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This project was originally developed as part of a technical request to Apple Developer Support, to demonstrate a problem I had with some spritekit animations.

The problem I was/am having is that calls to SKNode::runAction* can intermittently cause the app to crash.

It seems that there are problems when using a SpriteKit scene object as an overlay node within a SceneKit app.

Adding and removing actions to/from a SKNode in such an environment can cause problems because the renderer is multi-threaded, and the internal data structures don't seem to be thread safe.

So this project attempts to identify a work around for the problem so that I can get my game finished whilst Apple engineers find the root cause of the problem and address it in some future version of iOS.

In this project there are two targets, one that has a pure SpriteKit SKView as the root view of the app and another that uses an SCNView with an SKScene set to be it's overlaySKScene.

In both cases there will be a single yellow square that should rotate (perhaps spasmodically) as it is updated by SKActions. The reason the rotation may not be smooth is that I deliberately set the duration of the animations, and the frequency of their initiation such that new initiations will typically occur before the previous one has finished.

The header file TestConfiguration.h has a number of #defines that may be used to play with the test:

Scheduling Updates

These items allow us to configure different techniques for the scheduling of calls to SKNode::runAction*

ON_MAIN_QUEUE Uncommenting this causes all runAction calls to be done within a block on the main queue. I thought this would eliminate my crashes however it doesn't. It may make them less frequent, but they still happen.

SCHEDULE_MAIN_QUEUE Uncommenting this causes the update of the sprite to happen via blocks on the main queue, so that even less is happening elsewhere.

FROM_UPDATE_CALLBACK I had thought that by deferring all runAction calls to happen from within the SKNode::update: callback, the crash would go away however this proves not to be the case. It still happens.

Uncomment this to try this method. Ensure that ON_MAIN_QUEUE is commented out though.

The idea here is to ensure that the SKActions are being scheduled from within the SceneKit renderer thread via the renderer callback.

FROM_UPDATE_SCENEKIT_RENDERER_CALLBACK Uncomment this to try this method. Ensure that ON_MAIN_QUEUE and FROM_UPDATE_CALLBACK are both commented out though.

runAction Choice

These items allow us to configure which of the SKNode::runAction* method is used. Mainly so that we can test if any of them behave more reliably.

Only enable one of the following at a time, to demonstrate the differences between the three SKNode::runAction methods.

RUN_SOLO Calls SKNode:runAction:

RUN_WITH_KEY Calls SKNode::runAction:withKey:

RUN_WITH_COMPLETION Calls SKNode::runAction:completion:

RUN_WITH_MANUAL_REMOVAL Explicitly calls SKNode:removeActionForKey: followed by SKNode::runAction:withKey:


These items can be used to alter how much is actually being done each update.

INCLUDE_LABEL Uncomment if you want an SKLabelNode on screen to tell you how many updates have been done. This may exacerbate the problem however.

USE_CONTAINER_NODE The SKScene (GameScene) uses the SKContainerNode to 'contain' any visible SKodes if this is uncommented. This class provides a more robust mechanism for removing nodes, as demonstrated for bug #30630031


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