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Murray is a set of tools for Skeleton-based software development.

Skeleton-based software usually consists of code generated through lots of boilerplate that can't be abstracted and re-used through software architecture principles.

For instance, a classic HTML website always consists of pages with same head and body, filled with custom data in repeating structures.

Murray defines a common and simple design language made of specifications (JSON specs) and template files, wraps them in structured packages ("Bones") and provides tools for developers to quickly use them in their projects. Speeding up development process, avoiding annoying and shared coding mistakes and enforcing proper folder structures are some of Murray's main goals.

In a nutshell

Projects are usually made of groups of boilerplate files that has a fixed structure and part of their contents changing according to some input.

Some examples can be iOS' UIViewController, Android's Activity, controllers for Web MVC, actions/reducers for React, etc.

These files are always created from scratch in specific subfolders, replaced with some placeholder (in both filename and contents) and then completed with proper context-related implementations.

Murray addresses the first problem (folder structure) with JSON specs and the second one (placeholders) with Stencil templates.

Stencil templates are text files where everything wrapped around double curly braces (like {{ this }}) can be replaced by a key-value pair, where the key is the wrapped word and the value is the actual substitution. An example template for a UIViewController can be

import UIKit
class {{ name|firstUppercase }}sViewController: UIViewController {

  let {{ name|firstLowercase }}s: [{{ name|firstUppercase }}] = []

  func viewDidLoad() {

Example execution command (from CLI): murray bone new viewController product

When executed by Murray with some parameters, this template will actually render it's context by replacing name occurrences with whatever provided, and applying filters like uppercase, lowercase, etc.

Rendered result will then be copied to a destination folder according to template's specifications in BoneItem.json file with these contents:

import UIKit
class ProductsViewController: UIViewController {

  let products: [Product] = []

  func viewDidLoad() {

Different templates can be rendered sequentially by a single execution, leading to a standardized way of software development.

Key Features

  • Clone a skeleton project from a remote repository, customize it with your project name and custom properties and have it ready to run. Murray supports tags and branches for remote repositories (@develop or @1.0.0)

  • Develop your project with bones: template files you design that gets easily integrated in your project structure. If a adding a screen to your app requires 3 new files, you can design them with a template and have Murray resolve them for you and move the result in proper folders.

  • Install bones templates from any number of different repositories: share your file templates with your team.

  • Automatically add slices of code to already existing files when adding new bones (example: Add a custom xml tag for your new Activity at the end of the Android manifest.xml when creating an Activity from a custom bone).

  • Easily manage and check your bones environment: see what's available directly from CLI

  • Design your templates with Stencil

  • Integrate Murray functionalities in any Swift application through MurrayKit framework

  • [WIP] MurrayStudio: a graphical user interface for improved editing and management.



Using Mint

mint install synesthesia-it/Murray

Note: please ensure you're using at least Mint v0.12 (Swift 5)

Compiling from source (latest version from master branch)

curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/synesthesia-it/Murray/master/install.sh | sh


If you want to try Murray and compile it directly from code, you can use make. This is especially useful for contribution to the project.

Make sure you've installed Homebrew on your machine.

make build will build a release version of Murray and copy the executable file it in /usr/local/bin folder make setup will properly setup the environment and generate the XCode project make lint will ensure code is properly written by following the Swiftlint standard

Linux (experimental, tested on Ubuntu 18)

Install Swift compiler (guide here) then

sudo apt-get install libdispatch-dev
clone murray https://github.com/synesthesia-it/Murray/tree/develop
cd Murray
touch LinuxMain.swift
swift build -c release
copy .build/x86_64-unknow-linux/releas /opt/
alias murray='/opt/Murray/murray'

(credits to @beppenmk)


Checkout the project and run

swift package generate-xcodeproj


Due to a SPM bug, it's not possible to run tests out of the box inside XCode using Quick and Nimble. To workaround this issue, look for the QuickObjCRuntime target, go to build settings and set Enable Modules (C and Objective-C) to YES.

