turing complete with a stack of 0xdeadbeef

Writing by tag

Protocol composition in Swift and Objective-C

Designing optional semantics without optional methods 05 June 2017

Protocols in Swift and Objective-C are a powerful tool to decouple your code. They allow you to specify a contract between classes that consume them, but defer a concrete implementation to conformers. They allow you to segregate interfaces and invert control. One interesting aspect of protocols in Swift and Objective-C is that protocol members can be optional (optional in Swift or @optional in Objective-C). Unfortunately, this comes with a number of disadvantages and diminishes the robustness of your code, so it is often avoided. However, having optional members is sometimes the right conceptual model for your design. How can you design your protocols to provide optional semantics without specifying them as optional or @optional?


Writing better singletons in Swift

Avoiding common pitfalls 04 June 2017

In a previous post I discussed strategies for using singletons in a cleaner, more modular way. Singletons are a fact of software development, especially in iOS. Sometimes the design pattern actually is the right tool for the job. In those situations, how we can improve the way we write our own singleton classes?


Refactoring singleton usage in Swift

Tips for a cleaner, modular, and testable codebase 10 February 2017

In software development, singletons are widely discouraged and frowned upon — but with good reason. They are difficult or impossible to test, and they entangle your codebase when used implicitly in other classes, making code reuse difficult. Most of the time, a singleton amounts to nothing more than a disguise for global, mutable state. Everyone knows at least knows that is a terrible idea. However, singletons are occasionally an unavoidable and necessary evil. How can we incorporate them into our code in a clean, modular, and testable way?


Pushing the limits of protocol-oriented programming

Talk at Swift Summit in San Francisco 23 January 2017

A few months ago, I spoke at Swift Summit in San Francisco. The conference has a reputation for providing high-quality talks, and this year was no different. Fortunately, I was able to see nearly all of the talks and not a single one disappointed me. It was such a great conference. The video and full transcript of my talk are now available. The videos of the other talks will be coming online over the next few weeks. I would recommend watching all of them!


Enums as configuration: the anti-pattern

Implementing the open/closed principle 31 July 2016

One of the most common patterns I see in software design with Objective-C (and sometimes Swift), is the use of enumeration types (enum) as configurations for a class. For example, passing an enum to a UIView to style it in a certain way. In this article, I explain why I think this is an anti-pattern and provide a more robust, modular, and extensible approach to solving this problem.


Avoiding the overuse of @objc in Swift

Don't let Objective-C cramp your style 04 June 2016

A few days ago I was (finally!) updating a project to use Swift 2.2 and I ran into a few issues when converting to use the new #selector syntax introduced by proposal SE-0022. If using #selector from within a protocol extension, that protocol must be declared as @objc. The former Selector("method:") syntax did not have this requirement.


Building type-safe, composable data sources in Swift

A modern approach to collection views and table views 25 October 2015

In iOS development, the core of nearly every app rests on the foundations provided by UICollectionView and UITableView. These APIs make it simple to build interfaces that display the data in our app, and allow us to easily interact with those data. Because they are so frequently used, it makes sense to optimize and refine how we use them — to reduce the boilerplate involved in setting them up, to make them testable, and more. With Swift, we have new ways with which we can approach these APIs and reimagine how we use them to build apps.


Namespaced constants in Swift

Using nested types for clarity 19 July 2015
Updated: 23 July 2015

Mike Ash has a great Friday Q&A on namespaced constants and functions in C. It is a powerful and elegant technique to avoid using #define and verbose Objective-C prefixes. Although Swift types are namespaced by their module, we can still benefit from implementing this pattern with struct and enum types. I’ve been experimenting with this approach for constants in Swift and it has been incredibly useful.


Failable initializers, revisited

Functional approaches to avoid Swift's failable initializers 06 April 2015

In a previous post, I discussed how Swift’s failable initializers could be problematic. Specifically, I argued that their ease of use could persuade or encourage us to revert to old (bad) Objective-C habits of returning nil from init. Initialization is usually not the right place to fail. We should aim to avoid optionals as much as possible to reduce having to handle this absence of values. Recently, @danielgomezrico asked a great question about a possible use case for a failable initializer — parsing JSON. Given this problem’s popularity in the Swift community, I thought sharing my response here would be helpful.