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CLI for Building & Distributing iOS Apps (.ipa Files)


Create .ipa files and distribute them from the command line, using any of the following methods:

Less cumbersome than clicking around in Xcode, and less hassle than rolling your own build script, Shenzhen radically improves the process of getting new builds out to testers and enterprises.

shenzhen is named for 深圳, the Chinese city famous for being the center of manufacturing for a majority of consumer electronics, including iPhones and iPads. It's part of a series of world-class command-line utilities for iOS development, which includes Cupertino (Apple Dev Center management), Houston (Push Notifications), Venice (In-App Purchase Receipt Verification), Dubai (Passbook pass generation), and Nashville (iTunes Store API).


$ gem install shenzhen

JSON Build Error

Users running Mac OS X Mavericks with Xcode 5.1 may encounter an error when attempting to install the json gem dependency. As per the Xcode 5.1 Release Notes:

The Apple LLVM compiler in Xcode 5.1 treats unrecognized command-line options as errors. This issue has been seen when building both Python native extensions and Ruby Gems, where some invalid compiler options are currently specified.

To work around this, install the json gem first with the following command:

$ ARCHFLAGS=-Wno-error=unused-command-line-argument-hard-error-in-future gem install json


For best results, set your environment localization to UTF-8, with $ export LC_ALL="en_US.UTF-8". Otherwise, Shenzhen may return unexpectedly with the error "invalid byte sequence in US-ASCII".

Shenzhen adds the ipa command to your PATH:

$ ipa

Build and distribute iOS apps (.ipa files)

    build                       Create a new .ipa file for your app
    distribute:rivierabuild     Distribute an .ipa file over [RivieraBuild](
    distribute:hockeyapp        Distribute an .ipa file over HockeyApp
    distribute:crashlytics      Distribute an .ipa file over Crashlytics
    distribute:deploygate       Distribute an .ipa file over deploygate
    distribute:firim            Distribute an .ipa file over
    distribute:itunesconnect    Upload an .ipa file to iTunes Connect for review
    distribute:pgyer            Distribute an .ipa file over Pgyer
    distribute:ftp              Distribute an .ipa file over FTP
    distribute:s3               Distribute an .ipa file over Amazon S3
    distribute:testfairy        Distribute an .ipa file over TestFairy
    info                        Show mobile provisioning information about an .ipa file
    help                        Display global or [command] help documentation.

  Global Options:
    -h, --help           Display help documentation
    -v, --version        Display version information
    -t, --trace          Display backtrace when an error occurs

Building & Distribution

$ cd /path/to/iOS Project/
$ ipa build
$ ipa distribute

RivieraBuild Distribution

$ ipa distribute:rivierabuild -k API_TOKEN -a AVAILABILITY

Shenzhen will load credentials from the environment variable RIVIERA_API_TOKEN unless otherwise specified. To get the list of availability options, visit

HockeyApp Distribution

$ ipa distribute:hockeyapp -a API_TOKEN

Shenzhen will load credentials from the environment variable HOCKEYAPP_API_TOKEN unless otherwise specified.

TestFairy Distribution

$ ipa distribute:testfairy -a API_KEY

Shenzhen will load credentials from the environment variable TESTFAIRY_API_KEY unless otherwise specified.

Crashlytics Beta Distribution

$ ipa distribute:crashlytics -c /path/to/Crashlytics.framework -a API_TOKEN -s BUILD_SECRET

Shenzhen will load credentials from the environment variables CRASHLYTICS_API_TOKEN & CRASHLYTICS_BUILD_SECRET, and attempt to run the submit executable submit in the path to Crashlytics.framework specified by CRASHLYTICS_FRAMEWORK_PATH unless otherwise specified.

DeployGate Distribution

$ ipa distribute:deploygate -a API_TOKEN -u USER_NAME

Shenzhen will load credentials from the environment variable DEPLOYGATE_API_TOKEN and DEPLOYGATE_USER_NAME unless otherwise specified.

FTP Distribution

$ ipa distribute:ftp --host HOST -u USER -p PASSWORD -P FTP_PATH

SFTP Distribution

$ ipa distribute:sftp --host HOST -u USER -p PASSWORD -P FTP_PATH

Amazon S3 Distribution

$ ipa distribute:s3 -a ACCESS_KEY_ID -s SECRET_ACCESS_KEY -b BUCKET

Shenzhen will load credentials from the environment variables AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID, AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY and AWS_REGION unless otherwise specified.

FIR (Fly it Remotely)

$ ipa distribute:fir -u USER_TOKEN -a APP_ID

Shenzhen will load credentials from the environment variables FIR_USER_TOKEN, FIR_APP_ID unless otherwise specified.

蒲公英 (PGYER)

$ ipa distribute:pgyer -u USER_KEY -a APP_KEY

Shenzhen will load credentials from the environment variables PGYER_USER_KEY, PGYER_API_KEY unless otherwise specified.

iTunes Connect Distribution

$ ipa distribute:itunesconnect -a -p myitunesconnectpassword -i appleid --upload

Shenzhen will load credentials from the environment variables ITUNES_CONNECT_ACCOUNT and ITUNES_CONNECT_PASSWORD unless otherwise specified. If only an account is provided, the keychain will be searched for a matching entry.

The -i (or --apple-id) flag is "An automatically generated ID assigned to your app". It can be found via iTunes Connect by navigating to:

  • My Apps -> [App Name] -> More -> About This App -> Apple ID

For a fully hands-free upload, in a CI environment for example, ensure your iTunes Connect credentials are stored in your keychain, and that the keychain item has the Validation app in its 'Always allow access' list. Running Shenzhen once with the --save-keychain flag, and clicking Always Allow on the prompt will set this up for you.

Displaying Embedded .mobileprovision Information

$ ipa info /path/to/app.ipa

| ApplicationIdentifierPrefix | DJ73OPSO53                                               |
| CreationDate                | 2014-03-26T02:53:00+00:00                                |
| Entitlements                | application-identifier:    |
|                             | aps-environment: production                              |
|                             | get-task-allow: false                                    |
|                             | keychain-access-groups: ["DJ73OPSO53.*"]                 |
| CreationDate                | 2017-03-26T02:53:00+00:00                                |
| Name                        | Shenzhen                                                 |
| TeamIdentifier              | S6ZYP4L6TY                                               |
| TimeToLive                  | 172                                                      |
| UUID                        | P7602NR3-4D34-441N-B6C9-R79395PN1OO3                     |
| Version                     | 1                                                        |


Mattt Thompson (@mattt)


Shenzhen is released under an MIT license. See LICENSE for more information.

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