NSStringinfying enums from AppCode

I added a --text option to nsstringfromenumgen so it can be used with JetBrains' excellent Objective-C IDE, AppCode. AppCode doesn't integrate with OS X services, but you can configure nsstringfromenumgen as an "External Tool" and provide the selected text as a parameter. There's still an extra copy & paste step not needed with Xcode and Services, but it's not too bad.

NSStringinfying enums

Making sense of enum values in C is too difficult. Usually sooner rather than later while debugging you need to see what's inside an enum value, but C provides no introspection tools. You just get an integer value, no mapping to the original symbolic name. That's why every enum should be accompanied by a stringifying function, but that requires manual labor. Few programmers are happy to write those functions and fewer are going to update them. Automation to the rescue.

I'm working in the context of Objective-C, and so is Wolf Rentzsch, who recently blogged his script for generating NSStringFromEnumName functions. I have used a very similar solution for a long time, and I expect so have many others.

But you don't have to be jwz to doubt the wisdom of parsing C with a bunch of ad hoc regexps. I was always unhappy with it and knew there were various not-so-corner cases I wasn't handling properly. Using a real C parser seemed like the right thing to do, but it hasn't really been feasible until pretty recently, after the advent of libclang.

So, here it is, using Python and clang, my most recent take on NSStringFromEnum. It might not be any better for being based on libclang, but it's different.

ZeroMQ, iOS and Python

I wrote some example code for you.

Background: last week a coworker asked me what's the flavor du jour in two-way communication between a network server and an iOS app, should he just go with BSD sockets or is there something better? I suggested he should take a look at ZeroMQ. Not that I actually knew very much at all about it, but I had heard the name and seen that some people were pretty enthustiastic about it.

Turns out he had deadlines and wasn't too keen on building the library with an outdated zsh script that didn't seem to work.

I started fiddling with it myself on the weekend to have some idea about what I'm talking about. True enough that the script provided on the web page wasn't up to date, and once I fixed it I got only an ARM binary which isn't very useful in development when you want to test on the iPhone Simulator. After some more poking I finally managed to massage a working fat library out of it. And objc-zmq provided a nice simple Objective-C wrapper around the C API.

Not satisfied with playing with just one unknown technology, I thought I'd do the server in Clojure. After shaving the JNI yak for a couple of hours, trying to build a working version if the Java binding, I decided it wasn't worth it. Python was an easy fallback, but to keep things at least moderately exciting I used gevent which was also something I hadn't tried before.

It worked out pretty nice. The Python server is extremely simple and the iOS app isn't complex either. This hardly counts as a strenuous test of ZeroMQ, but at least from the code perspective it was really pleasant to work with. No hassle with buffers, just complete messages from an extremely simple API that enables the most common communication patterns with a couple of keywords. They wisely keep out of the marshalling business, telling people to use Protocol Buffers or something else for defining message formats.

The example project is available on Bitbucket. It works on my computer at the moment; see the Bitbucket page for details about the bits it requires.


© Juri Pakaste 2021