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Generic-methods from multiple modules should merge

From: Alan Grover
Subject: Generic-methods from multiple modules should merge
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2006 14:36:19 -0500
User-agent: Mozilla Thunderbird 1.0.6 (X11/20050716)

I have 2 goops classes, each in their own module, which happen to have a
slot called 'request (with an accessor). Unfortunately, "use-modules"
ends up importing the generic-method from only one of the modules (the
last, lexically). Thus, I can't call (request first-class).


    (use-modules (awg first-class))
    (use-modules (awg second-class))

    (request some-object-of-first-class)
    => No applicable method .... [on first-class]
    ; and, if you introspected on the generic-method 'request,
    ; you'd only see one method/procedure.

This seems documented in the manual under "Module System Quirks:"
    When two or more used modules export bindings with the same
    names, the last accessed module wins.

If the generic-method/accessor were part of a logical interface, then a
super-class could declare it, and my 2 (sub-) classes would add their
methods to the generic-method, and everything would be fine.

However, the two classes don't share an interface, they just happen to
have the same slot-name (admittedly with the same object in it). It
doesn't strike me as right to use a super-class such as
"request-accessor-class" with just that slot/accessor. Imagine doing
this for each case: 'color, 'phone-number, 'etc.

And renaming seems wrong, not to mention tedious. I'd have to remember
which class's accessor had been renamed (or not).

I think the right thing is to have the module system "merge" the generic
methods. Thus, when importing a module, if the module's symbol is bound
to a generic-method, and if the symbol is already bound to a
generic-method (in the "using" module), add the methods to the existing
generic-method. Then, all of the methods are visible under the generic name.

Actually, instead of merging into the existing generic-method, a new
generic-method should be created in the "using" module, and the two
"used" ones merged in to that. I believe this preserves the expectations
of lexical scope better.

On the other hand, I believe a similar existing situation behaves
differently: Importing a generic-function, and then "adding" a method to
it does modify the generic-function as seen by the "used" module.

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