Distributing a library with Swift Package Manager

Swift Package Manager allows to download and use external code in a Swift program. In this tutorial I will show how create a Swift library and then use it from a Swift program with Swift Package Manager. This method was tested with Swift 3.0.

Setting up Swift

Before we begin, let's check that Swift is installed on the system by launching the Terminal app and requesting the Swift version.

swift --version

The command will show the current Swift version that looks like this:

Apple Swift version 3.0 (swiftlang-800.0.30 clang-800.0.24)

If the command did not work please follow the Swift installation instructions.

Creating a Swift library

First, we will create and publish a simple Swift library.

1) Create the library directory

Run the following commands in the Terminal app.

mkdir MyLibrary
cd MyLibrary

2) Create the library source file

Create the Sources directory

mkdir Sources

and add the library source file MyLibrary.swift:

touch Sources/MyLibrary.swift

3) Write the library code

Write your library code in the Sources/MyLibrary.swift file.

public func hiThere() -> String {
  return "Hello from the library!"

Here we create a function hiThere that simply returns a greeting text. Notice that we marked the function as public in order to make it accessible to the library users.

4) Create the Package.swift file for the library

Next, create an empty Package.swift file in the root directory of the library

touch Package.swift

and put the following code in it.

import PackageDescription

let package = Package(
    name: "MyLibrary",
    exclude: ["DirectoryToExclude"]

If you have an existing library that has Swift files that you do not want to distribute to users you can exclude them in the Package.swift file with the exclude option.

5) Publish the library

Now we need to publish the library so other people can download it with Swift Package Manager. This can be done by uploading the code to a Git hosting service of your choice. If you are new to this please refer to the instructions from your hosting service. Here is how to create a repository on GitHub. As a result your will have a public Git repository that looks like this:


6) Release a new library version

After the code is published we create a new tag version 1.0.0.

git tag 1.0.0
git push origin --tags

In the future you can release updates to your library by creating new version tags, for example, 1.0.1 or 1.0.2. If the library contains breaking changes the convention is to increment the first major digit of the version, for example, 2.0.0 or 3.0.0. This will ensure the apps of existing library users will not be broken.

Congratulations! The library is published and ready to be used with Swift Package Manager.

Another way of initializing a new library with Swift Package Manager

We have just created all the project files for a Swift library manually. There is a shortcut command swift package init that does that automatically.

mkdir MyLibrary
cd MyLibrary
swift package init

Using a Swift library with Swift Package Manager

Now we can test if the library is working by creating a simple Swift app that includes the library with Swift Package Manager.

1) Create app directory

mkdir MyApp
cd MyApp

2) Create an empty Package.swift file

touch Package.swift

3) Add package description

Add the following text to the Package.swift file.

import PackageDescription

let package = Package(
    name: "MyApp",
    targets: []

4) Write Swift program code

Next we create the Sources directory and add the main.swift file that prints "Hello World" message.

mkdir Sources
echo 'print("Hello world!")' > Sources/main.swift

5) Build and run

Now we build

swift build

and run the app.


If everything went well you will see "Hello world!" message in the terminal.

6) Include Swift library in the Package.swift file

Now it is time to use our library. Replace the content of the Package.swift file with following text.

import PackageDescription

let package = Package(
    name: "MyApp",
    targets: [],
    dependencies: [
        .Package(url: "https://github.com/evgenyneu/LibraryWithSwiftPackageManager.git",
                 versions: Version(1,0,0)..<Version(2,0,0))

The code above includes a sample project that I created. Your app, of course, will point to your own repository instead.

You may want to show the contents of the Package.swift file in your library's README file as a setup instruction for the users. In this example your users will download the most recent library version that starts with 1. For example, it will use 1.3.6 or 1.0.0 version but not 2.0.1.

7) Build Swift library

Run the swift build command. It will download and build the library into the Packages directory.

swift build

8) Use Swift library

Finally, we can test the library by using it in the Source/main.swift file of the app:

import MyLibrary

Build/run the app again and you will see "Hello from the library!" text.

swift build

Alternative way of creating a new app project with Swift Package Manager

We have created the files for the Swift app manually. It can also be done automatically with the following commands:

mkdir MyApp
cd MyApp
swift package init --type executable

We are done. Now what?

Awesome! We just learned how to create a Swift library and use it in a Swift app with Swift Package Manager. It is now your turn to create great libraries that can be useful to many people. Good luck!