[erlang-questions] Dialyzer type specifications for macros with bitstrings makes erlc barf

Sachin Panemangalore spanemangalore@REDACTED
Fri Mar 18 19:22:43 CET 2016

Thanks a lot Craig
Amazing , detailed information . However I do feel there is an
inconsistency in the behavior of erlang compiler vs dialyzer.
1. Although a type-spec doesn't allow you to specify a  "set" of objects,
it lets us specify a set of integers e.g 0..12  etc.
2. You can specify definitions as bitstring() or string()  instead of a set
of values, but dialyzer complains that the return type
     is a super-type of the set of values being returned .

Erlang has a powerful pattern matcher, hence potentially we can afford to
return sets of arbitrary unique objects from functions ,
hence we do need the ability to specify a unique set of any data-type , e.g
strings, bitstrings, tuples .
just my opinion, thanks again for the help!.

On Thu, Mar 17, 2016 at 10:52 PM, zxq9 <zxq9@REDACTED> wrote:

> On 2016年3月17日 木曜日 21:53:06 Sachin Panemangalore wrote:
> > 1. The following compiles fine in Erlang.
> >
> > -define(MY_INT_MACRO1, 1).
> > -define(MY_INT_MACRO2, 2).
> > -type my_type() :: ?MY_INT_MACRO1 |  ?MY_INT_MACRO2 .
> >
> >
> > 2. The following doesn't
> >
> > -define(MY_BITSTRING_MACRO1, <<"01">>).
> > -define(MY_BITSTRING_MACRO2, <<"02">>).
> > -type my_type() :: ?MY_BITSTRING_MACRO1 |  ?MY_BITSTRING_ MACRO2 .
> >
> > Why ? and is there a way to make this work ?
> (Changed the names above to say what I think you meant.)
> Type declarations have a few limitations with regard to defining what is
> inside. You can declare the size of a binary, but not what it contains,
> hence these sort of type definitions:
> https://github.com/zxq9/zuuid/blob/master/src/zuuid.erl#L47-L56
> In the same way, you can declare a dictionary or map's k/v types:
> -type my_dict() :: dict:dict(atom(), integer()).
> -type my_map()  :: maps:map(atom(), string()).
> You'll never be able to provide a complete, fixed shape of a dict or
> map, though, because that would actually be a schema, and that's what
> using tuple or records as types already does. This only turns out to
> be the same limitation as we have defining lists of things:
> -type my_tuple_list() :: [{atom(), some_type()}].
> This is why the following is not legal:
> -type some_phrase() :: "I am a string literal.".
> Actually, I think you can't even declare a list of some specific length,
> which leaves binary type definitions slightly more rigorous than lists. But
> if you *knew* the length of a list why wouldn't you be using a tuple?
> It would be pretty convenient to be able to define types based on binary
> literals, since their use case differs from binaries. But on the other
> hand,
> if you want binary strings defined this way you usually actually want atoms
> that you can derive from some external binary data you receive -- and atoms
> are (usually) an excellent way to clean up your type defs in
> self-documenting ways.
> -Craig
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