Objective-C property proposal: mainthreadonly

I’d like to propose a new language feature for Objective-C, a property attribute that would indicate that a property should only be set from the main thread.

Let me be clear: Objective-C does not do this. But wouldn’t it be cool if it did?

@interface CustomView:UIView
@property (mainthreadonly) NSString *title;

The intent is to solve confusion over properties that must be set from the main thread or have no effect.

mainthreadonly would be like nonatomic. Compared to nonatomic, it also warns that the property can only be set from the main thread. @synthesize would generate a setter that is not onlynonatomic, but generates an exception if called from a thread other than the main thread.

Logically, this is the equivalent of:

- (void)setTitle: (NSString *)title {
    NSAssert([NSThread isMainThread], @"Property title can only be set from the main thread.");
    // everything else a synthesized setter does

Of course, if you provide your own setter it’s up to you to enforce main thread or not. Ideally, you should, but if you don’t the @property definition simply serves as a warning to developers reading your header. You’ve expressed something to both the developer and the compiler, and I think that’s always good.

Another idea is to dispatch_async to the main thread automatically, but I suspect this would have too many side effects. Also, it would mean multiple dispatches for sequential property sets. And I feel that setting a property that must be set from the main thread only from a different thread probably is a bug that should be fixed.