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orchetect/PListKit 1.1.0
A multiplatform Swift library bringing functional methods and type safety to .plist (Property List) files.
⭐️ 12
🕓 28 weeks ago
iOS macOS watchOS tvOS
.package(url: "https://github.com/orchetect/PListKit.git", from: "1.1.0")


CI Build Status Platforms - macOS | iOS | tvOS | watchOS License: MIT

A multiplatform Swift library bringing functional methods and type safety to .plist (Property List) files.


The challenges that Apple's standard PropertyListSerialization presents:

  1. Lack of type safety: it allows the inadvertent injection of incompatible value types, which can lead to unexpected errors when saving a plist file later on, and are difficult to diagnose
  2. Root-level dictionary access only, making traversal of nested dictionaries very cumbersome
  3. Exposes NS value types which can be a pain to work with

PListKit solves these issues by:

  1. Acting as a safe and convenient wrapper for PropertyListSerialization
  2. Providing clean functional syntax for
    • easily manipulating nested keys and values
    • loading and saving plist files
  3. Exposing native Swift value types for keys
  4. Preventing the inadvertent use of incompatible value types to ensure unexpected errors do not arise


The library is available as a Swift Package Manager (SPM) package.

To add PListKit to your Xcode project:

  1. Select File → Swift Packages → Add Package Dependency
  2. Add package using https://github.com/orchetect/PListKit as the URL.



import PListKit

// new empty plist object
let pl = PList()

Loading a plist file's contents

The following initializers are available to load external data into the PList object.

  • PList(file:) - using a file path on disk
  • PList(url:) - using a local file URL or network resource URL
  • PList(data:) - using raw plist file data
  • PList(string:) - using raw plist file string
  • PList(dictionary:) - using raw dictionary

Load method with a single error handler:

do {
  let pl = try PList(file: "/Users/user/Desktop/file.plist")
} catch {
  // handle failure

Load method with individual error handlers:

do {
  let pl = try PList(file: "/Users/user/Desktop/file.plist")
} catch let err as PList.LoadError {
  switch err {
    case .fileNotFound:
      // handle error here
    case .formatNotExpected:
      // handle error here
    case .unexpectedKeyTypeEncountered:
      // handle error here
    case .unexpectedKeyValueEncountered:
      // handle error here
    case .unhandledType:
      // handle error here

Read/Write Keys

// can create intermediate dictionaries if nonexistent
pl.createIntermediateDictionaries = true // (note: defaults to true)

// create a new Int key within nested dictionaries
  .dict(key: "Dict")
  .dict(key: "Nested Dict")
  .int(key: "Int")
  .value = 123

// read the value back
let val = pl.root
  .dict(key: "Dict")
  .dict(key: "Nested Dict")
  .int(key: "Int")
  .value  // == Optional(123)

All valid property list value types map transparently to native Swift value types.

pl.root.string(key: "String").value = "a new string"

pl.root.int(key: "Int").value = 123

pl.root.double(key: "Double").value = 123.45

pl.root.bool(key: "Bool").value = true

pl.root.date(key: "Date").value = Date()

pl.root.data(key: "Data").value = Data([0x01, 0x02])

pl.root.array(key: "Array").value = 
  ["a string",
   Data([0x01, 0x02])]

// dictonaries can be modified directly if necessary,
// perhaps if you need to populate a large data set or copy a nested structure
// but otherwise it's much nicer to use the discretely typed methods above
pl.root.dict(key: "Dictionary").value = 
  ["Key 1" : "a string",
   "Key 2" : 123]

Manipulating Array Elements Directly

Arrays can, of course, be modified in-place using native Swift subscripts.

pl.root.array(key: "Array").value?[0] = "replaced string value"
pl.root.array(key: "Array").value?.append("new string value")

Reading Arrays

Since property list arrays can contain any valid plist value type simultaneously, when reading arrays you need to conditionally cast values to test their type.

// returns type PListArray, aka [PListValue]
let arr = pl.root.array(key: "Array").value ?? []  // defaulted since the key may not exist

// if you need to test each value in the array, type them in a switch block:
for element in arr {
  switch element {
    case let val as String:                 print("String: \(val)")
    case let val as Int:                    print("Int: \(val)")
    case let val as Double:                 print("Double: \(val)")
    case let val as Bool:                   print("Bool: \(val)")
    case let val as Date:                   print("Date: \(val)")
    case let val as Data:                   print("Data with \(val.count) bytes")
    case let val as PList.PListArray:       print("Array with \(val.count) elements")
    case let val as PList.PListDictionary:  print("Dictionary with \(val.count) elements")
    default: break // technically, this should never happen

