Lightweight Swift Dependency Injection Framework
Swift Other
Latest commit a6f598b Jul 20, 2016 @mikelikespie mikelikespie committed on GitHub Merge pull request #28 from square/lewis/verify-26
Adding test to verify 26


Cleanse - Swift Dependency Injection


Cleanse is a dependency injection framework for Swift. It is designed from the ground-up with developer experience in mind. It takes inspiration from both Dagger and Guice.

Cleanse is currently in beta phase. This means its API is subject to change (but for the better).

Getting Started

This is a quick guide on how to get started using Cleanse in your application.

A full-fledged example of using Cleanse with Cocoa Touch can be found in Examples/CleanseGithubBrowser


Cleanse can be added to your project multiple ways. How to add it, depends on your environment (whether using Xcode or the open source toolchain) as well as what your preferred dependency management software.

Using Xcode

Cleanse.xcodeproj can be dragged and dropped into an existing project or workspace in Xcode. One may add Cleanse.framework as a target dependency and embed it.

Using Carthage

Cleanse should be able to be configured with Carthage. One should be able to follow the Adding Frameworks to an Application from Carthage's README to successfully do this.

Using Swift Package Manager

Cleanse can be used with Swift Package Manager. The following a definition that can be added to the dependencies of a Project declaration.

  url: "",
  versions: Version(0,1,0)..<Version(1,0,0)

Using Cleanse

The Cleanse API is in a Swift module called Cleanse (surprised?). To use any of its API in a file, at the top, one must import it.

import Cleanse

Defining a Component and Root Type

Cleanse will build a graph of objects, however, when we build the object graph, we only get one type back, which we call a "Root". In a Cocoa Touch application, our root object is logically the App Delegate, however we don't control construction of that, so we have to use Property Injection to populate the required properties in our App Delegate.


Property Injection should be used only when absolutely necessary (when we don't control the construction of a type)

Let's start by defining the Root Component:

extension AppDelegate {
  struct Component : Cleanse.Component {
    // When we call AppComponent().build() it will return the Root type if successful
    typealias Root = PropertyInjector<AppDelegate>

    func configure<B : Binder>(binder binder: B) {
        // Will fill out contents later

Now, in our App Delegate we should add:

func application(application: UIApplication, didFinishLaunchingWithOptions launchOptions: [NSObject: AnyObject]?) -> Bool {
    // Build our component, and make the property injector
    let propertyInjector = try! Component().build()

     // Now inject the properties into ourselves
    propertyInjector.injectProperties(into: self)


    return true

Now, if we ran the app as is, it would blow up. We haven't told cleanse how to make a PropertyInjector<AppDelegate>, so let's do that. For the simplest app delegates, we need to populate just one property:

var window: UIWindow?

Even though we can configure property injection with closures, it is generally cleaner to make a method that sets the properties. Let's define a method like:

extension AppDelegate {
  /// Requests the main window and sets it
  func injectProperties(window: UIWindow) {
    self.window = window

And add the following to AppDelegate.Component.configure

func configure<B : Binder>(binder binder: B) {
        .to(injector: AppDelegate.injectProperties)

This tells Cleanse to use the AppDelegate.injectProperties() function when a PropertyInjector<AppDelegate> is requested.

Satisfying Dependencies

Running the app now, would yield a new error saying a provider for UIWindow is missing. That's because we haven't configured it.

A Module in Cleanse is similar to a Component but doesn't define a root object, Components can install Modules and Moduless can install other Modules using binder.install(module:).

Let's define a module that creates our main window. The following will declare UIWindow as a singleton.

extension UIWindow {
  struct Module : Cleanse.Module {
    public func configure<B : Binder>(binder binder: B) {
        .to { (rootViewController: TaggedProvider<UIViewController.Root>) in
          let window = UIWindow(frame: UIScreen.mainScreen().bounds)
          window.rootViewController = rootViewController.get()
          return window

and in our AppDelegate.Component.configure method we want to install this module by adding

binder.install(module: UIWindow.Module())

