Java Interop-Type Hints.

Comment by Andy Fingerhut [ 10/Jun/14 3:13 PM ]

I would suggest something like the following for a documentation change, after this part of the text on the page Alex links in the previous comment:

For function return values, the type hint can be placed before the arguments vector:

(defn hinted
(^String [])
(^Integer [a])
(^java.util.List [a & args]))

-> #user/hinted

If the return value type hint is for a class that is outside of java.lang, which is the part auto-imported by Clojure, then it must be a fully qualified class name, e.g. java.util.List, not List.

Comment by Nicola Mometto [ 10/Jun/14 4:02 PM ]

I don't understand why we should enforce this complexity to the user.
Why can't we just make the Compiler (or even defn itself) update all the arglists tags with properly resolved ones? (that's what I'm doing in tools.analyzer.jvm)

Comment by Alexander Kiel [ 19/Jul/14 10:02 AM ]

I'm with Nicola here. I also think that defn should resolve the type hint according the imports of the namespace defn is used in.

Comment by Max Penet [ 22/Jul/14 7:06 AM ]

Same here, I was bit by this in the past. The current behavior is clearly counterintuitive.

Comment by Nicola Mometto [ 28/Aug/14 12:58 PM ]

Attached two patches implementing two different solutions:

  • 0001-auto-qualify-arglists-class-names.patch makes the compiler automatically qualify all the tags in the :arglists
  • 0001-throw-on-non-qualified-class-names-that-are-not-auto.patch makes the compiler throw an exception for all public defs whose return tag is a symbol representing a non-qualified class that is not in the auto-import list (approach proposed in IRC by Alex Miller)
Comment by Tassilo Horn [ 29/Aug/14 1:49 AM ]

For what it's worth, I'd prefer the first patch because the second doesn't help in situations where the caller lives in a namespace where the called function's return type hinted class is `ns-unmap`-ed. And there a good reasons for doing that. For example, Process is a java.lang class and Process is a pretty generic name. So in some namespace, I want to define my own Process deftype or defrecord. Without unmapping 'Process first to get rid of the java.lang.Process auto-import, I'd get an exception:

user> (deftype Process [])
IllegalStateException Process already refers to: class java.lang.Process in namespace: user  clojure.lang.Namespace.referenceClass (Namespace.java:140)

Now when I call some function from some library that has a `^Process` return type hint (meaning java.lang.Process there), I get the same exception as in my original report.

I can even get into troubles when only using standard Clojure functions because those have `^String` and `^Class` type hints. IMO, Class is also a pretty generic name I should be able to name my custom deftype/defrecord. And I might also want to have a custom String type/record in my astrophysics system.

Comment by Andy Fingerhut [ 30/Sep/14 4:39 PM ]

Not sure whether the root cause of this behavior is the same as the example in the description or not, but seems a little weird that even for fully qualified Java class names hinting the arg vector, it makes a difference whether it is done with defn or def:

Clojure 1.6.0
user=> (set! *warn-on-reflection* true)
user=> (defn f1 ^java.util.LinkedList [coll] (java.util.LinkedList. coll))
user=> (def f2 (fn ^java.util.LinkedList [coll] (java.util.LinkedList. coll)))
user=> (.size (f1 [2 3 4]))
user=> (.size (f2 [2 3 4]))
Reflection warning, NO_SOURCE_PATH:5:1 - reference to field size can't be resolved.
Comment by Alex Miller [ 30/Sep/14 6:21 PM ]

Andy, can you file that as a separate ticket?

Comment by Andy Fingerhut [ 30/Sep/14 9:08 PM ]

Created ticket CLJ-1543 for the issue raised in my comment earlier on 30 Sep 2014.

Comment by Andy Fingerhut [ 01/Oct/14 12:38 PM ]

Tassilo (or anyone), is there a reason to prefer putting the tag on the argument vector in your example? It seems that putting it on the Var name instead avoids this issue:

user=> (clojure-version)
user=> (set! *warn-on-reflection* true)
user=> (import '(java.util List))
user=> (defn ^List linkedlist [] (java.util.LinkedList.))
user=> (.size (linkedlist))
user=> (ns user2)
user2=> (refer 'user)
user2=> (.size (linkedlist))

I suppose that only allows a single type tag, rather than an independent one for each arity.

Comment by Tassilo Horn [ 02/Oct/14 3:16 AM ]

I wasn't aware of the fact that you can put it on the var's name. That's not documented at http://clojure.org/java_interop#Java Interop-Type Hints. But IMHO the documented version with putting the tag on the argument vector is more general since it supports different return type hints for the different arity version. In any case, if both forms are permitted then they should be equivalent in the case the function has only one arity.

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