Creating custom operators in Swift

What are custom operators?

Custom operators are operators that are defined by us and are not part of the programming language natively.

We are all aware of the built in operators in the Swift Language. 

Operators like: + – * % > == ! to name a few.

These operators are defined by the system. It is also possible for us to overload some of these operators. However there are situations where we would like to create our own operators that perform operations not defined by the system. 

Thats exactly what Custom operators are. They are operators defined by the developer. These are not overloaded operators but completely new operators that don’t exist otherwise.

These operators are used within the project that we are working on. Though it is possible for us to share these operators using Swift Packages or XCFrameworks.

These operators are typically associated with a specific type and their behavior is also defined by us.

Why do we need them?

There are many reasons why we would want custom operators:

  1. Allow for more compact and concise syntax.

Using custom operators allows our code to be more compact. Entire function calls can be condensed into a single operator.

  1. Make the code more readable

This also improves the readability of our code. Properly chosen symbols can convey the message immediately and easily. 

  1. Allow for consistency in design of code

One of the other things that custom operators help us achieve is consistency. By using standard operations as operators we make our code more familiar and consistent to others who may read it. Programmers are familiar with the concept of operators and using them for different operations. So even if they may not immediately recognise the operator they would understand that there is some task for them to perform.

And finally it encourages reusability.

What do we need to create custom operators?

There are a couple of things that we need to create custom operators:

  1. A logic for the action being performed by the operator
  2. A list of valid symbols
  3. Information about the operators attributes like prefix, postfix, infix.
  4. The precedence of the operator if it is an infix operator

Operator Rules

There are some rules that must be followed when we are constructing the symbol for our operator. Most of the requirements are rather straightforward. However, choosing the right symbol is a very important task. There are a set of symbols that are allowed. 

There are rules as far as whitespace around operators is concerned.

And finally there are certain symbols are allowed only in combination with other symbols. 

Operator types
TypeDescription
PrefixOperators that appear before a variable or value. These are unary operators.
PostfixOperators that appear after a variable or value. These are unary operators.
InfixOperators that appear in between variables or values. These are binary operators.

Allowed Characters

This is the important bit. Which characters are allowed for usage as an operator. 

We can have ASCII symbols that are used for builtin operators.

There are also many mathematical symbols that can be used as operators.

Note that the list of symbols show in the slide are not complete. 

TypeExamples of different symbols
ASCII Characters/, =, -, +, !, *, %,<, >, &, |, ^, ?, ~
Mathematical Operators,
Miscellaneous symbols, dingbats*
∝, √, ⊆, ≿, ∫

Here are some more

U+00A1–U+00A7U+2190–U+23FF
U+00A9 or U+00ABU+2500–U+2775
U+00AC or U+00AEU+2794–U+2BFF
U+00B0–U+00B1U+2E00–U+2E7F
U+00B6U+3001–U+3003
U+00BBU+3008–U+3020
U+00BFU+3030
U+00D7U+0300–U+036F
U+00F7U+1DC0–U+1DFF
U+2016–U+2017U+20D0–U+20FF
U+2020–U+2027U+FE00–U+FE0F
U+2030–U+203EU+FE20–U+FE2F
U+2041–U+2053U+E0100–U+E01EF
U+2055–U+205E

Whitespace

The next important bit is the whitespace around the operator.

If an operator has a whitespace on both the sides or doesn’t have whitespace on both the sides then it is interpreted as a binary operator. This is what would appear for infix operator.

If an operator has whitespace only on the left then it is a prefix unary operator.

If an operator has whitespace only on the right then it is a postfix unary operator.

If an operator does not have whitespace on the left but is followed by a dot then it is treated as a postfix unary operator.

Finally, any round, brace, square brackets appearing before or after the operator along with comma, colon, & semicolon are treated as whitespace

Making sure that we put the whitespace in the correct place while using these operators is very important.

No.RuleExample code
1If an operator has a whitespace on both the sides or doesn’t have whitespace on both the sides then it is interpreted as a binary operatora**b 
or 
a ** b
2If an operator has whitespace only on the left then it is a prefix unary operator**a
3If an operator has whitespace only on the right then it is a postfix unary operatora**
4If an operator does not have whitespace on the left but is followed by a dot then it is treated as a postfix unary operatora**.b is treated as a** .b
5(, {, [ before the operator and ), }, ] after the operator along with ,, :, ; are treated as whitespace

There are some exceptions to the rules we just saw. Especially with exclamation mark & question mark.

  1. ! & ? which are predefined are always treated as postfix if there is no whitespace on the left
  2. If we wish to use ? In optional chaining then it must not have whitespace on the left
  3. To use it as a ternary conditional operator ?: it must have whitespace on both the sides
  4. Operators with a leading or trailing <, > are split into multiple tokens. For example, in Dictionary<String, Array<Int>> the last 2 arrows are not interpreted as shift operator.

Operator grammar

There are rules for constructing operators. Only certain combinations are allowed.

Each operator contains a symbol which forms the operator head. The head is the first character in the operator. 

The head may or may not be followed by 1 or more characters which are operator characters. 

The head and the optional characters combined together form the operator. 

The head itself can contain a one out of a set of valid symbols. Or it can contain a period.

These are some of the symbols allowed for usage as the head of the operator. You can choose any one of those.

/, =, -, +, !, *, %,<, >, &, |, ^, ?, ~U+2055–U+205E
U+00A1–U+00A7U+2190–U+23FF
U+00A9 or U+00ABU+2500–U+2775
U+00AC or U+00AEU+2794–U+2BFF
U+00B0–U+00B1U+2E00–U+2E7F
U+00B6U+3001–U+3003
U+00BBU+3008–U+3020
U+00BFU+3030
U+00D7
U+00F7
U+2016–U+2017
U+2020–U+2027
U+2030–U+203E
U+2041–U+2053

For the successive characters you can use any of the symbols allowed for the head plus some additional allowed symbols. The list above contains all the allowed symbols.

/, =, -, +, !, *, %,<, >, &, |, ^, ?, ~U+2055–U+205E
U+00A1–U+00A7U+2190–U+23FF
U+00A9 or U+00ABU+2500–U+2775
U+00AC or U+00AEU+2794–U+2BFF
U+00B0–U+00B1U+2E00–U+2E7F
U+00B6U+3001–U+3003
U+00BBU+3008–U+3020
U+00BFU+3030
U+00D7U+0300–U+036F
U+00F7U+1DC0–U+1DFF
U+2016–U+2017U+20D0–U+20FF
U+2020–U+2027U+FE00–U+FE0F
U+2030–U+203EU+FE20–U+FE2F
U+2041–U+2053U+E0100–U+E01EF
Examples
.+.
≈
√
**

Operator Precedence

As far as infix operators are concerned there is also the question of precedence. Precedence is used to determine the operator priority when there are multiple operators in a single statement. 

precedencegroup <#precedence group name#> {
    higherThan: <#lower group names#>
    lowerThan: <#higher group names#>
    associativity: <#associativity#>
    assignment: <#assignment#>
}

While the first 2 values are straightforward, they simply help determine the exact position of the newly created precedence as compared to existing precedences, the associativity and assignment are extra items that are not immediately clear.

