Xcode configuration Part 1

In a non-trivial application, you probably have more than just a single environment for your project and you would find it difficult to manage the many environments and configurations manually in the code.
In this post we will tackle this issue using Xcode configuration files, and we will see how we can switch between configurations without manually modifying our codebase.

Use Case

You have an app that has different environments namely local, staging, and production. Each environment requires different configuration; the endpoints are different, the product app is different, as you want to have different app for each environment where each app has different app icon and name for example. Another ability you want, is that on staging / local builds you want to be able to use some debugging tools like Inspector or capturing network calls but not on App Store version for instance.

Setting up

  1. Go to your beloved IDE Xcode :). Create a new project or open an existent project. Since in the end we won’t to test our release App(s) you should have a valid App id (creating app ids and profiles is handled automatically by Xcode these days), so you should have access to an apple account with sufficient permissions to create certificates…
  2. Create a folder called Configurations to make it easier to spot your configuration files, in the configurations folder lets create configuration files by clicking right click and selecting new file which will open a window to select the type of the file, in the search box type config and you will see a file with Configuration Settings File, select it and click next , now name it something like Staging-Debug, keep doing this and create Staging-Release, Production-Debug, and Production-Release. “You can have as many configurations as you wish , we will stick with 4 , for this tutorial”.
  3. We will be having 2 products with different App Ids , you can name them the way you wish based on your app. for me they will be com.whitetorch.Configuragtions (Appstore/production version) and com.whitetorch.Configuragtions.staging for staging environment.
  4. To achieve that without create a target for each one, we will have to play around the product bundle identifier. In the configuration files create a new setting with name PRODUCT_BUNDLE_ID = <#the App id for configuration#> , e.g. for Staging configuration files it will be PRODUCT_BUNDLE_ID=com.whitetorch.Configuragtions.staging and for production configuration files something like PRODUCT_BUNDLE_ID=com.whitetorch.Configuragtions.
  5. Now head to Targets -> choose app target -> build settings and find Product bundle identifier setting in the Packaging section , you will find the bundle id specified explicitly but since we want it be configurable , change it to $(PRODUCT_BUNDLE_ID).
  6. Go to the Project (the blue icon with the project name) -> Info -> Configurations section, duplicate Debug and name it Staging-Debug, also duplicate Release and name it Staging-Release, and leave the original for production configurations but you can also rename them.
  7. Select each configuration and select the matching configuration file name from the drop down list a long the project name.

if you go back to the target->build settings -> product bundle identifier , you will see the correct bundle id is listed for each configuration. Also if you go to Signing and Capabilities tab , you will see that Xcode spectated both bundle identifier meaning you can actually use different teams 😀 which can be useful say you building a product for a client , you can only have the production id on the client apple account, and other stuff on your development account.

Cool!! Lengthy steps!!! !^_^.

Let’s actually use that!

Configure the schemes:

Select the only Scheme we have setup by Xcode and click on edit scheme , that will be our production scheme so we will leave the configurations as is , but make sure that “Run” has Debug build configuration, and archive has Release build configuration.

Click on Manage Schemes and rename the selected scheme to be Production App , to make it easier to distinguish.

go back to edit Scheme window and click on “Duplicate Scheme” this time change the build configuration for Run to be “Staging-Debug” and for Archive to be “Staging-Release”. In Manage Schemes window make sure the Shared checkbox is selected for both Schemes.

Test it on simulator

Finally some demoing, select the “Production App” scheme and run it on your simulator or on a device.
Select the “Staging App” Scheme and run again on same place , you should be seeing two app icons with same name which means We are on the right track :).

Now we have a proof of concept for our strategy that we can build on it, so let’s do some more.

change the app name

in each configuration file create a setting and call APP_NAME. and set it , e.g. APP_NAME = Staging app.

go to info.plist and add a new key , just select any row and press Enter, and type Bundle display name, and in the value field type $(APP_NAME), this means set the displayed name on springboard/search/settings app to the APP_NAME setting we provided earlier.

Use that in code to change View Color/Theme

As you saw before to use the settings in the Xcode level we can wrap it with $(setting_name), but we can’t do that alas in our code. and to achieve that we need another way.

  • Let’s create a new property list file and name it configuration.plist, inside it we create two new keys with Dictionary type. namely Staging and Production , under each key create a new key with String type and name it colorName. Now we have Staging and Production dictionaries where each has one key named colorName, which will be used to determine the view color of your choice.
  • Head to info.plist and create a new Key and name it ‘Environment’ of type String and in the value field type $(Environment) , now head to the configurations files xcconfig files and add new setting, name it ‘Environment’ and set a value for it matching the name we used in the configuration.plist file, so for Stage-Debug and Staging-Release.xcconfig we add Environment=Staging and so on.
  • Let’s create a utility file to be able to parse the configurations from configurations.plist to avoid redundancy.
  • Now head to the view you want to change its color and type
let colorName: String = AppConfigurations().get(key: AppConfigurationsKey.colorName)         
let color = UIColor.init(named: colorName) self.view.backgroundColor = color

AppConfigurations is a utility file , you can find it in the repo here.

make sure you add the color name in Assets.xcassets file.

