A Swift library to interact with Linux GPIO/SPI on ARM (RaspberryPi, BeagleBone, CHIP, etc...)
Latest commit e81bee0 Feb 16, 2017 @uraimo committed on GitHub Update README.md



A Swift library to interact with Linux GPIOs/SPI, turn on your leds and more!

Linux-only Swift 3 compatible License: MIT


This library provides an easy way to interact with external sensors and devices using digital GPIOs and SPI interfaces with Swift on Linux.

You'll be able to configure port attributes (direction,edge,active low), read/write the current GPIOs value and use the SPI interfaces provided by your board or a software big-banging SPI to drive external displays or more complex sensors.

The library is built to run exclusively on Linux ARM Boards (RaspberryPis, BeagleBone Black, UDOO, Tegra, CHIP, etc...) with accessible GPIOs.

Since version 0.8 SwiftyGPIO targets Swift 3.0, for Swift 2.x refer to the specific branch for sources and documentation.


Supported Boards


  • C.H.I.P.
  • BeagleBone Black (Thanks to @hpux735)
  • Raspberry Pi 2 (Thanks to @iachievedit)
  • Raspberry Pi 3
  • Raspberry Pi Zero (Thanks to @MacmeDan)
  • Raspberry Pi A,B Revision 1
  • Raspberry Pi A,B Revision 2
  • Raspberry Pi A+, B+
  • OrangePi (Thanks to @colemancda)
  • OrangePi Zero (Thanks to @eugeniobaglieri)
  • UDOOs

Not tested but they should work(basically everything that has an ARMv7/Ubuntu14/Raspbian or an ARMv6/Raspbian):

  • BananaPi
  • OLinuXinos
  • Cubieboards
  • Tegra Jetson TK1


To use this library, you'll need a Linux ARM(ARMv7 or ARMv6) board with Swift 3.

If you have a Raspberry Pi 2 or 3, you can either compile Swift yourself following these instructions or use precompiled ARMv7 binaries available from various sources (check out Joe build server for the latest binaries for Ubuntu 16.04 compiled from the master repo). The same binaries should work for BeagleBoneBlack, C.H.I.P. or one of the other ARMv7 boards too.

If you have a ARMv6 RaspberryPi 1 (A,B,A+,B+) or a Zero, get the precompiled binaries or build them yourself following this guide.

Once done, if your version of Swift does not support the Swift Package Manager, just download all the needed files:

wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/uraimo/SwiftyGPIO/master/Sources/SwiftyGPIO.swift https://raw.githubusercontent.com/uraimo/SwiftyGPIO/master/Sources/Thread.swift https://raw.githubusercontent.com/uraimo/SwiftyGPIO/master/Sources/POSIXError.swift https://raw.githubusercontent.com/uraimo/SwiftyGPIO/master/Sources/SunXi.swift

Once downloaded, in the same directory create an additional file that will contain the code of your application named main.swift.

When your code is ready, compile it with:

swiftc *.swift

If your version of Swift supports the SPM, you just need to add SwiftyGPIO as a dependency in your Package.swift:

let package = Package(
    name: "MyProject",
    dependencies: [
        .Package(url: "https://github.com/uraimo/SwiftyGPIO.git", majorVersion: 0),

And then build with swift build.

The compiler will create a main executable.

IMPORTANT: As everything interacting with GPIOs via sysfs/mmapped registers, if your OS does not come with a prefedined user group to access these functionalities, you'll need to run your application with root privileges using sudo ./main. If you are using a RaspberryPi with a recent Raspbian (post November 2016) or a recent Ubuntu (from 16.04 Xenial onward), this will be not required, just launch your application with ./main.

Alternatively, a specific user group for gpio access can be configured manually as shown here or in this answer on stackoverflow. After following those instruction, remember to add your user (e.g. pi) to the gpio group with sudo usermod -aG gpio pi and to reboot so that the changes you made are applied.

Your First Project: Blinking leds and sensors

If you prefer starting with a real project instead of just reading documentation, more than a few tutorials are available online.