TypeDescriptionValues
AssociativityDetermines order in which a sequence of operators with the same precedence are evaluated in the absence of grouping bracketsleft, right, none
AssignmentSpecifies priority when used with optional chaining. 
TRUE: Same grouping rules as assignment operator from standard libraryFALSE: Same rules as operators that don’t perform assignment
true, false

The assignment of a precedence group specifies the precedence of an operator when used in an operation that includes optional chaining. When set to true, an operator in the corresponding precedence group uses the same grouping rules during optional chaining as the assignment operators from the standard library. Otherwise, when set to false or omitted, operators in the precedence group follows the same optional chaining rules as operators that don’t perform assignment.

Determines order in which a sequence of operators with the same precedence are evaluated in the absence of grouping brackets. so for example 4 – 6 – 7 has the minus sign which has left associativity. The operation 4-6 is grouped and then the – 7 operation is performed.

Nonassociative operators of the same precedence level can’t appear adjacent to each to other.

The priority for the built in precedences can be seen in Apple’s documentation.

Creating the operators

It is fairly easy to create our own operators. You can try the code in a playground. We will be creating 1 operator of each type: postfix, prefix, infix.

  1. Create a new playground.
  2. Declare the creation of the prefix operator as shown. This will be used as a squaring operator.
prefix operator **
  1. Now we will provide a generic version of the operator implementation.
prefix func **<T:Numeric> (inputValue : T) -> T {
    return inputValue * inputValue
}

That’s it. It is that simple to create our own prefix operator. Now let us test it.

  1. Create a variable of type Float and use the operator we have just created.
var lengthOfSideOfSquare : Float = 1.1

var areaOfSquare : Float = **lengthOfSideOfSquare

print("The area of a square whose side is \(lengthOfSideOfSquare) centimeters long is \(areaOfSquare) square centimeters")

  1. Similarly declare a postfix operator. This one will perform conversion to a string.
postfix operator ~>
  1. Now we will implement this operator. To do that let us make a simple type which will have the to string operator capability.
struct Person {
    var name : String = ""
    var age : Int = 0
}

extension Person {
    static postfix func ~> (inputValue : Person) -> String {
        return "NAME: \(inputValue.name)\nAGE: \(inputValue.age)"
    }
}
  1. Let us try this operator out and see.
var developer : Person = Person(name: "Arun Patwardhan",
                                age: 35)

var description : String = developer~>

print(#line, description)
  1. Now let us implement an infix operator. The one that we are going to implement is a similarity operator which can be used to determine the degree of similarity between objects of the same type. To do that let us start off by declaring an enum which holds the values for the degree of similarity.
enum DegreeOfSimilarity {
    case exactly_the_same
    case almost_the_same
    case slightly_similar
    case completely_different
}
  1. Infix operator can also have a precedence associated with it. Let us declare our own precedence and use it for our operator.
precedencegroup DegreeOfSimilarityPrecedence {
    higherThan: AdditionPrecedence
    lowerThan: MultiplicationPrecedence
    associativity: none
    assignment: true
}

Let us examine the values we have given:

higherThan: This indicates that our precedence has higher priority than the Addition precedence

lowerThan: This indicates that our precedence has lower priority than the Multiplication precedence

Associativity: This indicates that our operator is not associative. So we cannot combine multiple occurrences of our operator in one statement.

assignment: This indicates that out operators has the same behaviour, as other operators that assign, when it comes to optional chaining.

  1. Now we can declare our infix operator.
infix operator ≈ : DegreeOfSimilarityPrecedence

It is useful to save your new operator symbols as code snippets to easily use them. You can read this article if you don’t know how to create a code snippet.

  1. Let us look at the implementation. I am going to use the same person type we used earlier.
extension Person {
    static func ≈ (lhsValue : Person, rhsValue : Person) -> DegreeOfSimilarity {
        guard lhsValue.name == rhsValue.name else {
            return DegreeOfSimilarity.completely_different
        }
        
        guard lhsValue.age == rhsValue.age else {
            return DegreeOfSimilarity.almost_the_same
        }
        
        return DegreeOfSimilarity.exactly_the_same
    }
}
  1. Now we will test them and see.
var employee1 : Person = Person(name: "Jack",
                                age: 22)

var employee2 : Person = Person(name: "John",
                                age: 21)

var employee3 : Person = Person(name: "Jack",
                                age: 23)

var employee4 : Person = Person(name: "Jack",
                                age: 23)

print(#line, employee1 ≈ employee2)

print(#line, employee1 ≈ employee3)

print(#line, employee3 ≈ employee4)
  1. Run the code and see the end result.

Feel free to create more operators and play around. You could also package these operators in a swift package and share them around. I have shared links to

Summary the new operator

Creating operators is very easy. Most of the requirements are rather straightforward. However, choosing the right symbol is a very important task.

The one thing that we should keep in mind is not to over use these. It can be tempting to do this. But abstracting everything can make the code look a little too vague.

So that is how you can create operators. 

Download the sample project

I have uploaded some of the custom operators, that I have shown above, as a Swift Package. You can download the package as well as a demo project, which shows how to use them, from the links below.

Video

Here is the video describing what we discussed above.

Creating Code Snippets in Xcode

What are code snippets?

Code snippets are as the name suggests, short pieces of code that can quickly be inserted into your code file. This is done either by dragging the snippet or by typing out the completion. Code snippets are very easy to create and use and can be applied in a wide variety of situations.

We will look at how you can create & use snippets. The following example is done in a playground, but this could be done from anywhere within Xcode.

Note: The example below was performed on Xcode 11.7

How do we create code snippets?

  1. Start off by writing the code or text that you want to convert into a snippet. For example, I have a set of comments that I add at the start of every function. Write it down.
/**
 This function performs a comparison of the 2 objects
 - important: This function does not perform data validation.
 - returns: `Bool`.
 - requires: iOS 13 or later
 - Since: iOS 13
 - parameter lhsValue: This holds the value on the lhs of the operator
 - parameter rhsValue: This holds the value on the rhs of the operator
 - Example: `var answer =  venueAddress == hotelAddress`
 - author: Arun Patwardhan
 - copyright: Copyright (c) Amaranthine 2020
 - date: 14th September 2020
 - version: 1.0
 */

2. Select it.
3. From the menu bar select Editor > Create Code Snippet.

This brings up the snippet editor.
4. Give your snippet the following details.

