Swift and Objective-C Interoperability


I’ve stumbled on an issue while working on my hobby project. One of the few related to Swift and Objective-C interoperability.

Note. This article content refers to Swift version 2.0 or earlier and is now outdated.

Let’s setup a simple code base.

import AppKit
typealias BaseObjCClass = NSObject

enum PureSwiftEnum {
  case Value, AnotherValue

protocol PureSwiftProtocol {
  var value: PureSwiftEnum { get }
  var size: CGSize { get }

class ObjCSubclass: BaseObjCClass, PureSwiftProtocol {
  var value: PureSwiftEnum = .Value
  var size: CGSize = CGSizeZero

class GenericClass<T where T: PureSwiftProtocol> {
  var embeddedInstance: T
  init(embeddedInstance: T) {
    self.instance = instance

  func accessValue() -> PureSwiftEnum {
    return instance.value

  func accessSize() -> CGSize {
    return instance.size

let objectGeneric = GenericClass(embeddedInstance: ObjCSubclass())


There’s pure Swift enum, protocol and a subclass of Objective-C class that adopts pure Swift protocol. By the way, have you ever tried declaring Swift enum with just one case?

Further on, I declare a generic class with type conforming to pure Swift protocol.

So what happens if I pass an Objective-C subclass to this generic class initializer?

To be honest, nothing happens most away. For reasons unknown to me my project compiled and ran. And it was running OK for a while until at some moment it started crashing consistently.

So the problem in this case is that I’m implicitly checking the conformance of Objective-C object ObjCSubclass to a non Objective-C (pure Swift) protocol PureSwiftProtocol. This check occurs when calling return embeddedInstance.value where embeddedInstance is an instance of ObjCSubclass but the access to it’s property happens by converting it to PureSwiftProtocol.

Apparently, this is a known issue. There’s a couple of discussions on StackOverflow (one, two).

Solution A: Back to Roots

The first solution is to turn PureSwiftProtocol into Objective-C protocol by using @objc notation.

@objc protocol PureSwiftProtocol {
  var value: PureSwiftEnum { get }
  var size: CGSize { get }

But that won’t make compiler happy because it has no idea how to map PureSwiftEnum into Objective-C. So you have to take it one step further. You have to declare PureSwiftEnum as Objective-C enum (with NS_ENUM), obviously you have to do it in Objective-C header file and properly setup bridging header in your project.

typedef NS_ENUM(NSInteger, PureSwiftEnum) {

Solution B: Wrap it Up

If you don’t want to revert back to adding Objective-C code with the hope that Apple eventually fixes this issue in the future, you can try another ugly trick - wrap your Objective-C class with pure Swift class that conforms to the same protocol.

class PureSwiftWrapper: PureSwiftProtocol {
  var objcInstance: ObjCSubclass

  init(objcInstance: ObjcSubclass) {
    self.objcInstance = objcInstance

  var value: PureSwiftEnum {
    return objcInstance.value

  var size: CGSize {
    return objcInstance.size

Now you can pass an instance of PureSwiftWrapper to GenericClass

let wrapper = PureSwiftWrapper(objcInstance: ObjCSubclass())
let generic = GenericClass(embeddedInstance: wrapper)


With this setup my crash went away and hadn’t reappeared since then.


Reference to objc-interop.swift to experiment and run it from command line or in Playground

Published: January 22 2015

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