This is meant just as an example , you can have whatever you want , you can add and endpoint url for instance , or maybe Some SDK key, etc…

Cool!!! Now we have a tool that can let us achieve many things.

I will stop right here , it’s too long post already. maybe it will be followed with another post soon, as am planning.

You can find the project with the custom configurations here

Useful links and references

build settings reference: https://help.apple.com/xcode/mac/10.2/#/itcaec37c2a6

Configuration Settings https://help.apple.com/xcode/mac/10.2/#/dev745c5c974



Run your iOS App in the Playground

You may have wondered if you can run the whole app inside the playground!, say you want to experiment a little faster.
Here we will go through the steps needed to achieve that.

Add the playground

Click file ->new->Playground and create a single view playground , give it a name e.g. playground and save it somewhere, then go to the directory where you saved it and copy it to your project.

Create a Cocoa Touch Framework

We need to create a framework that can be exposed to the playground later on.
To do that select the project file and under the targets section and click on the + button then choose Cocoa touch framework and name it something like playground.

Update the target membership of the source files

For the playground framework to be useful we need to add files to it, and since we are trying to run the whole project we need to add all the project files to it , and you can do that by going to the files and bundles and from the file inspector -> target membership check the playground box.

Import the project in the playground

This is where we get to see some results finally ,

@testable import playground

@testable is needed here so that the internal methods would be accessible from the playground, otherwise you need to go to each class and mark any function, property or type as public.

Cocoa pods

If you are using cocoa pods you need to add these lines to the podfile , which will add the frameworks to the playground framework target, and remove the need to code sign it. add these lines to your pod file.

given your target name is myapp

target 'myapp' do
    target 'playground' do
        inherit! :search_paths

and after that add these

post_install do |installer|
installer.pods_project.build_configurations.each do |config|

installer.pods_project.targets.each do |target|
    target.build_configurations.each do |config|

Same goes for any other framework, where you need to update the target membership of it and include the playground framework target.

Separate the playground framework from production

Since you don’t want the playground framework you just created to be shipped with the app, which will add extra space to the app binaries, you can create a development target instead and un-link the playground framework from the production target.


  • Whenever you change something in your project, you need to build it first to be able to see it on the playground.
  • Playground is not that smooth most of the time, so I won’t rely on this technique for heavy testing , but it can be nice to try out part of your project logic directly.


That should be it , you can find a working example in the demo repo, feel free to download it and try it yourself.

Cleaner way to handle UITableViewCell

Its really funny and confusing when you start to implement the cellForRow or itemForRow datasource method.  Usually we do that in the ViewController, or in a special dataSource object, and you find yourself asking where should you add that piece of code responsible for configuring or handling the Cell, you would then add it in the Cell subclass itself or just bring more code to the ViewController that is barely controlling his direct view(s).

In a non-trivial world you won’t just set the title and description for the Cell, ending up with 2 to 3 lines, no!, there will be buttons, images , special layout , events and a whole set of operations going on, that is when you handle that in the ViewController it’d be messy and looks so wrong!!!


Yup , Just like UIViewController , we need a UITableViewCellController, its a bit long name so we will use CellController , since it can be a table view cell or collection view cell, or any list based views element.


simply to isolate the mess of handling a cell.

How does it look like?

class UserCellController {

let cell: UserTableViewCell
let model: UserModel

init(cell: UserTableViewCell, model: UserModel) {
self.model  = model
self.cell  = cell

func configure() {

// here we fill view items

private func fill() {
//e.g. namelabel.text = model.name

private func style() {
//e.g. namelabel.cornerRadius = 10


Inside cellForITem or the method you handle the filling the cell. 

let model = ….

let cell = …

let cellcontroller = UserCellController(cell: cell , model: model)


Now you can fill,configure and style the cell based on the model, you can validate the model and modify the input or anything else inside the CellController instead of the tableView datasource method.

As you noted there is a loose end here, as the CellController object should not live in memory for long, and its pointing strongly to the cell object, given the same cell object should be reused and filled with other content.

Based on how many cells can be visible, the table will allocate certain number of cells and keep reusing them.

To solve that we will keep these controllers a live by adding them to dictionary inside the Viewcontroller in our case.

private var controllers: [Int: UserCellController] = [:]

and inside cellForRow…

let cellcontroller = UserCellController(cell: cell , model: model)


self.controllers[cell.hash] = controller

The trick here is to use cell.hash as there are a fixed number of hashes since cells are reusable inside a tableView .


now we can handle filling and styling the cell easily , what about actions coming from the Cell itself, what if you have a button inside the cell and you want to handle it inside the ViewController since its probably something bigger than our little CellController can handle.

