Introduction to Swift Keypaths


released Fri, 29 Mar 2019
Swift Version 5.0


PartialKeyPath is a type-erased KeyPath that erases the Value type parameter.

As we've seen in the previous chapter, sometimes you want to have a KeyPath that does not require a Value type parameter. That is, what the PartialKeyPath is for. Its type signature is PartialKeyPath<Root>. As you can see, there is no Value type anymore. This KeyPath, again, is read-only. However, it is very useful because it allows you to be much more flexible when storing keypaths in arrays or writing functions that accept keypaths. Here is a quick example:

/// Value would be `String`

let a: PartialKeyPath<User> = \

/// Value would be `Int`

let b: PartialKeyPath<User> = \User.age

/// Value would be `Address`

let c: PartialKeyPath<User> = \User.address

See how these totally different types (KeyPath<User, String>, KeyPath<User, Int>, ...) are actually stored with the same type, just PartialKeyPath<User>. We type-erase the Value parameter.

This is useful because it allows you to call the same function with different types of keypaths:

func acceptKeyPath(_ keyPath: PartialKeyPath<User>) {





More importantly, it allows us to solve the issue we had with the DebugPrinter in the previous code. We can now implement is as follows:

/// Dynamically define a debug description for an object

class DebugPrinter<T> where T: AnyObject {

     var keyPaths: [(String?, PartialKeyPath<T>)] = []

     let reference: T

     let prefix: String

     init(_ prefixString: String, for instance: T) {

         reference = instance

         prefix = prefixString


     func addLog(_ path: PartialKeyPath<T>, prefix: String? = nil) {

         keyPaths.append((prefix, path))


     func log() {

         print(prefix, terminator: \": \")

         for entry in keyPaths {

           if let prefix = entry.0 { print(prefix, terminator: \"\") }

           print(reference[keyPath: entry.1], terminator: \", \")




Just by replacing KeyPath<T, String> with PartialKeyPath<T> we could fix the issue with this code, and now it can be used with all types.

Now, you're probably wondering whether there is a KeyPath type that also type-erases the Root type parameter, and in fact, there is! Next up, the appropriately named AnyKeyPath.