Making void safety practical
Null pointer dereferencing remains one of the major issues in modern object-oriented languages. An obvious addition of keywords to distinguish between never null and possibly null references appears to be insufficient during object initialization when some fields declared as never null may be temporary null before the initialization completes. The proposed solution avoids explicit encoding of these intermediate states in program texts in favor of statically checked validity rules that do not depend on special conditionally non-null types. Object initialization examples suggested earlier are reviewed and new ones are presented to compare applicability of different approaches. Usability of the proposed scheme is assessed on open-source libraries with a million lines of code that were converted to satisfy the rules.