OptionDescription
NameThis is the name of your code snippet.
PlatformThis determines whether your snippet is available only for certain platforms: say only for iOS.
AvailabilityThis determines the place where the snippet can be added.
CompletionThis is the word that we will be typing in the Xcode editor to trigger the implementation of the snippet
LanguageThis specifies the language for which the snippet will be applied.

Name: Func Documentation

Language: Swift

Platform: All

Availability: All scopes

Completion: doc

Note that the values for Name and Completion can be whatever you want.

This is how the snippet should look.

5. Now we will try to use it in the editor. Start typing the completion word in the Xcode editor.

6. Select the snippet with your name and completion.
7. Hit enter. You should see the comments you want appearing in the editor.

Placeholder

We can make our snippet above even better by using placeholders. Placeholders are pieces of text that can be replaced by the user. They also give information about what is expected in the placeholder.

We can add place holders by simply typing the hint inside placeholder brackets. Placeholder brackets are nothing but open <# and closing #>. For example:

<# some text #>

Which appears as

The user will simply click on the “some text” placeholder.

There are plenty of places in our comments where we can use placeholders. When we use the code snippet it should put comments with place holders in them.

  1. Let us change the comments in our Xcode editor first. We will edit the snippet later on. Make the changes as shown below.
/**
 <# put the description of your function here #>
 - important: <# mention some important points here #>
 - returns: `<# return type #>`.
 - requires: iOS  <#iOS Version#>  or later
 - Since: iOS  <#iOS Version#>
 - parameter <#param 1#>: This holds the value on the lhs of the operator
 - parameter <#param2#>: This holds the value on the rhs of the operator
 - Example: `<#put some example code here#>`
 - author: Arun Patwardhan
 - copyright: Copyright (c) Amaranthine 2020
 - date: <#day#>  <#month#>  <#year#>
 - version: 1.0
 */

We have made the following items into comments.

  • Description
  • OS Version
  • Return type
  • Important comments
  • Parameter 1 & 2 names
  • Sample code
  • Day, Month, & Year

Of course, there are other things we could change too. Feel free to make any other changes you can think of.

2. Let us now copy these changes to the code snippet we created. Copy the code from the Xcode editor.

To bring the snippet editor again simply click on the add object button in the upper right hand corner of Xcode.

4. Select the snippet from the list on the left and click edit.
5. Paste the code that you just copied. Your snippet editor should look like this:

6. Click on ‘Done’ once you are finished making changes. Your snippet will now be ready.

7. Try adding the snippet into your editor just like before. Simply type in the completion for your snippet.

Dragging snippets

We can use the autocompletion we saw earlier. But it is also possible for us to drag snippets.

Exporting code snippets

Once created it is possible to export/import code snippets too. All the snippets are located in the following folder.

~/Library/Developer/Xcode/UserData/CodeSnippets/

Any snippets you have created will be located there.

Any new snippets to be added will have to be added there.

Summary

Code snippets are easy to create and have several advantages:

  1. They improve the developers experience
  2. Promote consistent code
  3. Speeds up the process of writing code
  4. Encourages developers to use each others snippets and gain the first 3 advantages.

Creating and using snippets is very very easy and has a lot of benefits. So go ahead and create snippets.

List of macOS Terminal commands

This article lists out different macOS terminal commands you might encounter. You can use this list as a starting point in your search for a command to perform a specific task. This list is by no means exhaustive.

Basic terminal commands are not listed here. Some of them are listed in the following Terminal command articles.
Terminal Commands – Basic
Terminal Commands – Part 2
Terminal Commands – Part 3

Many of the commands have also been used in the article I wrote some time back. You can have a look at the scripts to see some of the commands being used.

To get more information about the commands simply run the following command from within Terminal Application. For example, to view the manual page for tmutil simply type:

man tmutil

For fdesetup

man fdesetup
Here is a nice command to quickly open the man page in the Preview App.
man -t tmutil | open -f -a /System/Applications/Preview.app

Note

  • This is not a complete list of commands
  • Some commands are available through the macOS Recovery Volume only
  • Some commands required other resources such as the OS installer
  • Some commands are available with certain versions of the OS only

Please read the documentation for more details. Use the commands with care. Improper use of commands may result in loss of data or damage to the computer.

Commands


Installation

CommandDescription
startosinstallUsed to start the installation of macOS from the command line.
createinstallmediaUsed to create an external install disk.

Security

CommandDescription
fdesetupManage FileVault configuration.
securityManage keychain and security settings
spctlManage security assessment policy
csrutilConfigure System Integrity Protection (SIP) settings
resetpasswordPassword reset utility located in the Recovery Partition

File System

CommandDescription
hdiutilUsed to manipulate and manage disk images.
diskutilUsed to modify, verify, & repair local disks.

Data Management

CommandDescription
tmutilUsed to configure Time Machine settings in macOS
screencaptureTakes screenshot of the specified screen and saves the image at the specified location.
mdlsUsed to get metadata attributes for a given file
mdutilUsed to manage metadata stores that are used by Spotlight

Settings

CommandDescription
defaultsUsed to modify plist files. Typically used to update preference files.
ioregUsed to view the I/O kit registry
system_profilerUsed to generate system hardware & software reports.
plutilUsed to check syntax of property lists or covert property lists from one format to another
AssetCacheManagerUtilUsed to configure content caching settings.
openUsed to open documents from within the command line.
networksetupPerform network configuration.
systemsetupUsed to configure machine settings in System Preferences.
launchctlUsed to manage and inspect daemons, agents, & XPC Services

Applications

CommandDescription
codesignUsed to create, check, display code signatures.
pkgbuildUsed to build installer packages
productbuildBuilds a product archive
installerSystem software and package installer tool

User Account Management

CommandDescription
dsclThis is a command line Directory service utility that allows us to create, read, and manage Directory Service data.
sysadminctlUser account management
passwdChange user password
loginUsed to login to another user account.

Server & Device Management

CommandDescription
profilesUsed to install, remove, list, or manage Configuration profiles.
serveradminUsed to manage the services in macOS
mdmclientLocated in /usr/libexec/mdmclient it is used to manage interactions with the MDM.
asrApple Software restore: Used to copy volumes.

Scripting

CommandDescription
osascriptUsed to execute the given AppleScript

Share any commands you may know of in the comments window.

Disclaimer

The information Is Provided “As Is”, Without Warranty Of Any Kind, Express Or Implied, Including But Not Limited To The Warranties Of Merchantability, Fitness For A Particular Purpose And Noninfringement. In No Event Shall The Authors Or Copyright Holders Be Liable For Any Claim, Damages Or Other Liability, Whether In An Action Of Contract, Tort Or Otherwise, Arising From, Out Of Or In Connection With The information provided Or The Use Or Other Dealings In The information.

