Thursday, September 11, 2008

Generics hurt my head

Here's a little generics problem, in the form of some code:

package generics.question;

// We have a hierarchy of specialized subtypes of feature.
class Feature {

class SpecialFeature extends Feature {

// Features of a given kind are accessed through containers
interface Container<T extends Feature> {
 public Iterable<T> foos();

class SpecialContainer implements Container<SpecialFeature> {
 public Iterable<SpecialFeature> foos() {
  return null;

// We want to draw features in various specialized ways.
interface Renderer<V extends Feature> {
 public void render(Iterable<V> foos);

class SpecialRenderer implements Renderer<SpecialFeature> {
 public void render(Iterable<SpecialFeature> foos) {
  // render Subfoo objects

// Which renderer we use for a given container of features gets
// configured at runtime. This holds the mapping between renderers
// and containers.
interface RendererMap {
 Renderer<? extends Feature> getRendererFor(Container<? extends Feature> container);

class RenderingScheduler {
 RendererMap rendererMap;

 public void render(Iterable<Container<? extends Feature>> containers) {
  for (Container<? extends Feature> container : containers) {
   Renderer<? extends Feature> renderer = rendererMap.getRendererFor(container);

   // The following line produces a compile error:
   //   The method render(Iterable<capture#3-of ? extends Feature>) in
   //   the type Renderer<capture#3-of ? extends Feature> is not
   //   applicable for the arguments (Iterable<capture#4-of ? extends
   //   Feature>)

   // this works, but... ug.
   // How are these type parameters helping me again?
   Renderer<Feature> r = (Renderer<Feature>)renderer;
   Iterable<Feature> foos = (Iterable<Feature>)container.foos();
Update: Solution! ...and generics hurt my head some more.