As an alternative, it's possible to run swift test directly from terminal.

Key Concepts


A skeleton is an empty project, containing any type of file and folder. The Skeleton is a shared starting point for a new project, and should not contain any bone template; in other words, the project should work out of the box as a real project. To be compatible with Murray, a Skeleton project must contain a Skeletonspec.json file in its root folder.


A Bone is a piece of boilerplate code splitted into one or more template files. A template file is usually NOT working out of the box, but needs to be resolved against some kind of context, and then copied into proper folder.

Bones structure can be represented with this diagram



A BoneItem represents a group of template files that can be resolved and copied into current project. BoneItems consist in a folder containing a BoneItem.json file and any number of template files.

BoneItem.json fields are:

  • name: a name identifying current item.
  • paths: an array of path objects, made by a from and a to string value. from represents a folder or a file relative to BoneItem.json itself and containing some template that needs to be copied into target project. to represents target folder path, relative to project's root (the one containing the Murrayfile.json file.) Both from and to paths are resolved against provided context, meaning that every Stencil placeholder will be converted in context value, if available.
  • parameters: an array of objects representing all the keys expected by templates. Each object must contain a name string parameter (the actual name used in the template) and an optional isRequired boolean flag. If a required parameter is not found in provided context, the execution will stop with an error.
  • replacements: an array of replacements associated to current item. See Replacement for more informations.
  • plugins: an object where the key represents the name of a pre-installed plugin, and its object counterpart is strictly plugin-dependent. See Plugin section for more informations.


  "name": "viewController",
  "paths": [{ 
  "from": "ViewController.template.swift",
  "to": "Sources/ViewControllers/{{ name|firstUppercase}}/{{ name|firstUppercase }}ViewController.swift"
  "replacements": [],
  "parameters": [
      "name": "name",
      "isRequired": true
  "plugins": {
    "xcode": { "targets": ["App"] }


A Procedure is a sequence of items resolved and installed in target project across a single execution. The procedure is identified by the name parameter.


A Package is a group of items and procedures that can be shipped through git or zips and reused across different projects. It should contain a json file representing it's structure (default name: BonePackage.json) and any number of folders including Items. BonePackage.json fields are:

  • name: a name identifying the package.
  • description: a description string explaining the package's main purpose. Will be printed by CLI commands
  • procedures: an array of BoneProcedure objects.


  "description" : "A package for quick MVVM scaffolding.",
  "procedures" : [
      "items" : [
      "description" : "Creates an group of Model, ViewController and ViewModel",
      "name" : "section"
  "name" : "MVVM"


The Murrayfile is located in the root folder in Murrayfile.json file and contains basic setup for bones (relative paths to BoneSpecs) and environment context. Murrayfile.json fields are:

  • packages: an array of paths relative to Murrayfile folder pointing to a BonePackage.json file
  • environment: an object representing a shared context for each resolution. Can contain simple data such author name, packageName and similar, or more complex array/objects that will be handled by templates.


  "packages" : [
  "environment" : {
    "author": "Stefano Mondino",
    "company": "Synesthesia",
    "target": "App"


The Skeletonspec.json file contains informations needed by the skeleton phase of a project to be converted in an actual project. It's deleted after proper project creation as it won't be needed anymore.

Example (for non-xcode users: Skeleton.xcodeproj is actually a folder.):

        "scripts": [
        "sh install.sh"
        "initGit": true,
        "folders" : [{
            "from": "Skeleton.xcodeproj",
            "to": "{{ name|firstUppercase }}.xcodeproj"
        "files": [
            "from": "Test.swift",
            "to": "{{ name|firstUppercase }}.swift"

Template resolution

The conversion of a template into a proper project file, by replacing every placeholder with context values. Templates follows Stencil syntax and rules


A key-value map/dictionary containing value that will be replaced in templates during resolution. Context is made of environment values (static values) and execution values explicitly derived from CLI commands. Example: in an Android application, an environmnent value can be the main packageName used by the app, while an execution value can be the name of the activity being created. Environment values are set inside the Murrayfile.json file, in the environment json field. In templates, just use the same key used in the Murrayfile.


