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rust - How can I have an unused type parameter in a struct?

I'm trying to update some older code I wrote that basically looks like:

trait Foo<T>{}

struct Bar<A, B: Foo<A>>{
  b: B
}

This used to work totally fine, but now I am getting a compile error:

src/test.rs:19:12: 19:13 error: parameter `A` is never used
src/test.rs:19 struct Bar<A, B: Foo<A>> {
                          ^
src/test.rs:19:12: 19:13 help: consider removing `A` or using a marker such as `core::marker::PhantomData`

So I can try to remove the type parameter and get something like this:

struct Bar<A>{
  b: Foo<A>
}

however this is not really what I want. In my original code B resolves to a sized type, but now Foo<A> is unsized.

The other suggested solution is to try using this PhantomData the error mentions, resulting in:

struct Bar<A, B: Foo<A>> {
  b: B,
  marker: PhantomData<A>
}

but this seems really messy to me. Reading the docs for PhantomData seem to indicate this is meant to be used with unsafe code, but I am not working with unsafe code anywhere here. All I want is for Bar to contain an instance some type that implements Foo.

Is this really the only way to handle this situation now, or am I missing something?

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1 Answer

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by (71.8m points)

Depending on how your real Foo is, you might be able to work with associated types instead, like this:

trait Foo{ type T; }

struct Bar<B: Foo> {
  b: B,
}

otherwise (if you do need to have the type parameter on Foo), PhantomData is indeed the way to go.

You were not the only person finding PhantomData's docs confusing (see PhantomData is incomprehensible). As a result, the documentation for PhantomData has been recently improved by Steve Klabnik and now it does mention this scenario explicitly (and not just unsafe code).


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