iOS Developer Library — Prerelease

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The Swift Programming Language

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Collection Types

Swift provides three primary collection types, known as arrays, sets, and dictionaries, for storing collections of values. Arrays are ordered collections of values. Sets are unordered collections of unique values. Dictionaries are unordered collections of key-value associations.

image: ../Art/CollectionTypes_intro_2x.png

Arrays, sets, and dictionaries in Swift are always clear about the types of values and keys that they can store. This means that you cannot insert a value of the wrong type into a collection by mistake. It also means you can be confident about the type of values you will retrieve from a collection.

Mutability of Collections

If you create an array, a set, or a dictionary, and assign it to a variable, the collection that is created will be mutable. This means that you can change (or mutate) the collection after it is created by adding, removing, or changing items in the collection. If you assign an array, a set, or a dictionary to a constant, that collection is immutable, and its size and contents cannot be changed.

Arrays

An array stores values of the same type in an ordered list. The same value can appear in an array multiple times at different positions.

Array Type Shorthand Syntax

The type of a Swift array is written in full as Array<Element>, where Element is the type of values the array is allowed to store. You can also write the type of an array in shorthand form as [Element]. Although the two forms are functionally identical, the shorthand form is preferred and is used throughout this guide when referring to the type of an array.

Creating an Empty Array

You can create an empty array of a certain type using initializer syntax:

  1. var someInts = [Int]()
  2. print("someInts is of type [Int] with \(someInts.count) items.")
  3. // prints "someInts is of type [Int] with 0 items."

Note that the type of the someInts variable is inferred to be [Int] from the type of the initializer.

Alternatively, if the context already provides type information, such as a function argument or an already typed variable or constant, you can create an empty array with an empty array literal, which is written as [] (an empty pair of square brackets):

  1. someInts.append(3)
  2. // someInts now contains 1 value of type Int
  3. someInts = []
  4. // someInts is now an empty array, but is still of type [Int]

Creating an Array with a Default Value

Swift’s Array type also provides an initializer for creating an array of a certain size with all of its values set to the same default value. You pass this initializer the number of items to be added to the new array (called count) and a default value of the appropriate type (called repeatedValue):

  1. var threeDoubles = [Double](count: 3, repeatedValue: 0.0)
  2. // threeDoubles is of type [Double], and equals [0.0, 0.0, 0.0]

Creating an Array by Adding Two Arrays Together

You can create a new array by adding together two existing arrays with compatible types with the addition operator (+). The new array’s type is inferred from the type of the two arrays you add together:

  1. var anotherThreeDoubles = [Double](count: 3, repeatedValue: 2.5)
  2. // anotherThreeDoubles is inferred as [Double], and equals [2.5, 2.5, 2.5]
  3. var sixDoubles = threeDoubles + anotherThreeDoubles
  4. // sixDoubles is inferred as [Double], and equals [0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 2.5, 2.5, 2.5]

Creating an Array with an Array Literal

You can also initialize an array with an array literal, which is a shorthand way to write one or more values as an array collection. An array literal is written as a list of values, separated by commas, surrounded by a pair of square brackets:

  • [value 1, value 2, value 3]

The example below creates an array called shoppingList to store String values:

  1. var shoppingList: [String] = ["Eggs", "Milk"]
  2. // shoppingList has been initialized with two initial items

The shoppingList variable is declared as “an array of string values”, written as [String]. Because this particular array has specified a value type of String, it is allowed to store String values only. Here, the shoppingList array is initialized with two String values ("Eggs" and "Milk"), written within an array literal.

In this case, the array literal contains two String values and nothing else. This matches the type of the shoppingList variable’s declaration (an array that can only contain String values), and so the assignment of the array literal is permitted as a way to initialize shoppingList with two initial items.

Thanks to Swift’s type inference, you don’t have to write the type of the array if you’re initializing it with an array literal containing values of the same type. The initialization of shoppingList could have been written in a shorter form instead:

  1. var shoppingList = ["Eggs", "Milk"]

Because all values in the array literal are of the same type, Swift can infer that [String] is the correct type to use for the shoppingList variable.

Accessing and Modifying an Array

You access and modify an array through its methods and properties, or by using subscript syntax.

To find out the number of items in an array, check its read-only count property:

  1. print("The shopping list contains \(shoppingList.count) items.")
  2. // prints "The shopping list contains 2 items."

Use the Boolean isEmpty property as a shortcut for checking whether the count property is equal to 0:

  1. if shoppingList.isEmpty {
  2. print("The shopping list is empty.")
  3. } else {
  4. print("The shopping list is not empty.")
  5. }
  6. // prints "The shopping list is not empty."

