Archive for the ‘SwiftPM’ Category

Importing Web-based SwiftPM packages to your Xcode Playground

I’ve been kicking the wheels on Xcode 12 and its ability to use frameworks and packages with playgrounds. Up until now, I’ve only been able to import packages that are either downloaded or developed locally on my home system. However, a lot of the packages I want to work with are hosted from GitHub.

I decided to follow a hunch and see if I could import my dependency through a local Forwarding package and then use that code. Long story short: I could.

Here’s my playground, successfully running.

The RuntimeImplementation is declared in a GitHub-hosted package called Swift-General-Utility:

What I did to make this work was that I created what I called a Forwarding Utility, whose sole job is to create a shell package that depends on the remote package and forwards it to the playground. It looks like this. It is a single file called “Forwarding.swift” (no, the name is not at all magic.) in Sources/. I use @_exported to forward the import.

 Use this to forward web-based dependencies to Swift Pkg

@_exported import GeneralUtility

Its Package.swift installs the dependency:

    dependencies: [ .package(url: "", .exact("0.0.4")), ],
    targets: [
            name: "ForwardingUtility",
            dependencies: [ .product(name: "GeneralUtility"), ],
            path: "Sources/"

And that’s pretty much all that there is to it, other than (as I mentioned in my other post about how to use SwiftPM packages in playground workspaces) that you may have to quit and re-open the first beta before you can import the forwarding.

Let me know anything that I messed up. But also let me know if this was helpful to you!

My xcopen adventures: playground workspaces

Now that Xcode 12 supports Swift Packages for playgrounds, I thought it was time to expand xcopen to build not only playgrounds but also allow you to embed them in workspaces.

xcopen in a nutshell

If you’re not familiar with xcopen (I’ve only mentioned it briefly on this website), it’s my answer to xed. It does what xed does more or less and adds more features that I use a lot.

I built xcopen to handle command-line activities that I regularly perform during development. If you run it without arguments, it looks for a workspace and then opens that. If no workspace is found, it looks for xcode projects and playgrounds. If you pass it file names and paths, it opens those instead.

xcopen ...        Open files in Xcode.
xcopen docs              Open .md and .txt files.
xcopen new               Create new files (if they don't exist), open in Xcode.
xcopen xc|ws|pg(w)       Open xcodeproj, workspace, or playground.
                           * Add ios|mac|tvos to create playground.
                           * Add w (pgw) to create playground in workspace.
xcopen pkg|xpkg          Open Package.swift in TextEdit or Xcode.

USAGE: xcopen [ ...] [--background] [--folder] [--open] [--no-open]

                   Files to open. If blank, opens xcworkspace or,if not
                          found, searches for xcodeproj. 

  -b, -g, --background    Open Xcode in the background 
  -f, -e, --folder        Enclose new items in folder 
  --open/--no-open        Open newly created playgrounds/workspaces (default:
  -h, --help              Show help information.

Shortcuts let you gather up your docs (like,, and LICENSE.txt) and open them together for edits.

You control whether Xcode opens in the foreground or background, enabling you to keep working without Xcode taking up your immediate attention.

Recently, I added support for playground creation. Need a Mac playground? xcopen pg mac. It emulates Finder naming  so there won’t be naming conflicts. Instead, it builds macOS, macOS 2, macOS 3, etc as your root playground names. Based on feedback from my Twitterati pals (waves hi!), I added a flag that lets you group them together in a subfolder if you don’t want multiple playgrounds cluttering your working directory.

Adding Workspaces

Today, I decided to start working with Swift packages, so I added workspace creation:

xcopen pgw mac --folder

Using pgw builds both a playground and an associated workspace. Adding --folder embeds them both into a new folder. Otherwise they are created in the working directory.

Using Swift Package Support

Add any folder containing a Swift Package to your workspace:

  • Files > Add files to workspace name (may be greyed out); or
  • Project navigator contextual pop-up > Add files to workspace name; or
  • Or just drag the folder above your playground entry in the Project navigator to ensure you’re not adding it directly to your playground.

If your package has dependencies, they’re listed in the Project navigator.

Next, try importing the new package. If it doesn’t autocomplete, quit and restart Xcode and re-open your workspace. For some reason, in this early beta it doesn’t seem to get picked up immediately.

Then test out the functionality you’ve imported. In the following example, I’m using a custom exponentiation operator:

Wrap up

I’m using xcopen a lot these days, tooling it to make my workday easier. If you find a feature you think I should include please open an issue at github. And if you like the utility, do let me know. Thanks!

The easiest way to install xcopen is via mint, which you can install with brew. Once you have mint, all you have to say is mint install erica/xcopen.

