[Mono-devel-list] overriding return type

Thong (Tum) Nguyen tum at veridicus.com
Sat Jul 26 19:25:55 EDT 2003

The feature you're talking about is called covariant return types and it
is a great OO feature that has been left out of both Java and C#.  It
has been a java RFE for yonks.



> -----Original Message-----
> From: mono-devel-list-admin at lists.ximian.com [mailto:mono-devel-list-
> admin at lists.ximian.com] On Behalf Of Alan Jenkins
> Sent: Sunday, 27 July 2003 3:07 a.m.
> To: Mono-devel-list at lists.ximian.com
> Subject: [Mono-devel-list] overriding return type
> I totally agree that neither of us are OO experts, and I'd like to add
> I've not exactly been an expert communicator either.  Thanks for
taking the
> time to disagree with me, especially as you've done all the code in
> head.
> 5,000 .cs files, you say! Thats a lot of code.  I didn't mean to imply
> the class library would be written or compiled using this feature -
> implementing a compatable clone of a class library must be hard enough
> without having to use a slightly different language to the original.
> might strike off in its own direction at some point, but diverging
from MS
> .NET is not a good idea at the moment.  Leave that for later, when
Mono has
> become the standard implementation of .NET (smile, but don't laugh -
look at
> GNU/Linux and Unix).  Thats why I didn't say "please consider adding
> feature in the next version" - I am interested in it mainly for
> reasons, and it could well break the ECMA standard.
> I accept that any idea like this is potentially dangerous, and must be
> examined carefully - but thats one of the reasons why it would be an
> extremely good idea to make it an optional feature.  I don't think
there are
> (bad) implications which would only become obvious with multiple
> and the additional complexity caused by extra derivative classes would
> become execessive.
> I agree that there must be a reason why this feature is not present in
the C#
> (and Java) compiler, even though CIL does support it.  I've done some
> serching on the web, and I think C++ will let you do this, but thats
> saying much (what doesn't C++ let you do?):
> //test.cpp - compiles sucessfully on my computer.
> int main() {	}
> class Example1 {
> 	virtual Example1 *Method() {
> 		return new Example1();
> 	}
> };
> class B : public A {
> 	virtual Example2 *Method() {
> 		return new Example2();
> 	}
> };
> //test.cpp ends
> ---
> Could you please clarify some of your comments?
> >> // This works because IList2 implements IList
> >> IList list = GetList.NewList();
> don't you mean "because IList3 implements IList"?
> >> // This causes a casting error because our list is an IList3
> >> // and its Iterator() method returns an IIterator3 object. The
> >> // correct thing is for Iterator to return an IIterator object, and
> >> // check to see if it can be upcast to IIterator2
> >> IIterator2 iterator2 = list.Iterator();
> Did you mean a runtime or a compile time error?  I assume you mean a
> error, from the way you put it, and from your other comments.
> I would have thought you would get a compile time error, because what
you are
> doing is implicitly upcasting IIterator to IIterator2.
> I think I understand the detail of your example, but not the reason
for coding
> it this way.
> Your last line implicitly assumes that the return value of
GetList.New() is an
> IList2 - thats why it fails.  Surely its better to express this
> explicitly:
> //results in compile time cast error: implicit upcast
> IList2 list = GetList.NewList();
> //results in runtime error: explicit upcast failure
> IList2 list = (IList2) GetList.NewList();
> Neither do I understand why GetList.NewList() has a return type of
IList, when
> it always returns an object of type IList3.  I would have thought that
> would have made more sense to give it a return type of IList3, so that
it was
> both obvious and certain that it would return an IList3 object.
> GetList.NewList() doesn't return a suitable list for the operations
> on it - NewList(), and/or the code using it is flawed.  You assert
that the
> correct fix is to change the return type of IList2.Iterator() and
> IList3.Iterator() to IIterator, and for calling code to upcast the
> Essentially, you remove the strict obligation on implementors of
> IList2.Iterator() and IList3.Iterator() to return an appropriate
> and presumably make the obligation known through comments or
> Surely this is more error prone, not less, just as the requirement in
Java to
> explicity define the exceptions thrown by specific methods eases
> (esp. debugging).
> The assumptions made by the calling code are expressed (as far as I
can see)
> in such a way as to cause a compile time error.  I understand that if
> assumptions caused runtime errors they could be difficult to fix, but
I think
> it would be fairly easy to avoid them altogether.  I would have
thought that
> your solution is more likely to result in runtime errors (when
> upcasting the return value of a method), whereas if you can override
> types, you are more likely to catch the errors at compile time
> upcasts).
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