You can add a new item to the end of an array by calling the array’s append(_:) method:

  1. shoppingList.append("Flour")
  2. // shoppingList now contains 3 items, and someone is making pancakes

Alternatively, append an array of one or more compatible items with the addition assignment operator (+=):

  1. shoppingList += ["Baking Powder"]
  2. // shoppingList now contains 4 items
  3. shoppingList += ["Chocolate Spread", "Cheese", "Butter"]
  4. // shoppingList now contains 7 items

Retrieve a value from the array by using subscript syntax, passing the index of the value you want to retrieve within square brackets immediately after the name of the array:

  1. var firstItem = shoppingList[0]
  2. // firstItem is equal to "Eggs"

You can use subscript syntax to change an existing value at a given index:

  1. shoppingList[0] = "Six eggs"
  2. // the first item in the list is now equal to "Six eggs" rather than "Eggs"

You can also use subscript syntax to change a range of values at once, even if the replacement set of values has a different length than the range you are replacing. The following example replaces "Chocolate Spread", "Cheese", and "Butter" with "Bananas" and "Apples":

  1. shoppingList[4...6] = ["Bananas", "Apples"]
  2. // shoppingList now contains 6 items

To insert an item into the array at a specified index, call the array’s insert(_:atIndex:) method:

  1. shoppingList.insert("Maple Syrup", atIndex: 0)
  2. // shoppingList now contains 7 items
  3. // "Maple Syrup" is now the first item in the list

This call to the insert(_:atIndex:) method inserts a new item with a value of "Maple Syrup" at the very beginning of the shopping list, indicated by an index of 0.

Similarly, you remove an item from the array with the removeAtIndex(_:) method. This method removes the item at the specified index and returns the removed item (although you can ignore the returned value if you do not need it):

  1. let mapleSyrup = shoppingList.removeAtIndex(0)
  2. // the item that was at index 0 has just been removed
  3. // shoppingList now contains 6 items, and no Maple Syrup
  4. // the mapleSyrup constant is now equal to the removed "Maple Syrup" string

Any gaps in an array are closed when an item is removed, and so the value at index 0 is once again equal to "Six eggs":

  1. firstItem = shoppingList[0]
  2. // firstItem is now equal to "Six eggs"

If you want to remove the final item from an array, use the removeLast() method rather than the removeAtIndex(_:) method to avoid the need to query the array’s count property. Like the removeAtIndex(_:) method, removeLast() returns the removed item:

  1. let apples = shoppingList.removeLast()
  2. // the last item in the array has just been removed
  3. // shoppingList now contains 5 items, and no apples
  4. // the apples constant is now equal to the removed "Apples" string

Iterating Over an Array

You can iterate over the entire set of values in an array with the for-in loop:

  1. for item in shoppingList {
  2. print(item)
  3. }
  4. // Six eggs
  5. // Milk
  6. // Flour
  7. // Baking Powder
  8. // Bananas

If you need the integer index of each item as well as its value, use the enumerate() method to iterate over the array instead. The enumerate() method returns a tuple for each item in the array composed of the index and the value for that item. You can decompose the tuple into temporary constants or variables as part of the iteration:

  1. for (index, value) in shoppingList.enumerate() {
  2. print("Item \(index + 1): \(value)")
  3. }
  4. // Item 1: Six eggs
  5. // Item 2: Milk
  6. // Item 3: Flour
  7. // Item 4: Baking Powder
  8. // Item 5: Bananas

For more about the for-in loop, see For Loops.

Sets

A set stores distinct values of the same type in a collection with no defined ordering. You can use sets as an alternative to arrays when the order of items is not important, or when you need to ensure that an item only appears once.

Hash Values for Set Types

A type must be hashable in order to be stored in a set—that is, the type must provide a way to compute a hash value for itself. A hash value is an Int value that is the same for all objects that compare equally, such that if a == b, it follows that a.hashValue == b.hashValue.

All of Swift’s basic types (such as String, Int, Double, and Bool) are hashable by default, and can be used as set value types or dictionary key types. Enumeration member values without associated values (as described in Enumerations) are also hashable by default.

Set Type Syntax

The type of a Swift set is written as Set<Element>, where Element is the type that the set is allowed to store. Unlike arrays, sets do not have an equivalent shorthand form.

Creating and Initializing an Empty Set

You can create an empty set of a certain type using initializer syntax:

  1. var letters = Set<Character>()
  2. print("letters is of type Set<Character> with \(letters.count) items.")
  3. // prints "letters is of type Set<Character> with 0 items."