Deleting Keys

// delete a key
pl.root.string(key: "String").value = nil

// delete a dictionary or array and all of its contents, in the same fashion
pl.root.array(key: "Array").value = nil
pl.root.dict(key: "Dict").value = nil


A full set of chainable subscripts are also available if you choose to use them, mirroring the functional methods. To use them, reference the storage property directly instead of root.

pl.storage[any: "Keyname"] // reads key value as PListValue

pl.storage[string: "Keyname"]
pl.storage[int: "Keyname"]
pl.storage[double: "Keyname"]
pl.storage[bool: "Keyname"]
pl.storage[date: "Keyname"]
pl.storage[data: "Keyname"]
pl.storage[array: "Keyname"]
pl.storage[dict: "Keyname"]

The subscripts are usable to both get and set.

pl.storage[string: "Keyname"] = "string value"
let str = pl.storage[string: "Keyname"] ?? "" // "string value"

Nested dictionaries can easily be accessed through chaining subscripts.

// sets nested string key if the intermediate dictionaries already exist
pl.storage[dict: "Dict"]?[dict: "Nested Dict"]?[string: "Keyname"] = "string value"

// alternative subscript creates nested dictionaries if they don't exist
pl.storage[dictCreate: "Dict"]?[dictCreate: "Nested Dict"]?[string: "Keyname"] = "string value"

Arrays can be read by index, conditionally casting to a strong type in process:

// safely attempt to read indexes
// if index does not exist, returns nil
// if index exists but is of wrong type, returns nil
pl.storage[array: "Array"]?[any: 0] // read index 0 as PListValue; you must cast it yourself
pl.storage[array: "Array"]?[string: 0] // read index 0 and cast it as? String
pl.storage[array: "Array"]?[int: 0] // read index 0 and cast it as? Int
pl.storage[array: "Array"]?[double: 0] // read index 0 and cast it as? Double
pl.storage[array: "Array"]?[bool: 0] // read index 0 and cast it as? Bool
pl.storage[array: "Array"]?[date: 0] // read index 0 and cast it as? Date
pl.storage[array: "Array"]?[data: 0] // read index 0 and cast it as? PList.PListArray
pl.storage[array: "Array"]?[dict: 0] // read index 0 and cast it as? PList.PListDictionary

Save File to Disk

// save to disk in-place, if the file was previously loaded
// from PList(fromURL:) / PList(fromFile:) or .load(fromURL:) / .load(fromFile:)
try? pl.save()

// save to a new file on disk using file URL
guard let url = URL(string: "file:///Users/user/Desktop/file.plist") else { return }
try? pl.save(toURL: url, format: .xml)

// save to a new file on disk using path
try? pl.save(toFile: "/Users/user/Desktop/file.plist", format: .xml)

Copy PList Object

The PList class conforms to NSCopying if you need to copy the entire plist object in memory.

let pl = PList(file: "/Users/user/Desktop/file.plist")

let pl2 = pl.copy() as! PList

Additional Methods

More methods are available in addition to what is outlined here in the documentation. Use code completion in the Xcode IDE code editor to discover them.



Future Improvements

  • ☐ Add cocapods / carthage support
  • ☐ Test result of creating or saving over a protected plist file. Does it fail silently, or trigger an exception? (ie: in macOS root or user preferences folder).
  • ☐ Test for memory leaks now that PList is a class, especially with .root objects
  • ☐ Consider supporting PList files that have a root node other than Dictionary (can be any supported PList value type)


Coded by a bunch of 🐹 hamsters in a trenchcoat that calls itself @orchetect.


Licensed under the MIT license. See LICENSE for details.


Contributions are welcome. Feel free to post an Issue to discuss.

This library was formerly known as OTPList.


Stars: 12
Last commit: 3 weeks ago
jonrohan Something's broken? Yell at me @ptrpavlik. Praise and feedback (and money) is also welcome.

Release Notes

28 weeks ago

Many improvements across the library.

Note that there are API-breaking changes, but they are minimal. In all cases, API simply changed or was improved.

  • Inits are now throwing inits instead of failable Optionals
  • .load(...) methods are now inits instead
  • Added (string:) and (dictionary: RawDictionary) inits
  • Safe, conditionally-typed index subscripts are now available on PListArray (see README for details)
  • Mutable subscripts now yield for direct mutation
  • ConvertToPListArray is now RawArray category method convertedToPListArray()
  • ConvertToPListDictionary is now RawDictionary category method convertedToPListDictionary()
  • Inline help updated
  • Unit tests updated
  • README updated

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