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What is XCFramework?

It’s important to weigh these disadvantages against the benefits and consider your specific development requirements when deciding whether to adopt XCFrameworks.

XCFramework is a binary distribution format introduced by Apple for developing applications on iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS platforms. It provides a way to bundle multiple binary architectures and platforms into a single, unified framework.

XCFramework addresses the limitations of previous distribution formats such as static libraries (.a), dynamic libraries (.dylib), and frameworks (.framework). Previously, developers had to maintain multiple versions of libraries for different platforms and architectures.

With XCFramework, developers can create a single distribution that contains binary files for multiple platforms and architectures. This makes it easier to create universal libraries that can be used across various devices and platforms. XCFramework supports various binary formats, including static and dynamic libraries.

XCFrameworks can be created using Xcode’s build system. They can be used to package and distribute libraries, frameworks, and other binary resources, making it easier to integrate them into projects and share them with other developers. XCFrameworks can be utilized to provide native functionality, third-party dependencies, or custom code in a reusable and platform-independent manner.

Examples of XCFramework

Here are a few examples of popular frameworks and libraries that are distributed as XCFrameworks:

  1. Alamofire: Alamofire is a widely used networking library for iOS and macOS development, written in Swift. It provides an elegant API for handling various network tasks. Alamofire is available as an XCFramework, allowing developers to easily integrate it into their projects.
  2. Firebase: Firebase is a comprehensive platform for mobile and web app development, provided by Google. It offers a wide range of services, including authentication, real-time databases, cloud storage, and more. Several Firebase modules, such as Firebase Analytics and Firebase Crashlytics, are distributed as XCFrameworks.
  3. Realm: Realm is a mobile database framework that provides an alternative to SQLite and Core Data. It offers real-time synchronization and offline capabilities. Realm provides XCFrameworks for iOS and macOS, enabling developers to seamlessly incorporate it into their applications.
  4. Google Maps SDK for iOS: The Google Maps SDK for iOS allows developers to integrate Google Maps functionalities into their iOS apps. Google distributes the SDK as an XCFramework, making it easier to incorporate maps, markers, and other geolocation features into iOS projects.
  5. Stripe: Stripe is a popular payment processing platform that provides APIs and libraries for seamless integration of payment functionalities into apps. The Stripe SDK is available as an XCFramework, simplifying the integration of secure payment processing into iOS and macOS applications.

These are just a few examples, and many other frameworks and libraries are distributed as XCFrameworks. XCFrameworks provide a convenient way for developers to package and distribute their code, enabling easy integration into various projects on Apple platforms.

How can you make XCFramework


To create an XCFramework, you can follow these general steps:

  1. Open Xcode and navigate to the project or target that you want to build as an XCFramework.
  2. Build the project or target for different architectures and platforms. To do this, select the desired scheme and destination from the top left of the Xcode window. You can choose different simulators or devices to build for different architectures.
  3. Once the build process is complete, open the project’s derived data folder. To access the derived data folder, you can go to Xcode Preferences > Locations > Derived Data and click on the small arrow icon next to the derived data path.
  4. In the derived data folder, locate the build output for each architecture and platform you want to include in your XCFramework. The build output may be stored under a subfolder named “Build” or “Products”. Look for the compiled binary files with the appropriate extensions, such as .framework or .a for libraries.
  5. Create a new directory where you want to store your XCFramework.
  6. Use the xcodebuild command-line tool to create the XCFramework. Open Terminal and navigate to the directory where you want to create the XCFramework. Then run the following command:
    xcodebuild -create-xcframework -framework <path-to-framework1> -framework <path-to-framework2> -output <output-path.xcframework>

    Replace <path-to-framework1> and <path-to-framework2> with the paths to the compiled frameworks or libraries you gathered in step 4. Replace <output-path.xcframework> with the desired output path and filename for your XCFramework.

  7. Wait for the command to complete. It will create the XCFramework by combining the provided frameworks or libraries for the specified architectures and platforms.
  8. Once the XCFramework is created, you can use it in your Xcode projects by adding it as a dependency or linking it with your target.

These steps provide a general guideline for creating an XCFramework. The exact process may vary depending on your project’s structure and requirements. Make sure to check the Apple Developer documentation or relevant resources for more detailed instructions on creating XCFrameworks.

XCFramework disadvantages

While XCFrameworks offer several advantages for distributing libraries and frameworks on Apple platforms, there are a few potential disadvantages to consider:

  1. Limited Compatibility: XCFrameworks were introduced by Apple in Xcode 11, which means they are only compatible with newer versions of Xcode and the corresponding target platforms (iOS 11+, macOS 10.13+, etc.). If you need to support older versions of Xcode or platforms, you may need to rely on alternative distribution formats or find workarounds.
  2. Increased File Size: XCFrameworks tend to have larger file sizes compared to traditional framework or library formats. This is because XCFrameworks include compiled binaries for multiple architectures and platforms within a single package. The increased file size could impact app download sizes and storage requirements.
  3. Build and Distribution Complexity: Creating XCFrameworks involves configuring build settings and using command-line tools like xcodebuild. The process may be more complex and require additional steps compared to creating traditional frameworks or libraries. This could be challenging for developers who are not familiar with these tools or build configurations.
  4. Limited Third-Party Support: While many popular libraries and frameworks provide XCFramework distributions, not all third-party libraries may offer direct support for XCFrameworks. This could limit your options when integrating external dependencies into your projects.
  5. Lack of Dynamic Framework Support: XCFrameworks primarily focus on static libraries and frameworks. If you need to distribute or use dynamic frameworks (.dylib files) within your projects, XCFrameworks may not be suitable. You may need to explore alternative distribution methods or adapt your project structure accordingly.

It’s important to weigh these disadvantages against the benefits and consider your specific development requirements when deciding whether to adopt XCFrameworks. It’s also advisable to consult the official Apple documentation and community resources for up-to-date information and best practices related to XCFramework usage.