Alternatively, if the context already provides type information, such as a function argument or an already typed variable or constant, you can create an empty set with an empty array literal:

  1. letters.insert("a")
  2. // letters now contains 1 value of type Character
  3. letters = []
  4. // letters is now an empty set, but is still of type Set<Character>

Creating a Set with an Array Literal

You can also initialize a set with an array literal, as a shorthand way to write one or more values as a set collection.

The example below creates a set called favoriteGenres to store String values:

  1. var favoriteGenres: Set<String> = ["Rock", "Classical", "Hip hop"]
  2. // favoriteGenres has been initialized with three initial items

The favoriteGenres variable is declared as “a set of String values”, written as Set<String>. Because this particular set has specified a value type of String, it is only allowed to store String values. Here, the favoriteGenres set is initialized with three String values ("Rock", "Classical", and "Hip hop"), written within an array literal.

A set type cannot be inferred from an array literal alone, so the type Set must be explicitly declared. However, because of Swift’s type inference, you don’t have to write the type of the set if you’re initializing it with an array literal containing values of the same type. The initialization of favoriteGenres could have been written in a shorter form instead:

  1. var favoriteGenres: Set = ["Rock", "Classical", "Hip hop"]

Because all values in the array literal are of the same type, Swift can infer that Set<String> is the correct type to use for the favoriteGenres variable.

Accessing and Modifying a Set

You access and modify a set through its methods and properties.

To find out the number of items in a set, check its read-only count property:

  1. print("I have \(favoriteGenres.count) favorite music genres.")
  2. // prints "I have 3 favorite music genres."

Use the Boolean isEmpty property as a shortcut for checking whether the count property is equal to 0:

  1. if favoriteGenres.isEmpty {
  2. print("As far as music goes, I'm not picky.")
  3. } else {
  4. print("I have particular music preferences.")
  5. }
  6. // prints "I have particular music preferences."

You can add a new item into a set by calling the set’s insert(_:) method:

  1. favoriteGenres.insert("Jazz")
  2. // favoriteGenres now contains 4 items

You can remove an item from a set by calling the set’s remove(_:) method, which removes the item if it’s a member of the set, and returns the removed value, or returns nil if the set did not contain it. Alternatively, all items in a set can be removed with its removeAll() method.

  1. if let removedGenre = favoriteGenres.remove("Rock") {
  2. print("\(removedGenre)? I'm over it.")
  3. } else {
  4. print("I never much cared for that.")
  5. }
  6. // prints "Rock? I'm over it."

To check whether a set contains a particular item, use the contains(_:) method.

  1. if favoriteGenres.contains("Funk") {
  2. print("I get up on the good foot.")
  3. } else {
  4. print("It's too funky in here.")
  5. }
  6. // prints "It's too funky in here."

Iterating Over a Set

You can iterate over the values in a set with a for-in loop.

  1. for genre in favoriteGenres {
  2. print("\(genre)")
  3. }
  4. // Classical
  5. // Jazz
  6. // Hip hop

For more about the for-in loop, see For Loops.

Swift’s Set type does not have a defined ordering. To iterate over the values of a set in a specific order, use the sort() method, which returns an ordered collection of the provided sequence.

  1. for genre in favoriteGenres.sort() {
  2. print("\(genre)")
  3. }
  4. // Classical
  5. // Hip hop
  6. // Jazz

Performing Set Operations

You can efficiently perform fundamental set operations, such as combining two sets together, determining which values two sets have in common, or determining whether two sets contain all, some, or none of the same values.

Fundamental Set Operations

The illustration below depicts two sets–a and b– with the results of various set operations represented by the shaded regions.

image: ../Art/setVennDiagram_2x.png
  • Use the intersect(_:) method to create a new set with only the values common to both sets.

  • Use the exclusiveOr(_:) method to create a new set with values in either set, but not both.

  • Use the union(_:) method to create a new set with all of the values in both sets.

  • Use the subtract(_:) method to create a new set with values not in the specified set.

  1. let oddDigits: Set = [1, 3, 5, 7, 9]
  2. let evenDigits: Set = [0, 2, 4, 6, 8]
  3. let singleDigitPrimeNumbers: Set = [2, 3, 5, 7]
  4. oddDigits.union(evenDigits).sort()
  5. // [0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]
  6. oddDigits.intersect(evenDigits).sort()
  7. // []
  8. oddDigits.subtract(singleDigitPrimeNumbers).sort()
  9. // [1, 9]
  10. oddDigits.exclusiveOr(singleDigitPrimeNumbers).sort()
  11. // [1, 2, 9]

Set Membership and Equality

The illustration below depicts three sets–a, b and c– with overlapping regions representing elements shared among sets. Set a is a superset of set b, because a contains all elements in b. Conversely, set b is a subset of set a, because all elements in b are also contained by a. Set b and set c are disjoint with one another, because they share no elements in common.

image: ../Art/setEulerDiagram_2x.png
  • Use the “is equal” operator (==) to determine whether two sets contain all of the same values.

