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Swift Package Manager Evolution Ideas

This is a list of some evolution ideas for the package manager. Once the details of an idea are fleshed out and there is a full proposal, it can be scheduled for the swift-evolution process. It is important to note that not every idea on this list is guaranteed to become an official feature, and it all depends on where the design discussion leads us. Also, this is not meant to be an exhaustive feature list, if you have an idea for a feature that you think will be a valuable addition to the package manager, feel free to start a discussion about it.

If you're interested in participating in a particular evolution idea, please familarize yourself with the existing discussion on that topic and start participating in the discussion thread of that idea. If a thread doesn't exist for that idea, please start one with a draft proposal that can be used as a starting point.

Important Note: This list is not in any particular order. I plan to keep this post updated but please let me know if you see something out-of-date.

Mirror and Fork Support

You may want an easy way to mirror or fork specific packages in your package graph. This could be useful if you want to make a private customization to a package that you depend on, or even if you just want to override the origin repository of your packages so that you can fetch from a private mirror and not depend on the original repository always being there.

Thread: https://forums.swift.org/t/dependency-mirroring-and-forking/13902
Bug: SR-679

Build Settings

Some packages require specific language or linker flags that SwiftPM doesn’t currently support, and some packages may desire other configurable properties as well. We want to have a real robust "build settings" model for adding these kinds of properties, potentially including including conditional settings and fine-grained control over what parts of the package use which property values.

Thread: N/A
Bug: SR-3948

Conditional Dependencies

Packages may want to use dependencies that they only use while testing the package. Such dependencies shouldn't take part in dependency resolution process when a package is being used as a dependency. This is also called test-only or development dependencies in other package managers. It is sometimes also required to declare platform-specific dependencies which should be only fetched when a package is being built for a certain platform. This is currently possible using #if os checks but it leads to two problems: 1) it forces a non-declarative syntax in the manifest file, and 2) it causes issues in maintaining the Package.resolved file as the dependency is added or removed depending on the platform.

Thread: N/A
Bug: SR-883

Resource Support

The Swift package manager needs a story for how packages should specify their resources to include with products.

Thread: N/A
Bug: SR-2866

Extensible Build Tools

Many users want to incorporate a variety of build-time tools into their packages, whether to support a custom language or preprocessor, or to add their own documentation generator or linter. SwiftPM could add extensibility to support tools packages which could bring these steps to the build process. We expect this behavior to greatly enhance our capacity for building complex software packages.

One important thing for us to be careful about here is to make sure that all parts of the build process still clearly declare their inputs and outputs to SwiftPM, so that it can make sure that they behave correctly and perform well for incremental and parallel builds.

Thread: https://forums.swift.org/t/package-manager-extensible-build-tools/10900
Bug: N/A

User-defined Template Support

It would be nice if users can hook into the init command to add custom templates that they frequently use.

Thread: N/A
Bug: SR-7837

Documentation Generation Support

We can leverage SourceKit to extract documentation information from Swift packages that can be further transformed into a developer consumable format like a static HTML website.

Thread: N/A
Bug: N/A

Tagging and Publishing support

Today you publish new versions of your package by tagging manually with git, and you use git directly to view your published tags. SwiftPM could help automate this process, performing any validation, housekeeping, or auxiliary tasks that might make sense as part of a streamlined and safe publication workflow.

Thread: N/A
Bug: N/A

Install/deploy Command

When you’re deploying the product of your package, whether to a server or your local system, it could be helpful for SwiftPM to provide support for automating that process. You may want to configure layout and library linkage aspects of your products for your specific deployment environment, record version information about what your products were built from, and otherwise leverage the context that SwiftPM has about your packages for a seamless deployment experience.

Thread: N/A
Bug: N/A

Performance Testing Support

Currently, SwiftPM has no support for running performance tests. We need to provide a way to specify performance tests for a package and to run them from the SwiftPM command-line tools.

Here is a very old draft proposal that I haven't gotten around to post for discussion yet.

Thread: N/A
Bug: SR-1354

Support for External Testing Frameworks

Currently, SwiftPM only supports writing tests with help of XCTest testing framework. The community should be able to use any testing framework of their choice to test with SwiftPM. This feature will most likely depend on extensible build tools feature.

Thread: N/A
Bug: N/A

Package Index

SwiftPM plans to have a real index for Swift packages some day. In addition to defining a namespace for package names and providing easier package discovery, it could even support metrics for quality, such as automated test coverage statistics, or ways to evaluate the trustworthiness of packages that you’re considering using. This will be a large project.

Thread: N/A
Bug: N/A

Multi-Package Repository Support

Currently the package manager requires that each package live at the root of a Git repository. This means that you can't store multiple packages in the same repository, or develop packages which locate each other in a filesystem-relative manner without relying on Git. We need a proposal for how we would like to support this.

Thread: N/A
Bug: SR-3951

Cross-platform Sandboxing

Sandboxing is one way to help prevent Package.swift manifest evaluation and builds from escaping out into your system, either accidentally or deliberately. SwiftPM uses macOS's sandboxing technology already, but it would be great to bring this safety to other platforms.

Thread: N/A
Bug: N/A

Automatic Semantic Versioning

Automatically detecting what semantic version it looks like you should be publishing your changes with could be very helpful for package authors. SwiftPM could do this by analyzing the source code's API to see what has changed and whether the API is backwards-compatible, at least at compile time.

Thread: N/A
Bug: N/A

Machine-Editable Package.swift

We need an easy way to edit the Package.swift manifest from automated tools, for cases where you don't want users to have to update the Swift code directly. We think that it's possible to provide API to allow this, probably using SwiftSyntax.

Thread: N/A
Bug: N/A

SwiftPM Integration in Xcode

This is not part of the evolution ideas but it has frequently come up on the forums (albeit for the right reasons). Please see this post if you haven't. It is important to understand that Xcode is not part of the Swift Open Source project and the future plans and timelines are not published in public. Please use Apple developer forums or bug reporter for Xcode related discussions.

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