Summary

Add back the functionality of Vec::from_elem by improving the vec![x; n] sugar to work with Clone x and runtime n.

Motivation

High demand, mostly. There are currently a few ways to achieve the behaviour of Vec::from_elem(elem, n):

// #1
let vec = Vec::new();
for i in range(0, n) {
    vec.push(elem.clone())
}
// #2
let vec = vec![elem; n]
// #3
let vec = Vec::new();
vec.resize(elem, n);
// #4
let vec: Vec<_> = (0..n).map(|_| elem.clone()).collect()
// #5
let vec: Vec<_> = iter::repeat(elem).take(n).collect();

None of these quite match the convenience, power, and performance of:

let vec = Vec::from_elem(elem, n)
  • #1 is verbose and slow, because each push requires a capacity check.
  • #2 only works for a Copy elem and const n.
  • #3 needs a temporary, but should be otherwise identical performance-wise.
  • #4 and #5 are considered verbose and noisy. They also need to clone one more time than other methods strictly need to.

However the issues for #2 are entirely artifical. It's simply a side-effect of forwarding the impl to the identical array syntax. We can just make the code in the vec! macro better. This naturally extends the compile-timey [x; n] array sugar to the more runtimey semantics of Vec, without introducing "another way to do it".

vec![100; 10] is also slightly less ambiguous than from_elem(100, 10), because the [T; n] syntax is part of the language that developers should be familiar with, while from_elem is just a function with arbitrary argument order.

vec![x; n] is also known to be 47% more sick-rad than from_elem, which was of course deprecated to due its lack of sick-radness.

Detailed design

Upgrade the current vec! macro to have the following definition:


# #![allow(unused_variables)]
#fn main() {
macro_rules! vec {
    ($x:expr; $y:expr) => (
        unsafe {
            use std::ptr;
            use std::clone::Clone;

            let elem = $x;
            let n: usize = $y;
            let mut v = Vec::with_capacity(n);
            let mut ptr = v.as_mut_ptr();
            for i in range(1, n) {
                ptr::write(ptr, Clone::clone(&elem));
                ptr = ptr.offset(1);
                v.set_len(i);
            }

            // No needless clones
            if n > 0 {
                ptr::write(ptr, elem);
                v.set_len(n);
            }

            v
        }
    );
    ($($x:expr),*) => (
        <[_] as std::slice::SliceExt>::into_vec(
            std::boxed::Box::new([$($x),*]))
    );
    ($($x:expr,)*) => (vec![$($x),*])
}
#}

(note: only the [x; n] branch is changed)

Which allows all of the following to work:

fn main() {
    println!("{:?}", vec![1; 10]);
    println!("{:?}", vec![Box::new(1); 10]);
    let n = 10;
    println!("{:?}", vec![1; n]);
}

Drawbacks

Less discoverable than from_elem. All the problems that macros have relative to static methods.

Alternatives

Just un-delete from_elem as it was.

Unresolved questions

No.