Some best practices for designing and coding Swift classes

My original article — “Best Practices for Building Swift Classes” — was published on

Follow along as I write this tutorial’s Swift code in a playground! Download from GitHub.

In this tutorial, I’m going to show you some best practices that will help you design and implement classes (reference types) and then safely leverage reference semantics in Swift. Protocol-oriented programming (POP) and value semantics are all the rage now, but a promising new technology doesn’t mean you should throw all your classes away. Why not add some simple constructs to your classes like copy initializers, default initializers, designated initializers, failable initializers, deinitializers, and conformance to the Equatable protocol? To get real about my sample code, I’ll adopt these constructs in some classes and show you my best practices working in real life for drawing in your iOS app interfaces.

I’ll walk through the process of creating several protocols, creating classes that adopt those protocols, implement inheritance in these classes, and use instances of the classes (objects), all to illustrate my best practices — and to show some of the extra steps you may have to go through when working with classes.

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iOS 11 Files app integration and the UIDocumentBrowserViewController

My original article — How to Integrate Your App with Files App in iOS 11 — was published on

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to embrace iOS 11’s Files app. First, I’ll walk you through configuration of an app so that any files stored in its iOS file system-based “Documents” folder are made visible in the Files app and exposed to other apps installed on your device. Second, I’ll demonstrate how you can incorporate a Files app-like interface and functionality into your own apps. All of the Swift code I wrote to accomplish these two tasks is included below — and I’ve taken lots of screenshots regarding Files app integration. Sit back, enjoy, and learn about a fundamental paradigm shift in the iOS zeitgeist, moving from a “hide-the-details” (like hiding individual files) mindset to providing users with the ability to look at and manipulate files related to their apps using a macOS Finder-like interface, except on iOS.

To pique your interest, let’s look at a feature I encoded in the final app for this tutorial. We’ll use my app, named “Document-Based App,” to view an image file in the app’s main folder:

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The iOS file system in-depth (and how to be the best using critical thinking)

Have you ever wondered how all those people out there figured out how to manipulate the iOS file system in their apps? For some strange reason, Apple has never provided well-organized documentation on the subject. Here’s how I feel: “Ask and simple question and get an obtuse and overly complex answer.” There are many articles and tutorials out there, including my own, showing you examples of Objective-C or Swift code for manipulating the iOS file system, and most of the code looks basically the same. Nonetheless, this code is deceivingly complex, often underestimated, and rarely well-explained or well-understood.

Where did everybody find this boilerplate code? From simple observation, I’ve found that in many cases, developers use a copy and paste methodology, i.e., look up a few keywords in a web search engine, find the code needed on sites like StackOverflow or some blog, copy it, paste it into an Xcode project, and beat on it until it works. I don’t want you to feel this way after reading my tutorials.

I hope you’ll find it edifying and interesting to read about how I figured out how to understand and navigate the iOS file system using the “most of the code looks basically the same” boilerplates. But I bet you’ll find it even more intriguing to find that I’ve discovered an much better alternative to the boilerplate code.

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Controlling chaos: Error Handling in Swift 4 with do, try, catch, defer, throw, throws, Error, and NSError

[Download the Xcode 9 playground from GitHub so you can follow along with my detailed discussion and try iOS error handling using the do-try-catch feature yourself!]

This tutorial is the second in my series of tutorials on incorporating error checking into your Swift 4-based iOS apps. Remember that by “error checking,” I mean gracefully handling unexpected values, events, and conditions that arise during program execution.” Today, I’ll limit my discussion of error checking to what Swift’s authors call “Error Handling.” Please read my first, introductory article in this series if you haven’t already. I can’t emphasize enough why you need to use error checking. Remember my discussion of app quality, user intolerance of buggy apps, and the huge amount of choices consumers have? The quality of your apps represents your reputation. Do you want a bad reputation when customers choose apps largely based on reviews? They can and will vote with their fingers (and wallets) and find other apps if they don’t like your app(s). Download my Xcode 9 playground so you can follow along with my discussion, run the code, and experiment with my Swift code by making your own changes.

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iOS file management with FileManager in protocol-oriented Swift 4

NOTE: My latest tutorial has just been released, which uses the code shown herein to introduce error handling in Swift 4.

[Download the Xcode 9 project from GitHub so you can follow along with my code explanation and try iOS file management features yourself!]

How many of you have written iOS apps that work with files? I’m talking about developing apps that read, write, create, copy, move, and delete files in the app’s sandboxed file system. I’m not talking about reading an image from your app bundle so you can display it on screen, like so:

I’m talking about apps like Adobe Photoshop Express which is only useful if it can edit image files; Apple’s Pages and Numbers apps which are only useful if they can edit word processor and spreadsheet/chart files, respectively; and, Microsoft Word which is only useful if it can edit word processor documents. Yes, you can solely work from/in the cloud with all these apps, but you can also opt to store files locally on your devices. What if you open an email attachment or download a file from Safari? I guarantee you that many apps with associations to certain file extensions store those attachments or downloads locally first for editing and display, and only later sync files with iCloud or Dropbox.

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