We love open source libraries!
They save us a lot of time and hassle for developing one of top iOS apps. Majority of these libraries support Cocoapods, which means adding them to Xcode projects is a real breeze.
Many times we’ve been asked by developers (and our clients) that how does these open source libraries benefit us?
The answer is simple. Rather than building something from scratch, why not use the available open source iOS apps libraries to create iPhone app. You can always see how other people do it, and use the same iOS libraries to build your app faster than you could otherwise.
Over the years, we’ve used a lot of different open source libraries which helped us complete milestones successfully in our clients’ projects. These open source libraries helped us in developing one of the most successful apps used by millions of people all over the world.
Glovo, Flickbay, and Bevy are just a few examples of them. We’ve developed each of these successful apps using various open source libraries. It’s how we bring it together and deliver final products here at Space-O.
In this article, we’ve curated a list of useful open source iOS libraries. Embed them in your apps and embrace its benefits, just like we do.
1 – AFNetworking
When it’s the matter about networking, this iOS library makes every developer’s life a whole lot easier.
If you’re using an API in your iOS application, this is what you can use (and we recommend). It is one of the most popular open source libraries out there. AFNetworking is a lightweight and fast open source networking library that uses blocks and grand central dispatch (GCD). This basically helps in improving app’s responsiveness, provides easier concurrency model than locks and threads, and also optimizes code with higher performance primitives.
Thanks to its creator Matt Thompson, it is a great example of an open source project should be run. In fact, this iOS library has become quite popular as it has an amazing community of iOS developers who contributes to AFNetworking daily.
When we say networking, we mean whenever you’ve to call certain API to fetch data from server or database, this iOS library makes the entire API call process a whole lot easier.
Github Link – https://github.com/AFNetworking/AFNetworking
2 – Alamofire
Alamofire is AFNetworking’s younger and more of a trendy brother. It is a Swift-based HTTP networking library for iOS and Mac OS X. It provides an elegant interface on top of Apple’s Foundation networking stack, which simplifies many common networking tasks such as providing network communication for a multiplayer game, and also makes uploading, downloading, and getting JSONS a piece of cake.
Alamofire’s elegance comes from the fact that it was written in Swift from ground up and does not inherit anything from its Objective-C brother, AFNetworking. Alamofire offers chainable request/response methods, JSON parameter and response serialization to perform basic networking tasks like uploading files and reducing data from a third-party API.
In simple words, it reduces the effort of developer because developer does not need to directly deal with URLSession. Alamofire uses URLSession internally.
Although, you should have a conceptual understanding of HTTP networking and some exposure to Apple’s networking classes such as URLSession.
But, by using an iOS library like Alamofire, you can greatly reduce boilerplate code in your iOS app. And like already mentioned, Alamofire is an incredibly easy to use and makes everything look a lot cleaner.
Github Link – https://github.com/Alamofire/Alamofire
3 – JSONModel
Most of the time, our iOS devices are connected to the internet and, naturally, most of the apps on our smartphones connect to a remote server to obtain some chunks of data every now and then.
Some of these mobile apps consume only a little bit of data. For example, News app fetching only latest headlines every hour. But other apps like Facebook or Twitter interact with these servers on continuous basis.
All of the mobile applications, nowadays, communicate with these remote servers using JSON.
If you’re developing an iOS app which often requires communication with a remote server, most probably you might already getting JSON responses. This is where JSONModel library comes to help.
JSONModel is an open source library which helps to fetch JSON from server, parse it, and initialize your model classes with JSON response from the server. It also validates the JSON data. Most of the times, JSONModel is used to show response data received from API request in JSON format easily. So, If you’ve a more complex data model in your application, JSONModel is a real time-saver.
Github Link – https://github.com/icanzilb/JSONModel
4 – MagicalRecord
“Core Data is simple” said Apple. “Nice and simple.“
It doesn’t look like it. A ton of boilerplate code being added for core data to each iOS app isn’t very elegant. Not to mention adding, deleting, and updating all entities, creating various core data stacks for different environments. Point is, it just could have been much better, Apple.
To see how things could go wrong while using Core data and to teach our interns how to handle it, we had assigned them a task. All they had to do is develop an iOS app which involved core data. All of them decided the whole infrastructure in the beginning to make it perfectly organized.
