xibgraph: Interface Builder overviews

When putting together user interfaces with Interface Builder, you connect things together with bindings, actions and outlets and it's good. Understanding the result later on is a completely different matter. It can be time consuming and difficult to browse the objects inside one by one, trying to comprehend the whole. Even more so if you're trying to read someone else's work.

Out of that frustration came xibgraph. It takes a XIB file and outputs the connections contained inside:

Example xibgraph output

At the moment it supports bindings and actions. Outlets are next.

xibgraph supports a couple of different output formats. JSON is supported out of the box and if you install pydot, you get DOT, the format understood by Graphviz and OmniGraffle too.

It hasn't been tested on a particularly wide variety of XIBs, so it's very plausible it will produce wonky results or just outright refuse to work with your files. If so, patches and bug reports are welcome.

xibgraph is MIT licensed and written in Python. It requires PyObjC (it seemed like the easiest way to get XPath support on OS X) and probably Python 2.6. Everything but the DOT support should work without additional requirements on OS X 10.6.


I usually use Murky, dvc or some other shell for Mercurial. Not always though, for various reasons, and when running hg status I'm always frustrated when copy and pasting file names. bzr provides neat, non-cluttered lines that can be copied whole to get a file name without a hassle, but hg takes the traditional one-character prefix approach to status display and as a result makes you manually select a part of a line instead of just grabbing a whole line.

So I wrote a small extension to help. Meet hg-status-sections.

A better @synthesize

The biggest problem with Objective-C's @synthesize directive for properties is how difficult it's to augment the synthesized code. You often need to add logic to a property setter, but while you're adding it, you're losing the probably correct implementation Apple's code creates for property flags like atomic and retain.

At the moment, when you synthesize a readwrite property called foo you get a setter method called setFoo. If you need to add logic around it, you can either store the value in a private property and add a public property with a different name or use a subclass. Both are a bit of a hassle. Usually I just end up writing my own method, including the logic for implementing the modifiers correctly.

In an ideal world the language would support something like around/before/after methods in CLOS, but those features are rare. There's a simple way @synthesize could make things easier without requiring massive changes to the runtime. It could give you for both the getter and setter two methods. There would be the public methods they create in the current implementation, but there'd also be methods with names like __synthesized_property and __synthesized_setProperty. The public methods would rely on the semi-private methods to actually implement all their logic. Then if you needed to add logic around the accessors, you could override the public methods and call the semi-private ones to get access to the synthesized accessor logic without jumping through hoops or risking getting the implementation wrong.

© Juri Pakaste 2021