Useful scripts for macOS

Getting Started

You might find these articles useful

One of the advantages with scripts is the fact that you can easily automate many tasks. Here is an article that walks you through that process.

If you come across a situation where you want to perform a set of tasks on multiple computers then scripts come in very handy.

I will be providing the Shell Script version of the task. Feel free to make changes to the scripts as required. I will try to provide an AppleScript version of the tasks a little later.

This is not the only way to implement the scripts. There may be multiple approaches towards achieving the same result. You will have to explore and examine the correct approach.

This is not a comprehensive list. The scripts should give you some ideas and act as a useful reference when you are creating your own scripts.

I have tested these scripts on macOS Catalina 10.15

Download

You can download all the scripts from here.

Script CategoryPage Number
Settings and Accounts1
Security2
Data3
Information Collection4
File System5

Disclaimer

The Software Is Provided “As Is”, Without Warranty Of Any Kind, Express Or Implied, Including But Not Limited To The Warranties Of Merchantability, Fitness For A Particular Purpose And Noninfringement. In No Event Shall The Authors Or Copyright Holders Be Liable For Any Claim, Damages Or Other Liability, Whether In An Action Of Contract, Tort Or Otherwise, Arising From, Out Of Or In Connection With The Software Or The Use Or Other Dealings In The Software.


WARNING

Please try these scripts on a test computer. Some of the scripts do make changes to the system. Always test before using these scripts.

Creating custom templates for iOS App Development

What are Xcode templates?

Xcode templates are basically pre-created files which we use when we create new projects or project files. So every time you go through the process of creating a new project File > New > Project > iOS > Single View App you are using the Single View App template.

While most of the templates are good enough we can easily create our own templates.

Why do we need custom templates?

The templates available out of the box are good for common situations. But we find that most of the times we end up creating a lot of file in our project. Sometime we implement common design patterns and architectures on a regular basis.

In such situations creating out own custom templates will help us save a lot of time during development.

The other advantage is that this promotes a more consistent development experience in any organisation.

Now that we know what templates are and why we may need custom templates let us look at how we can create them.

Template Types

Before we go ahead and create templates let us examine what a typical template includes.

Navigate to the following path:

/Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/Developer/Platforms/iPhoneOS.platform/Developer/Library/Xcode/Templates/

Notice that there are 2 folders already created out here. File Templates & Project Templates. Let us browse through these folders.

File Templates

These are the templates used when a developer wishes to add a new file to an existing project. Under file templates you should see different folders in there. Each folder represents a certain category of templates. For example, User Interface is one category. Select it.

You should see multiple folders under it. The screenshot above shows the View template. As we can see the template itself is a folder with multiple files inside. The template ends with an extensions xctemplate. Let us look at those files.

  • ___FILEBASENAME___.xib
  • TemplateIcon.png
  • TemplateIcon@2x.png
  • TemplateInfo.plist

The first one is the XIB file which will be generated by this template. The ___FILEBASENAME___ placeholder will be replaced with an actual name when it is created.

The next 2 are simply images that will be used as icons for the template when we bring up the template wizard in Xcode.

The last one is the more important one. The TemplateInfo.plist. This is where we describe how the file creation process works. This is also where we configure options which will be presented to the user. We will look at this file in greater depth later on when we try to create our own templates.

Project Templates

These are the templates that are used when a developer decides to create a new project. Under project templates you should see different folders in there. Each folder represents a certain category of templates. For example, Application is one category. Select it.

I have the single view app template inside it. This is the most commonly used template when starting out with iOS App Development. You should see other familiar project templates. Feel free to examine the files in the folder. Let us have a look inside the Single View App template folder. You should see these items:

  • ContentView.swift
  • Main.storyboard
  • TemplateIcon.png
  • TemplateIcon@2x.png
  • Preview Assets.xcassets folder
  • TemplateInfo.plist

The first 2 files are the UI related files. One of the 2 will be selected based on the users choice between Storyboard and SwiftUI.

The next 2 are simply images that will be used as icons for the template when we bring up the template wizard in Xcode.

The Preview Assets folder is used with SwiftUI for previewing purposes.

Here too we have the TemplateInfo.plist file which configures the template options at the time of creation. We will explore this file in greater depth when we try to create our own project template.

How can we create them?

In this article we will look at creating 2 types of templates.

  1. File Templates
  2. Project Templates

Warning: It may be a good idea to try this out on a test computer so that you do not break anything on the computer you use everyday.

Preparation

Before we get started let us prepare the folders where we will be storing our custom templates.

  1. Navigate to the following folder.
~/Library/Developer/Xcode/Templates/

Note, you may have to create this folder.

  1. There should be 2 folders inside: File Templates, Project Templates. If these folders are not there then go ahead and create them.

We will be placing our templates in these folders.


TopicPage
Creating File templates2
Creating Project templates3

Download

You can download the templates from these links.

Note

This code has been tested on Xcode 11.3.1 on macOS Catalina 10.15.3

Creating iOS Apps without Storyboard – Part 2

Autolayout Programmatically

This article continues from the previous article. Earlier we saw how we can make iOS Apps without using the storyboard file. In this article we will explore how to implement Autolayout programmatically. We will continue from the previous article.

The code that I will be showing in the article will not be covering all the possible cases. The point of this article is to give you an idea on how to implement the different Autolayout solutions. Feel free to play around with the code to cover all the cases & situations.

Programmatic Constraints

We have 3 options when it comes to applying constraints programmatically:

  1. StackViews
  2. Layout Anchors
  3. NSLayoutConstraints class
  4. Visual Format Language (VFL)

Handling Size Classes in code

Handling Size classes in code is fairly easy. It is a simple question of overriding the correct function. We will look at this in greater detail when we cover the topic later in the article.

TopicPage
Implementing UIStackViews2
Implementing Layout Anchors3
NSLayoutConstraints class4
Implementing Visual Format Language5
Size Classes6
Summary & Video7

This article has been written using Xcode 10.3.

Creating iOS Apps without Storyboard – Part 1

What are “nibless” apps?

Apps which are designed without the help of Storyboard are called as “Nibless” apps. Normally we design an app with the help of a Storyboard file. Earlier they were called Xib files or Nib files. Hence the term “Nibless”.

Why should we create Apps without storyboard?

There are a number of reasons.

  1. It makes for a better experience when implementing along with version control.
  2. Allows us to create UI elements dynamically.
  3. Makes reusable UI Components easier to distribute and reuse.

How can we create Apps without Storyboard?