We have satisfied the dependency for our App Delegate (UIWindow), but we have a new dependency, TaggedProvider<UIViewController.Root>. The TaggedProvider<UIViewController.Root> represents a "special" view controller which can be read about in Type Tags. The Tag, UIViewController.Root should be defined as:

extension UIViewController {
  /// This will represent the rootViewController that is assigned to our main window
  public struct Root : Tag {
    public typealias Element = UIViewController

And now we have one last dependency to satisfy, our root view controller. For this example, let's just make a simple view controller:

/// Root View Controller for our application
class RootViewController : UIViewController {
  /// Initializer we want to use. Can add more arguments to this if wanted
  init() {
    super.init(nibName: nil, bundle: nil)

  /// We declare this unavailable. This makes it so its unambiguous when referring to `RootViewController.init`
  /// we get the constructor we want
  @available(*, unavailable)
  required init?(coder aDecoder: NSCoder) {
    fatalError("init(coder:) has not been implemented")

  override func viewDidLoad() {
    // Set up your view here!

And we'll want to make a module to configure it:

extension RootViewController {
  /// Configures RootViewController
  struct Module : Cleanse.Module {
    func configure<B : Binder>(binder binder: B) {
      // Configures the RootViewController to be provided by the initializer
        .to(factory: RootViewController.init)

      // This satisfies UIWindow depending on TaggedProvider<UIViewController.Root>
      // The actual root is our RootViewController wrapped in a UINavigationController
        .tagged(with: UIViewController.Root.self)
        .to { UINavigationController(rootViewController: $0 as RootViewController) }

and in our AppDelegate.Component.configure method we want to install this module by adding

binder.install(module: RootViewController.Module())

Now, all of our dependencies should be satisfied and the app should launch successfully.

As the functionality of this app grows, one may add arguments to RootViewController and its dependencies as well as more modules to satisfy them.

As previously mentioned, it may be worth taking a look at our example app to see a more full-featured example.

Core Concepts & Data Types


Has a method that returns a value of its containing type. Serves same functionality as Java's javax.inject.Provider.

Provider and TaggedProvider (see below) implement ProviderProtocol protocol which is defined as:

public protocol ProviderProtocol {
    associatedtype Element
    func get() -> Element

Type Tags

In a given component, there may be the desire to provide or require different instances of common types with different significances. Perhaps we need to distinguish the base URL of our API server from the URL of our temp directory.

In Java, this is done with annotations, in particular ones annotated with @Qualifier. In Go, this can be accomplished with tags on structs of fields.

In Cleanse's system a type annotation is equivalent to an implementation of the Tag protocol:

public protocol Tag {
    associatedtype Element

The associatedtype, Element, indicates what type the tag is valid to apply to. This is very different than annotations in Java used as qualifiers in Dagger and Guice which cannot be constrained by which type they apply to.

In Cleanse, the Tag protocol is implemented to distinguish a type, and the TaggedProvider is used to wrap a value of Tag.Element. Since most of the library refers to ProviderProtocol, TaggedProvider is accepted almost everywhere a Provider is.

Its definition is almost identical to Provider aside from an additional generic argument:

struct TaggedProvider<Tag : Cleanse.Tag> : ProviderProtocol {
    func get() -> Tag.Element


Say one wanted to indicate a URL type, perhaps the base URL for the API endpoints, one could define a tag this way:

public struct PrimaryAPIURL : Tag {
    typealias Element = NSURL

Then one may be able to request a TaggedProvider of this special URL by using the type:


If we had a class that requires this URL to perform a function, the constructor could be defined like:

class SomethingThatDoesAnAPICall {
    let primaryURL: NSURL
    init(primaryURL: TaggedProvider<PrimaryAPIURL>) {
        self.primaryURL = primaryURL.get()

This would be the equivalent in Java using javax.inject annotations:

@Qualifier @interface PrimaryAPIURL {
// ...
class SomethingThatDoesAnAPICall {
   @Inject SomethingThatDoesAnAPICall(@PrimaryAPIURL String primaryURL) {
       this.primaryURL = primaryURL

Unlike java’s annotation system, Tags cannot have constants in them (there is no equivalent of @Named("omgponies")), however, the creation of new Tags in cleanse is much lighter weight and encourages better practices.