  • Use the isSubsetOf(_:) method to determine whether all of the values of a set are contained in the specified set.

  • Use the isSupersetOf(_:) method to determine whether a set contains all of the values in a specified set.

  • Use the isStrictSubsetOf(_:) or isStrictSupersetOf(_:) methods to determine whether a set is a subset or superset, but not equal to, a specified set.

  • Use the isDisjointWith(_:) method to determine whether two sets have any values in common.

  1. let houseAnimals: Set = ["🐶", "🐱"]
  2. let farmAnimals: Set = ["🐮", "🐔", "🐑", "🐶", "🐱"]
  3. let cityAnimals: Set = ["🐦", "🐭"]
  4. houseAnimals.isSubsetOf(farmAnimals)
  5. // true
  6. farmAnimals.isSupersetOf(houseAnimals)
  7. // true
  8. farmAnimals.isDisjointWith(cityAnimals)
  9. // true

Dictionaries

A dictionary stores associations between keys of the same type and values of the same type in a collection with no defined ordering. Each value is associated with a unique key, which acts as an identifier for that value within the dictionary. Unlike items in an array, items in a dictionary do not have a specified order. You use a dictionary when you need to look up values based on their identifier, in much the same way that a real-world dictionary is used to look up the definition for a particular word.

Dictionary Type Shorthand Syntax

The type of a Swift dictionary is written in full as Dictionary<Key, Value>, where Key is the type of value that can be used as a dictionary key, and Value is the type of value that the dictionary stores for those keys.

You can also write the type of a dictionary in shorthand form as [Key: Value]. Although the two forms are functionally identical, the shorthand form is preferred and is used throughout this guide when referring to the type of a dictionary.

Creating an Empty Dictionary

As with arrays, you can create an empty Dictionary of a certain type by using initializer syntax:

  1. var namesOfIntegers = [Int: String]()
  2. // namesOfIntegers is an empty [Int: String] dictionary

This example creates an empty dictionary of type [Int: String] to store human-readable names of integer values. Its keys are of type Int, and its values are of type String.

If the context already provides type information, you can create an empty dictionary with an empty dictionary literal, which is written as [:] (a colon inside a pair of square brackets):

  1. namesOfIntegers[16] = "sixteen"
  2. // namesOfIntegers now contains 1 key-value pair
  3. namesOfIntegers = [:]
  4. // namesOfIntegers is once again an empty dictionary of type [Int: String]

Creating a Dictionary with a Dictionary Literal

You can also initialize a dictionary with a dictionary literal, which has a similar syntax to the array literal seen earlier. A dictionary literal is a shorthand way to write one or more key-value pairs as a Dictionary collection.

A key-value pair is a combination of a key and a value. In a dictionary literal, the key and value in each key-value pair are separated by a colon. The key-value pairs are written as a list, separated by commas, surrounded by a pair of square brackets:

  • [key 1: value 1, key 2: value 2, key 3: value 3]

The example below creates a dictionary to store the names of international airports. In this dictionary, the keys are three-letter International Air Transport Association codes, and the values are airport names:

  1. var airports: [String: String] = ["YYZ": "Toronto Pearson", "DUB": "Dublin"]

The airports dictionary is declared as having a type of [String: String], which means “a Dictionary whose keys are of type String, and whose values are also of type String”.

The airports dictionary is initialized with a dictionary literal containing two key-value pairs. The first pair has a key of "YYZ" and a value of "Toronto Pearson". The second pair has a key of "DUB" and a value of "Dublin".

This dictionary literal contains two String: String pairs. This key-value type matches the type of the airports variable declaration (a dictionary with only String keys, and only String values), and so the assignment of the dictionary literal is permitted as a way to initialize the airports dictionary with two initial items.

As with arrays, you don’t have to write the type of the dictionary if you’re initializing it with a dictionary literal whose keys and values have consistent types. The initialization of airports could have been written in a shorter form instead:

  1. var airports = ["YYZ": "Toronto Pearson", "DUB": "Dublin"]

Because all keys in the literal are of the same type as each other, and likewise all values are of the same type as each other, Swift can infer that [String: String] is the correct type to use for the airports dictionary.