There are a couple of things that need to be done. Firstly the Main.storyboard file needs to be removed and the project settings need to be updated to reflect this change.. We are doing this since we won’t be using the storyboard file.
Everything will now have to be started up by us manually. Many of these tasks were taken care of by storyboard, but since that was removed we will have to do it. This means we have to manually create the window, create the view controller set it as a the root view controller.
We also have to manually create each and every component on our own. That is the very thing we were trying to achieve.

This example is implemented on Xcode 10.3 on macOS 10.14.5. We are not implementing auto layout in this article. We will look at implementing that programmatically in the next article.

  1. Let us start with an empty project. Open Xcode.
  2. Select File > New > Project
  3. Give it any name. Select the language as Swift & leave the checkboxes unchecked.
  4. Once the project loads select the Main.storyboard file and delete it.
  5. Switch to the Project settings file.
  6. Remove the entry for the main interface.
  7. It is a good idea to leave the LaunchScreen.storyboard file. The reason for this is to give the launch process a reference of the screen size it needs to produce. Else it will default down to the 0,0,320,480 which is the old iPhone size.
  8. Switch to the AppDelegate.swift file.
  9. Add the following property below the UI Window declaration.
      
    let mainScreenController : ViewController = ViewController() 
    
  10. Add the code to create the window and set root view controller in the didFinishLaunchingWithOptions method
       
    //1. Create the UIWindow object   
    self.window = UIWindow(frame: UIScreen.main.bounds)   
    
    //2. Set the root view controller   
    self.window?.rootViewController = self.mainScreenController   
    
    //3. Make the window key and visible  
    self.window?.makeKeyAndVisible()  
    
  11. Switch to the ViewController.swift file.
  12. Declare the following variables
      
    //UI Variables  
    var labelDemo   : UILabel?  
    var imageDemo   : UIImageView?  
    var buttonDemo  : UIButton = UIButton(type: UIButton.ButtonType.roundedRect) 
    var dataField   : UITextField?
    
  13. Implement the function to create labels. The process of creating a view programmatically is fairly straightforward. Barring a few variations depending on the view component nothing is drastically different.
      
    func createLabel() 
    {      
         //1. Specify the dimensions      
         let labelRect : CGRect   = CGRect(x: 100.0, y: 50.0, width: self.view.frame.size.width - 130.0, height: 60.0)     
    
         //2. Create the view object      
         labelDemo                = UILabel(frame: labelRect)      
    
         //3. Customise the view attributes      
         labelDemo?.text          = "This is my first Programmatic App."                
         labelDemo?.textColor     = UIColor.yellow      
         labelDemo?.textAlignment = NSTextAlignment.left  
         labelDemo?.numberOfLines = 0      
         labelDemo?.font          = UIFont.boldSystemFont(ofSize: 20.0)      
    
         //4. Add the view to the subview      
         self.view.addSubview(labelDemo!) 
    } 
    
    Let us examine the steps one by one.
     
    //1. Specify the dimensions 
    let labelRect : CGRect = CGRect(x: 100.0, y: 50.0, width: self.view.frame.size.width - 130.0, height: 60.0)
    
    This will define the dimensions of the view. As we are not implementing auto layout we will need to do this manually.
     
    //2. Create the view object
    labelDemo = UILabel(frame: labelRect) 
    
    Now that we have the dimensions we can go ahead and instantiate an instance of the label object using those dimensions. These 2 parts are the same as dragging a label from the object library onto the storyboard and placing it onto the storyboard per our requirements.
    //3. Customise the view attributes 
    labelDemo?.text          = "This is my first Programmatic App."     
    labelDemo?.textColor     = UIColor.yellow 
    labelDemo?.textAlignment = NSTextAlignment.center      
    labelDemo?.numberOfLines = 0 
    labelDemo?.font          = UIFont.boldSystemFont(ofSize: 20.0)
    
    This part is the same as changing the attributes in the attributes inspector. This is where we customise the label.
     
    //4. Add the view to the subview 
    self.view.addSubview(labelDemo!) 
    
    This last part also forms one part of dragging the label on to the storyboard. When we drag a view on to the storyboard it is placed within the main view that belongs to the ViewController. This statement completes the above process.
  14. Repeat the above steps for showing an image.
    func createImage()
    {
         //1. Specify the dimensions
         let imageRect  : CGRect  = CGRect(x: 30.0, y: 50.0, width: 60.0, height: 60.0)
    
         //2. Create the image model
         let imageModel : UIImage = UIImage(named: "logo.png")!
    
         //3. Create the view object
         imageDemo                = UIImageView(frame: imageRect)
    
         //4. Customise the view attributes
         imageDemo?.image         = imageModel
         imageDemo?.contentMode   = UIView.ContentMode.scaleAspectFit
    
         //5. Add the view to the subview
         self.view.addSubview(imageDemo!)
    }
    
    The code above is almost similar to the one created for labels except for the fact that we had to explicitly create a model object for the view. Images being different from strings, require this process to be done explicitly.
  15. Similarly let us implement the code for creating buttons
    func createButton()
    {
         //1. Specify the dimensions
         let buttonRect : CGRect = CGRect(x: 30.0, y: 220.0, width: 100.0, height: 50.0)
    
         //2. Provide the frame to the button
         buttonDemo.frame = buttonRect
    
         //3. Customise the view attributes
         buttonDemo.setTitle("Click Me", for: UIControl.State.normal)
         buttonDemo.addTarget(self, action: #selector(ViewController.clickMeTapped), for: UIControl.Event.touchDown)
    
         //4. Add the view to the subview
         self.view.addSubview(buttonDemo)
    }
    
    @objc func clickMeTapped(
    {
         print("Click me tapped!")
    }
    
    Again just minor variations here. Mainly the step to add a target function to be invoked when the button is tapped. We also need to write the target function itself.
  16. We will also implement the code to create a text field.
    func createTextField()
    {
        //1. Provide dimensions for the view
        let tfRect : CGRect             = CGRect(x: 30.0, y: 140.0, width: self.view.frame.size.width - 60.0, height: 50.0)
            
        //2. Create the view object
        dataField                       = UITextField(frame: tfRect)
            
        //3. Customise the attributes of the view
        dataField?.placeholder          = "Enter Name"
        dataField?.borderStyle          = UITextField.BorderStyle.roundedRect
        dataField?.keyboardType         = UIKeyboardType.namePhonePad
        dataField?.keyboardAppearance   = UIKeyboardAppearance.dark
        dataField?.returnKeyType        = UIReturnKeyType.go
            
        //4. Add the view to the subview
        self.view.addSubview(dataField!)
    }
    
  17. Next we need to call all these functions. I have implemented a single creator function for that.
    func createUIElements()
    {
         self.createLabel()
         self.createImage()
         self.createButton()
         self.createTextField()
    }
    
  18. Lastly we will call this function in the viewDidLoad method. Add the following lines to the viewDidLoad method.
    self.view.backgroundColor = UIColor.lightGray
    self.createUIElements()
    
    I have also added code to change the background colour so that we can see the background clearly.
  19. Run the project. Everything should appear normally.

