Ruby-style enumeration in Objective-C.
Objective-C Ruby
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EnumeratorKit — Ruby-style enumeration in Objective-C

Build Status

EnumeratorKit is a collection enumeration library modelled after Ruby's Enumerable module and Enumerator class.

It allows you to work with collections of objects in a very compact, expressive way:

#import <EnumeratorKit/EnumeratorKit.h>

NSArray *numbers = @[ @1, @2, @3 ];

// perform the block once for each element in the collection
[numbers each:^(id i){
    NSLog(@"%@", i);

// return a new array with each element converted to a string
[numbers map:^(id i){
    return [i stringValue];

Additionally, these operations can be chained together to form a higher-level operation:

NSDictionary *examples = @{ @"Hello": @"world", @"foo": @"BAR" };

[[[examples sortBy:^(id pair){
    // sort entries by their keys, case insensitive
    return [pair[0] lowercaseString];
}] map:^(id pair){
    // combine each key-value pair into a new string
    return [NSString stringWithFormat:@"%@ %@", pair[0], pair[1]];
}] select:^(id pair){
    return [pair[1] hasSuffix:@"orld"];
// => @[@"Hello world"];

EnumeratorKit implements this functionality for all of the core collection classes (and their mutable counterparts): NSArray, NSDictionary, NSSet and NSOrderedSet.

Any collection conforming to NSFastEnumeration can also be conveniently wrapped using the ek_enumerate function:

[ek_enumerate(@[@1, @2, @3]) map:^(NSNumber *i) {
    return @(i.integerValue * 2);
// => @[@2, @4, @6]

EnumeratorKit also provides the EKEnumerator class, which has a number of advantages over NSEnumerator, for example:

  • The ability to peek at the next element without consuming the enumeration
  • Implements the entire EKEnumerable API
  • Lazy enumeration over an infinite collection:
// you may have seen this in Ruby before
EKEnumerator *fib = [EKEnumerator new:^(id<EKYielder> yielder){
    int a = 1, b = 1;
    while (1) { // infinite loop (!)
        [yielder yield:@(a)];
        NSUInteger next = a + b;
        a = b; b = next;
[[fib take:10] asArray]; // => @[ @1, @1, @2, @3, @5, @8, @13, @21, @34, @55 ]

Getting Started


EnumeratorKit is available via CocoaPods. Add it to your Podfile:

pod 'EnumeratorKit', '~> 0.1.1'

(And don't forget to pod install.) Then import the header:

#import <EnumeratorKit/EnumeratorKit.h>

Now you're ready to go.

(Note: If you're interested in using EKFiber without the rest of EKEnumerable, you can use this subspec: pod 'EnumeratorKit/EKFiber'.)


  • iOS 5.0+
  • Base SDK with support for Objective-C collection literals

How it works

The EKEnumerable class defines an API of methods that are all based on one operation:

- (instancetype)each:(void (^)(id obj))block;

Different collection classes implement their own version of -each:, to define the order their elements should be traversed. For example, on NSArray, -each: is defined to execute the block once for each item in turn. For NSDictionary, -each: constructs a key-value pair as a two-element array @[key, value] and passes it to the block once for each entry.

EnumeratorKit then uses the Objective-C runtime to "mix in" to another class all the methods defined in EKEnumerable (a la Ruby modules). This is similar to using an Objective-C category to add methods to an existing class, but is done entirely at runtime. (There is also the added benefit that if you subclass an EKEnumerable class, you can override any of the methods provided by EKEnumerable. Category methods, however, would break polymorphism.)

By defining the API in terms of -each:, any class can gain the functionality just by implementing that method and mixing in EKEnumerable.

Available methods

The Kiwi tests provide a lot of useful examples. (If you're interested in reading more, I'd also recommend having a look at Ruby's Enumerable docs.) Here's a whirlwhind tour of the supported operations:

  • -each — perform the block once for each item in the collection
  • -eachWithIndex — like -each, but with the current index passed as a second argument to the block
  • -asArray — get an array representation of any enumeration
  • -take — get the specified number of elements from the beginning of the enumeration
  • -map — apply the block to each item of the collection, returning a new collection of transformed values
  • -select — create a new enumerable with all the elements for which the block returns YES
  • -find — return the first element for which the block returns YES, otherwise nil if no matching element is found
  • -any — check if an element in the collection passes the block
  • -all — check if all elements in the collection pass the block
  • -sort — return a sorted array (items in the collection must respond to compare:)
  • -sortWith — like -sort, but allows you to specify an NSComparator
  • -sortBy — use the result of applying the block to each element as sort keys for sorting the receiver
  • -reduce — traverse the enumerable, evaluating the block against each element, and accumulating a new value at each step (for example, "reducing" an array of numbers into a single number that represents sum)

Making your own collection classes enumerable

You can very easily get the benefit of the entire EKEnumerable API in your own collection classes:

1. Adopt the EKEnumerable protocol in your class's public interface

# import <EnumeratorKit.h>
@interface MyAwesomeCollection : NSObject <EKEnumerable>

2. In the implementation, override +load and includeEKEnumerable

+ (void)load
    [self includeEKEnumerable];

3. Implement -each:, and -initWithEnumerable:

@implementation MyAwesomeCollection
- (instancetype)initWithEnumerable:(id<EKEnumerable>)enumerable
    // traverse the enumerable, adding each item to your collection

- (instancetype)each:(void (^)(id))block
    // hypothetical enumeration code
    for (int i; i < self.length; i++) {
        // call the block, passing in each element

    // make sure you return self, to enable enumerator chaining
    return self;


I'd recommend opening an issue first before spending a lot of time working on a new feature. However if your change is relatively self contained, it's often easier for me to evaluate in the form of a pull request.


Implementing the first version of this project taught me a whole lot about Objective-C, and Ruby's Enumerable and Enumerator functionality. Special thanks to: