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.

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.

Programming Style Guide: Code Refactoring

One of the key attributes towards code that is readable and easy on the eyes is code that is split into appropriately sized pieces. Code refactoring is does exactly that. It is very easy to write a program as one big piece of code. Of course, any program that grows becomes increasingly complicated and highly inefficient. If not controlled, it will soon reach a point where it is highly unreadable, extremely difficult to maintain & filled with bugs. Not to mention that it is inefficient too.

Refactoring code and breaking it down into smaller reusable chunks is the key. The objective is:

  1. To make code easier to read
  2. To make reusable components so that we can save on duplication of code. This will reduce the code count and make sure that any changes to the reused code are available everywhere.
  3. To lend a structure to the application. Tasks now have their own space.
  4. Build scalable and maintainable code.
  5. Build bug free code.

Let us look at an example.

Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 11.26.26 AM

Bad Code

This code is clearly written poorly. Its difficult to read. There aren’t good whitespaces. No consistency. Even the naming conventions are poor.

The fix would be :

  • Break it down into different functions
  • Separate tasks into their own files
  • Name the different elements of the code properly.

This is how the code looks now. It has been broken down into different files.

main.cpp

#include <iostream>
#include "MathOperations.hpp"
#include "Choices.hpp"

int main(int argc, const char * argv[])
{
     float number1           = 0.0;
     float number2           = 0.0;
     Choices selectedOption  = CLEAR;
     float answer            = 0;
     float integralAnswer    = 0;

     while(EXIT != selectedOption)
     {
          //Welcome message
          std::cout<<"Welcome to Calculator Program"<<std::endl;
          std::cout<<"Choose between the following options"<<std::endl;
          std::cout<<"1. Add\n2. Subtract\n3. Multiply\n4. Divide\n5. Remainder\n6. Percentage"<<std::endl;

          //User choice
          std::cout<<"Choice: ";                               std::cin>>selectedOption;

          //Chance to enter first number
          std::cout<<"Number 1: ";                               std::cin>>number1;

          //Chance to enter second number
          std::cout<<"Number 2: ";                               std::cin>>number2;

          switch (selectedOption)
          {
               case ADDITION:
                    answer = addition(number1, number2);
                    std::cout<<"The addition of "<<number1<<" & "<<number2<<" = "<<answer<<std::endl;
                    break;
               case SUBTRACTION:
                    answer = subtraction(number1, number2);
                    std::cout<<"The subtraction of "<<number1<<" & "<<number2<<" = "<<answer<<std::endl;
                    break;
               case MULTIPLICATION:
                    answer = multiplication(number1, number2);
                    std::cout<<"The multiplication of "<<number1<<" & "<<number2<<" = "<<answer<<std::endl;
                    break;
               case DIVISION:
                    answer = division(number1, number2);
                    std::cout<<"The division of "<<number1<<" & "<<number2<<" = "<<answer<<std::endl;
                    break;
               case REMAINDER:
                    integralAnswer = remainder((int)number1, (int)number2);
                    std::cout<<"The remainder of "<<number1<<" divided by "<<number2<<" = "<<integralAnswer<<std::endl;
                    break;
               case PERCENTAGE:
                    answer = percentage(number1, number2);
                    std::cout<<"The percentage of "<<number1<<" out of "<<number2<<" = "<<answer<<span 				data-mce-type="bookmark" 				id="mce_SELREST_start" 				data-mce-style="overflow:hidden;line-height:0" 				style="overflow:hidden;line-height:0" 			></span><std::endl;
                    break;
               default:
                    break;
          }
     }
     return 0;
}

Choices.hpp

#ifndef Choices_hpp
#define Choices_hpp

#include <stdio.h>
#include <iostream>

enum Choices : unsigned short int { ADDITION = 1, SUBTRACTION, MULTIPLICATION, DIVISION, REMAINDER, PERCENTAGE, CLEAR, EXIT};

typedef enum Choices Choices;

std::istream& operator >>(std::istream &is, Choices& enumVar);

