What's the difference between Optional<T> and optional types in Swift? Extending Optional to carry error information?

Update – there is no difference between Optional and optional types
in Swift – they are the same thing.

So in Swift they introduced the Type? construct, that creates an optional type which “forces” the programmer to check if the value actually exists.

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    But there is this built-in optionality mechanism.

    This optional feature ? is just an Optional<T> enum behind the scenes inspired from Haskell’s Maybe.

    I was wondering if there was any way of passing error information through the optional type.
    Can "abc123".toInt() return error information through the optional type Int? ? Could this replace Exceptions or NSError? Of course Cocoa still uses (and will use?) the NSError pattern.

    Playing in the playground, I found this piece of code in the Swift “header”:

    protocol Printable {
        var description: String { get }
    extension T? : Printable {
        var description: String { get }

    Basically this adds a readonly property description to ANY optional type. This would be super powerful (and could lead to many problems, I guess).

    But after trying to extend myself the T? I get an error:

    Non-nominal type 'T?' cannot be extended

    So why didn’t they add a property to all optional types to carry with them error information? Wouldn’t it be useful? I mean, you could return a tuple if you want multiple return types…

    5 Solutions Collect From Internet About “What's the difference between Optional<T> and optional types in Swift? Extending Optional to carry error information?”

    this is already part of the language

    extension Optional : DebugPrintable {
        /// A textual representation of `self`, suitable for debugging.
        var debugDescription: String { get }

    Option in swift is like Option in Scala (Maybe in Haskell): It represents a value that may be absent.

    What you’re looking for is something like the Try or the Either monads from Scala, which represent two possible states of a computation, typically a Success or a Failure.

    This would be a different algebraic data type, beyond the purpose of an optional value.

    Ultimately, since swift doesn’t have full-fledged monads in the standard library, I think the default error handling pattern will stay the classic Cocoa NSError one.

    Optionals basically allow you to check whether or not a variable is nil. It’s not meant to have an error message. For example take this Objective-C snippet:

    if(self.someProperty == nil){
        self.someProperty = [[PropertyClass alloc] init]
        //property is not nil.

    In swift you would do something like this:

    var someProperty : PropertyClass?
        //property is not nil 
        //property is nil.

    The apple docs say:

    Optional chaining in Swift is similar to messaging nil in Objective-C, but in a way that works for any type, and that can be checked for success or failure.

    Per this answer, the correct syntax is:

    extension Optional : Printable {

    Optional<T> is the definition of Optionals (see below). Type? is just the syntactic sugar for creating the type.

    enum Optional<T> {
      case None
      case Some(T)

    From the Swift Programming Language iBook, the two declarations below are equivalent

    var optionalInteger: Int?
    var opTionalInteger: Optional<Int>