I recently setup fastlane for one of my indie apps, Taxatio, to automate uploading builds and metadata to the App Store — by far, one of the most tedious tasks of app development. While I had used fastlane extensively before when working on teams at companies, I had never actually set it up from scratch. In this post, I want to share how to do that, as well as a lightweight configuration that I think works well for solo indie developers — folks on a team of one!


My general philosophy when it comes to software development is do the simplest thing first. (Thanks to Mike Krieger for that one.) The first step is to get something that works that is not complicated and not over-engineered. You can always make it complicated, incomprehensible, and over-engineer it later — so why start now? 😉

In this particular situation with fastlane, this meant that I avoided setting it up for the initial 1.0 release. I knew I would likely run into issues with setup and configuration (I did) and I did not want to waste a bunch of time figuring out (somewhat unfamiliar) tooling when I could instead spend that time simply logging on to App Store Connect to manually input my metadata and upload screenshots.

After the initial release, I set out to get fastlane configured so that I would never have to do that manually again. And that’s great, because App Store Connect is not a very good website.

No CI/CD service

Because I’m a team of one, I do not use any CI/CD service. If a team (of at least a few people) told me they did not use a CI/CD service, I would scream and implement one on my first day. The benefits of using a CI/CD service with a team are clear. But there are good reasons not to do this as a solo indie dev.

Initially, I was torn about this decision. After working on teams for years with robust CI/CD automation, I am convinced it is the right way™ to do things. However, it simply does not make sense for a solo indie developer.

CI/CD services may not be that expensive in terms of absolute value, depending on what you consider expensive. GitHub Actions and Bitrise both have free tiers, but they are pretty limited. You will likely out-grow these, especially if you are working on multiple projects. In the next tier, Bitrise charges $90/month, while GitHub charges $4/month for the first year (after which it is unclear what they charge). My experience with Bitrise in the past was great. They tend deploy timely updates for macOS and Xcode releases. GitHub on the other hand is an exercise in frustration — their current default runners are using macOS 12, machines with macOS 13 are still in beta, and there is no mention of macOS 14, the latest release since last fall.

In order to determine if the cost of these services is worth it, you have to ask yourself what value do they provide? They will run your tests every time you push new commits or open a pull request, build your app, and upload your app to App Store Connect (either via their own infrastructure, or by running fastlane). But… couldn’t I just do all of that myself? Running my unit tests locally is not a problem — my projects are not massive like at big companies, so my test suites finish in a few minutes or less. Invoking fastlane locally is also fast and easy. I don’t need some random machines on the internet to do this for me, especially not for $1,000 per year (with Bitrise).

More importantly, CI/CD services are a maintenance burden — a trade-off that does not make sense for a team of one. Even though I had a good experiences with Bitrise working on teams, it still broke occasionally. Updating a configuration would inadvertently break something, or communicating with App Store Connect would break (not Bitrise’s fault), or codesigning and provisioning profiles would break, or our tests would be reported as passing even though a minor configuration change actually prevented them from running at all. On GitHub actions, you’re dealing with constantly being multiple versions behind.

So, is a CI/CD service worth the financial cost as well as the maintenance cost? For me, the answer is a clear no. The cost-benefit ratio simply does not add up. I do not want to spend time maintaining a service that only I use, when I could be using that time to work on features and fix bugs. No longer do I have to suffer through “it works on my machine, but not on CI” scenarios.

Rather than complete automation, which is what CI/CD services offer, I have opted for human-initiated automation. I run my tests locally during development. When ready to submit to the App Store, I simply run fastlane. I find this to be the best way to maximize the benefits of automation, while minimizing maintenance costs and financial costs.

Initial setup for fastlane

While fastlane does seem to be actively maintained, my impression is that much of it feels like it is languishing in maintenance mode. The documentation feels quite dated, sometimes referencing Xcode 7 or 8. I also ran into a handful of tiny bugs and had to experiment with various parameters. But it does still work, so that’s great!

For initial setup, you can follow the docs and follow the prompts.

fastlane init

You’ll be prompted to authenticate to App Store Connect. For now, you can just authenticate with your Apple ID when prompted. You can switch to using an API Key after initial setup.

If you already have App Store Connect configured with your app metadata and screenshots, fastlane can download this for you. The initial setup will prompt to do this for you, but I ran into issues. I would suggest doing this manually, especially if your app runs on multiple platforms.

# download metadata for each platform
fastlane deliver download_metadata --platform osx --use_live_version true
fastlane deliver download_metadata --platform ios --use_live_version true

# download screenshots for each platform
fastlane deliver download_screenshots --platform osx --use_live_version true
fastlane deliver download_screenshots --platform ios --use_live_version true

You’ll only need to do this once to bootstrap your initial setup. Per the recommendations in the docs, I would git ignore the fastlane/screenshots/ directory. These image files will be large, and they can easily be regenerated at any time.

Notes on using bundler

The docs encourage you to use Bundler with fastlane. I agree that this is important for teams and CI/CD setups to ensure everyone (and everywhere) is using the exact same versions of everything. However, as a solo indie dev working on only my own machine, I find this to be overkill — especially for a single gem. I simply install fastlane and invoke it directly. Then I don’t need to check-in a Gemfile and Gemfile.lock into git.


