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Working with multiple architectures & compiled binaries

When working with iOS apps (or really anything within Apple’s ecosystem) I’ve sometimes found the need to deeply introspect the libraries and executables built in my project to answer questions like “Is bitcode enabled for all architectures?” or “Which architectures was this binary compiled for”, and so forth.

These aren’t easy questions to answer unless you know your way around the command-line, and which commands to invoke. So I thought I’d go over how to analyze compiled binaries, and share some helpful scripts I wrote to simplify the process.

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LLVM Module Maps to the rescue!

I recently wrote about Cocoa / Cocoa Touch frameworks, and in writing about it I was sorely tempted to dive into Modules, since they are pretty important to modern frameworks. But it was such a huge topic, I decided to break it out into a separate post.

In a nutshell, LLVM Module Maps were invented as a way to improve how source code imports other frameworks.

If you’ve ever worked on traditional C/C++ software projects (Makefile, CMake, gcc…any of these ring a bell?) you’ll know that the more code you add, the longer it takes to build, and the more likely you are to have conflicting types or macro definitions.

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Cocoa Dynamic Frameworks

If you don’t know the nuts and bolts of how your code is compiled, linked, and executed on target devices, you aren’t alone. And lets be honest, this is perfectly fine! That’s the great thing about abstraction: not everyone need be an expert at everything in order to be effective.

There are times though where a little bit of knowledge can go a long way to help troubleshoot particularly onerous problems. So I thought I’d explain a bit about how apps work in Cocoa (and by extension, Cocoa Touch), particularly how frameworks work.

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