Setting Swift compiler flags in CocoaPods

Lately I’ve been working on a Swift framework that I’m integrating into an existing app with CocoaPods. The framework relies on an #if DEBUG macro to run one of two code paths, depending on whether we’re building with the Debug configuration or something else.

public var baseURL: NSURL {
    #if DEBUG
        return NSURL(string:"")!
        return NSURL(string:"")!

In order for our code to trigger an #if <something> macro, we need to set a -D<something> flag in the other Swift flags section of our target’s build settings. There’s nothing special about “debug” as it’s used here, we’re just creating a global variable and naming it DEBUG.

Target build settings

So far so good – we can see that the #if DEBUG branch runs when we build with our Debug configuration and the #else branch runs otherwise. But this changes when we consume our framework in another project. Firstly, CocoaPods doesn’t look at the build settings in our library’s Xcode project at all. The xcconfig files that CocoaPods generates for our framework are entirely independent of the project file in our framework’s own Xcode project. (Thanks to Caleb Davenport at North for pointing this out.) This means that even if we specify a -DDEBUG flag for the Debug build configuration in our framework’s build settings, they won’t be there when CocoaPods installs the framework into our app’s workspace.

So let’s set the flag higher up, say in our app target’s build settings. Well it turns out that those flags don’t trickle down to our framework targets at compile time. Any flags you set on the app target only apply to the app target.

OK, different idea – why don’t we make the changes in our podspec instead, using pod_target_xcconfig? Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem possible to set flags for only our Debug configuration, which is the whole point. And besides, we don’t want to be beholden to the consumer of our API — what if they’re using a different naming convention for their build configurations?

Fortunately, we can use CocoaPods’s post_install_hooks to get what we want. As you can see in the docs, each framework target holds an array of build_configurations representing the xcconfig files generated for each of our project’s build configurations. Each of these build_configuration objects then holds a hash of build_settings representing the structured data inside the xcconfig file. Using post_install_hooks we can just write out the relevant flags for the configurations we care about.

post_install do |installer|
    installer.pods_project.targets.each do |target|
        if == 'CoolFramework'
            target.build_configurations.each do |config|
                if == 'Debug'
                    config.build_settings['OTHER_SWIFT_FLAGS'] = '-DDEBUG'
                    config.build_settings['OTHER_SWIFT_FLAGS'] = ''

Bong bong.