Are there any benefits of creating apps without storyboard?

The points mentioned in the “why should we make programmatic apps?” section are some of the advantages. Beyond that there aren’t too many.
If you are looking at a team based project development then this approach is good.
There is no difference in terms of memory or performance when it comes down to apps design with or without storyboard.

Are there any drawbacks?

As can be seen from the example above, there are a couple of drawbacks

  1. The main drawback is that you can’t get a quick preview of how your app looks. You have to run the simulation every time you wish to see the end result.
  2. There is a lot more coding involved. Which can be daunting to those who are overly accustomed to designing with the help of storyboards

Note

A small point. I have left the LaunchScreen.storyboard file. I did not delete it. The reason I did that was to allow the app to allow the system to determine the dimensions on the device. If we do delete the file then the UIScreen.main.bounds return (0.0, 0.0, 320.0, 480.0) which are the old iPhone screen size settings.
While you can go ahead and make changes programmatically it is a lot easier to just leave the LaunchScreen.storyboard file there.

Carrying on from the previous point. It actually is okay if you leave the Main.storyboard file as is too. In which case you will have to skip steps 5,6,8,9,10. The code is still running programmatically but you do not have to create the main ViewController manually.

Download the Source Code

You can download the Xcode Project from this link.

Creating your own Drag and Drop DMG

What are Disk Images?

Disk images are a means of archiving data. They are created using a tool called Disk Utility which is a File System Management Utility of macOS. Disk Images follow the extension ‘.dmg‘ and are only compatible with macOS.

Disk Images are a popular way of distributing applications for macOS. They provide the capability of compressing large files and make delivery over the internet very easy.

In this article we are going to look at how we can create disk images for application distribution.

Creating the DMG Folder for distribution

  1. Create a Background image. This can have any design. It’s a good idea to have arrows or other visual aids to assist others during installation.
  2. Create a new Disk Image. Open Disk Utility.
  3. Click on File > New Image > Blank Image
  4. Leave the default settings as is. Choose the size that you desire.
  5. Mount the Disk Image.
  6. Create a folder called background in the mounted volume.
  7. Save the background image in the folder we just created.
  8. Now we will hide the background folder. Switch to terminal and run the following command.

     
    cd /Volume/InstallDMG/
    mv background .background
    


    Here we are simply renaming the background folder with a ‘.’ before it. This hides the folder from the GUI.

    Now we will prepare the payload. This can be any file or folder we wish to install. For the sake of this demo I will be choosing Mozilla FireFox. In reality you would be distributing your own application.
  9. Copy the FireFox app into the mounted volume.
  10. Open “Show View Options“.
  11. Restrict the mounted volume to icon view only. Feel free to customise the other settings as you wish. This includes icon size.
  12. Drag and arrange the icons in your mounted window to match the background.
  13. Eject the disk image. 
  14. Make a duplicate copy of the image file. This can act as a reference for future images you wish to create.
  15. Now we will convert the disk image into a read only compressed disk image. This will be the one that we will use for distribution. Open Disk Utility.
  16. Click on Images > Convert
  17. Select the InstallerDMG.dmg from Desktop or wherever you had saved it.
  18. Give it a new name and convert it to compressed format.

That’s it. You now have your own drag drop window ready for distribution.

Migrating to Swift from Objective-C

This article explores some of the advantages and challenges faced by developers while migrating to Swift from Objective-C.

1. Do we want to migrate?

Before you start the migration process remove the old adage:

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!

Start by identifying the reasons why you wish to migrate. Here are some possible reasons why.

  • The code is old and not updated for a very long time. You now wish to add new features.
  • The frameworks/libraries you are using in your project have upgraded to modern Swift and no longer support your old Objective-C syntax. *You may still want to just update to modern Objective-C, but this would be a good time to jump onto swift.
  • You see potential for improvement in code size/speed/performance by using new Swift features not available in Objective-C. For example: Generic Programming.
  • The developers who developed the app in Objective-C have left and the new employees are proficient at Swift. *Again not a strong reason, but a valid reason if there is no other alternative. Asking people to sit down and learn Objective-C may not be practical, especially if they don’t have a background in C Programming.
  • The app is due for a performance, stability, & bug fix update. This is a good time to consider migration to Swift.

Factors to keep in mind before considering migration.

  • The cost of migration. This is the cost of keeping a certain number of developers occupied in migrating the code. The cost is in terms of time as well as money.
  • Potential risks. Any change to the code increases the risk of bugs. The chances of introducing limits on backward compatibility also increase.
  • Benefits gained. An assessment needs to be done as to whether there are any benefits of migrating to Swift. The Return on Investment needs to be figured out.
  • Compatibility with 3rd Party or in house libraries that you might use.

After having thought through all this you are ready for the next step: “Prepare to Migrate”

2. Preparing to Migrate

This is where you actually begin to work on the migration of the App.

  1. As a first step perform a full code review of the app.
  2. The next step is a major decision. Should you rebuild your entire app from scratch or do a piece by piece migration. We will explore the advantages a little later in the article.
  3. Look for Swift versions of 3rd frameworks/libraries you use. This is not strictly required, however, this is a good time to check for new APIs.
  4. Identify parts of the project to migrate. This is to be done if it is a piecemeal migration. This marks you as ready for the next step: “Starting the Migration”.

3. Starting the Migration

Once you have everything in place you are ready to begin.

Migrations happen class by class. Select an Objective-C class to migrate and start working on converting it to Swift.

If you have any pure C functions then you can either choose to make them work with Swift or rewrite them in Swift.

While migrating pay special attention to your code. Here are some conversions that you can make.

  • See if you can make it simpler by using Generic Programming instead of usingVoid *
  • Replace the use of NSError * with exceptions.
  • Use extensions to give types new capabilities.
  • Consider creating your own Data structures. You may use Swift Arrays, Dictionaries if you wish. But this might be a good time to improve performance by building your own data structures.
  • Embrace closures and protocols a lot more.
  • Make extensive use of the @available attribute to describe your changes and mark availability
  • Start incorporating Swift Markup to make the comments from your Objective-C code more readable.
  • Enums pulled in from Objective-C can be made more powerful in Swift by adding methods which work with enums as a part of the enum itself.
  • Use property observers to make code more reactive. In some situations this might be easier than setting observers.

Migration Steps

Here are some general steps you can follow. The steps below are for both a full app conversion or a piece meal conversion.

