Swift Tip: Enum Initializers

In Swift Talk 45, we wrote a small library for parsing routes. We represented routes as enums, and added a custom initializer to parse routes:

								enum Route {
    case home
    case users(id: Int)

extension Route {
    init?(path: String) {
        if path == "/" {
            self = .home
        } else if path.hasPrefix("/users") {
            self = .users(id: 1)
        } else {
            return nil


Of course, this code isn't complete (see the full public episode for that).

Today, we want to focus on assigning to self inside the initializer. In the initializer of any struct or enum we can treat self as a mutable variable (as if it were declared using inout). This is why we can do the following:

								enum Result<A> {
    case success(A)
    case error(Error)

extension Result {
    init(_ value: A) {
        self = .success(value)


We can even do this in a struct, although it's easier to just call self.init:

								extension UIEdgeInsets {
    init(all value: CGFloat) {
        self = .init(top: value, left: value, bottom: value, right: value)


We can also use the same technique if we need a little more flexibility than RawRepresentable, or if we want to provide a default value:

								enum Method {
    case post
    case get

extension Method {
    init() {
      self = .get

    init?(_ value: String) {
        switch value.lowercased() {
        case "post": self = .post
        case "get": self = .get
        default: return nil


If you enjoyed this tip, check out the episode below, or watch Swift Talk 21: Structs and Mutation for more information on how to work with inout.

If you'd like to watch all our episodes, you can subscribe ๐Ÿ˜‰


  • Watch the Full Episode

    Server-Side Swift


    We implement a type safe and Swift-like routing infrastructure that's pretty different from the common approach of most web frameworks.

    Episode 45 ยท April 14, 2017

  • See the Swift Talk Collection

Stay up-to-date with our newsletter or follow us on Twitter .

Back to the Blog

Recent Posts