I'm developing a Cocoa application, and I'm using constant NSStrings as ways to store key names for my preferences.

I understand this is a good idea because it allows easy changing of keys if necessary.
Plus, it's the whole 'separate your data from your logic' notion.

Anyway, is there a good way to make these constants defined once for the whole application?

I'm sure that there's an easy and intelligent way, but right now my classes just redefine the ones they use.

Solution 1

You should create a header file like:

// Constants.h
FOUNDATION_EXPORT NSString *const MyFirstConstant;
FOUNDATION_EXPORT NSString *const MySecondConstant;

(You can use extern instead of FOUNDATION_EXPORT if your code will not be used in mixed C/C++ environments or on other platforms.)

You can include this file in each file that uses the constants or in the pre-compiled header for the project.

You define these constants in a .m file like:

// Constants.m
NSString *const MyFirstConstant = @"FirstConstant";
NSString *const MySecondConstant = @"SecondConstant";

Constants.m should be added to your application/framework's target so that it is linked in to the final product.

The advantage of using string constants instead of #define'd constants is that you can test for equality using pointer comparison (stringInstance == MyFirstConstant) which is much faster than string comparison ([stringInstance isEqualToString:MyFirstConstant]) (and easier to read, IMO).

Solution 2

Easiest way:

// Prefs.h
#define PREFS_MY_CONSTANT @"prefs_my_constant"

Better way:

// Prefs.h
extern NSString * const PREFS_MY_CONSTANT;

// Prefs.m
NSString * const PREFS_MY_CONSTANT = @"prefs_my_constant";

One benefit of the second is that changing the value of a constant does not cause a rebuild of your entire program.

Solution 3

There is also one thing to mention. If you need a non global constant, you should use static keyword.


// In your *.m file
static NSString * const kNSStringConst = @"const value";

Because of the static keyword, this const is not visible outside of the file.

Minor correction by @QuinnTaylor: static variables are visible within a compilation unit. Usually, this is a single .m file (as in this example), but it can bite you if you declare it in a header which is included elsewhere, since you'll get linker errors after compilation

Solution 4

The accepted (and correct) answer says that "you can include this [Constants.h] file... in the pre-compiled header for the project."

As a novice, I had difficulty doing this without further explanation -- here's how: In your YourAppNameHere-Prefix.pch file (this is the default name for the precompiled header in Xcode), import your Constants.h inside the #ifdef __OBJC__ block.

#ifdef __OBJC__
  #import <UIKit/UIKit.h>
  #import <Foundation/Foundation.h>
  #import "Constants.h"

Also note that the Constants.h and Constants.m files should contain absolutely nothing else in them except what is described in the accepted answer. (No interface or implementation).

Solution 5

I am generally using the way posted by Barry Wark and Rahul Gupta.

Although, I do not like repeating the same words in both .h and .m file. Note, that in the following example the line is almost identical in both files:

// file.h
extern NSString* const MyConst;

NSString* const MyConst = @"Lorem ipsum";

Therefore, what I like to do is to use some C preprocessor machinery. Let me explain through the example.

I have a header file which defines the macro STR_CONST(name, value):

// StringConsts.h
# define STR_CONST(name, value) NSString* const name = @ value
# define STR_CONST(name, value) extern NSString* const name

The in my .h/.m pair where I want to define the constant I do the following:

// myfile.h
#import <StringConsts.h>

STR_CONST(MyConst, "Lorem Ipsum");
STR_CONST(MyOtherConst, "Hello world");

// myfile.m
#import "myfile.h"

et voila, I have all the information about the constants in .h file only.

Solution 6

I myself have a header dedicated to declaring constant NSStrings used for preferences like so:

extern NSString * const PPRememberMusicList;
extern NSString * const PPLoadMusicAtListLoad;
extern NSString * const PPAfterPlayingMusic;
extern NSString * const PPGotoStartupAfterPlaying;

Then declaring them in the accompanying .m file:

NSString * const PPRememberMusicList = @"Remember Music List";
NSString * const PPLoadMusicAtListLoad = @"Load music when loading list";
NSString * const PPAfterPlayingMusic = @"After playing music";
NSString * const PPGotoStartupAfterPlaying = @"Go to startup pos. after playing";

This approach has served me well.

Edit: Note that this works best if the strings are used in multiple files. If only one file uses it, you can just do #define kNSStringConstant @"Constant NSString" in the .m file that uses the string.

