The Importance of Being `final`

[UPDATE - Swift 1.2 from Xcode 6.3 Beta 2 brings performance benefits to non-final properties and methods making final unnecessary for performance from that time - see my initial reaction to Beta 2. I still recommend final where possible as it avoids need to consider effects of an object being subclassed and methods overwritten that change the behaviour.]

This post is intended to quantify, explain and show the performance hit that you take from not adding the word final to your classes (or their properties and methods). The post was triggered by a blog post complaining about Swift performance and showing some performance figures where Swift was significantly slower than Objective-C. In the optimised builds that gap could be closed just by adding a single final keyword. I'm grateful to David Owens for showing the code he was having trouble and giving me a base to demonstrate the difference final can make without it being me cherry picking any code of my choosing.

As with most performance issues this doesn't matter most of the time. Most code is waiting on user input, network responses or other slow things and it really doesn't matter that much if the code is being accessed a few times a second. However when you have got performance critical code and in particular that inner loop that is being executed hundreds of thousands of times a second it can make a huge difference.

What does final do

You Really Don't Need Protected Members

When Swift's access controls were introduced I wrote about how they worked like C's with good use of internal and external headers. I've recently been asked about how to do access private properties when subclassing and thought it would be worth sharing the conversation.

If you are new to Swift's access controls I suggest you look at the previous post (same link as above) first as this is the refinement and conclusion (in my mind) of an issue that I an open question when I wrote that. If you are new to programming then this post is probably one to skip as it is more about comparing how things can be done in Swift that people are used to doing a certain way in Java than something meant as an introduction to the concepts.

I’ve a question in context of open/closed principle (Software entitles should be open for extension but closed for modification.), coming from Java, AS3 background highly influenced by the Design Patterns book by the Gang of Four, the way I see protected is so that work can be extended by other people. 

How can I fully extend a class in it’s entirety without access to it’s private members, surely I can override methods but that won’t be enough.

The only way I could think is to approach this by declaring everything public or have a getter setter for each but then I’m violating “Encapsulation” principle
The short version is I would design the system in such a way to avoid requiring any inheritance apart from the specifically designed to inherit from system classes (NSObject, UIView, UIViewController etc.).