Can you guess what happened? Things started to get out of control and our interns couldn’t follow their pre-defined infrastructure 80 percent of the time.
This is where MagicalRecord library came to rescue. One of our senior iOS developer, having 5+ years of experience, explained them how to use MagicalRecord iOS library.
MagicalRecord is an open source iOS library which makes working with Core Data extremely easier and more elegant. MagicalRecord works like a wrapper for core data and hides all non-relevant stuff from developer.
The point of MagicalRecord is to “clean up” core data code and enable simple one-line fetches of data, while also allowing custom performance optimizations.
How does it do it? Well, it provides convenience methods to wrap boilerplate for core data setup, query, and update. Furthermore, if you’ve ever worked with active record pattern, then MagicalRecord open source library is really recommended for using core data in your iOS app.
Github Link – https://github.com/magicalpanda/MagicalRecord
5 – Chameleon
If you’re an iOS app developer with a design band, this is a library you would really love to relish.
Chameleon is a lightweight, yet powerful, color framework for both Objective-C and Swift. It was developed on an idea that iOS apps should function effortlessly while also maintaining their beautiful interfaces simultaneously.
It basically extends UIColor with beautiful, modern flat colors. It also gives an ability to create color palettes from colors defined by you.
So, if you’ve a beautiful design in mind for your iOS app, then this is a must-use library for you.
Github Link – https://github.com/ViccAlexander/Chameleon
6 – GPUImage
GPUImage, in simple words, is used for image processing. If you’re planning to add camera features in your iOS app, or building a photo video app from scratch, then get this GPUImage library embedded in your iOS app project.
The GPUImage is a third-party framework available for interactive processing with camera, videos, images, processing of images and videos. It basically allows to apply GPU-accelerated filters and effects to images, live camera video, and movies.
In fact, we’ve used this library in most of our photos videos app projects, some of which also got featured on the App Store.
If you’d like to know more about which of our photo video apps got featured on App Store, please check this article.
GPUImage is the best iOS framework to develop photos & video apps because it allows you to write your own custom filters, supports deployment, and has a quite simple user interface.
The original GPUImage framework was written in Objective-C and was targeted for iOS app development, but the latest version is written entirely in Swift, which also targets Linux and other future platforms that supports Swift code.
Github Link – https://github.com/BradLarson/GPUImage
7 – ReactiveCocoa
ReactiveCocoa isn’t just another drop-in project like others in this list. It is rather an Objective-C framework inspired by functional programming.
ReactiveCocoa is an Objective-C framework for Functional Reactive programming (FRP), which seeks to provide more concise and flow-based code.
The main reason why ReactiveCocoa known as FRP (Functional Reactive Programming) is because it combines a couple of programming styles.
- Functional Programming – which makes use of higher order functions such as functions that take other functions as their arguments.
- Reactive Programming – which focuses of data-flows and change propagation.
Besides this, ReactiveCocoa also offers new methods to compose and transform streams of values. It operates by using signals, which captures present and future values. More importantly, the main benefit of ReactiveCocoa is that it provides a way to deal with asynchronous behaviors, callback blocks, notifications and KVO, just by using the signals.
Github Link – https://github.com/ReactiveCocoa/ReactiveCocoa
8 – iRate
What’s the best way to get more reviews in the App Store?
It’s simple – Ask the User.
It may sound like an old-school way, but most developers still implement custom in-app alerts to collect reviews from their app users. Now, if you don’t really have time, or wish not to create everything from scratch, then iRate is the best option.
iRate is a small iOS library that you can use in your project and forget about asking users for review. iRate will do it for you, at proper time. And if you want to learn how to implement iRate library, just check out our iOS app tutorial on – How to Add “Rate This App” Feature in Your iPhone App to Increase Your App Ratings.
Github Link – https://github.com/nicklockwood/iRate
9 – RETableViewManager
RETableViewManager is a powerful data-driven content manager for UITableView.
It allows developers to manage the content of any UITableView with ease, both forms and lists. RETableViewManager is built on top of reusable cells technique and provides APIs for mapping any object class to any custom cell subclass.
