# Method Swizzling

# Extending UIViewController and Swizzling viewDidLoad

In Objective-C, method swizzling is the process of changing the implementation of an existing selector. This is possible due to the way Selectors are mapped on a dispatch table, or a table of pointers to functions or methods.

Pure Swift methods are not dynamically dispatched by the Objective-C runtime, but we can still take advantage of these tricks on any class that inherits from NSObject.

Here, we will extend UIViewController and swizzle viewDidLoad to add some custom logging:

extension UIViewController {
    // We cannot override load like we could in Objective-C, so override initialize instead
    public override static func initialize() {
        // Make a static struct for our dispatch token so only one exists in memory
        struct Static {
            static var token: dispatch_once_t = 0
        // Wrap this in a dispatch_once block so it is only run once
        dispatch_once(&Static.token) {
            // Get the original selectors and method implementations, and swap them with our new method
            let originalSelector = #selector(UIViewController.viewDidLoad)
            let swizzledSelector = #selector(UIViewController.myViewDidLoad)
            let originalMethod = class_getInstanceMethod(self, originalSelector)
            let swizzledMethod = class_getInstanceMethod(self, swizzledSelector)
            let didAddMethod = class_addMethod(self, originalSelector, method_getImplementation(swizzledMethod), method_getTypeEncoding(swizzledMethod))
            // class_addMethod can fail if used incorrectly or with invalid pointers, so check to make sure we were able to add the method to the lookup table successfully
            if didAddMethod {
                class_replaceMethod(self, swizzledSelector, method_getImplementation(originalMethod), method_getTypeEncoding(originalMethod))
            } else {
                method_exchangeImplementations(originalMethod, swizzledMethod);
    // Our new viewDidLoad function
    // In this example, we are just logging the name of the function, but this can be used to run any custom code
    func myViewDidLoad() {
        // This is not recursive since we swapped the Selectors in initialize().
        // We cannot call super in an extension.
        print(#function) // logs myViewDidLoad()

# Basics of Swift Swizzling

Let's swap the implementation of methodOne() and methodTwo() in our TestSwizzling class:

class TestSwizzling : NSObject {
    dynamic func methodOne()->Int{
        return 1

extension TestSwizzling {
    //In Objective-C you'd perform the swizzling in load(), 
    //but this method is not permitted in Swift
    override class func initialize()

        struct Inner {
            static let i: () = {

                let originalSelector = #selector(TestSwizzling.methodOne)
                let swizzledSelector = #selector(TestSwizzling.methodTwo)                 
                let originalMethod = class_getInstanceMethod(TestSwizzling.self, originalSelector);
                let swizzledMethod = class_getInstanceMethod(TestSwizzling.self, swizzledSelector)                
                method_exchangeImplementations(originalMethod, swizzledMethod)
        let _ = Inner.i
    func methodTwo()->Int{
        // It will not be a recursive call anymore after the swizzling
        return methodTwo()+1

var c = TestSwizzling()

# Basics of Swizzling - Objective-C

Objective-C example of swizzling UIView's initWithFrame: method

static IMP original_initWithFrame;

+ (void)swizzleMethods {
    static BOOL swizzled = NO;
    if (!swizzled) {
        swizzled = YES;

        Method initWithFrameMethod =
            class_getInstanceMethod([UIView class], @selector(initWithFrame:));
        original_initWithFrame = method_setImplementation(
            initWithFrameMethod, (IMP)replacement_initWithFrame);

static id replacement_initWithFrame(id self, SEL _cmd, CGRect rect) {
    // This will be called instead of the original initWithFrame method on UIView
    // Do here whatever you need... 

    // Bonus: This is how you would call the original initWithFrame method
    UIView *view =
        ((id (*)(id, SEL, CGRect))original_initWithFrame)(self, _cmd, rect);

    return view;

# Remarks

When using method swizzling in Swift there are two requirements that your classes/methods must comply with:

  • Your class must extend NSObject
  • The functions you want to swizzle must have the dynamic attribute

For a complete explanation of why this is required, check out Using Swift with Cocoa and Objective-C:

Requiring Dynamic Dispatch

While the @objc attribute exposes your Swift API to the Objective-C runtime, it does not guarantee dynamic dispatch of a property, method, subscript, or initializer. The Swift compiler may still devirtualize or inline member access to optimize the performance of your code, bypassing the Objective-C runtime. When you mark a member declaration with the dynamic modifier, access to that member is always dynamically dispatched. Because declarations marked with the dynamic modifier are dispatched using the Objective-C runtime, they’re implicitly marked with the @objc attribute.

Requiring dynamic dispatch is rarely necessary. However, you must use the dynamic modifier when you know that the implementation of an API is replaced at runtime. For example, you can use the method_exchangeImplementations function in the Objective-C runtime to swap out the implementation of a method while an app is running. If the Swift compiler inlined the implementation of the method or devirtualized access to it, the new implementation would not be used.

Objective-C Runtime Reference

Method Swizzling on NSHipster