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A Swift implementation of GarageStorage. Provides a convenient way to store any kind of data in a repository backed by Core Data.
.package(url: "https://github.com/mrlegowatch/GarageStorageSwift.git", from: "1.0.2")


GarageStorage is designed to do two things:

  • Simplify Core Data persistence, to store any kind of object
  • Eliminate versioning Core Data data models, or the need to do xcdatamodel migrations

It does this at the expense of speed and robustness. In GarageStorage, there is only one type of Core Data Entity, and each referenced object is mapped to an instance of this object. References between objects are maintained, so you do get some of the graph features of Core Data. This library has been used in production apps, and has substantial unit tests, so although it is not especially robust, it is robust-ish.

What is a Garage?

The Garage is the main object that coordinates activity in Garage Storage. It's called a Garage because you can park pretty much anything in it, like, you know, your garage. The Garage handles the backing Core Data stack, as well as the saving and retrieving of data. You park objects in the Garage, and retrieve them later. Any object going into or coming out of the Garage must conform to the Codable protocol, and either the Hashable or Mappable protocol. For Objective-C compatibility, the MappableObject protocol may be used instead. We'll get into the details on that later. For now, it's important to draw a distinction between how Garage Storage operates and how Core Data operates: Garage Storage stores a JSON representation of your objects in Core Data, as opposed to storing the objects themselves, as Core Data does. There are some implications to this (explained below), but the best part is that you can add whatever type of object you like to the Garage, whenever you like. You don't have to migrate data models or anything, just park whatever you want!

Getting Started

First, create a Garage:

let garage = Garage()

If you wish to specify the name of the store, have multiple Garage stores, or add configuration options to your persistent store, you may alternatively create a garage with a PersistentStoreDescription. A convenience class method makePeristentStoreDescription(_) with a store name can be used to keep this step as simple as possible.

Note: When this library requires iOS 10 or later, this will be replaced with NSPersistentStoreDescription.

Objects in Swift

Any Swift type that is involved in being parked in a Garage must conform to Codable. The Swift compiler will take care of synthesizing of CodingKeys, init(from:) and encode(to:) methods, or alternatively, you can specify them manually, as you might for any Codable type.

For example, given a simple struct:

struct Address {
    var street: String
    var city: String
    var zip: String

In order to store this as a property of another object in GarageStorage, have it conform to Codable:

extension Address: Codable { }

In order to park this as a root type, have it conform to either the Hashable, or Mappable protocol. Since this is a simple type, Hashable is the way to go:

extension Address: Hashable { }

Reference types, such as classes, that have a unique identity, should conform to Mappable, and are usually root objects. This protocol conforms to Codable and is compatible with conforming to Identifiable where ID == String. For example:

class Person: Mappable {
    // Map the identifier to a preferred property, if desired.
    var id: String { name }
    var name: String = ""
    var address: Address?
    var age: Int = 0
    var birthdate: Date = Date()
    var importantDates: [Date] = []
    var siblings: [Person] = []
    var brother: Person?

Objects requiring Objective-C compatibility

Any Objective-C-compatible object that is involved in being parked in a Garage must conform to MappableObject, instead of Mappable or Codable. And, as such compatible objects go, it must include the @objc keyword in all the right places, and subclass from NSObject. A MappableObject must implement the property getter @objc static var objectMapping: ObjectMapping { get }. The @objc keyword plays a special role for the properties, in that Objective-C Key-Value Coding will be used to encode and decode them.

An object mapping specifies the properties on the object you wish to have parked (similar to CodingKeys). For example, I may have a Person object that looks like this:

@objc class Person : NSObject, MappableObject {

    @objc var name: String = ""
    @objc var ssn: String = ""

You can get a base mapping for a class with: ObjectMapping(for: self) The mapping for the Person object might look like this:

static var objectMapping: ObjectMapping {
    let mapping = ObjectMapping(for: self)
    mapping.addMappings(["name", "ssn"])
    return mapping

Once you have set the properties to map, you should set the identifying attribute, if it is a top-level object (See note about Identifying Attributes below). This property represents a unique identifier for your object, and it must be a String. For example, in the objectMapping method, add this before the return statement:

    mapping.identifyingAttribute = "ssn"

Under the hood, the object's properties gets serialized to JSON, and the types of properties supported in Objective-C are limited, so don't try to park any tricky properties. The types supported include:

  • Strings (NSString)
  • Numbers (both NSNumber and primitives such as Int)
  • Dates (NSDate)
  • Objects conforming to MappableObject
  • Dictionaries (NSDictionary) where keys are Strings, and values are among the supported types
  • Arrays (NSArray) of the supported types

Parking Objects

Parking an object puts a snapshot of that object into the Garage. As mentioned, this is different from pure Core Data, where changes to your NSManagedObjects are directly reflected in the managed object context. With GarageStorage, since you're parking a snapshot, you will need to park that object any time you want changes you've made to it to be reflected/persisted. You can park the same object multiple times, which will update the existing object of that same type and identifier. To park a Mappable object in the garage, call:

    try garage.park(myPerson)

You may also park an array of objects in the garage (assuming all are Mappable and of the same type):

    try garage.parkAll([myBrother, mySister, myMom, myDad])

For Objective-C: The MappableObject equivalent method names are parkObject(_) and parkAllObjects(_).

Retrieving Objects

To retrieve a specific object from the garage, you must specify its type and its identifier.

    let person = try garage.retrieve(Person.self, identifier: "123-45-6789")

You can also retrieve all objects for a given type:

    let allPeople = try garage.retrieveAll(Person.self)

For Objective-C: The MappableObject equivalent method names are retrieveObject(_:identifier:) and retrieveAllObjects(_).