The general idea is to allow developers to use their own UITableView and UITableViewController instances (and even subclasses), providing a layer that synchronizes data with the cell appearance. It fully implements UITableViewDelegate and UITableViewDataSource protocols so you don’t have to.
It deliver us predefined cells for bools, texts, dates, etc., but developers can also create their own custom views and use them along with the default ones.
Github Link – https://github.com/romaonthego/RETableViewManager
10 – SwiftyJSON
The iOS library – SwiftyJSON is super simplified & free.
It can make easy in order to deal with JSON data in Swift. There is no room of doubt in that is Swift is strict about its types, however, SwiftyJSON can eliminate all optional chaining that are messy for masses. As a developer, you must have been gone through with this sort of issues. However, this iOS library gives you completely hassle-free approach that was unbelievable to achieve in the past. Furthermore, as we are going towards more technical side of the library. Have a look!
- By adapting SwiftyJSON, you will be no longer to face old error types, which might be affecting your efficiency in order to produce code flawlessly.
- Apart from this, it is much easier to merge two as in one JSON to another one.
- Plus, this library can navigate through multiple levels only in one call.
If you want to know more about technical side of SwiftyJSON, please refer https://github.com/SwiftyJSON
11 – CardIO
Emerging in December 2010, this iOS library simply allows you to scan your card via the mobile app of your smartphone.
Well, the main thing that you should know about other iOS library is that it proffers swift and easy credit scanning in mobile applications, plus free of cost and it is available for both platforms – Android & iOS.
The approach of the library is quite different and absolutely safe as it is built on the basis of recent people’s requirements. So when it comes to security, CardIO assures you total security as in it does not transmit or store your card numbers.
Github Link – https://github.com/card-io/card.io-iOS-SDK
12 – SDWebImage
There is no room for doubt in that AFNetworking is a lightweight and fast open source library. However, AFNetworking consists a big category to load images from the web, including UIImageView and AFNetworking.
But, there is a new library available now, known as SDWebImage. It offers an asynchronous image downloader with cache support.
Furthermore, It provides an extensive list of features, such as
- Animated GIF Support and Background Image Decompression.
- An asynchronous image downloader, memory and disk image caching accompanied by automatic cache expiration handling.
- The UIImageView category adds web image and cache management to Cocoa Touch framework.
- It assures that the same URL would not be downloaded again, and fake URLs would not be retried several times.
- It also guarantees that the main thread will never be blocked.
- When it comes to the Image formats, these are supported by UIImage (like JPEG and PNG), including GIF. It also supports WebP format, including animated WebP.
Github link – https://github.com/rs/SDWebImage
13 – XMPP Framework
Emerged in 2008, this framework provides a core implementation of RFC-3920 along with the tools, which are required to read and write the XML.
Basically, it is written in objective C for particularly Mac and iOS development community.
XMPP framework comes with many popular extensions (XEP’s). And all these extensions are built on a modular architecture, permitting you to plug-in any code required for the task.
When it comes to its structure, XMPP framework is structured by using GCD. The best thing is that XMPP framework is massively parallel and thread safe.
It runs well on platforms, whether it is an old iPhone or 12-Core Mac Pro, and it would not block the main thread. The framework – XMPP accepts contributions that are written in Swift as well.
Github link – https://github.com/robbiehanson/XMPPFramework
14 – Realm
Fundamentally, Realm is a mobile database, which runs on phones and wearables, and is a replacement for Core Data and SQLite. In a nutshell, Realm is simple, mobile-first and fast. It also supports relationships, generic and vectorization.
Realm Objective-C, Realm Core and Realm Swift are published under the license – Apache 2.0
Github link – https://github.com/realm/realm-cocoa
So, these are the top 7 useful open source libraries to know about. Here, at Space-O Technologies, open source iOS libraries are an integral part of iPhone app development because it makes scaling iOS apps extremely easy task.
Now we know that this list is not an exhaustive one, so you can tell us your favorite open source iOS libraries in the comment box below. In case, if you still have any query or confusion regarding development cost of developing iOS apps or Apple app development, then you can get in touch with us through contact us form. And, one of our sales representatives will revert to you within 48 hours,