In that case , it is as simple as adding completion handler to the CellController constructor, or add call back as property , or  Streams as in RxSwift as property , or delegate Oo (just kidding,don’t) …



That should be it , you got yourself a separate controller that can handle list items more cleanly than dumping all the functionality inside the tableView datasource since life is not that simple and you will need to have a lot of functionalities handled by the Cell.


Useful Tools and services for iOS development 

I’d like to share a few tools I use when I work on iOS projects.


Consist of a set of great tools that you can easily integrate to your app , one of the most valuables tools for me is Crashlytics where you can send Beta builds and receive crashes when they occur. You can add as many apps freely and manage them, and you can have teams with ability to manage their access. Also service hooks is really handy e.g. send a slack message when a crash reaches some level on some App. Answers tool will give you Analytics with many options as setting events ,observing retention, engagement and many more.. All you need is download the fabric app and it will guide you through the integration seamlessly. There is an iOS app for fabric for tracking your apps.


Automate your deployment from generating certificates to uploading to the App Store , it’s wonderful and time saving. One of my favorite tools is match which will automate certification and provisioning for the whole team using git, along with register_devices action you will be able to add new devices , recreate certs and profile without even visiting developer.apple.com (you still need to have access to the apple account). It has many actions and the docs is neat, you may check the many examples as well. (Having some knowledge of ruby will be very handy to you).


The famous dependency manager for swift and Obj-c. It allows you to use open source / private libraries easily, few commands and your up to go. It makes it easy to update your dependencies and easy for Pods makers to update their Pods, so when there is new swift version , all you have to do is to update the Pods and you should be fine (JK you still have to suffer 😂😅, but it will be easier 😄). Another important feature is private pods that you may share with your team privately.

Another famous dependency manager is Carthage which I don’t use a lot, but one thing good about it is that it makes build time faster, so if you are using a big and well known frameworks you may consider using carthage for them, and leaving smaller and less complete libraries in Cocoapods so that you can change and experiment on them on Spot.


An awesome tool for code generation from static files such as fonts , images , string files , nibs/storyboards, colors from .clr files.. which means no miss spelling errors and you get compile time assistant. I made this script that will generate Obj-c class from localizable.string which is a good practice to have your Strings encapsulated in methods or properties ..


It allows you to generate Model classes from JSON Objects, which is very useful for mapping API responses. It supports Java,Obj-C, and Swift, with number of libraries like Mappable, Realm, CoreData … JSON Accelerator is another amazing tool with the same goal for obj-c ,java, and Python.


To generate app icons including icons for App Store, all you need is to upload 1024 icon and you will get all icon sizes for ios,android, and watch os.


Upload an IPA and send it to the customer and they can view it on the web, no UDID needed!!!. Its great for demoing an example of a library or framework you made instead of asking the user to download and integrate or making a gif!!!. Really useful and amazing.


This is the best GUI tool you can get to deal with Git and its free!!. It make working with Git a breeze. You get many options  like commit,push,merge,rebase,stash,resolve conflicts,reset , log all commits for certain file and revert to any version , add to index ,remove ,ignore ,checkout from any commit and more without the need to use terminal… though you still have terminal button to use terminal for more advanced operations .
If you use bitbucket like me, you get clone in sourcetree button for faster cloning as bonus, but you can have account added in the App and you can fetch all your repositories and clone any without going to bitbucket website.

Another tool is Github Desktop but with way less feature than sourcetree. Still useful to have it to use the open in desktop button in github !!.


Its awesome website that you should check if you have not, where you can find amazing controls for iOS, macOS, watchOS,and tvOS. there are thousands of useful open source projects mainly as UI Components. Most of the New Projects have appetize embedded and you can try the control before using it. I would suggest to keep checking it from time to time , and to try to contribute in the projects.


awesome website for importing and generating xliff files for iOS, you simply import your xliff file, update the translation on the website and then export it to be used in Xcode.  Localise.biz  is not free but you can generate android xml and iOS .string localization files altogether.


Paw (trial)

Best API Tool I ever used , what makes it great is that it can generate code for you in many languages, which you can use for fast prototyping. Paw has ability to add extensions for Importers (e.g. API blueprint, swagger, postman) and Exporters (curl, swift , java ..). and many other features.

Sketch (trial)

The best tool to design a mobile app, its simple to use for developers, where you can easily explore the design given by the designer and export its elements, figure out the sizes and colors , and modify the design easily. It’s even simpler for non-designers like me to use and make nice designs with help of free resources like this amazing website https://www.sketchappsources.com .

