In my new language, Wat, I've found a satisfying solution, inspired by Kernel's encapsulation types, but going beyond them slightly. There are two procedures:
- (make-type) returns a list of three elements: 1) a first-class type 2) a tagger function for tagging a value with that type, creating a tagged object and 3) an untagger function for extracting the value of tagged objects of that type.
- (type-of obj) returns the first-class type of an object. The crucial point is that type-of not only works for tagged objects of user-defined types created by make-type, but also for all built-in types. E.g. (type-of 12) will return the number first-class type.
This system has the benefits of Kernel's encapsulated types: only someone with access to the tagger function (capability) may create new instances of a type. Only someone with access to the untagger function may access the contents of tagged objects. So object contents are potentially fully encapsulated.
But at the same time, the fact that every object, including built-in ones, has a first-class type makes it possible to efficiently program generically. E.g. one may create Smalltalk-like dynamic dispatch by using the first-class types of objects as indexes into a virtual lookup table of a generic function. This is not possible in either Scheme or Kernel. In both languages, programming generically requires one to use a cascade of type predicates (e.g. number?).
Example in Wat:
Example in Wat:
; destructuringly bind the three elements ; returned by make-type (def (person-type person-tagger person-untagger) (make-type)) (define (make-person name email) (person-tagger (list name email))) ; untagger also performs a type check that ; person is in fact of type person (define (get-name person) (car (person-untagger person))) (define (get-email person) (cadr (person-untagger person))) (define p1 (make-person "Quux" "email@example.com")) (get-name p1) --> "Quux" (get-email p1) --> "firstname.lastname@example.org"