Solution 7

A slight modification of the suggestion of @Krizz, so that it works properly if the constants header file is to be included in the PCH, which is rather normal. Since the original is imported into the PCH, it won't reload it into the .m file and thus you get no symbols and the linker is unhappy.

However, the following modification allows it to work. It's a bit convoluted, but it works.

You'll need 3 files, .h file which has the constant definitions, the .h file and the .m file, I'll use ConstantList.h, Constants.h and Constants.m, respectively. the contents of Constants.h are simply:

// Constants.h
#define STR_CONST(name, value) extern NSString* const name
#include "ConstantList.h"

and the Constants.m file looks like:

// Constants.m
#ifdef STR_CONST
    #undef STR_CONST
#define STR_CONST(name, value) NSString* const name = @ value
#include "ConstantList.h"

Finally, the ConstantList.h file has the actual declarations in it and that is all:

// ConstantList.h
STR_CONST(kMyConstant, "Value");

A couple of things to note:

  1. I had to redefine the macro in the .m file after #undefing it for the macro to be used.

  2. I also had to use #include instead of #import for this to work properly and avoid the compiler seeing the previously precompiled values.

  3. This will require a recompile of your PCH (and probably the entire project) whenever any values are changed, which is not the case if they are separated (and duplicated) as normal.

Hope that is helpful for someone.

Solution 8

// Prefs.h
extern NSString * const RAHUL;

// Prefs.m
NSString * const RAHUL = @"rahul";

Solution 9

As Abizer said, you could put it into the PCH file. Another way that isn't so dirty is to make a include file for all of your keys and then either include that in the file you're using the keys in, or, include it in the PCH. With them in their own include file, that at least gives you one place to look for and define all of these constants.

Solution 10

If you want something like global constants; a quick an dirty way is to put the constant declarations into the pch file.

Solution 11

If you like namespace constant, you can leverage struct, Friday Q&A 2011-08-19: Namespaced Constants and Functions

// in the header
extern const struct MANotifyingArrayNotificationsStruct
    NSString *didAddObject;
    NSString *didChangeObject;
    NSString *didRemoveObject;
} MANotifyingArrayNotifications;

// in the implementation
const struct MANotifyingArrayNotificationsStruct MANotifyingArrayNotifications = {
    .didAddObject = @"didAddObject",
    .didChangeObject = @"didChangeObject",
    .didRemoveObject = @"didRemoveObject"

Solution 12

Try using a class method:

    return @"Hello World";

I use it sometimes.

Solution 13

I use a singleton class, so that I can mock the class and change the constants if necessary for testing. The constants class looks like this:

#import <Foundation/Foundation.h>

@interface iCode_Framework : NSObject

@property (readonly, nonatomic) unsigned int iBufCapacity;
@property (readonly, nonatomic) unsigned int iPort;
@property (readonly, nonatomic) NSString * urlStr;


#import "iCode_Framework.h"

static iCode_Framework * instance;

@implementation iCode_Framework

@dynamic iBufCapacity;
@dynamic iPort;
@dynamic urlStr;

- (unsigned int)iBufCapacity
    return 1024u;

- (unsigned int)iPort
    return 1978u;

- (NSString *)urlStr
    return @"localhost";

+ (void)initialize
    if (!instance) {
        instance = [[super allocWithZone:NULL] init];

+ (id)allocWithZone:(NSZone * const)notUsed
    return instance;


And it is used like this (note the use of a shorthand for the constants c - it saves typing [[Constants alloc] init] every time):

#import "iCode_FrameworkTests.h"
#import "iCode_Framework.h"

static iCode_Framework * c; // Shorthand

@implementation iCode_FrameworkTests

+ (void)initialize
    c  = [[iCode_Framework alloc] init]; // Used like normal class; easy to mock!

- (void)testSingleton
    STAssertNotNil(c, nil);
    STAssertEqualObjects(c, [iCode_Framework alloc], nil);
    STAssertEquals(c.iBufCapacity, 1024u, nil);


Solution 14

If you want to call something like this NSString.newLine; from objective c, and you want it to be static constant, you can create something like this in swift:

public extension NSString {
    @objc public static let newLine = "\n"

And you have nice readable constant definition, and available from within a type of your choice while stile bounded to context of type.