Tuples in Swift, Advanced Usage and Best Practices


released Fri, 01 Mar 2019
Swift Version 5.0


There's no Tuple type available in Swift. If you wonder why that is, think about it: every tuple is a totally different type, depending on the types within it. So instead of defining a generic tuple requirement, you define the specific but generic incarnation of the tuple you intend to use:

func wantsTuple<T1, T2>(_ tuple: (T1, T2)) -> T1 {
    return tuple.0

wantsTuple(("a", "b")) // "a"
wantsTuple((1, 2)) // 1

You can also use tuples in typealiases, thus allowing subclasses to fill out your types with details. This looks fairly useless and complicated, but I've already had a use case where I need to do exactly this.

class BaseClass<A,B> {
    typealias Element = (A, B)
    func add(_ elm: Element) {

class IntegerClass<B> : BaseClass<Int, B> {

let example = IntegerClass<String>()
example.add((5, ""))
// Prints (5, "")

You can also define a typealias with generic parameters like in this example where we introduce a custom Either type:

typealias MyEither<A, B> = (left: A, right: B)