Replacements are special strings or file templates that won't create a new file when resolved, but will append their contents in a specific part of some already-existing file. Replacements are declared at Item level, and should be used with normal templates to ensure that project will still be "valid" after an execution.

Example: in Android development, developers can declare an Activity to create a new screen of the app. Creating a template for an Activity is surely a great fit for Murray, but Android requires every new Activity to be declared in a common xml file (the AndroidManifest.xml). By placing a template file inside the Item (with the xml node syntax) and a comment inside the XML, Murray can look for the placeholder, replace it with the template string and add back the placeholder again.

Available filters

Murray provides custom filters for Stencil templates:

  • firstUppercase and firstLowercase are useful for class names and variable names in code templates: you can input some generic name like product and convert it into Product when it should be used in class names or viceversa.
  • snakeCase is useful to convert camelcase words into snake case. Example: thisIsAWord becomes this_is_a_word

Filters can be chained:

{{ name | snakeCase | uppercase }}

converts name from thisIsAWord into THIS_IS_A_WORD


A Plugin is composed by custom code that may be executed in a specific moment during the pipeline. For example, a specific item may need some bash command to be executed every time a resolution happened (== after a group of file templates have been resolved and copied to final destination folder).

A common use case, for iOS/Xcode projects, is having a new file creted by a bone item to be automatically added to proper .xcodeproj structure and target.

Other platforms may need some custom code to be executed to clean/rebuild the entire project, depending on how the programming language/framework is designed.

Murray currently defines two custom plugins: XCode and Shell

XCode Plugin

The XCode plugin is executed if the plugins node in an item contains a xcode object with a targets array of targets names. Example in a specific BoneItem.json:

"plugins": {
    "xcode": {
        "targets": ["MyApp", "MyAppTVOS"]

In the above example, every bone Item created by the execution will add created files to the "MyApp" target and the "MyAppTVOS" target.

Shell Plugin

The Shell plugin will execute shell commands before and/or after each item creation

Allowed parameters: before: array of shell commands (strings) that will be executed right before a single item/procedure/path resolution after: array of shell commands (strings) that will be executed right after an item/procedure/path has been resolved and/or copied to destination

Shell commands will be executed from the project root folder.

Example (in BoneItem.json):

plugins: {
    "shell": {
        "before": ["echo Hello", "ls -la"],
        "after": ["make project"],

Example (in BonePackage.json, in a procedure JOSN node):

plugins: {
    "shell": {
        "before": ["echo Hello", "ls -la"],
        "after": ["make project"],

CLI - Usage

Murray exposes a simple Command Line Interface. Every command can be run with --help flag for descriptive help and with --verbose to display more output and debug purposes.

By running

$ murray

you get a list of macrocommands: skeleton, bone and scaffold


A set of commands to interact with skeletons

  • new - Create a new skeleton app by cloning any remote repository with a Skeletonspec.json file in its root folder. This command will clone your remote repository/copy your local repository in a subfolder of current folder with provided name. Command will fail if subfolder is already existing or if provided repository does not contain a Skeletonspec.json.
$ murray skeleton new YourCustomProjectName git@github.com:stefanomondino/somerepo@develop
$ murray skeleton new AnotherCustomProjectName ../SkeletonFolder@develop


A set of commands to interact with bones

All bone subcommands must be run from your project root folder. Such folder should also contain a valid Murrayfile.json

  • clone - Clones a remote repository containing a bone Package. You should specify the git address (remote or local) to clone the package from, and an optional local subfolder to clone it into (defaults to .murray hidden folder).
$ murray bone clone ../SomeLocalPackageGitFolder@master MurrayBones
  • list - Prints out every available procedure by flatting available packages.
$ murray bone list
  • new - Executes an available procedure. Requires a name parameter (the procedure name, as printed out from murray bone list), a mainPlaceholder value (the name parameter in context). Optional parameters are --context (a valid JSON string containing the context). By providing the -- , you can add a variadic list of strings at the end of the command that will be used inside templates in additions to provided name and environment values from Murrayfile. Each string must be a key-value pair separated by a colon, example "author:stefano mondino".
$ murray bone new viewModel Product -- "company:Synesthesia" "author:stefano mondino"

The example above will resolve templates by replacing name with Product, company with Synesthesia and author with stefano mondino.


