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[CLJ-1446] (def v) with no init supplied destroys #'v metadata Created: 13/Jun/14  Updated: 09/Jan/18

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

Type: Enhancement Priority: Minor
Reporter: Nahuel Greco Assignee: Unassigned
Resolution: Unresolved Votes: 0
Labels: None

Approval: Triaged


(def a) destroys #'a metadata, check this:

(def ^:mykey a 1)

(meta #'a)              ;; ok, :mykey is present

(let [v (def a)]
   [(meta v)            ;; NO :mykey present, metadata destroyed
    (identical? v #'a)  ;; true, we are talking of the same var

(meta #'a)              ;; NO :mykey present

If this is not a bug but a "feature", then we have at least two problems:

1- The def special form documentation doesn't state this behaviour at all, it needs to be clarified. With the current documentation it seems as doing a def with no init supplied will not make any side-effect at all, and this is not true for the var metadata.

2- defmulti uses this form to lookup the var and check if it already binds to a MultiFn, if that is the case then defmulti does nothing... but it really does something, defmulti will destroy the original var metadata in the (supposedly non-destructive) check. This is the involved defmulti fragment:

(let [v# (def ~mm-name)]
  (when-not (and (.hasRoot v#) (instance? clojure.lang.MultiFn (deref v#)))

Comment by Alex Miller [ 13/Jun/14 4:14 PM ]

I think this is mostly a dupe of CLJ-1148 but I'll leave it as it states the specific problem more precisely.

Comment by Nahuel Greco [ 13/Jun/14 7:35 PM ]

Alex Miller: It seems CLJ-1148 is an special case where this problem shows, but the patches in CLJ-1148 only fixes the issues for defonce, not generally for def, not for defmulti and not clarifies this behaviour in the def special form documentation.

Comment by Stuart Halloway [ 31/Jul/15 2:49 PM ]

I am pretty sure we have been here before, and decided that def is working as desired. (If anybody can find the thread/ticket please add a link.) I think this should be a doc enhancement.

If the behavior of defmethod is a separate bug, please make a separate ticket for that, showing an example problem.

Comment by Andy Fingerhut [ 31/Jul/15 3:00 PM ]

CLJ-1213 might be related, but it doesn't mention metadata, only (def foo) without init value given.

Comment by Sean Corfield [ 09/Jan/18 7:33 PM ]

If Stuart is right that this is considered the correct behavior for def then defonce should not use (def ~name) – per CLJ-1148. Could we get a decision once and for all and then reject this issue if the behavior is as designed? Or do we want a patch to update the docstring to make the metadata issue clear?

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