Tagged Unions

Tagged unions in Onyx can be thought of as an enum, with every variant having a different type associated with it. When the tagged union is one variant, it is storing a value of the corresponding type. A value can only be one of the variants at a time. They are written using the union keyword and look much like structures.

Here is an example of a tagged union.

Value :: union {
    // First variant, called Int, stores an i32.
    Int: i32;

    // Second variant, called String, stores a str.
    String: str;

    // Final variant, called Unknown, stores "void", meaning it does not store anything.
    Unknown: void;

This union has three variants called Int, String, and Unknown. They store an i32, str and nothing respectively. Internally there is also an enum made to store these variant tags. You can access it using Value.tag_enum.

To create a value out of a union type, it looks like a structure literal, except there must be exactly one variant listed by name, with its corresponding value.

v1 := Value.{ Int = 123 };
v2 := Value.{ String = "string value" };
v3 := Value.{ Unknown = .{} }; // To spell a value of type 'void', you can use '.{}';

We create three values, one for each variant of the union. To get access to the values inside of the tagged union, we have two options. Using a switch statement, or using variant access.

We can use switch statement over our tagged union value, and use a capture to extract the value stored inside.

print_value :: (v: Value) {
    switch v {
        // `n` is the captured value
        // Notice we use `.Integer`. This is short for `Value.tag_enum.Integer`.
        case .Integer as n {
            printf("Its an integer with value {}.\n", n);

        case .String as s {
            printf("Its a string with value {\"}.\n", s);

        // All other case will be unhandled
        // This is still necessary to satisfy exhaustive matching
        case _ ---


We can also directly access the variant on the tagged union. This gives us an optional of the corresponding type. If the current variant matched, we get a Some. If not, we get a None.

println(v1.Integer); // prints Some(123)
println(v1.String);  // prints None

You can use the features of Optionals to work with these results.

Polymorphic unions

Like structures, unions be polymorphic and take type parameters.

A good example is the Result type from the standard library. It is defined as:

Result :: union (Ok_Type: type_expr, Err_Type: type_expr) {
    Ok: Ok_Type;
    Err: Err_Type;

These works exactly like polymorphic structures when it comes to using them in procedure definitions and the like.

// Returns an optional of the error type of the result.
// This is entirely redundant, since `result.Err` would give the same result.
get_err :: (result: Result($Ok, $Err)) -> ? Err {
    return result.Err;