#endif

Choices.cpp

#include "Choices.hpp"

std::istream& operator >>(std::istream &is, Choices& enumVar)
{
    unsigned short int intVal;
    is>>intVal;
    switch (intVal) {
        case 1:
            enumVar = ADDITION;
            break;
        case 2:
            enumVar = SUBTRACTION;
            break;
        case 3:
            enumVar = MULTIPLICATION;
            break;
        case 4:
            enumVar = DIVISION;
            break;
        case 5:
            enumVar = REMAINDER;
            break;
        case 6:
            enumVar = PERCENTAGE;
            break;
        default:
            enumVar = EXIT;
            break;
    }
    return is;
}

MathOperations.hpp

#ifndef MathOperations_hpp
#define MathOperations_hpp

#include <stdio.h>

//Addition
float addition(float number1, float number2);

//Subtraction
float subtraction(float number1, float number2);

//Multiplication
float multiplication(   float number1, float number2);

//Division
float division(float number1, float number2);

//Remainder
int remainder(int number1, int number2);

//Percentage
float percentage(float number1, float number2);

#endif

MathOperations.cpp

#include "MathOperations.hpp"

//Addition
float addition(float number1, float number2)
{
    return number1 + number2;
}

//Subtraction
float subtraction(float number1, float number2)
{
    return number1 - number2;
}

//Multiplication
float multiplication(   float number1, float number2)
{
    return number2 * number1;
}

//Division
float division(float number1, float number2)
{
    if (number2 > 0) {
        return number1 / number2;
    }
    return 0.0;
}

//Remainder
int remainder(int number1, int number2)
{
    return number1 % number2;
}

//Percentage
float percentage(float number1, float number2)
{
    if (number2 > 0) {
        return (number1 / number2) * 100.0;
    }
    return 0.0;
}

Let us look at how this looks for Swift.
main.swift

import Foundation

var number1 : Float             = 0.0
var number2 : Float             = 0.0
var selectedOption : Choices    = Choices.CLEAR
var answer : Float              = 0.0
var integralAnswer : Int        = 0

func readNumbers(One firstNumber : inout Float, Two secondNumber : inout Float)
{
     //Chance to enter first number
     print("Number 1: \n")
     firstNumber = Choices.inputNumbers()

     //Chance to enter second number
     print("Number 2: \n")
     secondNumber = Choices.inputNumbers()
}

while(Choices.EXIT != selectedOption)
{
     //Welcome message
     print("Welcome to Calculator Program")
     print("Choose between the following options")
     print("1. Add\n2. Subtract\n3. Multiply\n4. Divide\n5. Remainder\n6. Percentage")

     //User choice
     print("Choice: \n")
     selectedOption = Choices.inputChoices()
     switch (selectedOption)
     {
          case Choices.ADDITION:
               readNumbers(One: &number1, Two: &number2)
               answer = addition_of(_value: number1, with_value: number2)
               print("The addition of \(number1) & \(number2) = \(answer)")
               break
          case Choices.SUBTRACTION:
               readNumbers(One: &number1, Two: &number2)
               answer = subtraction_of(_value: number1, from_value: number2)
               print("The subtraction of \(number1) & \(number2) = \(answer)")
               break
          case Choices.MULTIPLICATION:
               readNumbers(One: &number1, Two: &number2)
               answer = multiplication_of(_value: number1, with_value: number2)
               print("The multiplication of \(number1) & \(number2) = \(answer)")
               break
          case Choices.DIVISION:
               readNumbers(One: &number1, Two: &number2)
               answer = division_of(_value: number1, by_value: number2)
               print("The division of \(number1) & \(number2) = \(answer)")
               break
          case Choices.REMAINDER:
               readNumbers(One: &number1, Two: &number2)
               integralAnswer = remainder_of(_value: Int(exactly:number1)!, <span 				data-mce-type="bookmark" 				id="mce_SELREST_start" 				data-mce-style="overflow:hidden;line-height:0" 				style="overflow:hidden;line-height:0" 			></span>divided_by_value: Int(exactly: number2)!)
               print("The remainder of \(number1) divided by \(number2) = \(integralAnswer)")
               break
          case Choices.PERCENTAGE:
               readNumbers(One: &number1, Two: &number2)
               answer = percentage_of(_value: number1, with_respect_to_value: number2)
               print("The percentage of \(number1) out of \(number2) = \(answer)")
               break
          default:
               selectedOption = .EXIT
               break
     }
}

