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Misleading wording in the documentation on Matlab package (+) folders.

Asked by Kris Janssen on 21 Apr 2016
Latest activity Answered by Dariusz Borkowski on 6 Dec 2019 at 20:32
In the page Packages Create Namespaces there are two sections on how to reference package members:
  • From inside the package
  • From outside
When considering the 'within' case, there is an explicit statement:
Functions, classes, and other packages contained in a package are scoped to that package
Further considering how namespaces work in other languages I would have thought that within a package, it would not be necessary to use the package prefix to call other members of a package. Unfortunately however, this seems not to be the case.
+mypack\functionOne.m +mypack\functionTwo.m
If I want to call functionOne from functionTwo, I still have to use mypack.functionOne()
Why is this?? Am I missing something because this just seems very unpractical and makes me wonder about the meaning of the statement:
Functions, classes, and other packages contained in a package are scoped to that package

  1 Comment

Thinking about it, the 'scope' statements probably refers to precedence of function names when there are similarly named functions on the path. Then again, it would have been convenient to not have to go and rename tons of lines of codes when files get moved from one package to the next.

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3 Answers

Answer by Guillaume
on 21 Apr 2016
 Accepted Answer

It does say in the documentation that you've linked under Referencing Package Members Within Packages that "All references to packages, functions, and classes in the package must use the package name prefix, unless you import the package".
In my opinion, it's a very stupid decision by Mathworks that completely kills the usefulness of packages. Rename the package and you've got to edit every single file within the package that references other files in the package.
It also stop the user of your code to simply wrap it into a package name of his choice (that he knows is not going to conflict with another package name) since the user is then force to edit your code to add references to the package name. So, this just moved the problem of you having to choose a name for your function that is not going to conflict with somebody's else functions to you having to choose a name for a package that is going to conflict with somebody's else package.

  2 Comments

OK, so it is not only me...
Coming from C#, Java, ... This is indeed a bit of a hard pill to swallow.
I was in the process of developing a modular system to quickly compose apps, like e.g. PRISM in .NET (but simpler) but not being able to conveniently group stuff in packages without all this verbosity is just a pain.
It would have been slightly ok if import statements could be made at the class level but also that is only supported at function level. An equally incomprehensible decision.
Same problem here.
This is a very bad design since why should the code within a package depend on the package's name? What if I want to change the package name in the future (or put some of the code into another package)? Don't I have to modify every function in the package in that case?
Related questions:

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Answer by Jim Svensson on 18 Jan 2019

I just concur that this is one of the top stupidest design desisions of the Matlab language.

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Answer by Dariusz Borkowski on 6 Dec 2019 at 20:32

I can confirm. The current package design is a no-go.

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