Slices of Interfaces as Variadic Arguments

I’ve been playing around with my toy project, which involves building a collection of interfaces and quickly ran into the problem that a pretty normal-seeming use-case doesn’t work:

func NewCollection(list []Interface) { ... }

// later in another function
list := []ImplementsInterface{...}
c := NewCollection(list)

In other words, a slice of ImplementsInterface, being an unnamed composite type, isn’t the same type as a slice of Interface, a different unnamed composite type.

Fine, it made sense, so I naively set about manually allocating a new slice of Interface in the calling code, which worked but got ugly fast, like this:

list := []ImplementsInterface{ ... }
newlist := make([]Interface, len(list))

for i, l := range list {
    newlist[i] = Interface(l)

Finally, after returning to code riddled with this type of stuff after a while, muttering curses and decided that there had to be a better way, I found out that changing the original argument to call not a slice, but a variadic argument, everything works the way it should:

func NewCollection(list ...Interface) { ... }

// later in another function
list := []ImplementsInterface{...}
c := NewCollection(list)

This is fantastic realization and changing function parameters to match this style should reduce boilerplate elsewhere, but I’m curious about a few things. From the language spec:

If f is variadic with a final parameter p of type …T, then within f the type of p is equivalent to type []T.

Apparently …T is equivalent to []T except that it allows for passing in implementers of T as detailed above, so my two big questions are:

  1. Is there any trap, side effect, or reason not to use variadics in this fashion?
  2. If …T is equivalent to []T, why can …T handle interface implementations appropriately, but []T cannot? I don’t excessively mind using …T in these case assuming the answer to (1) is “No.”, but I don’t understand the logic for the compiler not “figuring things out” in the case of []T just as simply as …T.

Finally, I this topic got away from me on length, but here’s a playground link with this behavior shown.

It’s a bit tricky, if you write a function

func f(v ...string)

Then the function will accept ANY parameter, including interface{}, and []interface{}. That is you can pass a slice, and it will be interpreted as a single parameter

var x []string
f(x) // x will be passed as v[0]

However, you want to unpack x into f, use the ... form.



Yikes, I should have known better than to use interface{} there. Still, I was sure I had this working previously. Argh.

Well, the broader question remains, what is the best way to handle passing slices of interface values around?

Do you mean slices of interface{} ?

When you are creating arrays you can make them the type of your interface instead of the implementer. I modified your playgroud take a look if this is what you were trying to accomplish.

What you are asking for is called covariance and it is not implemented in Go.

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