Choices.swift

import Foundation

enum Choices { case ADDITION, SUBTRACTION, MULTIPLICATION, DIVISION, REMAINDER, PERCENTAGE, CLEAR, EXIT}

//CLI Reading Capability
extension Choices
{
    static func inputChoices() -> Choices
    {
        let ip : String? = readLine()
        let choice : String = String(ip!)

        switch choice {
        case "1":
            return .ADDITION
        case "2":
            return .SUBTRACTION
        case "3":
            return .MULTIPLICATION
        case "4":
            return .DIVISION
        case "5":
            return .REMAINDER
        case "6":
            return .PERCENTAGE
        default:
            return .EXIT
        }
    }

    static func inputNumbers() -> Float
    {
        let ip : String? = readLine()

        let numberFormatter = NumberFormatter()
        let number = numberFormatter.number(from: ip!)

        let num : Float? = number?.floatValue
        return num!
    }
}

MathOperations.swift

import Foundation

//Addition
func addition_of(_value number1 : Float, with_value number2 : Float) -> Float
{
    return number1 + number2;
}

//Subtraction
func subtraction_of(_value number2 : Float, from_value number1 : Float) -> Float
{
    return number1 - number2;
}

//Multiplication
func multiplication_of(_value number1 : Float, with_value number2 : Float) -> Float
{
    return number2 * number1;
}

//Division
func division_of(_value number1 : Float, by_value number2 : Float) -> Float
{
    if (number2 > 0) {
        return number1 / number2;
    }
    return 0.0;
}

//Remainder
func remainder_of(_value number1 : Int, divided_by_value number2 : Int) -> Int
{
    return number1 % number2;
}

//Percentage
func percentage_of(_value number1 : Float, with_respect_to_value number2 : Float) -> Float
{
    if (number2 > 0) {
        return (number1 / number2) * 100.0;
    }
    return 0.0;
}

Discussion on Swift Extensions

As we can see that most of the code in Swift is very similar to C++. Most of the differences are basic syntactic differences. However, there is 1 feature of Swift that greatly aids code refactoring that I would like to talk about, Extensions.

Extensions allow us to add new functionality to the existing type. As the name says the type is extended. This allows us to add changes to a type in a consistent & clearly demarcated way. Developers can now neatly separate newly added components. This greatly helps in understanding the evolution of types.

“This is often referred to as versioning.”

Extensions can be used in the following ways to implement code refactoring:

  • Different sections of a type reside in their own extensions
  • Changes made to a type are made by keeping them in their own extensions
  • Step by step build up of code is done by representing each step as an independent extension. This gives clarity on how a certain end result was achieved.

Conclusion

As we can see from the sample code above (for both C++ & Swift) the program is much more readable. Code is carefully compartmentalised. Its a lot easier to read. It is a lot easier to scale too.

The reader may point out that the amount of code to achieve the same result is significantly higher, that however is a small price to pay in the long run. The biggest advantage is the scalability & the ease with which it can be done. Simply breaking code down into separate files & functions makes a huge difference. Here are some other benefits:

  • Individual files can be modified. This means one can now have a team working on different parts of the code.
  • Code is less cluttered. Changes are now spread across files & are easier to track.

We will now see how we can further improve this code in upcoming articles.