Migrating to Swift 2 and ReactiveCocoa 4

Update, 28 Oct 2015: Adjusted the post for ReactiveCocoa 4’s alpha 3 pre-release.

This is the sixth post in my series on MVVM with ReactiveCocoa 3/4 in Swift.

With Xcode 7’s public release out of the door, and myself being in the lucky position of working on a bleeding-edge project at the moment, I boldly went ahead and threw Xcode 6 off my development machine.

Because Xcode 7 requires Swift 2, this also meant that SwiftGoal would need to receive some updating love for me to be able to work on it in the future. A few days ago I set aside some time to make the jump, and if you’re planning to do the same, this post should give you an idea of what awaits you. Spoiler: It’s not too bad ☺️

The whole process took me about an hour. Let’s dive in!

Updating the frameworks

SwiftGoal currently has four dependencies:

plus the Quick/Nimble testing combo, listed in a separate private Cartfile.

All of the above support Swift 2 in their latest releases, with the exception of ReactiveCocoa, whose official release still targets Xcode 6 and Swift 1.2. So we need to explicitly specify its alpha pre-release with Swift 2 support in the Cartfile:

github "dzenbot/DZNEmptyDataSet"
github "ReactiveCocoa/ReactiveCocoa" "v4.0.0-alpha.3"
github "SnapKit/SnapKit"
github "thoughtbot/Argo"

Running carthage update --platform iOS will then bring our locally compiled frameworks up to date. It also lets us get rid of some dependencies:

As Carthage requires us to add frameworks to the project manually, we also need to do the inverse when removing a framework: Unlink it from the build target and remove it from the input of the copy-frameworks script under Build Phases.

Swift syntax changes

After updating the frameworks, half of my code was painted red with build errors. I started off by fixing those caused by changes to the Swift standard library. For instance, collection operators like enumerate and count are now implemented as protocol extensions, leading to the new syntax

[1, 2, 3].enumerate()
[1, 2, 3].count
["one, two"].joinWithSeparator(", ")

replacing the old way of passing the array as a parameter to the function.

Another big addition to Swift 2 is error handling, which frees us from the outdated concept of having to pass an error pointer. For instance, NSJSONSerialization‘s method JSONObjectWithData:options:error has lost its trailing error parameter. To deserialize received backend data into JSON, I use the new try? syntax that returns nil upon failure:

if let json = try? NSJSONObjectWithData(data, options: []) {
    // Parse JSON into model

Swift’s somewhat confusing hash (#) syntax to explicitly name the first function parameter has been removed; this is now achieved by repeating the parameter name instead, or simply making it part of the function name as I did:

func createPlayerWithName(name: String) -> SignalProducer<Bool, NSError> {
    // Make request that creates the player server-side

And finally, the pesky but required init?(coder aDecoder: NSCoder) is now a failable initializer, which is reflected by the newly inserted question mark.

New ReactiveCocoa syntax

Swift 2 introduced a number of concepts such as protocol extensions and error handling. From ReactiveCocoa’s perspective, this turned out to be both a blessing (protocol extensions) and a curse (error handling), and has led to a number of breaking API changes. Here is a list of things that I needed to fix and that you are likely to encounter in your own ReactiveCocoa projects, too:

The most notable change is the replacement of ReactiveCocoa 3’s ubiquitous |> operator by the more familiar dot syntax. Find & Replace was my friend here.

Sinks have been replaced by observers that also bring along some dot syntax goodness. Instead of defining a sink of type SinkOf<Event<Bool, NoError>> and passing it to the free function sendNext() alongside its next value, we now write

let observer = Observer<Bool, NoError>()

The flatMap operator now requires the argument label transform: for the mapping function parameter. Xcode actually shows a helpful error message about this.

On the subscribing side, start(next: {}) for signal producers and observe(next: {}) for signals have become startWithNext({}) and observeNext:({}), respectively.

To set the value of a MutableProperty, instead of isActive.put(true) we now do a regular assignment: isActive.value = true

The collect operator, which buffers sent signal values into an array and sends the latter, is now called as a function: collect().

When pattern-matching ReactiveCocoa events, we can now directly access their associated value – no need to unbox it anymore. So instead of

switch event {
    case let .Next(boxedValue):
        let value = boxedValue.value
        // Handle unboxed value
    case let .Error(boxedError):
        let error = boxedError.value
        // Handle unboxed error

we can just write

switch event {
    case let .Next(value):
        // Handle value
    case let .Failed(error)
        // Handle error

Note how the .Error case has been renamed to .Failed to better reflect the fact that signals can only ever send one such event before terminating.

And finally, because of the naming conflict with Swift’s new error handling syntax, catch has been renamed to flatMapError. It continues to work exactly as before.


In Xcode 7, it is finally no longer necessary to make all your methods public to be able to test them. Instead, in your test suite you can import your module alongside your testing frameworks like so:

import Quick
import Nimble
@testable import SwiftGoal

That way, all your APIs marked as internal (which is the default) will become available in your test suite, yet won’t pollute the global namespace.

Oh, and one more thing…

After fixing all the above issues, the project finally compiled again. But when firing up the app, I was greeted by Apple’s newest shenanigan:

The resource could not be loaded because the App Transport Security policy requires the use of a secure connection.

This is all well and good when dealing with a remote backend, but in this case I was running the app against a local Goalbase installation. For our humble localhost, an unencrypted connection should do just fine, so I added an exception domain for it to the target’s Info.plist file.

And that’s it for today. What remains now is to wait for ReactiveCocoa 4’s public release, but as far as I can tell, the alpha version works just fine – the only caveat is that the API contract may still change in future pre-releases.

Let’s build great stuff! 🚀