If you are using Swift 3.0 and the latest version of SwiftyGPIO, Cameron Perry has a great step by step guide on how to setup a Raspberry Pi for Swift and using a land and a temperature sensor.

And if you need instead a practical example of how to use SwiftyGPIO with Swift 2.x (get it from the specific branch), Joe from iachievedit has written a fantastic tutorial that will explain everything you need to know.

Additional tutorials are also available in 中文 and 日本語.


Currently, SwiftyGPIO expose GPIOs and SPIs(if not available a bit-banging VirtualSPI can be created), let's see how to use them.


Let's suppose we are using a Raspberry 2 board and have a led connected between the GPIO pin P2 (possibly with a resistance of 1k or so) and GND and we want to turn it on.

First, we need to retrieve the list of GPIOs available on the board and get a reference to the one we want to modify:

let gpios = SwiftyGPIO.GPIOs(for:.RaspberryPi2)
var gp = gpios[.P2]!

The following are the possible values for the predefined boards:

  • .RaspberryPiRev1 (Pi A,B Revision 1, pre-2012, 26 pin header)
  • .RaspberryPiRev2 (Pi A,B Revision 2, post-2012, 26 pin header)
  • .RaspberryPiPlusZero (Raspberry Pi A+ and B+, Raspberry Zero, all with a 40 pin header)
  • .RaspberryPi2 (Raspberry Pi 2 or 3 with a 40 pin header)
  • .BeagleBoneBlack (BeagleBone Black)
  • .CHIP (the $9 C.H.I.P. computer).
  • .BananaPi (RaspberryPi clone)
  • .OrangePi

The map returned by GPIOs(for:) contains all the GPIOs of a specific board as described by these diagrams.

Alternatively, if our board is not supported, each single GPIO object can be instantiated manually, using its SysFS GPIO Id:

var gp = GPIO(name: "P2",id: 2)  // User defined name and GPIO Id

The next step is configuring the port direction, that can be either GPIODirection.IN or GPIODirection.OUT, in this case we'll choose .OUT:

gp.direction = .OUT

Then we'll change the pin value to the HIGH value "1":

gp.value = 1

That's it, the led will turn on.

Now, suppose we have a switch connected to P2 instead, to read the value coming in the P2 port, the direction must be configured as .IN and the value can be read from the value property:

gp.direction = .IN
let current = gp.value

The other properties available on the GPIO object (edge,active low) refer to the additional attributes of the GPIO that can be configured but you will not need them most of the times. For a detailed description refer to the kernel documentation

GPIOs also support the execution of closures when the value of the pin changes. Closures can be added with onRaising (the pin value changed from 0 to 1), onFalling (the value changed from 1 to 0) and onChange (the value simply changed from the previous one):

let gpios = SwiftyGPIO.GPIOs(for:.RaspberryPi2)
var gp = gpios[.P2]!

    gpio in
    print("Transition to 1, current value:" + String(gpio.value))
    gpio in
    print("Transition to 0, current value:" + String(gpio.value))
    gpio in
    print("The value changed, current value:" + String(gpio.value))

The closure receives as its only parameter a reference to the GPIO object that has been updated so that you don't need to use the external variable. Calling clearListeners() removes all the closures listening for changes and disables the changes handler. While GPIOs are checked for updates, the direction of the pin cannot be changed (and configured as .IN), but once the listeners have been cleared, either inside the closure or somewhere else, you are free to modify it.


If your board has SPI connections and SwiftyGPIO has them among its presets, a list of the available SPIs can be retrieved invoking hardwareSPIs(for:) (or getHardwareSPIsForBoard for Swift 2.x) with one of the predefined boards.

On RaspberryPi and other boards the hardware SPI SysFS interface is not enabled by default, check out the setup guide on wiki.

Let's see some examples using a Raspberry2 that has one bidirectional SPI, managed by SwiftyGPIO as two mono-directional SPIObjects:

let spis = SwiftyGPIO.hardwareSPIs(for:.RaspberryPiPlus2Zero)
var spi = spis?[0]

The first item returned is the output channel and this can be verified invoking the method isOut on the SPIObject.