Modules in Cleanse serve a similar purpose to Modules in other DI systems such as Dagger or Guice. Modules are building blocks for one's object graph. Using modules in Cleanse may look very similar to those familiar with Guice since configuration is done at runtime and the binding DSL is very inspired by Guice's.

The Module protocol has a single method, configure(binder:), and is is defined as:

protocol Module {
    func configure<B : Binder>(binder: B)



Configuration of modules is further elaborated on below

Providing the Base API URL
struct PrimaryAPIURLModule : Module {
  func configure<B : Binder>(binder binder: B) {
      .tagged(with: PrimaryAPIURL.self)
      .to(value: NSURL(string: "")!)
Consuming the Primary API URL (e.g. "")


It seems to be a good pattern to embed the Module that configures X as an inner struct of X named Module. To disambiguate Cleanse's Module protocol from the inner struct being defined, one has to qualify the protocol with Cleanse.Module

class SomethingThatDoesAnAPICall {
    let primaryURL: NSURL
    init(primaryURL: TaggedProvider<PrimaryAPIURL>) {
        self.primaryURL = primaryURL.get()
    struct Module : Cleanse.Module {
        func configure<B : Binder>(binder binder: B) {
                .to(factory: SomethingThatDoesAnAPICall.init)

Root Component

Unlike Guice and Dagger1, there is no ObjectGraph/Injector object that one can pull arbitrary instances out of.

Cleanse has a concept of a Component. A Component is essentially a Module, but with an associated type named Root. The Root asosociated type in a component is the Root of the object graph. An instance of Root is what's returned when a Component is constructed. It also may be referred to as an "entry point",

The component protocol is defined as:

public protocol Component : Module {
    associatedtype Root

The outermost component of an object graph (e.g. the Root component), is built by the build() method. This is defined as the following protocol extension:

public extension Component {
    /// Builds the component and returns the root object.
    public func build() throws -> Self.Root


Defining a component
struct RootAPI {
    let somethingUsingTheAPI: SomethingThatDoesAnAPICall

struct APIComponent : Component {
    typealias Root = RootAPI
    func configure<B : Binder>(binder binder: B) {
        // "install" the modules that create the component
        binder.install(module: PrimaryAPIURLModule())
        binder.install(module: SomethingThatDoesAnAPICall.Module())
        // bind our root Object
            .to(factory: RootAPI.init)
Using the component
let root = try! APIComponent().build()


A Binder instance is what is passed to Module.configure(binder:) which module implementations use to configure their providers.

Binders have two core methods that one will generally interface with. The first, and simpler one, is the install method. One passes it an instance of a module to be installed. It is used like:

binder.install(module: PrimaryAPIURLModule())

It essentially tells the binder to call configure(binder:) on PrimaryAPIURLModule.

The other core method that binders expose is the bind<E>(type: E.Type). This is the entry point to configure a binding. The bind methods takes one argument, which the metattype of the element being configured. bind() returns a BindingBuilder that one must call methods on to complete the configuration of the binding that was initiated.

bind() and subsequent builder methods that are not terminating are annotated with @warn_unused_result to prevent errors by only partially configuring a binding.


The type argument of bind() has a default and can be inferred and omitted in some common cases. In this documentation we sometimes specify it explicitly to improve readability.

BindingBuilder and Configuring Your Bindings

The BindingBuilder is a fluent API for configuring your bindings. It is built in a way that guides one through the process of configuring a binding through code completion. A simplified grammar for the DSL of BindingBuilder is:

  .bind([Element.self])                // Bind Step
 [.tagged(with: Tag_For_Element.self)] // Tag step
 [.asSingleton()]                      // Scope step
 {.to(provider:) |                     // Terminating step
  .to(factory:)  |

Bind Step

This starts the binding process to define how an instance of Element is created

Tag Step (Optional)

An optional step that indicates that the provided type should actually be TaggedProvider<Element> and not just Provider<Element>.

Scope Step (Optional)

By default, whenever an object is requested, Cleanse constructs a new one. If .asSingleton() is specified, Cleanse will memoize and return the same instance in the scope of the Component it was configured in.