Deleting Objects

To delete an object from the Garage, you must specify the mappable object that was originally parked:

    try garage.delete(myPerson)

To delete all objects of a given type, use:


You can also delete all the objects from the Garage:


For Objective-C: the MappableObject equivalent method names are deleteObject(_) and deleteAllObjects(_).

Sync Status

If you want to track the sync status of an object (with respect to say, a web service), you can implement the Syncable protocol, which requires that your object has a sync status property:

    var syncStatus: SyncStatus = .undetermined

Garage Storage provides the following sync status options:


Objects conforming to Syncable will have their sync status automatically set when they are parked in the Garage. However, you can also manually set the sync status:

    try garage.setSyncStatus(.syncing, for: myPerson)
    try garage.setSyncStatus(.synced, for: [myBrother, mySister, myMom, myDad])

You can also query the sync status of an object in the garage:

    let status = try garage.syncStatus(for: myPerson)

And most importantly, you can retrieve objects from the garage based on sync status:

    let notSynced: [Person] = try garage.retrieveAll(withStatus: .notSynced)

For Objective-C: the MappableObject method name is retrieveObjects(withStatus:).

Saving The Store

Parking, deleting, or modifying the sync status of objects may not, in and of themselves, persist their changes to disk. However, isAutosaveEnabled is set to true by default in a Garage. This means that any operation that modifies the garage will also trigger a save of the garage. If you don't want this enabled, then set isAutosaveEnabled to false, and then explicitly save the Garage by calling:


A Note about Identifying Objects

It's worth going into a bit of detail about how identifying objects work so you can best leverage (read: account for the quirks of) Garage Storage. Any object with an identifying attribute will be stored as its own separate object in the Garage, and each reference will point back to that object. This is great if you have a bunch of objects that reference each other, as the graph is properly maintained in the garage, so a change to one object will be "seen" by the other objects pointing to it. This also enables you to retrieve any top-level object by its identifier.

Alternatively, you don't have to set an identifying attribute on your object. If you do this on a top level object (i.e. one that you call park() on directly), the hashValue (or in the case of Objective-C, the MappableObject's JSON representation of the object) is used as its identifier. If you park unidentified Object A, then change one of its properties, and park Object A again, you'll now have two copies of Object A in the Garage, as its JSON mapping, and hence identifier, would have changed. If Object A had had an identifier, then Object A would have just been updated when it was parked the second time. It's considered best practice for top-level objects to have an identifying attribute (so, use Mappable in Swift, which requires an identifier, or MappableObject with an ObjectMapping identifyingAttribute for Objective-C compatibiity).

However, if the object is a property of a top-level object, you may want to leave it unidentified (or anonymous), especially if it doesn't have an attribute that's logically its identifier. An anonymous object is serialized as in-line JSON, instead of having a separate underlying core data object, as an identified object would. This means you won't be able to retrieve anonymous sub-objects by type directly. To make an object anonymous, it only needs to conform to Codable (or in the case of Objective-C, a MappableObject without an identifyingAttribute).

The primary advantages of unidentified objects are twofold: First, you don't have to arbitrarily pick an identifier if your object doesn't naturally have one. Second, there's an underlying difference in how deletion is handled. When you delete an object from the Garage, only the top level Mappable is deleted. If it points to other Mappable objects, those are not deleted. Garage Storage doesn't monitor retain counts on objects, so for safety, only the object specified is removed. However, since unidentified objects are part of the top level object's JSON, and are not separate underlying objects, they will be removed. It's considered best practice for sub objects to be unidentified unless there is a compelling reason otherwise.

Handling errors

Most of the public APIs in GarageStorage may throw an error. The error may come from Core Data itself, or from GarageStorage detecting a problem. The error will always be of type NSError. If an error is thrown, then return values, if any, will be NULL or NO (false) if the caller is in Objective-C.

Since normal code flow should never rely on errors being thrown, the only kinds of errors GarageStorage throws are programmer errors (such as a missing identifying attribute for a MappableObject, or attempting to park a NULL Objective-C object), or problems associated with memory corruption (failure to decode JSON, for example).

Therefore, for normal operations, it is generally appropriate to use try! for calls that are not expected to fail. Only use try? if you're sure that the failure can be overcome by checking the returned value for nil (or NULL in Objective-C). Or, if you use diagnostic logging for detecting catastrophic failures in your app, or have some other reason to look for or respond to specific kinds of errors, the usual do/catch is recommended:

do {
    try park(myPerson)
catch let error as NSError {
    print("Fatal error trying to park \(myPerson), error: \(error.localizedDescription)")
    // optionally call throw error, here, if you want to pass it on after logging it

If for some specific reason you need to distinguish errors thrown from GarageStorage instead of Core Data, you can check the error's domain for Garage.errorDomain.

Migrating from Objective-C to Swift

See see details in Migrating to Swift.


There's more that the Garage can do, including the ability to use your own DataEncryptionDelegate (which you can specify for encrypting your data), so poke around for more . Feature/Pull requests are always welcome. Have fun!


This library is derived from the [Objective-C version of GarageStorage by Sam Voigt](https://raw.github.com/mrlegowatch/GarageStorageSwift/develop/ https://github.com/samvoigt/GarageStorage), and this library's Objective-C APIs are mostly compatible with that version.


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Release Notes

Fix for GarageModel inheritance
1 week ago

Minor update that removes GarageModel's inheritance from NSManagedObjectModel.

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