Finding a "safety syntax" for classes

Herby Vojčík herby at
Wed Mar 21 04:14:11 PDT 2012

David Herman wrote:
> On Mar 20, 2012, at 6:59 PM, Allen Wirfs-Brock wrote:
>> On Mar 20, 2012, at 11:55 AM, David Herman wrote:
>>> My only syntactic quibble: `constructor` is so inconveniently long.
>>> I've argued in the past for `new` as special syntax in class bodies
>>> that indicates a constructor.
>> Well, it /is/ defining the value of the constructor property. New
>> syntax (eg, new) could always be added latter. I don't think we should
>> risk derailing on it now.
> Well, hang on now. The 'constructor' syntax is not "just the constructor
> property." It still carries special status; the semantics of a class
> says "look for the property called 'constructor' and make that the
> [[Call]] and [[Construct]] behavior of the class."
> Regardless of whether we spell it 'constructor' or 'new' it requires
> special semantics that says "there's one distinguished method form in
> the body that determines the constructor of the class." The question is
> how we spell that. This is 99.9% a surface syntax question. Tou could
> argue that spelling it 'new' should define a ["new"] method, or a
> ["new"] method and a ["constructor"] method, or just a ["constructor"]
> method. If the latter, it's semantically *identical* to spelling it
> 'constructor'. But even if we chose one of the other two alternatives,
> the semantic differences here are minor, and the ergonomics of the
> syntax matter.

One possibility is to use this:

class Foo extends Bar {
   @(...) { ... } // constructor
   @x(...) {...} // method with private name x
   die(...) {...} // method with public name

The @() {} syntax embraces the fact that 'it is a special case thing'. 
It in fact mimics as 'a method with private name ""' which could be read 
as 'something inherently special for the class, so that it is stored 
under default private slot' (there is nothing like 'default private 
slot', I know, I'm just showig possible readability of it), that is, its 
constructor (hopefully at least someone understands what I mean).

> Look, it won't be the end of the world if we go with 'constructor'. This
> particular question won't derail classes. But let's not tax the
> ergonomics for what would be either a tiny or even non-existent semantic
> difference.
> ...
> Dave


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