One amazing thing is that its pluggable where you can find many plug ins that do awesome features like AutoLayout by anime . Another nice thing is that it’s vector based where you can design in 1x and export in 3x and more , plus with the ability of Xcode to handle pdf you can export sketch resources in pdf :).

PaintCode (trial)

Will convert your SVG drawings and designs into Code ,swift/objc/android/javascript . Having the design in code will give you more abilities , simply you can customize anything like fill color, border colors/width/shape, etc.. and one important thing is Animation, PaintCode have a feature called Variable which makes it easy play with things like colors, positions, rotations …


These are useful subset of tools That I use always and works perfectly for me. There are many great tools out there that can make your life better and it’s good to try and see, one website that can help in that is thoughtworks.com.

Xcode 8.1 umbrella header not found

I have an xcode project that I use as a framework.
I got this issue after upgrading to xcode 8.1 saying ” Umbrella header ‘nameofmodule.h’ not found’







create a header file and name it as your modulename is.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-2-45-38-pm screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-2-45-47-pm








in the header file add these lines

#ifdef __OBJC__

#import <UIKit/UIKit.h>


FOUNDATION_EXPORT double <#modulename#>swiftVersionNumber;

FOUNDATION_EXPORT const unsigned char <#modulename#>swiftVersionString[];


thats it.



Puzzpic : Share Puzzles


Share, Solve, And Have Fun 🎉



Puzzpic is an amazing app to share images with a riddle where users can post an image and it get shuffled as a challenge for others to solve. And you can explore others’ puzzles and solve them to gain the original Images.

The Idea

You Get what You Solve.

You have a time limit for each puzzle where you thrive to solve the puzzle.
If you make it !! you get the solved Image and have the power to save it or share it as a prize.
Otherwise you lose it and you won’t be able to see it again!!.

Sounds Fun right !!! 😀 😀


Here I will talk about the features you get in the app and how to use them.


Simulator Screen Shot May 16, 2016, 10.54.12 PMWe need you to register first in the app which will allow you to Post Puzzles, like puzzles , follow other users, and to be identified when you solve a puzzle, and give you Points.

In version 1.1 you can Login with Facebook as well. Although the normal register/Login is simple since all am asking for is an email, username, and a password.

Explore Puzzles

In the main Screen, you can view other users or your puzzles categorized in three categories.


Where the latest updated puzzles appear, these puzzles are public.


Where the most liked puzzles in the last 7 days(although this may change) appears. These puzzles also are public.


Where puzzles of the users you follow appear, these puzzles might be public or set to be only to Followers.

You can solve and/or like any of these puzzles unless they are yours then you only can like them.


SolverWhen you tap on the Solve button under a puzzle of your choice you get the SOLVER Screen, which is a very simple screen , where you will see a shuffled image and try to solve it within the time limit.

You can swap any two blocks (not only adjacent)of the image by Tapping on each Block. Dragging is not supported right now but It’s on the RoadMap.

If you Solve it by the time the image will not be shown anymore in the Explore (main) screen and will be shown in a different screen called Solved-puzzles screen where you can access it from the Left Menu.

Otherwise the puzzle will be deleted from the main screen and not shown anymore!! 🙁 .



makerThe Maker Screen is where you create your own puzzle and it’s dead simple with a nice design.

You can access this screen by tapping on the plus button in the main screen.

You will see the camera running in a box which exactly the size of the puzzle.

Above The Camera Box there is a Level chooser , you need to choose the level before taking the image since the Camera Box will resize based on the chosen level.

You can Snap the Image by tapping on the big circular button, and then magically the image will be shuffled instantly and the upload button along with other button will appear, I call it the Editing Box where you can add caption or shuffle the puzzle again or retake it or upload the puzzle.

 Always add caption to your puzzles to make them more attractive.

When you tap the upload puzzle you will get a nice uploading view indicating the progress, in this view you can choose to cancel the upload or continue using the app while uploading.

Solved Puzzles View


From the Left Menu you can open the Solved puzzles View, and this is where you find the puzzles you successfully solved. You can tap on each puzzle and save and/or the share the solved puzzle.

you can also heart/unheart the puzzle and check the user behind it profile.

Profile Page

This is where you can see your profile and edit your profile image or edit your Name.

When you visit other users’ profile pages you can Follow them and check their puzzles as well .


There are other features including Reporting a puzzle or user , block other users you don’t want to see their puzzles.


Am continuously working to improve the App by fixing issues, adding new features and making sure it’s still nice looking and easy to use.

Some of the features am intending to add

iPad Version 


Notifications and Notification Center

Private Users

GRID View For showing more puzzles on screen

Private Puzzles Where user can send a private puzzle to another user

Points And Reward Systems By giving points to another actions not only solving the puzzle.

I Hope You enjoy the app , you can install it from here.

Follow Puzzpic on facebook

Follow Puzzpic(@puzz_pic) on twitter

Puzzpic Website