swift: modifying arrays inside dictionaries

Swift beta 5 has added this functionality, and you’ve nailed the new method in a couple of your attempts. The unwrapping operators ! and ? now pass through the value to either operators or method calls. That is to say, you can add to that array in any of these ways:

dict["key"]! += [4]

As always, be careful about which operator you use — force unwrapping a value that isn’t in your dictionary will give you a runtime error:

dict["no-key"]! += [5]        // CRASH!

Whereas using optional chaining will fail silently:

dict["no-key"]?.append(5)     // Did it work? Swift won't tell you...

Ideally you’d be able to use the new null coalescing operator ?? to address this second case, but right now that’s not working.

Answer from pre-Swift beta 5:

It’s a quirk of Swift that it’s not possible to do what you’re trying to do. The issue is that the value of any Optional variable is in fact a constant — even when forcibly unwrapping. If we just define an Optional array, here’s what we can and can’t do:

var arr: Array<Int>? = [1, 2, 3]
arr[0] = 5
// doesn't work: you can't subscript an optional variable
arr![0] = 5
// doesn't work: constant arrays don't allow changing contents
arr += 4
// doesn't work: you can't append to an optional variable
arr! += 4
// these don't work: constant arrays can't have their length changed

The reason you’re having trouble with the dictionary is that subscripting a dictionary returns an Optional value, since there’s no guarantee that the dictionary will have that key. Therefore, an array in a dictionary has the same behavior as the Optional array, above:

var dict = Dictionary<String, Array<Int>>()
dict["key"] = [1, 2, 3]
dict["key"][0] = 5         // doesn't work
dict["key"]![0] = 5        // doesn't work
dict["key"] += 4           // uh uh
dict["key"]! += 4          // still no
dict["key"]!.append(4)     // nope

If you need to change something in an array in the dictionary you’ll need to get a copy of the array, change it, and reassign, like this:

if var arr = dict["key"] {
    dict["key"] = arr

ETA: Same technique works in Swift beta 3, though constant arrays no longer allow changes to contents.

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