Save Yourself Casting Headaches with a Generic Fetch Request Object

Swift 2 brings a lot of Cocoa API changes. For one, Core Data’s NSManagedObject’s executeFetchRequest(_:) can throw, returns a non-optional on success, but still returns [AnyObject]. While refactoring existing code to use do-try-catch, I found the optional casting to [MyEntity] cumbersome.

So here’s CoreDataFetchRequest<T>:

import Foundation
import CoreData

enum CoreDataError: ErrorType {
    case InconsistentCoreDataFetchRequestResults
}

class CoreDataFetchRequest<T: NSManagedObject> {

    let fetchRequest: NSFetchRequest

    var predicate: NSPredicate? {
        get { return fetchRequest.predicate }
        set { fetchRequest.predicate = newValue }
    }

    convenience init(entityName: String) {
    
        self.init(fetchRequest: NSFetchRequest(entityName: entityName))
    }

    init(fetchRequest: NSFetchRequest) {
    
        self.fetchRequest = fetchRequest
    }

    func executeInContext(context: NSManagedObjectContext) throws -> [T] {
    
        let results = try context.executeFetchRequest(fetchRequest)
    
        guard let properResults = results as? [T] else {
            throw CoreDataError.InconsistentCoreDataFetchRequestResults
        }
    
        return properResults
    }
}

I turned its interface the other way around: instead of extending NSManagedObjectContext to accept these, I call executeInContext(_:). I like that better because most actions revolve around the fetch request more than the context. So the fetch request should be the “subject” here anyway.

You can use it like regular fetch requests, only without the if-let or forced casting to the expected entity:

func bananaSizes() -> [BananaSize]? {
    
    let request = Banana.fetchRequest()
    let results: [Banana]
    
    do {
        
        results = try request.executeInContext(self.context)
    } catch let error as CoreDataError {
        
        switch error {
        case .InconsistentCoreDataFetchRequestResults: programmerError("Expected [Banana] but got mixed results.")
        }
        
        return .None
    } catch let error as NSError {
        
        self.coreDataErrorHandler.handle(error)
        return .None
    }
    
    return results.map() { $0.bananaSize }
}

Where the entity looks like this:

@objc(Banana)
class Banana: NSManagedObject {
    
    static let entityName = "Banana"
    
    static func fetchRequest() -> CoreDataFetchRequest<Banana> {
        
        return CoreDataFetchRequest<Banana>(entityName: entityName)
    }
    
    static func fetchRequestForCountry(country: Country) -> CoreDataFetchRequest<Banana> {

        let request = fetchRequest()
        request.predicate = NSPredicate(format: "countryCode == %@", country.countryCode)
        
        return request
    }
    
    // ...
    
    @NSManaged var centimeterSize: Double
    
    var bananaSize: BananaSize {
        return BananaSize(cm: centimeterSize)
    }
}

Honestly, I think in most cases you can safely ditch the .InconsistentCoreDataFetchRequestResults error and force the casting. Why should the results ever be mixed if you control the fetch requests? Better have a solid test harness to avoid weird mistakes in cases like this.

I am still finding my way around throw and friends. The readability of my code has worsened a bit after the Swift 2 conversion. It’s time to find new patterns to handle that stuff.

Browse the blog archive