Grouping Related Objective-C Constants

Add macros to your Objective-C types to group their values in Swift.


You use one of the following macros to declare that several Objective-C constants are related to each other:

  • NS_ENUM for simple enumerations

  • NS_OPTIONS for enumerations whose cases can be grouped into sets of options

  • NS_TYPED_ENUM for enumerations with a raw value type that you specify

  • NS_TYPED_EXTENSIBLE_ENUM for enumerations that you expect might gain more cases

Declare Simple Enumerations

Use the NS_ENUM macro for simple groups of constants.

The example below uses the macro to declare a UITableViewCellStyle enumeration that groups several different view styles for table views:

typedef NS_ENUM(NSInteger, UITableViewCellStyle) {

In Swift, the UITableViewCellStyle enumeration is imported like this:

enum UITableViewCellStyle: Int {
    case `default`
    case value1
    case value2
    case subtitle

Enumerations imported using the NS_ENUM macro won't fail when you initialize one with a raw value that does not correspond to an enumeration case. This characteristic facilitates compatibility with C, which allows any value to be stored in an enumeration, including values used internally but not exposed in headers.

The NS_ENUM macro is the only enumeration macro that results in an actual enumeration type when imported to Swift. The other enumeration macros generate structures.

Declare Option Sets

You use the NS_OPTIONS macro when two or more constants in a grouping of constants can be combined. For example, the output formatting for a JSONEncoder instance can be sorted and can use ample white space at the same time, so it's valid to specify both options in an option set: [.sorted, .prettyPrinted].

The example below shows how to apply the NS_OPTIONS macro and assign raw values that are mutually exclusive:

typedef NS_OPTIONS(NSUInteger, UIViewAutoresizing) {
        UIViewAutoresizingNone                 = 0,
        UIViewAutoresizingFlexibleLeftMargin   = 1 << 0,
        UIViewAutoresizingFlexibleWidth        = 1 << 1,
        UIViewAutoresizingFlexibleRightMargin  = 1 << 2,
        UIViewAutoresizingFlexibleTopMargin    = 1 << 3,
        UIViewAutoresizingFlexibleHeight       = 1 << 4,
        UIViewAutoresizingFlexibleBottomMargin = 1 << 5

The increasing sequence of nonnegative integers used along with the bitwise left shift operator (<<) ensures that each option in the option set takes up a unique bit in the binary representation of the raw value.

Here's how the UIViewAutoresizing type is imported to Swift:

public struct UIViewAutoresizing: OptionSet {
    public init(rawValue: UInt)
    public static var flexibleLeftMargin: UIViewAutoresizing { get }
    public static var flexibleWidth: UIViewAutoresizing { get }
    public static var flexibleRightMargin: UIViewAutoresizing { get }
    public static var flexibleTopMargin: UIViewAutoresizing { get }
    public static var flexibleHeight: UIViewAutoresizing { get }
    public static var flexibleBottomMargin: UIViewAutoresizing { get }

Declare Typed Enumerations

You use the NS_TYPED_ENUM to group constants with a raw value type that you specify. Use NS_TYPED_ENUM for sets of constants that can't logically have values added in a Swift extension, and use NS_TYPED_EXTENSIBLE_ENUM for sets of constants that can be expanded in an extension.

The example below uses the NS_TYPED_ENUM macro to declare the different colors used by a traffic light:

// Store the three traffic light color options as 0, 1, and 2.
typedef long TrafficLightColor NS_TYPED_ENUM;
TrafficLightColor const TrafficLightColorRed;
TrafficLightColor const TrafficLightColorYellow;
TrafficLightColor const TrafficLightColorGreen;

The number of colors that a traffic light uses isn't expected to grow, so it's not declared to be extensible.

Here's how the TrafficLightColor type is imported to Swift:

struct TrafficLightColor: RawRepresentable, Equatable, Hashable {
    typealias RawValue = Int
    init(rawValue: RawValue)
    var rawValue: RawValue { get }
    static var red: TrafficLightColor { get }
    static var yellow: TrafficLightColor { get }
    static var green: TrafficLightColor { get }

Declare Typed Extensible Enumerations

Extensible enumerations are imported in a similar fashion to nonextensible ones, except that they receive an additional initializer.

The examples below show how a FavoriteColor type is declared, imported, and extended. The first one declares the FavoriteColor type and adds a single enumeration case for the color blue:

typedef long FavoriteColor NS_TYPED_EXTENSIBLE_ENUM;
FavoriteColor const FavoriteColorBlue;

The additional initializer omits the label requirement for its first parameter:

struct FavoriteColor: RawRepresentable, Equatable, Hashable {
    typealias RawValue = Int
    init(_ rawValue: RawValue)
    init(rawValue: RawValue)
    var rawValue: RawValue { get }
    static var blue: FavoriteColor { get }

You can add extensions to extensible enumerations later in your Swift code.

The example below adds another favorite color:

extension FavoriteColor {
    static var green: FavoriteColor {
        return FavoriteColor(1) // blue is 0, green is 1, and new favorite colors could follow

See Also

Customizing Objective-C APIs

Renaming Objective-C APIs for Swift

Use the NS_SWIFT_NAME macro to customize API names for Swift.

Improving Objective-C API Declarations for Swift

Use the NS_REFINED_FOR_SWIFT macro to change how an API is imported into Swift.

Making Objective-C APIs Unavailable in Swift

Use the NS_SWIFT_UNAVAILABLE macro to prevent an API from being used in Swift.