Cleaning up SPM builds and other SwiftPM thoughts

If you’re short on space and want to clean up your local Swift Package Manger repos, you can easily remove build products by issuing:

UsefulModifiers% swift package clean

This is particularly helpful for people, like me, who develop in Xcode where it’s easy to clean your product’s build folder but forget that there’s also mess with SPM. GrandPerspective or any of the other file space visualizers is great for seeing where your clutter builds.

Also, while I’m chatting about SPM builds, I find that a lot of people forget that swift package init offers separate initializers for library and executable. Just pass --type library for example. I’m doing a lot of library and executable work these days so it helps to have that set up for you.

I’m not crazy about everything that SwiftPM sets up, so I’m finding myself more often creating my manifests by hand.

I use a global git ignore file located in my home directory, so one of my first steps is to always dump the .gitignore that SwiftPM creates for me.

	editor = vi
	excludesfile = ~/.gitignore_global

I populate my git ignore file with It’s a great resource for building savvy collections. Mine includes, among others, ignore groups for Xcode, Swift, Objective-C, macOS, Emacs, CocoaPods, Carthage, SwiftPM, and more.

I automatically add and LICENSE.txt files, which I think SwiftPM should consider doing as well.

When developing in Xcode native, make sure you are using the right source and test folders. Notice that the preceding screenshot has both Sources and UsefulModifiers. I’m currently leaning towards reconfiguring my Xcode project to use the default SwiftPM folders but I’ve also gone the other direction. For example, you can set your target path: to specify where to look for your source material to compile:

    targets: [
            name: "UsefulModifiers",
            dependencies: [.product(name: "ArgumentParser", package: "swift-argument-parser")],
            path: "UsefulModifiers/"

Always confirm that the default Swift version in the comment at the top of the file is the one you want to work with. I recently spent time updating my Swifts back to 5.1 so they’d run on Mojave systems:

// swift-tools-version:5.2

Of course, if you’re building new libraries of modifiers and views for SwiftUI, make sure you’re using the latest tools.

Speaking of “latest”, it’s important to think about version drift when it comes to your dependencies. I’ve been leaning towards always freezing my dependencies for any distribution to ensure that my code will keep compiling until I’m ready to move those dependencies forward.

Setting an exact dependency avoids the unnecessary pain of your dependency updating (SAP at the moment is 0.2.0) and your code dying as a result:

    dependencies: [

At the same time, I think one of the most exciting things this week for me was Xcode’s automatic search and support of views and modifiers. Building a smart package that can be added to normal app development and updated over time, and whose bounty automatically appears in the resource library is just marvelous.

I thought I’d share some SwiftPM thoughts as I put together exactly that. Are you building your own View and Modifer libraries? Anything public? I’m curious as to what everyone else is working on!

Swift Packages and the need for metadata

Right now, a Swift Package defines the sources and dependencies for successful compilation. The PackageDescription specifies items like the supported Swift version, linker settings, and so forth.

What it does not do is offer metadata. You won’t find email for the active project manager, a list of major authors, descriptive tags, an abstract or discussion of the package, a link to documentation, deprecation information or links to superceding packages upon deprecation.

For me, tags are especially important as they can drive discoverability on aggregators such as or, among others, as they do in the various App Stores. However, all the other information I’ve mentioned can be equally valuable. The question is how this information should be stored and travel.

Extending SwiftPM’s PackageDescription is the most obvious way but the one with the greatest hurdles. Extending a specification means review, bikeshedding, and approval but is one that would produce the most rigorous and widely-applicable outcome:

let package = Package(
    name: "now",
    platforms: [
    metadata: [
      .tags(["dates", "calendar", "scheduling", "time", "appointments"]),

Freeform tags are, as Mattt of three t’s pointed out to me, a folksonomy: a user-specified list that can be organized or freeform, sensible or not. Anyone familiar with the App Store will recall how its tags have both benefited developers and how its tags can be abused to drive traffic.

Of course, updating the PackageDefinition spec is not the only approach. The same information could be packaged into a second file cohosted with Package.swift. Perhaps it could be called Package.metadata (if stored as JSON, for example) or PackageMetadata.swift (if the information is SwiftPM-like with its own Metadata type and supporting package to better support automated validation and consumption).

Plain JSON has many advantages. It requires no secondary code development as PackageMetadata.swift would. It has an obvious place to live and can be just as easily omitted. The standard for contents could be community-sourced and Decodable developed specifically for it, plus the JSON could be validated according to that standard.

I am least enthused by PackageMetadata.swift with its high overhead and mimicking of Package.swift but it would certainly fit with the design and approach and lower the overhead for consumption.

What do you think? How would you design metadata delivery for Swift packages? The one file to rule them all expansion of SwiftPM itself, the simplicity of Metadata.json, or something else? Let me know.