[webkit-dev] Terminology for giving up ownership: take, release, move

Darin Adler darin at apple.com
Mon Sep 5 10:13:28 PDT 2016

Hi folks.

WebKit has some critical functions that involve asking an object to give up ownership of something so the caller can take ownership.

In the C++ standard library itself, this is called move, as in std::move.

In WebKit smart pointers, we call this operation release, as in RefPtr::releaseNonNull and String::releaseImpl.

In WebKit collections, we call this operation take, as in HashMap::take and ExceptionOr::takeReturnValue.

The release vs. take terminology is distracting to my eyes. The verb “take" states what the caller wishes to do, and the verb “release” states what the caller wants the collection or smart pointer to do. My first thought was be to rename the take functions to use the word release instead, but I fear it might make them harder to understand instead of easier and clearly it would make them longer.

Does anyone have other ideas on how to collapse WebKit project terminology down so we don’t have three different single words that are used to mean almost the same thing?

— Darin

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