In the future we may want to allow a class conforming to protocol (possibly named Singleton) to indicate that it should be bound as a singleton. It is tracked by this issue

Terminating Step

To finish configuring a binding, one must invoke one of the terminating methods on BindingBuilder. There are multiple methods that are considered terminating steps. The common ones are described below.

Dependency-Free Terminating methods

This is a category of terminating methods that configure how to instantiate elements that don't have dependencies on other instances configured in the object graph.

Terminating Method: to(provider: Provider<E>)

Other terminating methods funnel into this. If the binding of Element is terminated with this variant, .get() will be invoked on the on the provider argument when an instance of Element is requested.

Terminating Method: to(value: E)

This is a convenience method. It is semantically equivalent to .to(provider: Provider(value: value)) or .to(factory: { value }). It may offer performance advantages in the future, but currently doesn't.

Terminating Method: to(factory: () -> E) (0th arity)

This takes a closure instead of a provider, but is otherwise equivalent. Is equivalent to .to(provider: Provider(getter: factory))

Dependency-Requesting Terminating Methods

This is how we define requirements for bindings. Dagger 2 determines requirements at compile time by looking at the arguments of @Provides methods and @Inject constructors. Guice does something similar, but using reflection to determine arguments. One can explicitly request a dependency from Guice's binder via the getProvider() method.

Unlike Java, Swift doesn't have annotation processors to do this at compile time, nor does it have a stable reflection API. We also don't want to expose a getProvider()-like method since it allows one to do dangerous things and also one loses important information on which providers depend on other providers.

Swift does, however, have a very powerful generic system. We leverage this to provide safety and simplicity when creating our bindings.

Terminating Methods: to<P1>(factory: (P1) -> E) (1st arity)

This registers a binding of E to the factory function which takes one argument.

How it works

Say we have a hamburger defined as:

struct Hamburger {
   let topping: Topping
   // Note: this actually would be created implicitly for structs
   init(topping: Topping) {
     self.topping = topping

When one references the initializer without calling it (e.g. let factory = Hamburger.init), the expression results in a function type of

(topping: Topping) -> Hamburger

So when configuring its creation in a module, calling

binder.bind(Hamburger.self).to(factory: Hamburger.init)

will result in calling the .to<P1>(factory: (P1) -> E) terminating function and resolve Element to Hamburger and P1 to Topping.

A pseudo-implementation of this to(factory:):

public func to<P1>(factory: (P1) -> Element) {
  // Ask the binder for a provider of P1. This provider
  // is invalid until the component is constructed
  // Note that getProvider is an internal method, unlike in Guice.
  // It also specifies which binding this provider is for to
  // improve debugging.
  let dependencyProvider1: Provider<P1> =
      binder.getProvider(P1.self, requiredFor: Element.self)

  // Create a Provider of Element. This will call the factory
  // method with the providers
  let elementProvider: Provider<Element> = Provider {

  // Call the to(provider:) terminating function to finish
  // this binding
  to(provider: elementProvider)

Since the requesting of the dependent providers happen at configuration time, the object graph is aware of all the bindings and dependencies at configuration time and will fail fast.

Terminating Methods: to<P1, P2, … PN>(factory: (P1, P2, … PN) -> E) (Nth arity)

Well, we may have more than one requirement to construct a given instance. There aren't variadic generics in swift. However we used a small script to generate various arities of the to(factory:) methods.

Collection Bindings

It is sometimes desirable to provide multiple objects of the same type into one collection. A very common use of this would be providing interceptors or filters to an RPC library. In an app, one may want to add to a set of view controllers of a tab bar controller, or setttings in a settings page.

This concept is referred to as Multibindings in Dagger and in Guice.

Unlike Dagger and Guice where one can provide elements to both a Set and Map, Cleanse will only allow one to provide elements into an Array. The choice of Array is because unlike Java where every type of object can be part of a Set, only types that are Hashable can be part of a Set in Swift. This requirement would make it not useful in many cases.


Providing to a Set or Dictionary is not an unwanted feature and could probably be built as an extension on top of providing to Arrays.