Note: The steps mentioned below are sample steps and not necessarily the only way to achieve this.
  1. If its a full app conversion then create a new project. Else duplicate the existing project.
  2. Start by looking for the frameworks you need and importing them in the necessary Swift files.
  3. Identify class(es) that you have in your Objective-C project. Start by creating empty versions of those in your Swift project. It is very likely that you may not need all the classes as you might be optimising or reworking your App’s architecture. Also it is possible that you may need new classes.
  4. Next identify data structures used in the class. Either convert them to their swift equivalents or explore other options.
  5. Migrate the functions directly associated with the data structures.
  6. Migrate the variables used in the Objective-C class.
  7. Lastly migrate the remaining functions to Swift.
  8. Do this till you have converted all the classes that you wish to convert.

One point left to talk about is testing. Thoroughly test you app after each step you complete. If you are using XCTests, migrate a single Unit test at a time. Corresponding to the changes that you have made above.

5. Things to watch out for

There are many things to keep in mind while migrating your code.

  • In a mixed language project (Swift and Objective-C) Swift only features won’t be supported. So Generic Programming cannot be implemented.
  • Blind copying of the code from Objective-C to Swift may not result in the best output. Try to examine each line for potential optimisation opportunities.
  • Watch out for OS version compatibility. You may have to choose your Swift version accordingly.

6. Full Conversion versus Part by Part Conversion

Full Conversion

PROS:

  • The advantage of building the app from scratch is that your overall development time is less as different parts of the app can be refactored at development time.
  • You also have the advantage of adopting new development approaches or architectures such as Model View View Model (MVVM) or Test Driven Development (TDD).
  • You are in a better position to take advantage of all the Swift features as there won’t be any challenges with compatibility.
  • The advantages of Swift viz: Speed, Safety, and compact code are more easily achieved
  • If you want to support older versions of iOS then having a pure Swift and pure Objective-C version helps.

CONS:

  • Of course this means that your development time is large.
  • There is a potential for writing duplicate code in Swift especially if it is being reused in Objective-C projects. You may end up with 2 code bases for the same feature.

Part Conversion

PROS:

  • The advantage of migrating parts of your app is that you can split the migration over a larger period and use your resources on other projects.
  • In terms of cost this is less expensive and more resource friendly
  • The potential for duplicate code is reduced

CONS:

  • But on the flip side every time you take a new part to migrate you will have to make changes to the Swift code written earlier. This increases the development time and may affect the quality of the app in the long run.
  • You cannot take advantages of all the Swift features.
  • There is a chance that once the migration is complete the App may have to undergo an overhaul to take advantage of the Swift features & improve on Speed, Safety & Size.

This article just talks about some of the advantages and challenges with Migration to Swift. There are multiple approaches available and you will have to pick and choose the approach based on your needs or situation. I had written an article some time back about choosing between Swift & Objective-C, you can have a look at that too. Here is an article, for your reference, written by Apple on Migrating to Swift. Good luck & Happy Programming! Do feel free to share your experience migrating to Swift.

 

Using Swift Package Manager

About Swift Package Manager

The Swift Package Manager is the tool used to build Applications and Libraries. it streamlines the process of managing multiple Modules & Packages. Before we go ahead and learn to use Swift Package Manager we need to get familiar with some basic terminology.

Modules

Modules are used to specify a namespace and used to control access to that particular piece of code. Everything in Swift is organised as a module. An entire app can fit into a module or an app can be made using multiple modules. The fact that we can build modules using other modules means that reusing code becomes a lot easier. So, when we make an iOS App with Xcode and Swift. The entire app is considered a single module.

Targets

Targets are the end product that we want to make. So an app for iOS is a separate target. A library is a target. An app for macOS is a separate target. You can have many targets. Some can be for testing purposes only.

Packages

Packages group the necessary source files together. A package can contain more than one target. Normally one would create a package for a family of products. For example: you want to make a photo editing app that runs on macOS & iOS. You would create one package for it. That package would have 2 targets: an iOS App & a macOS App.

Products

This is a categorisation of your packages. There are 2 types of products. Executables or Libraries. A library contains the module which can be reused elsewhere. Executables are application that run & may make use of other modules.

Dependencies

Dependencies are the modules or the pieces of code that are required to make the different targets within the package. These are normally provided as URLs.

End Products

*NOTE: Before you get started you must be familiar with Setting up Swift on Linux. If you haven’t done that then please go through the updated article: UPDATE: Swift on Linux. This also makes use of Swift Package Manager.

Example

So let us get started with an example. We are going to learn how to create:

  • a library package called ErrorTypes
  • a library package, called MathOperations, that uses the ErrorTypes library package
  • an executable package called Calc that makes use of the MathOperations package.

We will see how to create all three elements. Also I have uploaded the ErrorTypes & MathOperations packages to the http://www.github.com repository to demonstrate the use of dependencies. You can also create your own local git repositories if you wish.

To illustrate the folder hierarchy: I have created a folder called “Developer” in my Ubuntu linux home folder. Within that I have created a folder called “SPMDEMO“. All the paths that I will be using will be with reference to these folders. You should see a structure like this:

/home/admin/Developer/SPMDEMO/ErrorTypes
/home/admin/Developer/SPMDEMO/MathOperations
/home/admin/Developer/SPMDEMO/Calc

You are free to follow this exercise using your own folder locations. Just modify the paths accordingly.

swift package init
swift package init --type executable
swift build

If you need help with the commands run:

swift package --help
swift --help

Creating a Package

  1. First let us start off by creating the ErrorTypes package.
    mkdir ErrorTypes
  2. Navigate to the folder and create the package:
  3. cd ErrorTypes
    swift package init
    

    By default init will create a library package type.

  4. Navigate to the folder containing the source files:
    cd ./Sources/ErrorTypes/
  5. Open the ErrorTypes.swift file and write the following code
    public enum ErrorCodes : Error
    {
         case FileNotFound(String)
         case DivideByZero(String)
         case UnknownError(String)
    }
    
    public struct MathConstants
    {
         static let pi : Float = 3.14159
         static let e  : Float = 2.68791
    }
    

    Feel free to add some code of your own. The above is just an example.