Alternatively, we can create a software SPI using two GPIOs, one that wil serve as clock pin and the other will be used to send the actual data. This kind of bit-banging SPI is slower than the hardware one, so, the recommended approach is to use hardware SPIs when available.

To create a software SPI, just retrieve two pins and create a VirtualSPI object:

let gpios = SwiftyGPIO.GPIOs(for:.RaspberryPi2)
var sclk = gpios[.P2]!
var dnmosi = gpios[.P3]!
var spi = VirtualSPI(dataGPIO:dnmosi,clockGPIO:sclk) 

Both objects implement the same SPIObject protocol and so provide the same methods. To distinguish between hardware and software SPIObjects, use the isHardware method.

To send one or more byte over a SPI, use the sendData method. In its simplest form it just needs an array of UInt8 as parameter:


But for software SPIs (for now, these values are ignored when using a hardware SPI) you can also specify the preferred byte ordering (MSB,LSB) and the delay between two succesive bits (clock width, default 0):

spi?.sendData([UInt(42)], order:.LSBFIRST, clockDelayUsec:1000)


The following example, built to run on the $9 C.H.I.P., shows the current value of all the GPIO0 attributes, changes direction and value and then shows again a recap of the attributes:

let gpios = SwiftyGPIO.GPIOs(for:.CHIP)
var gp0 = gpios[.P0]!
print("Current Status")
print("Direction: "+gp0.direction.rawValue)
print("Edge: "+gp0.edge.rawValue)
print("Active Low: "+String(gp0.activeLow))
print("Value: "+String(gp0.value))

gp0.direction = .OUT
gp0.value = 1

print("New Status")
print("Direction: "+gp0.direction.rawValue)
print("Edge: "+gp0.edge.rawValue)
print("Active Low: "+String(gp0.activeLow))
print("Value: "+String(gp0.value))

This second example makes a led blink with a frequency of 150ms:

import Glibc

let gpios = SwiftyGPIO.GPIOs(for:.CHIP)
var gp0 = gpios[.P0]!
gp0.direction = .OUT

    gp0.value = (gp0.value == 0) ? 1 : 0

We can't test the hardware SPI with the CHIP but SwiftyGPIO also provide a bit banging software implementation of a SPI interface, you just need two GPIOs to initialize it:

let gpios = SwiftyGPIO.GPIOs(for:.CHIP)
var sclk = gpios[.P0]!
var dnmosi = gpios[.P1]!

var spi = VirtualSPI(dataGPIO:dnmosi,clockGPIO:sclk) 


Notice that we are converting the 0x9F Int using the constructor UInt8(truncatingBitPattern:), that in this case it's not actually needed, but it's recommended for every user-provided or calculated integer because Swift does not support implicit truncation for conversion to smaller integer types, it will just crash if the Int you are trying to convert does not fit in a UInt8.

Other examples for differen boards are available in the Examples directory.

Built with SwiftyGPIO

A few projects and libraries built using SwiftyGPIO. Have you built something that you want to share? Let me know!


Awesome Projects

Under the hood

SwiftyGPIO interact with GPIOs through memory mapped gpio registers (if available, when sending data) and the sysfs file-based interface described here.

The GPIO is exported the first time one of the GPIO methods is invoked, using the GPIO id provided during the creation of the object (either provided manually or from the defaults). Most of the times that id will be different from the physical id of the pin. SysFS GPIO ids can usually be found in the board documentation, we provide a few presets for tested boards (do you have the complete list of ids for an unsupported board and want to help? Cool! Consider opening a PR).

At the moment GPIOs are never unexported, let me know if you could find that useful. Multiple exporting when creating an already configured GPIO is not a problem, successive attempts to export a GPIO are simply ignored.

Regarding the actual sending of the data, when available SwiftyGPIO will use a mmapped registers interface (max pulse when used directly on a Rpi2 12Mhz) and will use a fallback sysfs interface when no mmapped implementation exists (max pulse when used directly on a Rpi2 4Khz).

At the moment the memory mapped interface is only available on all Raspberries.