Friend types are slow … really?

If you followed the post about friend types or the discussion about that topic on the haXe mailing list started by Michael Baczynski, you may believe that friend types can be slow. This is true (we are talking about targeting flash 9 here) if you use a temporary variable to “cast” the friend instance, but there is a workaround for that.

So suppose you have this class:

class Test
  var value : Int; // this is the private field we want to expose as friend
  public function new() {
    value = 1;

The friend type is:

typedef TestFriend = {
  private var value : Int;

So what are your options?

The simple one:

var test = new Test();
var friend : TestFriend = test;
var v = friend.value;

This is not fast because test needs to be converted to a dynamic type to be used like that. Here is the alternative, first create an utility method as such:

class TestUtil {
  public static inline function getValue(t : TestFriend) {
    return t.value;

Then use it:

var test = new Test();
var v = TestUtil.getValue(test);

Does it perform better? A lot (even faster that untyped). Is it type safe? Sure … no need for untyped.

Using “using” makes it even nicer:

using TestUtil;
// ...
var test = new Test();
var v = test.getValue();

About perfomances, I’ve made a test on 2.000.000 iterations (average on 5 cycles) and here are the results:

  • using a temp var (reassigned on each iteration): reference time (454.0 ms)
  • using a temp var (assigned once): 14% faster (397.8 ms)
  • untyped46% faster (310.6 ms)
  • using the static getValue() function: 50% faster (301.8 ms)


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