if statement – How is Swift IF LET evaluated?

if statement – How is Swift IF LET evaluated?

Essentially the line is saying, if you can let the new variable name equal the non-optional version of optionalName, do the following with it. As Martin pointed out, this is called Optional Binding.

The sole purpose of it is to test if an optional variable contains an actual value and bind the non-optional form to a temporary variable. This is the safe way to unwrap an optional or in other words, access the value contained in the optional. It is in no way testing for equality of any kind. It is only testing for the existence of a value within an optional.

An optional is either set or not-set (not nil or nil)…leaving us with an important decision. How should we write our code so that it can work correctly for 2 both states?. The way we unwrap the optional is what decides that for us.

There are several approaches that you can use to counter a not-set optional.

  • Crash!
  • Default the value to something — if it was not-set.
  • Gracefully fail ie do nothing, but also if the value was set, then assign it.
  • Gracefully fail ie do nothing, however if the value was set…do something (its just more than a single assignment).

Below are the 4 approaches

Using forced unwrapping will crash if you dont have a value. You would want to do this if having that value is of vital importance e.g. the title of a movie (every movie MUST have a name) . ! is used for forced unwrapping.

movieTitle = movie.title!

Using nil coalescing is another way that will give you more control, meaning it wont crash if the value isnt set, nor it would not set it nothing if its not set…it would do what you tell it to do e.g. it would default/set the name of movie to untitled_movie if there was no name set. ?? is used for nil coalescing.

var movieTitle = movie.title ?? untitled_Movie

Using optional Chaining will do nothing if you dont have a value, and will set the value if you have a value. You do this for something that having its value set is not of vital importance e.g. for the name of your actors agent.? is used for optional chaining.

let agent = movie.leadActor?.agent //would not crash if you dont have a lead actor (optional chaining)
let agent = movie.leadActor!.agent //would crash if you dont have a lead Actor (forced wrapping)  

Using if-let ( or guard which are two different types of optional binding) will give you more control, it wont crash if the value isnt set. If the value is set, then you can do something. If its not set then you can add an else statement.

if let supportingActor = movie.supportingActor{
print( The supporting actor is (supportingActor)}

This is the most commonly used way of unwrapping, as forced unwrapping is somewhat discouraged. For more discussion on why it is discouraged see here. For a good comparison between guard and if-let see guard vs. if-let

Side note:

Optional binding and optional chaining are commonly used together:

if let agent = movie.leadActor?.agent {
ContactInfo = agent.phoneNumber
} // if-let is the optional *binding* part, the movie dot leadActor dot is the optional *chaining*

if statement – How is Swift IF LET evaluated?

The if syntax accept 2 different conditions. The second, an optional binding, is not a boolean. This is confusing, as you can write:

if let name = optionalName {

but not

if (let name = optionalName) {

Apple documentation (Swift reference):

The value of the condition must be of type Bool or a type bridged
to Bool. The condition can also be an optional binding declaration,
as discussed in Optional

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