Make working with associated objects much more pleasurable
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Associated Objects, or Associated References were introduced in OS X 10.6 and iOS 10.4. This feature gives class instances a "dictionary" of sorts within which to store arbitrary objects using the runtime functions objc_setAssociatedObject() and objc_getAssociatedObject(). This project aims to make their use more convenient.

  1. Adding iVars to categories - An unforunate drawback to ObjC categories in the inability to add or synthesize iVars, even though properties can be added. Associated objects can be used to provide storage and overcome this limitation:

     @interface NSObject (MyCategory)
     @property (strong) id myCategoryObject;
     @implementation NSObject (MyCategory)
     SYNTHESIZE_ASC_OBJ(myCategoryObject, setMyCategoryObject);
  2. Abitrary dictionary for NSObject - The NSObject category adds a lazily-initialized NSMutableDictionary to NSObject, allowing key-value pairs to be associated with any NSObject subclass instance:

     [self.associatedDictionary setValue:@"value" forKey:@"myKey"];


  1. getter / setter names - There is no way to manipulate strings in the preprocessor so that standard getter and setter names can easily be generated. As such, the read/write macros require both names to be provided manually.

  2. ARC - Clang ARC is currently required, although it wouldn't be hard to also support manual reference counting.

  3. Property memory managements annotations - Since properties use associated objects for storage, any property setter attribute assign can used:

     @property () id myProperty;		
     @property (strong) id myProperty;
     @property (retain) id myProperty;
     @property (assign) id myProperty;


No need to link any sources if just using the header file. Could create a static library for the NSObject category, but not really worthwhile.


Test cases provided.


  1. SYNTHESIZE_ASC_OBJ(getterName, setterName) - The most basic usage. Synthesize a getter and setter for a read/write object property. If you would like to generate a read-only property with a private or protected setter then you can define this in another category:

     @interface MyClass : NSObject
     @property (readonly) id readWriteObject;
     @interface MyClass (PrivateOrProtectedOrAnonymous)
     @property (readwrite) id readWriteObject;
     @implementaton MyClass
     - (id) init {
     	if ((self = [super init])) {
     		self.readWriteObject = @"foo";
     	return self;
  2. SYNTHESIZE_ASC_OBJ_LAZY(getterName, class) - Synthesize a read-only object that in initialized lazily. The object's class must be provided so that an object can be initialized (with alloc/init) on first access.

  3. SYNTHESIZE_ASC_PRIMITIVE(getterName, setterName, type) - Synthesize for any kind of primitive object. Any type supported by the @encode() operator is supported. So that should be everything…?