A set of commands to create Murray structures from scratch.

All scaffold subcommands must be run from your project root folder. Such folder should also contain a valid Murrayfile.json (with the exceptions of murrayfile and skeleton commands).

  • murrayfile: creates a new empty Murrayfile.json
$ murray scaffold murrayfile
  • skeleton: creates a new empty Skeletonspec.json
$ murray scaffold skeleton
  • package: creates a new Package named name in specified local path and adds it to current Murrayfile. An optional --description string parameter may be provided to describe the new Package in list commands.
$ murray scaffold package MVC ./MurrayBones --description "A package to manage MVC in iOS applications"
  • item: creates a new Item inside a Package. Requires a package parameter that must match an existing package in project folder, a name used to uniquely identify the item inside the package and a list of file names that will be use to generate empty files for your templates. Note: created items will NOT added to any procedure. See scaffold procedure for that.
$ murray scaffold item MVC ViewController "ViewController.template.swift" "ViewController.template.xib"
$ murray scaffold item MVC Model "Model.template.swift"
  • procedure: creates inside a package a new procedure identified by name by adding provided list of items. If target package already contains a procedure with provided name, the items will be added to the existing one. An optional --description option may be provided to better describe the procedure in lists.
$ murray scaffold procedure MVC screen ViewController Model --description "Creates a new screen in the app with a ViewController class and xib and a Model"


I'm a Swift developer. Why shoud I use this instead of Sourcery?

Sourcery is a great software that somehow handles templates as well, but is meant to handle only Swift code and project by actually compiling templates in different scenarios. Murray doesn't compile or interpret your code, it doesn't even know what programming language you're actually using. It's aimed to project's structure and boilerplate reuse across projects through git repos

Why Murray? Who is Murray?

Because we're dealing with Skeleton apps and Bones and we miss Monkey Island a lot! :) We hope this tool is not as much annoying as its original counterpart!

Who's behind Murray?


Murray is entirely developed and open-sourced by Synesthesia

We're currently using it for iOS and Android projects.


Stars: 31

Related Packages


Better Phases - 2020-09-10T13:54:57

  • Add before and after plugin to BonePaths
  • Renamed plugin phases to before and after

Improvements - 2020-09-07T12:36:47

  • Shell plugin (#37)
  • Recursive resolution of parameters in json strings (#39)
  • Bugfix: Absolute url support in Murrayfile packages (#40)
  • Bugfix: Bone clone support for repositories with BonePackage.json file in root folder (#41)
  • Support for plugin execution before and after each procedure (#44)
  • XCodePlugin is now based upon tuist/XcodeProj (written in Swift) rather than Cocoapods/Xcodeproj (written in ruby) (#33)
  • Fix folder duplication bug (#34)
  • SnakeCase filter (#35)
  • Got rid of --param explicit command. (#36)

Refactor - 2020-02-26T15:53:58

New Skin! (pun intended)

Murray has been completely redesign from scratch in order to be simpler, smarter and more extensible.

Key features

  • Specs and items now have a new hierachy: Specs becomes Packages, containing Procedures involving reusable Items
  • Paths are completely resolvable and include filenames: move from a template (MyFile.template.txt) to a resolvable destination (Sources/{{name}}/{{name}}.txt)
  • Packages can be cloned and directly edited inside the project. We dropped support for remote synch of a Bone repository since it was quite useful (if remote bones were changing, probably they wouldn't be compatible with already work in progress projects)
  • MurrayKit has now more separated concepts and steps (this will soon lead to a macOS App called MurrayStudio)

For documentation, please use Readme.md in the homepage. Wiki references will only cover old 1.0 releases