Simplifying the Dictionary’s Subscript with Dynamic Member Lookup in Swift 4.2

Apple’s added some great features in Swift 4.2 release, so in this post, we’re going to use some of them to achieve a neat key-syntax feature for the Dictionary, but before reading further you by far have to know about the Dynamic Member Lookup. I recommend that you to get acquainted with this feature by the first link — there’re great examples in a simple form.

TL;DR “At the core of this feature is a new attribute called @dynamicMemberLookup, which instructs Swift to call a subscript method when accessing properties. This subscript method, subscript(dynamicMember:), is required: you’ll get passed the string name of the property that was requested, and can return any value you like.”

struct Person {
    subscript(dynamicMember member: String) -> String {
        let properties = ["name": "Nikita", "age": "24"]
        return properties[member, default: ""]

print(Person().name) // Nikita

This article doesn’t imply some good practices, and a final solution you’ll see later isn’t supposed to be used in production code — no doubt it can confuse other developers from your team and can lead to error-prone code, so it’s better to use the standard approach with constant keys.

But, it’s definitely worth to get acquainted with this feature this way — trying to come up with something new, as in this post! So, Swift language is becoming more powerful day by day!

Even so, I like this feature and I’m going to use it in my pet projects or during fast-prototyping demos :)

Before diving into our implementation, it’s important to know about this Swift’s feature as well:

protocol ProtocolWithAssociatedType {
    associatedtype T

struct Test<T>: ProtocolWithAssociatedType {} // no compile error
struct Test: ProtocolWithAssociatedType {}    // error: Type 'Test' does not conform to protocol 'ProtocolWithAssociatedType'

You can see, that the struct with a generic type auto-conforms to the protocol due to the same T name — it’s not necessary writing typealias T = ... by yourself.

Now you should not be confused with this code:

protocol DictionaryDynamicLookup {
    associatedtype Key
    associatedtype Value
    subscript(key: Key) -> Value? { get }

extension DictionaryDynamicLookup where Key == String {
    subscript(dynamicMember member: String) -> Value? {
        return self[member]

extension Dictionary: DictionaryDynamicLookup {}

let dict: [String : Any] = [
    "name": "Nikita",
    "age": 24


The following snippet allows you writing dict.name instead of dict["name"], that’s it.

p.s. You may be surprised, but there’s no autocompletion for the name, of course.

Now we have the opportunity to take advantage of another recently released feature — KeyPath (Swift 4.0) and use the same keypath if the name, for instance, has been referred several times to avoid an error in duplication.

func printData(from keyPaths: KeyPath<[String: Any], Any?>...) {
    keyPaths.forEach { keyPath in
        print(dict[keyPath: keyPath])

printData(from: \.name, \.age)

// Optional("Nikita")
// Optional(24)

But of course, this all is only for fun!

Related to good examples — check out the JSON example.

In conclusion, I want to say that playing with new features of the language is amazing, you can come up with so pretty syntax-sugar, but you need to be careful with that, not every sugar is needed. 😉