Setting up an API Key is the easiest method of authentication with App Store Connect, especially when working on multiple apps. You will not be constantly prompted for your Apple ID credentials and you won’t be bothered by 2-factor auth. I found that using a fastlane API Key JSON file was the simplest approach for me. I save this on my machine at ~/Developer/AppStoreConnect/api_key.json.

  "key_id": "XXXXXXXXXX",
  "issuer_id": "xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx",
  "key": "-----BEGIN PRIVATE KEY-----\nXXXXXXXXXX\n-----END PRIVATE KEY-----"

Again, not having to configure all of this on a CI machine is a joy. I don’t have to worry about accidentally leaking secrets because I misconfigured something. I also don’t have to worry about data breaches on a CI service.


When working on a team, using Xcode’s “automatic codesigning” feature is usually a nightmare. This is why fastlane has its own entire infrastructure for this. It is even more complicated and burdensome and tedious to get everything working on a CI/CD service, not to mention for everyone on a team. But, lucky for me, none of that applies to solo indie development!

When working alone, Xcode’s automatic codesigning works fine. You can configure fastlane accordingly. Even better, you do not have to waste your time trying to get all of this working on a CI/CD service!

I initially had some trouble getting fastlane to work with automatic codesigning. First, you need to configure your Xcode project to use automatic codesigning for all relevant targets. Second, when building via fastlane, you need to pass -allowProvisioningUpdates to the export_xcargs parameter. See the configuration files below.

Minimal configuration

Here’s the minimal configuration you’ll need for building and uploading your app.



# set other parameters as needed



# set other parameters as needed


output_directory("./build") # relative to your project

# Enable automatic code signing and provisioning


The App Store screenshot requirements are unpleasant to deal with. Luckily, fastlane snapshot can help with this for iOS. Unfortunately, it simply does not work for macOS. (See #11092, #11092-comment-349012721, #11092-comment-349273411, #19864) The good news though is that you can use fastlane to upload your macOS screenshots to App Store Connect.

For iOS, you can configure a Snapfile with all the parameters you need.

Here’s my lane for generating iOS screenshots. Because fastlane makes it trivial, I generate screenshots for all devices. Although, I really wish this weren’t necessary.

screenshots_path_ios = "./fastlane/screenshots/ios"

platform :ios do
  desc "Capture iOS screenshots"
  lane :screenshots do
      scheme: "SnapshotTests-iOS",
      output_directory: screenshots_path_ios,
      concurrent_simulators: true,
      devices: [
        "iPhone 15 Pro Max",
        "iPhone 14 Plus",
        "iPhone 15 Pro",
        "iPhone 14",
        "iPhone SE 3",
        "iPad Pro (12.9-inch) (6th generation)",
        "iPad Pro (12.9-inch) (2nd generation)",
        "iPad Pro (11-inch) (4th generation)",
        "iPad (9th generation)",
        "iPad mini (5th generation)"

Putting it all together

With all of this configuration complete, you can now write your Fastfile.

Below is my Fastfile for Taxatio, which runs on iOS and macOS. Like I mentioned, fastlane does not work for generating macOS screenshots, but it does work for uploading them. All you need to do is place your screenshots in fastlane/screenshots/ for fastlane to find them.

screenshots_path_ios = "./fastlane/screenshots/ios"
screenshots_path_macos = "./fastlane/screenshots/macos"

platform :ios do
  desc "Upload iOS app, metadata, and screenshots to the App Store"
  lane :appstore_upload do
    run_tests(scheme: "Taxatio-iOS")

      scheme: "Taxatio-iOS",
      output_name: "Taxatio-iOS"

      screenshots_path: screenshots_path_ios

platform :mac do
  desc "Upload macOS app, metadata, and screenshots to the App Store"
  lane :appstore_upload do
    run_tests(scheme: "Taxatio-macOS")

      scheme: "Taxatio-macOS",
      output_name: "Taxatio-macOS"

      screenshots_path: screenshots_path_macos

When ready to submit, I run the following commands:

fastlane ios appstore_upload
fastlane mac appstore_upload

Important Notes:

  • fastlane seems to get confused with screenshots for multiple platforms. If you provide explicit, distinct directories for each platform’s screenshots like I have above, then everything works. To me, this is also a nicer method of organization. The upload_to_app_store action uses the API Key defined in the Deliverfile, so all you need to do is provide the screenshots_path.

  • Even though I run tests frequently during development, I have fastlane run all unit tests first as a sanity check — just in case I forget to run them.

  • For building the app, I only need to provide the scheme because I’m using automatic codesigning and my Gymfile passes -allowProvisioningUpdates. I also provide unique names for the output binaries to differentiate between platforms.

Complete workflow

With all of this in place, my overall workflow is the following:

  1. I keep all of my projects in private repos on GitHub.
  2. I write code, build, run, and test locally via Xcode.
  3. When ready to release, I’ll generate new screenshots if needed.
    1. For iOS: fastlane ios screenshots
    2. For macOS: there are a few options. I’ll write about this in another post. Once I have my Mac app screenshots ready, I put them in fastlane/screenshots/macos/.
  4. When ready to upload to App Store Connect, I run fastlane [ios,macOS] appstore_upload.
  5. I login to App Store Connect for a quick sanity check and submit manually.

I am very happy with this lightweight setup. I have automated the tedious and error-prone aspects of dealing with the App Store, without the hassle of maintaining a CI/CD service. Even better, now that I have found a solution that works, I can bring this over to other apps in the future beginning with the 1.0 release.