Accessing and Modifying a Dictionary

You access and modify a dictionary through its methods and properties, or by using subscript syntax.

As with an array, you find out the number of items in a Dictionary by checking its read-only count property:

  1. print("The airports dictionary contains \(airports.count) items.")
  2. // prints "The airports dictionary contains 2 items."

Use the Boolean isEmpty property as a shortcut for checking whether the count property is equal to 0:

  1. if airports.isEmpty {
  2. print("The airports dictionary is empty.")
  3. } else {
  4. print("The airports dictionary is not empty.")
  5. }
  6. // prints "The airports dictionary is not empty."

You can add a new item to a dictionary with subscript syntax. Use a new key of the appropriate type as the subscript index, and assign a new value of the appropriate type:

  1. airports["LHR"] = "London"
  2. // the airports dictionary now contains 3 items

You can also use subscript syntax to change the value associated with a particular key:

  1. airports["LHR"] = "London Heathrow"
  2. // the value for "LHR" has been changed to "London Heathrow"

As an alternative to subscripting, use a dictionary’s updateValue(_:forKey:) method to set or update the value for a particular key. Like the subscript examples above, the updateValue(_:forKey:) method sets a value for a key if none exists, or updates the value if that key already exists. Unlike a subscript, however, the updateValue(_:forKey:) method returns the old value after performing an update. This enables you to check whether or not an update took place.

The updateValue(_:forKey:) method returns an optional value of the dictionary’s value type. For a dictionary that stores String values, for example, the method returns a value of type String?, or “optional String”. This optional value contains the old value for that key if one existed before the update, or nil if no value existed:

  1. if let oldValue = airports.updateValue("Dublin Airport", forKey: "DUB") {
  2. print("The old value for DUB was \(oldValue).")
  3. }
  4. // prints "The old value for DUB was Dublin."

You can also use subscript syntax to retrieve a value from the dictionary for a particular key. Because it is possible to request a key for which no value exists, a dictionary’s subscript returns an optional value of the dictionary’s value type. If the dictionary contains a value for the requested key, the subscript returns an optional value containing the existing value for that key. Otherwise, the subscript returns nil:

  1. if let airportName = airports["DUB"] {
  2. print("The name of the airport is \(airportName).")
  3. } else {
  4. print("That airport is not in the airports dictionary.")
  5. }
  6. // prints "The name of the airport is Dublin Airport."

You can use subscript syntax to remove a key-value pair from a dictionary by assigning a value of nil for that key:

  1. airports["APL"] = "Apple International"
  2. // "Apple International" is not the real airport for APL, so delete it
  3. airports["APL"] = nil
  4. // APL has now been removed from the dictionary

Alternatively, remove a key-value pair from a dictionary with the removeValueForKey(_:) method. This method removes the key-value pair if it exists and returns the removed value, or returns nil if no value existed:

  1. if let removedValue = airports.removeValueForKey("DUB") {
  2. print("The removed airport's name is \(removedValue).")
  3. } else {
  4. print("The airports dictionary does not contain a value for DUB.")
  5. }
  6. // prints "The removed airport's name is Dublin Airport."

Iterating Over a Dictionary

You can iterate over the key-value pairs in a dictionary with a for-in loop. Each item in the dictionary is returned as a (key, value) tuple, and you can decompose the tuple’s members into temporary constants or variables as part of the iteration:

  1. for (airportCode, airportName) in airports {
  2. print("\(airportCode): \(airportName)")
  3. }
  4. // YYZ: Toronto Pearson
  5. // LHR: London Heathrow

For more about the for-in loop, see For Loops.

You can also retrieve an iterable collection of a dictionary’s keys or values by accessing its keys and values properties:

  1. for airportCode in airports.keys {
  2. print("Airport code: \(airportCode)")
  3. }
  4. // Airport code: YYZ
  5. // Airport code: LHR
  6. for airportName in airports.values {
  7. print("Airport name: \(airportName)")
  8. }
  9. // Airport name: Toronto Pearson
  10. // Airport name: London Heathrow

If you need to use a dictionary’s keys or values with an API that takes an Array instance, initialize a new array with the keys or values property:

  1. let airportCodes = [String](airports.keys)
  2. // airportCodes is ["YYZ", "LHR"]
  3. let airportNames = [String](airports.values)
  4. // airportNames is ["Toronto Pearson", "London Heathrow"]

Swift’s Dictionary type does not have a defined ordering. To iterate over the keys or values of a dictionary in a specific order, use the sort() method on its keys or values property.