  6. Run the command to build to make sure that there aren’t any issues. You shouldn’t have any as there are no dependencies of any kind. Its a simple straightforward piece of code.
    swift build
  7. If everything is fine check your code into a git repository. This can be local or on the web. Remember that we will need the URL to this repository.
  8. Navigate back to the SPMDEMO folder.
    cd ~/Developer/SPMDEMO/
  9. Create a folder called MathOperations.
    mkdir MathOperations
  10. Navigate to the newly created folder and run the command to create a library package.
    cd MathOperations
    swift package init
    
  11. Navigate to the sources folder:
    cd ./Sources/MathOperations/
  12. Open the MathOperations.swift file and write the following code.
    import ErrorTypes
    
    public struct MathOperations
    {
         public static func add(Number num1 : Int, with num2 : Int) -> Int
         {
              return num1 + num2
         }
    
         public static func mult(Number num1 : Int, with num2 : Int) -> Int
         {
              return num1 * num2
         }
    
         public static func div(Number num1 : Int, by num2 : Int) throws -> Int
         {
              guard num2 > 0
              else
              {
              throw ErrorCodes.DivideByZero("You are dividing by zero. The second argument is incorrect.")
              }
    
              return num1 / num2
         }
    
         public static func sub(_ num1 : Int, from num2 : Int) -> Int
         {
              return num2 - num1
         }
    }
    
  13. Before we build we need to modify the Packages.swift file to indicate there is a dependency.
    Notice that in the MathOperations.swift file we are importing a module called ErrorTypes. We just created it. But just because we created it doesn’t mean it will be added automatically. We need to pull that module into our own

    Also notice that I have provided access specifiers “public” everywhere. This ensures that the code written in one module is accessible in the other.

    Navigate to the MathOperations parent folder.

    cd ~/Developer/SPMDEMO/MathOperations/
  14. Open the Packages.swift file and make the changes as shown below:
    // swift-tools-version:4.0
    // The swift-tools-version declares the minimum version of Swift required to build this package.
    
    import PackageDescription
    
    let package = Package(name: "MathOperations",
         products: [
              // Products define the executables and libraries produced by a package, and make them visible to other packages.
              .library(name: "MathOperations", targets: ["MathOperations"]),
         ],
    
         dependencies: [
              // Dependencies declare other packages that this package depends on.
              .package(url:"https://github.com/AmaranthineTech/ErrorTypes.git", from:"1.0.0"),
         ],
    
         targets: [
              // Targets are the basic building blocks of a package. A target can define a module or a test suite.
              // Targets can depend on other targets in this package, and on products in packages which this package depends on.
              .target(name: "MathOperations", dependencies: ["ErrorTypes"]),
              .testTarget(name: "MathOperationsTests", dependencies:   ["MathOperations"]),]
    )
    
  15. Once these changes are made save the file and run the command
    swift build

    If you typed everything correctly then you should see the source code for the ErrorTypes module being pulled in and the build being successful.Here are some common mistakes:
    – Forgetting to write the import ErrorTypes statement
    – Error in the URL
    – The from tag not matching the tag in the repository
    – Access specifiers are incorrect or missing
    – Not mentioning the dependencies in the target

  16. Just like with the ErrorTypes module create a git repository for the MathOperations module.
  17. Now let us make the Calc executable that will use the MathOperations library. First navigate back to the SPMDEMO folder and create a folder called Calc.
    cd ~/Developer/SPMDEMO/
    mkdir Calc
    
  18. This time we are going to create an executable package. Run the command:
    swift package init --type executable

    This also creates a similar folder structure as in the case of the library.

  19. Navigate to the folder containing the main.swift file.
    cd ./Sources/Calc/
  20. Modify the main.swift file as shown below:
    import MathOperations
    
    //testing addition
    var result : Int = MathOperations.add(Number: 33, with: 29)
    print("Result of adding 33 with 29 is: \(result)")
    
    //testing multiplication
    result = MathOperations.mult(Number: 33, with: 29)
    print("Result of multiplying 33 with 29 is: \(result)")
    
    //testing division
    do
    {
         result = try MathOperations.div(Number: 33, by: 0)
         print("Result of dividing 33 by 29 is: \(result)")
    }
    catch let error
    {
         print("ERROR: \(error)")
    }
    
    //testing subtraction
    result = MathOperations.sub(3, from: 29)print("Result of subtracting 3 from 29 is: \(result)")
    
  21. Navigate back to the main Calc folder.
    cd ~/Developer/SPMDEMO/Calc/
  22. Modify the Packages.swift file as shown below:
    // swift-tools-version:4.0
    // The swift-tools-version declares the minimum version of Swift required to build this package.
    
    import PackageDescription
    
    let package = Package(name: "Calc",
    dependencies: [
         // Dependencies declare other packages that this package depends on.
         .package(url: "https://github.com/AmaranthineTech/MathOperations.git", from: "1.0.1"),
    ],
    targets: [
         // Targets are the basic building blocks of a package. A target can define a module or a test suite.
         // Targets can depend on other targets in this package, and on products in packages which this package depends on.
         .target(name: "Calc", dependencies: ["MathOperations"]),
    ]
    )
    
  23. Save the file and run the build command:
    swift build
  24. Like before you should see both the MathOperationsErrorType module being pulled in. We are ready to run the executable. Navigate to the debug folder which contains the executable. Make sure you are in the main Calc folder when you run this command.
    cd ./build/debug/
  25. You should see an executable file called Calc. Run it.
    ./Calc
  26. If everything went okay then you should see the output on the console.

As you can see it is pretty straightforward to develop Applications written in Swift on Linux.

Adding System Modules

In the previous example we saw how to import our own custom made modules. However, there are some modules provided by the system which offers functionality we may wish to use. For example if we wanted to use the random number generator in our application we would need to use the random() method. This is in the glib module.

  1. Quickly create a package called SystemLibs. This is an executable.
  2. Write the following code in the main.swift.
    #if os(Linux)
    import Glibc
    #else
    import Darwin.C
    #endif
    extension Int
    {
         func toString() -> String
         {
              return "\(self)"
         }
    }
    
    var luckyNumber : Int = Int(random())
    
    var luckyNumberStr : String = luckyNumber.toString()
    
    print("The lucky number is \(luckyNumberStr)")
    
  3. Build the code and run the executable.

Adding system modules is direct and simple. The glibc module contains aspects of the standard library. The condition check is to make sure that we are importing the correct module based on the system that we are developing the application on.

Handling Sub-dependencies

As we saw in the earlier example, sub dependencies are handled automatically. So when our Calc application marked the MathOperations module as a dependency it was pulled during the build. However, the MathOperations module itself marked ErrorTypes module as a dependency. We did not have to modify the Packages.swift file belonging to Calc to indicate that ErrorTypes module also needs to be pulled. This was handled automatically by Swift Package Manager.

Conclusion

In this article we have seen:

  • How to create a library package
  • How to create a library package that depends on another library package
  • How to create an executable that depends on a library package
  • How to import the system Glibc module into our executables.

The Swift Package Manager simplifies many aspects of the development process for us. Many of the things we have discussed also work on macOS. Going forward reusing code and planning for the same should be done keeping Swift Package Manager in mind.