Binding an element to a collection is very similar to standard Bind Steps, but with the addition of one step: calling .intoCollection() in the builder definition.:

  .bind([Element.self])                // Bind Step
  .intoCollection()   // indicates that we are providing an
                    // element or elements into Array<Element>**
 [.tagged(with: Tag_For_Element.self)]   // Tag step
 [.asSingleton()]                        // Scope step
 {.to(provider:) |                       // Terminating step
  .to(factory:)  |

The Terminating Step for this builder sequence can either be a factory/value/provider of a single Element or Array of Elements.

Property Injection

There are a few instances where one does not control the construction of an object, but dependency injection would be deemed useful. Some of the more common occurrences of this are:

  • App Delegate: This is required in every iOS app and is the entry point, but UIKit will construct it.
  • View Controllers constructed via storyboard (in particular via segues): Yes, we all make mistakes. One of those mistakes may have been using Storyboards before they became unwieldy. One does not control the construction of view controllers when using storyboards.
  • XCTestCase: We don't control how they're instantiated, but may want to access objects from an object graph. This is more desirable in higher levels of testing such as UI and integration testing (DI can usually be avoided for lower level unit tests)

Cleanse has a solution for this: Property injection (known as Member injection in Guice and Dagger).

In cleanse, Property injection is a second class citizen by design. Factory/Constructor injection should be used wherever possible, but when it won't property injection may be used. Property Injection has a builder language, similar to the BindingBuilder:

  .bindPropertyInjectionOf(<metatype of class being injected into>)
  .to(injector: <property injection method>)

There are two variants of the terminating function, one is where the signature is

(Element, P1, P2,  ..., Pn) -> ()

And the other is

(Element) -> (P1, P2, ..., Pn) -> ()

The former is to allow for simple injection methods that aren't instance methods, for example:

  .to {
     $0.a = ($1 as TaggedProvider<ATag>).get()


  .to {
      $0.injectProperties(superInjector: $1, b: $2, crazyStruct: $3)

The latter type of injection method that can be used (Element -> (P1, P2, …, Pn) -> ()) is convenient when referring to instant methods on the target for injection.

Say we have

class FreeBeer {
  var string1: String!
  var string2: String!

  func injectProperties(
    string1: TaggedProvider<String1>,
    string2: TaggedProvider<String2>
  ) {
    self.string1 = string1.get()
    self.string2 = string2.get()

One can bind a property injection for FreeBeer by doing:

  .to(injector: FreeBeer.injectProperties)


The result type of the expression FreeBeer.injectProperties is FreeBeer -> (TaggedProvider<String1>, TaggedProvider<String2>) -> ()

After binding a property injector for Element, one will be able to request the type PropertyInjector<Element> in a factory argument. This has a single method defined as

func injectProperties(into instance: Element)

Which will perform property injection into Element


Property injectors in the non-legacy API are unaware of class hierarchies. If one wants property injection to cascade up a class hierarchy, the injector bound may call the inject method for super, or request a PropertyInjector<Superclass> as an injector argument and use that.


Cleanse is work in progress, but already has a powerful feature set. There are some features that other DI frameworks have which are desired in cleanse.

Feature Cleanse Implementation Status
Multi-Bindings Supported (.intoCollection())
Overrides Supported
Objective-C Compatibility layer Supported (Experimental)
Property Injection [2] Supported
Type Qualifiers Supported via Type Tags
Assisted Injection [1] TBD
Subcomponents TBD
[1]Assisted Injection will probably take the form of Subcomponents that can have arguments.
[2]Property injection is known as field injection in other DI frameworks

Another very important part of a DI framework is how it handles errors. Failing fast is ideal. Cleanse is designed to support fast failure. It currently supports fast failing for some of the more common errors, but it isn't complete

Error Type Cleanse Implementation Status
Missing Providers Supported [3]
Duplicate Bindings Supported [4]
Cycle Detection TBD (very important to add soon)
[3]When a provider is missing, errors present line numbers, etc. where the provider was required. Cleanse will also collect all errors before failing
[4]Duplicate provider detection could use improvement. It currently throws when duplicate binding is added.


We're glad you're interested in Cleanse, and we'd love to see where you take it.

Any contributors to the master Cleanse repository must sign the Individual Contributor License Agreement (CLA). It's a short form that covers our bases and makes sure you're eligible to contribute.


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